Shetland Times (Five Days)
Project One (Three Days)
There was a chance presented to the class about possibly working for the Shetland Times on a feature for their website about people who had left the island to live in various Scottish cities and how their lives had changed and developed. The project required a ten-minute video package based around an interview subject that the Shetland Times would use on their YouTube channel, twitter and media sites.
I jumped at the chance as was joined by my colleague David who also wanted to be involved. Our first subject was Meggan burns, a marketing manager from the island who now lived and worked in Glasgow.
The remit was to get her to answer questions about the changes between Glasgow and Shetland and how her childhood there had influenced her. We had to talk also about connectivity between herself and the island.
Right away this seemed like both an exciting task and a daunting one, ten minute interviews are hard to keep interesting and given the list of questions we had it was going to be a struggle.
I decided the best way was to come up with new questions that would bring better responses out of her, I felt my strength was interviewing so I was confident that I could get better soundbites for the interview than I could have by using the ones given.
After a bit of difficulty finding it David and I had decided that he would direct while I would be on camera interviewing and for subject two we would switch. This was fair and so we got there and I spent time trying to get Meggan to relax before the interview started. I helped David set up and we had a brief discussion about shots. Then the filming began.
The interview went well but the questions sent over were very basic and dry. I took things into my own hands and started asking my own, as Id expected theses got a much warmer and more relaxed approach that made for a much better interview…or it would have had the sound recorded. As we reviewed the footage it became clear that for some reason the mic hadn’t picked up anything. Id asked David, who picked the equipment up, if the tech guys had checked everything over and he said that they had.
I broke the news to Meggan and we began again. To be honest this helped as she was much more relaxed and natural than the first time and it went well. The biggest lesson here was that people skills and engaging with people are incredibly important and not something that can be taught in class.
The next stage was ‘noddy’ shots and me being recorded asking the questions. This always feels like a weird part and it’s hard to look natural but I have come from a performance background so I used previously learned skills to make it look good.
It was now time for the cut-aways and then the camera decided to stop working! I suggested that we could use our phones and it worked out quite well.
The next stage was to edit everything together. Initially it was going well and I was well within my expected timescale except that we needed footage of Shetland that was supposed to be sent over to use for cut-aways. This footage never arrived so I called and emailed several times to the office of Adam Civico, editor at the paper, to get it. After all I couldn’t complete the project until this was sent over.
Two full days later we had to return to the edit when the footage arrived so another day was spent on the project reaching three days’ worth. In the end, it came out very well and Adam and Elizabeth very pleased.
The biggest learning curves were that I had to decide on the stop to change up the questions while keeping the aim of the piece intact. I think that working to deadlines was a challenge I enjoyed and the pressure to create something good, even when communication is poor will no doubt serve me in good stead. I think communication is so important to the creative and working practices of journalists that I’m always amazed that people in authority positions sometimes do not have such skills. I suppose being about to rise above this lack of communicative skill is the biggest lesson here, although the ability to improvise when equipment fails is also key.
For the next project the remit was the same, except the subject was different. Now the interview was based around a girl called Jennifer Sim, a law student from Shetland who also spoke German and was the star in a new play coming out.
This time the roles were reversed and I was in charge of directing and camera work. This was exciting as I got to decide on cutaways and the narrative cycle of how the interview might turn out. I could help David with the questions and look at things from a different perspective. Having done the first project, I was very confident and comfortable although the same problems arose regarding some of the questions so through improvisation and conversations with Jennifer the interview became more interesting and better structured.
We couldn’t get the footage of Jennifer rehearsing her play or playing sports but she was able to record some on her own and send it over so this was a major help. Also we had retained the Shetland footage to use so that was also covered.
All in all this was a much smoother process based on the previous experience on Project one.