Petition for Hollywood to Consider Making Epileptic Safe Movies Instead of Just Providing Nice Caution Signs
Okay, so if 1 in 4,000 people have photo-sensitive epilepsy, then projected Star Wars opening weekend could have had, in theory, around 5000 photosensitive viewers in the audience. I know, that’s if the exact ratio of epileptic photosensitive fans to non-photosensitive fans even went to go see it opening weekend, but what if they had all WANTED TO SEE IT?
My husband is a big Star Wars nerd (and a film professor), and he didn’t get to see the climax of Rise of Skywalker, and he never will. He had no choice but to cover his eyes for the last 20-30 minutes.
My husband had his first seizure a couple years ago while watching Incredibles 2. Unfortunately, he was seeing the movie alone, and it was a grand mal episode. He didn’t know to heed the photosensitivity warnings, because he didn’t know he was photosensitive. And he ended up in an ambulance. That’s the first thing I’d like to point out. Strobing effects are dangerous for people who don’t know they’re epileptic, so it’s a liability with or without the warning sign. Wouldn’t movie-makers like to make movies that won’t result in people convulsing? Even if it’s a minority, wouldn’t that be a risk worth avoiding during production and post-production either way?
The warnings are nice, they’re helpful for sure, but the cinematic use of these crazy light shows excludes people, for their health and safety. When you really think about that, isn’t it unnecessary?
My hope in writing this is to reach out to you talented and life-improving filmmakers - I so much respect and encourage the art you make - and just ask if you would consider it more of a priority to make your movies visually safe for more of your audience, instead of just stamping a warning on it?
It feels pretty silly to me that my husband will never be able to have the full theatrical experience of seeing Rise of Skywalker. He feels he can’t speak about it, really have a well-rounded opinion on it as a movie-lover. And for what? Some extra dramatic lightning?
I believe that great lighting directors and designers, or VFX artists, whoever it may concern, can create incredible visual experiences that don’t trigger seizures.
I hope this can shed some light on an issue that perhaps isn’t thought about much, and is maybe just an afterthought in movie-making at the moment. But this affects individuals who want to enjoy your work. And I’m sure a change could only benefit creators and viewers, and do no harm.