COVID Brighton – Update 6 – Transription

Comedians love the sound of laughter. It encourages them to continue. Similarly in normal conversation a listener gives feedback by way of words words like “yeh”, “right” and Wow!”. This is important as, subconsciously, it informs the speaker that they are saying something interesting and should continue. This week I conducted more interviews for the COVID Brighton project and one thing we learnt about interviewing is that we must not speak over the interviewee as this can muddle the audio.

However, I must still supply feedback to make the speaker comfortable and encourage them to continue speaking. So without the ability to speak I do this by nodding, facial expressions, eye contact and general body language. Under COVID restrictions this could have been a problem. Having both of us masked up would have made it difficult for the interviewee to read my expression and made for fairly boring visuals. Luckily we’ve been able to maintain social distancing and so, in most instances, we’ve both removed our masks. I think one requirement for providing feedback is to be interested in the story the person is telling and since I seem to have an innate ability to be interested in everything this has not been a problem.

I have also been transcribing interviews. This is done in order to get a text of what was said so that it can be more readily reviewed and statements of particular interest identified. It’s a long process but can be interesting. People speak in different ways. This week I transcribed two interviews, one by someone who continually muttered “um” and “ah” and restarted their sentences as well as often leaving parts of sentences hanging. The other spoke in concisely formed paragraphs. The amazing thing is that humans are so used to communicating in these ways that I understood both and hadn’t even realised the difference in the way each person spoke until I came to transcribe the interviews.

Interviews conducted this week include the leader of a Brighton Wheelchair basketball team and the manager of an animal sanctuary. Both supplied fascinating insights into how COVID is effecting Brighton.

We are still looking for people to interview and specifically:

  • A commuter turned home worker
  • A new mother or maternity worker
  • A mature person who may be struggling with lockdown or, who knows, may appreciate the change of pace.

If you are interested then please get in touch via the contact page.

COVID Brighton Update 5 – Burials, Bikes and Hospitality

This week we filmed three interviews for the COVID Brighton project. On Tuesday we spoke to the manager of a burial ground who told us how the bereaved reacted when visits were severely restricted. On wednesday we heard how bicycle sales rocketed just as supplies from the Far East dried up and on Thursday a Brighton business man told us how the hospitality industry has been hammered by the dearth of tourists. The effects of COVID on the businesses of Brighton has been mixed, many have suffered but some found opportunities. The effect on individuals is not so clear though we are startinjg to hear about problems with mental health. Broadly three main themes are emerging from the COVID interviews: the death of the high street, digital tech and mental health. We’ll be following these up in future interviews.

We’re still trying to speak to representatives of the more senior members of our community such as care homes and we would really like to speak to new mothers or maternity workers. If you have a story to tell then please get in touch.

COVID Brighton Update 4

This week was very productive for filming the COVID Brighton documentary. On Tuesday we filmed a physio therapy company where we learned how digital media helped them maintain a minimal service even during the tightest lockdown. On Wednesday a self-employed carpenter told us how his business evaporated and he was forced to move out of Brighton and on Thursday a pub landlord explained the perspective of the pub trade. In the pipeline we have a bicycle shop, a taxi service and a restaurant. I’ve also been chasing the local council and a super market. I am trying to include as many aspects of Brighton life as possible and so, this week, I contacted a care home and a funeral parlour. End of life may not be a pleasant topic but it is an integral part of the life of any city and both of these services must have been intimately involved with COVID. Anyone with a story to tell is still welcome to get in touch.

One technical aspect of filming occurred to me this week. We’re using two cameras for the interview and I considered how, for one interview, I had stood between the cameras. I began to fret that, in the edit, as I cut between the cameras, the subject would appear to look in different directions. After some exchanges on a Facebook group I realised that this was breaking the “180 rule” of film known as “crossing the line”.

I am aware of this rule, having been taught it in film school, but I had not considered how it applies in an interview situation where the interviewer is not filmed. In a drama with two characters an imaginary line is drawn between the two subjects (actors) and the cameras should avoid crossing this as the subjects may appear to be looking in the wrong direction. It turns out that in an interview, the interviewer can be considered the second subject even if he or she is never shown and so the line is drawn between the subject and the interviewer.

Another thing we learned for our film this week was to get cut away shots of the subject carrying on their normal routine. This was not practical for a pub under lockdown as we’re all currently banned from getting pissed in pubs but we’ll remember it for the future.

As I speak to more people the details of the events of the past year become clearer and I am starting to hear about a baby boom which is just now materialising. I am therefore keen to speak to any midwives who would like to contact me.