Private Project


'SIGN' is a short film that tells, through vignettes, music, and sign language, the story of a relationship between Ben, a hearing man, and Aaron, who is deaf.

  • Andrew Keenan-Bolger
  • Adam Wachter
  • Adam Wachter
  • Andrew Keenan-Bolger
  • Preston Sadleir
    Key Cast
  • John McGinty
    Key Cast
  • Alexandria Wailes
    Director of ASL and Culture
  • Adam Wachter
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Romance, Drama, Music, LGBT, Deaf Culture
  • Runtime:
    14 minutes 56 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 1, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    6,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
    2.40 : 1
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • OutFest LA
    Los Angeles
    United States
    July 9, 2016
    World Premiere
  • Flickers: Rhode Island International Film Festival
    Providence, RI
    United States
    August 9, 2016
  • MIX Copenhagen LGBTQ Film Festival
    September 30, 2016
    European Premiere
  • Iris Prize Festival
    Cardiff, Wales
    United States
    October 16, 2016
    Youth Jury Award: Best Short
  • Birmingham Shout! Film Festival
    Birmingham, AL
    United States
    August 16, 2016
    Best SHOUT Short
  • Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival
    Hong Kong
    September 20, 2016
    Asian Premiere
  • Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ Film Festival
    Chicago, IL
    United States
    September 22, 2016
  • Sunscreen Film Festival West
    Manhattan Beach, CA
    United States
    September 29, 2016
  • Barcelona LGBT Film Festival
    October 14, 2016
  • Boardwalk Film Festival
    Asbury Park, NJ
    United States
    September 18, 2016
    Best LGBT Film
  • CMG Short Film Festival
    West Hollywood, CA
    United States
    September 25, 2016
    Audience Award: Best Drama
  • Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
    Tampa, FL
    United States
    September 30, 2016
  • European Short Film Festival
    October 3, 2016
  • PROUD! Filmfestival
    October 7, 2016
  • Sunscreen Film Festival West
    Manhattan Beach, CA
    United States
    September 30, 2016
  • Atlanta's Out on Film
    Atlanta, GA
    United States
    October 1, 2016
    Audience Award: Best Men's Short
  • NewFest: NYC's LGBT Film Festival
    New York, NY
    United States
    October 21, 2016
    Audience Award: Best Narrative Short
  • Lancaster International Short Film Festival
    Lancaster, PA
    United States
    October 20, 2016
  • Big Apple Film Festival
    New York, NY
    United States
    October 22, 2016
  • Holebikort Contest
    November 13, 2016
  • Cleveland International Film Festival
    Cleveland, OH
    United States
    March 31, 2017
  • Maine Deaf Film Festival
    Portland, ME
    United States
    May 29, 2017
  • Schwule Filmwoche Freiburg
    May 3, 2017
  • Festival MIX Mexico
    Mexico City
    May 24, 2017
  • East End Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    June 10, 2017
  • New Filmmakers Los Angeles
    Los Angeles, CA
    United States
    June 24, 2017
  • Frameline Film Festival
    San Francisco
    United States
    June 16, 2017
  • North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
    Durham, NC
    United States
    August 11, 2017
  • Rainbow Film Festival
    Shropshire, England
    United Kingdom
    October 18, 2017
    Best International Short
  • Superfest International Film Festival
    San Francisco
    United States
  • Eau Queer Film Festival
    Eau Claire, WI
    United States
    October 11, 2017
  • Reel Q
    Pittsburgh, PA
    United States
    October 17, 2017
  • OutReels
    Cincinnati, OH
    United States
    October 11, 2017
Distribution Information
  • Peccadillo Pictures (Boys on Film DVD Series)
    Country: United Kingdom
    Rights: Video / Disc
Director Biography - Andrew Keenan-Bolger

Andrew Keenan-Bolger is an actor, director and bestselling author currently starring as “Jesse Tuck” in Tuck Everlasting on Broadway. Other Broadway: "Crutchie" in Newsies, Mary Poppins, Seussical, Beauty and the Beast. Film/TV: The Rewrite, Marci X, Are You Joking?, “Nurse Jackie”, “Looking,” “Naked Brothers Band,” “One Life to Live.” As a filmmaker, he’s been profiled in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, AP and New York Magazine. Co-director of the short films The Ceiling Fan, Sign and critically acclaimed webseries, “Submissions Only.” Co-author of the book series Jack & Louisa (Penguin Random House). @KeenanBlogger

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Being a gay kid in the nineties meant growing up in relative isolation from my own community, especially in pop culture. Stories about LGBT people weren't easy to find in film or on TV, and the few depictions there were didn't usually feature people like me (a scrawny white kid from inner-city Detroit who liked musical theatre). As I grew up and started exploring film as an instrument for storytelling, it became a medium for finally telling the unrepresented stories that I'd searched for in my youth.

Cut to 2016, where gay characters are practically the new vampires, but the diversity of the stories being told by those characters is still constrained. That's what drew screenwriter Adam Wachter and I to explore stories about gay men that intersected with another group of people who are underrepresented in American film — the Deaf community. SIGN became an opportunity to explore the tension between two men who have a shared experience of one system of oppression — homophobia — but are still separated by language and cultural barriers that are inextricably linked with their identities.

If I did learn anything from all of those queer-less films and TV shows as a kid, it's that you can't authentically tell stories about a community without a team of creators who are a part of that community. Adam and I knew that we couldn't begin to tell this story without a team of Deaf artists to guide our hands. With the help and collaboration of our talented Deaf friends in the New York theatre community, we were fortunate enough to compile a team of actors, directors, interpreters and crew — both hearing and deaf — and shot SIGN in a four-day marathon session in multiple locations across New York City.

As a director who only knew the most rudimentary American Sign Language (ASL), the linguistic and cultural barriers that I thought of as limitations turned out to become my secret strengths. I knew that we were telling a story to two audiences with different ways of accessing the story. Knowing that our hearing audience was not likely to understand the ASL being spoken in the film, I had to make sure we were telling the story through body language and visual cues. Knowing that our Deaf audience would not be able to hear Adam's score, which does so much heavy lifting in a silent film, I was encouraged by ASL director Alexandria Wailes to experiment and shoot broadly with lighting, framing and composition to create tension and balance where music would ordinarily assist. In the end, it didn’t feel like either audience was missing out: Our Deaf viewers access the love story of these two men through ASL, and our hearing viewers queue in from the score. What we ended up with was a wordless story that, in thirteen minutes, encapsulates the entire arc of a relationship. The two audiences — like our two leads — understand the film more fully together than they do apart.