By: Sarah Pogue, Sydney Ferguson, Marcie Rohlfs, and Kellan Heavican
The goal of our Commons Campaign was to shed light on the struggles of the deaf community at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. What originally started as an idea to create a three part documentary was later changed to a single, longer documentary once we realized that this would allow us to share a story rather than just snippets of what it is like to be deaf on a college campus that is primarily full of hearing students.
To create “Silenced In Sound”, we started off by conducting interviews. The documentary was mainly styled around Abbey Buettgenbach, who one of five deaf students at UNL. However, we also reached out to Briana Pogue, who is a deaf student at Gallaudet, a university for students that are deaf or hard of hearing in Washington, D.C., as well as Jill Arth, an advisor from the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, Quinn Le Frois, who has been Abbey’s best friend for the last three years, Amy Williams, who is a professor of American Sign Language (ASL) at UNL, and the director of Students with Disabilities. All of the interviews were conducted in person with the exception of Briana as she lives in Washington DC. She had to film her own interview, while we would ask her questions via Facetime.
Additional parts of the documentary that had to be filmed included Abbey’s interpreter interpreting during her children’s literature class. We also needed to collect b-role, which essentially stands as “filler pieces.” These consisted of Abbey and Quinn getting coffee and interacting outside of the Union, shots of the fountain at the Union, and shots of a few resources on campus such as Students With Disabilities. Although we did not use all of this b-role, we felt it necessary to have it available.
After all of the film was collected, we needed to decide what shots looked best in order to best represent our documentary, and therefore, we began coming up with the storyboard. It is important to note that since we got way more content than we needed for our documentary, not all of our shots or interviews made it into our film. We transcribed all of the interviews ahead of time so that we could see the content that we had on paper and to make the editing process easier. When creating the video, we wanted to present the problem, show why the problem is relevant, and what is being done to help solve the problem as well as what we can do as students. In addition to the story itself, we also used multiple video editing techniques to add to the style of the documentary. We began the video without any sound to show what it is like to be deaf, as well as to reiterate that it’s frustrating not being able to hear when you know that there should be sound. We then follow up with the definition of “deaf” to avert any confusion and to bring clarity to what our documentary will be about. We wrote out our descriptions rather than voicing them over so that the viewer had the chance to feel their raw emotions rather than being persuaded by our voices. This was also the most clear way to show facts while still getting the message and emotion across. One of the biggest ways we used pathos in this project was by pulling the most emotional and interesting quotes from our subjects. We also added other details such as dipped black transitions for a dramatic effect, and fading out words on our title slide to show emphasis on the word “silenced.”
Once the video was complete, we uploaded it to YouTube. From there, we each shared the link with a short explanation on our Facebook and Twitter profiles. We also invited people to start a discussion in the comments so that we gave the public a chance to voice their opinions on the subject as well. Our intention of posting about “Silenced In Sound” on social media was to spread the word about the deaf community, and we decided that promoting on social media was the best way to do so, as our link was only one click away.
Overall, we were very pleased with how our final product turned out, as well as the steps that it took to get there. With that being said, we did run into a few minor issues. In a perfect world, the audio could have been better quality. Unfortunately, we just don’t have access to the kind of professional equipment we would have liked to use. Most of the interviews were easy to set up with the exception of the Students With Disabilities. It took us about three weeks and multiple tries to get ahold of them and to have them agree to do an interview. And once we finally sat down with them, they refused to allow us to film them, so we could only use the statistics and facts they gave us rather than being able to make them a tangible part of our project. Another issue was that Briana lives in D.C., so her interview was complicated as she needed to frame and film herself without much assistance from us. If something needed to be changed, we would have to get ahold of her and have her redo it, which caused frustration for both parties. The fact that there are only five deaf students at UNL made it hard to find additional subjects to show in our film. It’s increasingly difficult as the university is not allowed to provide us with their names. The last difficulty we encountered was trying to find time to get together with everyone’s schedules, which is to be expected in any college group project.Despite our difficulties, we walked away with a lot of positives. We enjoyed how the documentary came out with it only focusing mainly on one person (Abbey) and her struggles and positives from going to UNL. We also had great sources come to light through this project, and we were able to open our eyes to the deaf community in the way that we hope our viewers will experience as well. Putting the video together went very smoothly in terms of creating it with Adobe Premier. One of the coolest things that we can say about this video is that it all features strengths that each of us had as a group member. Sarah had many connections to the deaf community due to her relationship with her cousin, Briana. She also has knowledge of American Sign Language which helped us to communicate with those that we interviewed who are deaf. Kellan’s videography skills made putting the documentary together possible. He had previous knowledge about what a strong story board looks like, and how it would come across to its viewers. Sydney’s written communication skills were utilized when it came to the writing portions of the project including the portfolio, as well helping to look over the slides with text that appeared on the video. Marcie’s familiarity with communication helped us to lay out the video in a way that would resonate with our audience. This helped us come up with the most effective product possible. Between the four of us, we were incredibly happy with all of the work that we put in individually and together to make this project come to life and to bring the struggles and triumphs of the deaf community to light.
The Final Product