For Joe Stretchey, Netflix series 'All the Light We Can’t See’ is another 'step in the right direction’ for disability representation in Hollywood.

I only knew him for a few years, but my relationship Joe Stretch are strong.

First and foremost, we are both members of the blind and low vision community. Secondly, I first came to know about him in 2019 Apple’s glitzy media event At Apple Park, where the company introduced Apple TV+ and other services, I learned that he was an accessibility consultant for TV+’s original launch series. See. A little later, in August 2021, I was interviewed for this article about Stretchey’s involvement. See and greater emphasis on show blindness for disability representation in film and television.

In November 2023, Stretche again draws attention to this space.

I recently sat down with Stretchey via video conference to discuss his work advising on a new Netflix limited series. All the light we cannot see, which premieres today on the streaming service. The four-episode series is based on Anthony Doerr’s 2014 best-selling book about a blind woman named Marie-Laure (played by Aria Mia Loberti) who hides in her uncle’s house in Nazi-occupied France in 1943. Forms an unlikely bond with German soldier Werner Pfennik through their shared fascination with radio technology.

Netflix is ​​available Audio narrated trailer For the show on YouTube.

Newsweek An „exclusive behind-the-scenes look” has been released of the program.

Stretchey, famed as an associate producer, was succinct in his passion. All the light we cannot see, said that working on it was „kind of like a dream”. What’s different about this from other projects he’s worked on are the aforementioned locations See and the superhero series Daredevil Rooted in science fiction, All the light we cannot see „Based on fact.” It’s a period rooted in a historical event, and it was fun and challenging to „work within it and create access,” Stretchey said. A big part of his job is figuring out what the actors and the production need; This includes tape on the floor (for the first or last mark) or scripts in an accessible format such as braille. Stretche praised Loberti, saying that working with her was a wonderful experience and that it was „amazing to see her grow” during filming. He also called her „a brilliant person and a quick study” and „a wonderful actor” who, despite her inexperience, held her own with „some of the best actors in the world” in Mark Ruffalo and Hugh Laurie.

On how Streche actually does his job, he shared that he has a sighted assistant with him on each set and his job is to audio narrate what’s happening in the same way. All the light we cannot see– or any other film or television program that is audio described for blind and visually impaired viewers. Many blind techniques, especially the way Loberti’s character crosses his cane between hands, are a true depiction of how many blind people handle their canes in the real world. These seemingly innocuous details are, in Stretchey’s view, implementation details that go a long way in enriching the authenticity of the blind experience. As previously mentioned, Stretch not only worked closely with the likes of Loberti, but also worked extensively with director Shawn Levy and producer Steven Knight. See) in ensuring that everything on and off-screen is as accessible and representationally interesting as humanly possible.

„Most of my nominations are about blindness,” Stretchey said of his contributions to film collections. “But occasionally, I take something [about accessibility] Someone else might not be looking.”

Asked to reflect on his career, Stretch said he’s „really blessed” to do what he does, working with actors and showrunners for big-name services like Prime Video and Apple TV+ and now Netflix. At a high level, he said, what he does is important because, in the grand scheme of things, seeing people who look like him in big Hollywood productions makes him feel good and blind people „belong.” My conversation with Strechay late last month coincided with National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and he bluntly stated that „there’s such a disparity in employment for people with disabilities in general, and then you look at the disparities in the entertainment world.” Work (and source of income) to members of the disabled community. „All these networks are now making that effort to audition everyone,” Stretche said of the push for diversity and disability.

A lot of what Stretchey and I talked about resonated in person. Netflix hosted a screening San Francisco’s Roxy Theatre During which viewers—including yours truly—were shown the first episode of All the light we cannot see. Following the screening, Streep appeared on stage for a brief Q&A session in which she talked about working on the show, disability in Hollywood and more. As our interactions so far have been limited to the wonders of the internet, it was nice to see Strasay in person, and alas, we clearly missed a golden opportunity to finally be introduced in person.

It’s no small feat for Stretche that not only are Hollywood types promoting accessibility, but big corporate giants like Netflix and their brethren at Amazon, Apple, Disney and others are making real strides in embracing the disabled community. This is especially important given the assistive technologies included with the content. An obvious analogy for blind people like Streche is audio descriptions for deaf and hard of hearing people watching TV using closed captioning. This is how both groups access information and enjoy media like no other. More clearly, companies like Netflix (in this case) aren’t adopting technologies like audio descriptions out of compulsion, but rather because Strese is very impressed. Act spontaneously Because they want to increase empathy and inclusion for everyone. This is a great gesture.

„I feel blessed to live in a world where that thing exists,” he said.

For Netflix ThumCara Warner gives an inside look at how audio descriptions All the light we cannot see were created.

Looking to the future, Stretchey is hopeful that the portrayal of disability on screen will grow stronger and more authentic. He shared with me that he wanted to create his own shows in addition to other people’s work, for his own hopes and dreams. He also noted that there are „amazing filmmakers who are blind or have low vision and generally have other disabilities” who claim to be friends with many of them and create content. For his part, Stretche wants to one day create a sitcom featuring people with disabilities, but writing it in a way that makes their disabilities not the focal point, but the reality. He wants the characters to be „part of the world” together rather than stand out Because their conditions. And Loberti, who had never acted before in his life—“was personally charged with breaking barriers. [and will] Play parts designed for the visually impaired. Stretch has included the likes of Marley Maudlin, who co-starred in last year’s Breakthrough Best Picture Oscar. Coda, „Opening doors for us” allows society to write at large to show what people with disabilities can really do.

Work All the light we cannot see Definitely too harsh for Levi. He said recently Los Angeles Times The show’s intense and realistic portrayal of blindness „changed me.” He noted that his prior understanding of the blind experience was „often based on shows and films that represented blindness using blind actors” and was „shaped by the accumulation of these clichés and tropes”.

Stretchey believes that the sighted will encounter an enlightenment similar to Levi’s.

“I think this [All The Light We Cannot See] It’s a step in the right direction and it’s going to open doors,” Streche said. „It’s going to be eye-opening.”

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