Screenwriter Ally Burnham discusses her new queer rom-com ‘Unsound’

Unsound is a new Australian film that it set at the intersection of the queer community and deaf and hearing impaired community.

The romantic drama tells the story of Noah, a queer musician, and Finn, as transgender man who runs a club and community centre for the deaf. The film features an amazing cast with Reece Noi from Game of Thrones as Noah, newcomer Yiana Pandelis as Finn, and some well known Aussie actors including Paula Duncan, Todd McKenny and Christine Anu.

Graeme Watson spoke to Ally Burnham the writer of the film to find out more about how this charming queer romantic comedy came about.

Burnham shared that the development of the script has involved many people who were both deaf and queer identifying. One of the key moments in the planning of the film was when they realised that sign language is to a large extent free of gender distinctions.

“Through our early discussions there was this wonderful ‘a-ha’ moment that came about for us, when we started learning about the plasticine way pronouns are used in Auslan, in Australian sign language, and it we were like, ‘Oh, isn’t that beautiful that there is no real gendered he or she.'” Burnham shared, the moment opened the door for a story set at the intersection of two different communities.

Bringing the story to the screen has been a long journey for the writer, who outlined how the project began it’s life almost five years ago.  Prodcuer Tsu Shan was had been working with the Deaf community and was interested in making a romantic comedy, Burnham’s focus was on creating a queer themed project.

“We got talking and I knew I was personally bursting to write a queer story. And so it came from a lot of our back-and-forth, and desire to just want to do something a little bit different in the rom-com space. There’s an oversaturation of hetero stories in the rom-com space, we wanted to use this opportunity to do something a bit different.” Burnham said.

The goal of the project was to tell a sweet and harmless love story.

“We didn’t go into it wanting to be edgy or controversial. It was really important to us that these characters, we were representing get to occupy the same tonal space, as the typical hetero couple does get to occupy in the rom-con space.”

So far audience reactions to the film have been incredibly positive, and the films been praised for including someone’s gender transition – but not making the central arc of the story, in Unsound there are many different transitions happening for the characters.

“Everyone’s been incredibly kind and generous.” Burham said of the audience feedback. “Even people who have watched it twice. So say, family and friends that I’ve dragged along long for several screenings, they’re like, ‘Oh, I didn’t pick up on that the first time I watched it.'”

Unsound is screening at The Backlot from 18 March – 21 March, tickets are on sale now via Eventbrite. Listen to our whole conversation with Ally Burnham.

So Loquacious · On The Line – Ally Burham Unsound

Graeme Watson, a portion of this interview aired on All Things Queer on RTRFM 92.1 

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