8th June 2022
Up-and-coming Peru-based filmmaker Gabriel Angulo tells us about creating his short films about stammering, and the difference he hopes they'll make.
I am a 27-year-old indie filmmaker from Lima, Peru. As far as I can recall, stammering has always been part of my life.
I studied audio-visual production at university, which was difficult as a person who stammers. But I wasn't going to let it stop me from achieving my dream of being a film director, so although I was very shy, timid and introverted, I managed to graduate in 2018. Currently I work as a freelance video editor and screenwriter for a multimedia digital agency, where I write and edit institutional videos and publicity spots.
Entering into short film competitions
I am on a personal path of trying to achieve more goals in my career as a professional filmmaker, so I decided to make films and participate in film festivals. I always try to include stammering in my stories — not always being the main aspect, but always having some presence in the narrative. Earlier this year I read on the news and social media about a partnership between TikTok and the Cannes Film Festival. They were offering the opportunity for TikTok creators to make short films that would be showcased at the festival in May. There was no submission fee and I still had time to enter, so I decided to produce a short film and submit it.
I decided to write about something that me and a lot of people can relate to, but something that’s not usually shown in film: stammering. I wrote the screenplay very quickly one weekend and decided that the main theme would be the anguish that many people who stammer feel when they are going to a speech therapist for the first time, waiting in the consulting room and doubting that therapy would help.
With my films I want to help and inspire those who feel they are never positively represented in the entertainment business.
The script was mostly based on my personal experience when I first met my current therapist Jose Alberto in 2015 whilst in my third year of college. We remain close friends until this day. I met him after finding out about his Stuttering Support Group, which is now an association called 'Mi Habla – Mi Tiempo' (which translates as 'My Speech – My Time'). Their main purpose is to remind people who stammer that we can choose our own speed and take our time when we speak; we don't have to feel rushed or pressured by anybody else.
- Read about 'No Diversity Without Disfluency', our campaign to get more stammering in the media
Jose plays himself in my short film 'Angustia' (which means Anguish in Spanish). I also worked with some friends and colleagues that I met through the group, including my producer and camera assistant JeanPierre, our lead actor Santiago, and Mauricio, who was in charge of the music score. We filmed it all in only one day in the same office and consulting room that Jose Alberto uses. You can watch the short film Angustia on my TikTok channel.
The reaction to my film has been positive among my friends, family and colleagues. They have all supported me a lot by sharing the video with their friends. And although it was not chosen to be part of the official selection in Cannes this year, I am hoping to work on more content and stories about stammering. Most recently I worked on a short documentary called 'The Strength on the Struggling Voices', about the foundation and timeline of the Mi Habla – Mi Tiempo association I mentioned above, as well as the current level of stammering awareness in Peru, and entered it in the MusicBed Challenge 2022 filmmaking competition. You can watch it at the MusicBed Challenge website.
These two films were the first of many projects about stammering I plan to write, produce and direct. I think the best way to face stammering is to embrace it. That's why I think it's important to tell positive and inspiring stories about people who stammer. With my films I want to help and inspire those who feel they are never positively represented in the entertainment business.
Follow Gabriel's work – find him on TikTok using @gabriel.angulo.cine
Have you created something related to stammering? We'd love to hear about your projects. Email us at email@example.com