Stealth SLI: Filming Buff

Our Stealth SLI is back, sharing some handy hints and tips for your filming needs…

Evidence Collection 101

Everyone’s favourite…evidence collection. Or not so, in my case. I abhor having to set up silly situations in order to tick a few boxes. If you’re anything like me, you’ll avoid filming at all costs and hate asking your Deaf and interpreter friends to sign using sarcasm; and humour be formal AND use excessive jargon AND only sign for 2.6 minutes….the list goes on. But my friends, I’m afraid that this is one of the necessary evils of gaining your qualifications.
So where does the filming process begin? Getting a good camera helps. If you haven’t already purchased yours, it’s very useful to consider one with an in-vision time log and links directly to your laptop. I recommend the Flip range; fit’s into your handbag, has very simple settings and plugs right into any USB port. I bought a Gorilla tripod for mine, which was super handy, as some filming spaces are tiny; this tripod has grippy legs and is magnetic, so it can be attached at a jaunty angle if needed and catch all the action.

Some assessors like you to film and then upload your clip onto a file-sharing website, such as Dropbox or YouTube, but it’s always best to see what their preferences are before ploughing ahead. Although having said that, your assessor is working for you, so be brave and tell them which method you want to use!

Enlisting participants, especially Deaf people with signing skills appropriate to your qualification, can be very tricky. Something I’ve found useful is contacting local interpreting agencies or other Deaf organisations to ask for an olive branch – more often than not; they’re very willing to put you in touch with a few good eggs. It doesn’t hurt to offer your services or endorse the company somehow to thank them! Deaf-uk-jobs and groups on social networking sites specific to BSL could be used, but be careful when talking to people you’ve never met and always put your own safety above gaining that flipping evidence. Local deaf clubs are often very happy to help too, and offering many cakes to all involved often goes down well! Be prepared that some participants may expect hard cash or a favour in return, and decide whether or not you can offer these.
More often than not, you can meet several criteria in one sitting, so it’s worth having a word with your assessor prior to filming to see if there are any hidden gems to be had. It feels so good to get many a tick for that single clip, and it will save you so much hassle later on!

It’s always a good idea to have a clear idea of your aims for your simulated clip, don’t try to cram too much into it! If you feel better having practice first, go for it, but I have always found that going ahead naturally produces the best results. Practising too much is often obvious in the clip, as your signing will appear less fluid than an organic piece.

If your simulated clip hasn’t gone to plan, don’t be afraid to tell your co-star/s that you’re going to have to retake it! There’s nothing more annoying than putting in all that effort only to be left with an informative but unusable video of yourself and your colleagues talking about the pros and cons of cochlear implants…

When you plan to film a real interpreting job, ensure you ask permission first, if possible. If not, it’s handy to type and print off a few waivers to share with those involved, outlining that the clip will only be seen by your assessor and possibly the external verifier, and that’s it. Most people don’t mind, but don’t be offended if the answer is no! Always keep your camera on you because that job you’re sure won’t be suitable for evidence could be your interpreting performance of the century!

Don’t forget to ensure you meet all the basic criteria for a passable clip, such as clip length, plain clothes, camera angle, and which parts of you are in a shot or cut off. Some centres will accept a tiny bit of hair missing; others will fail on this immediately- so be sure you’re all there! Lighting must be acceptable and often looks different on camera and in real life, so try to film a practice piece first to see if you need to adjust it. And make sure there’s enough memory on your SD card!
As tiresome as the filming process is, really use these opportunities to scrutinise your skills. You’ll probably notice small tics and idiosyncrasies you didn’t realise you had, and then you can start thinking about reducing them. In one voiceover clip, I used the word ‘so’ over 20 times! I have now all but deleted it from my vocabulary (*reads the blog to count how many times I have used it*…!). Seriously though, being able to analyse your own signing/voiceover will be super useful in future, and you’ll learn loads in the process.

So pals, try to enjoy collecting your evidence, you’re likely to meet some really lovely people in the process, and you’ll probably learn an awful lot about your signy strengths and weaknesses, which is always a positive thing. If all else fails, you can always check out your hair from a different angle, have a good cringe at the sound of your voiceover, and get all smug at how awesome you look when you use the beautiful BSL language.