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WHAT? was filmed in the black-and-white, silent comedy style of Charlie Chaplin but set in modern-day Los Angeles, including some of the famous Hollywood locations of Chaplin and Buster Keaton’s films. WHAT?tells the story of a Deaf actor, played by John Maucere, who is tired of the disrespect and discrimination he confronts in Hollywood. He decides–through sign language, gestures and whatever it takes–to take matters into his own hands. Actor/producer John Maucere explains, “A century ago, in the era of silent films, Deaf and hearing audiences could laugh and cry together, as one. With the advent of sound, these audiences split apart and have ever since experienced films in vastly different ways. With WHAT?, we are bringing back the unifying power of silent films, allowing everyone in our audience, Deaf and hearing alike, to laugh and cry together once more. ”In WHAT?, Don is Deaf, uses American Sign Language, and wants to act on the big screen. He is successful within his own community, putting on a one-man ASL show to rapt Deaf audiences. But Don wants more. He strikes a deal to look after a Hollywood director’s visiting Spanish Deaf cousins in return for a part in this director’s film. Babysitting the cousins is a nightmare, and worse, the director casts a hearing actor in the Deaf role instead. Don lowers himself to making another deal, agreeing to teach this guy ASL. But the director backstabs Don yet again, casting Don in a small, silly, hearing role. Horribly embarrassed, Don comes up with a plan that shows the director what it feels like to be disrespected, which ultimately convinces the director to give Don the role of his dreams ... but is that what it really is? In the end, Don returns to his own community, realizing that while “mainstream” success has its joys, genuine love and understanding comes from the people who truly see him.

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