The Silent Generation

Filming Guide

You do not need to be an experienced film maker or own any fancy equipment to capture these great stories. Your Smartphone will work just fine:

  • switch to flight mode so you don’t get messages and/or calls while filming.

  • shoot in landscape. (although vertical videos are also fine for Instagram and Facebook).

  • avoid the built-in camera zoom. Since the lens isn’t zooming optically, you’re just enlarging the picture digitally, which means less quality.

  • Use the exposure focus lock. This will help to keep the focus and exposure constant throughout your shot.


The Format

Step 1

Each featured Silent Generation video will be between 1-3 minutes long.

The questions you ask are entirely up to you. You will find some featured questions here or check out our Facebook and Instagram pages for current topics and suggested questions.

You do not need to edit your video, we will do that for you. Just send us the raw video file or clip.

Stories from grandparents

The interview

Step 2

Approach your interview with respect, care and dignity. Being on camera isn't easy!

Try to make the person you are filming feel as comfortable as possible. Be completely open about what you are doing, explain the general topic and let them know that there won’t be any difficult questions. Refrain from listing the actual questions you are going to ask beforehand. You will want to capture genuine, authentic answers and that tends to be hampered by giving the subject a list of questions prior to the interview.

Be present, listen intently but try your best not to use filler words while they are speaking - “right”, “yeah”, “ah”, “hmm” etc. Instead, nods, eye contact and expressions will show that you are fully engaged. Make space for sentences to be finished and allow for awkward silences - they can often lead somewhere interesting.

If you have time, go for a longer interview and ask all the things you've always wanted to know. We can always edit your videos into shorter clips afterwards.

Stories from grandparents


Step 3

Some general rules for camera placement, interviewer vs. interviewee position:

  • Position the camera lens at about the same height as the interview subject’s eyes.

  • Sit as close as you can to the camera, just off to the left or right. If the interviewee is in the left third of the frame, position the interviewer on the right side of the camera, so that they’re looking across the frame, and vice versa. (See example below)

  • Ask the interviewee to look at you rather than the camera.

  • Position the camera close enough to ensure your shot is about chest-up, leaving just a pinch of room above the head.

  • Try to position the interviewee away from a back wall if possible.




Step 4

Find somewhere quiet. Smartphones can record great video quality but the inbuilt microphones tend to pick up everything around them. If you have an external microphone attached to the Smartphone, great. If not, remember to get close to your subject. You should be no more than three feet away from the person that is speaking. Try not to move the Smartphone unnecessarily as this will only create more noise that may pick up on the recording. Put your smartphone in ‘flight mode’ when filming. A message or a phone call will pick up on your microphone and the resulting sound can ruin your video.



Step 5

When shooting video be aware of the available light. Smartphones are not great in low light and you can get noisy or grainy video with out enough light. So be aware of the strongest light source in the room and don’t be opposite to it. The subject should always be lighter than the background. If you have windows nearby then film your subject next to them so the light highlights the side of their face. If you have lamps or overhead lights then make sure they are on and light you subject evenly.

If you are outside make sure the sun is on your back or to the left or right of you. If you are outside, try and film in the early morning or early evening light. The result is nearly always more flattering to your subject. Also do not be afraid to ask to move to a better spot if you need more light.


Be steady

Step 6

Some of the newest smartphones have built-in optical image stabilization, which makes shooting decent handheld footage fairly easy. But no matter how steady your hands are, nothing beats using a good old-fashioned tripod. Failing a tripod, try and use books or props to help you position the camera still. A great improvised trick is to use a plastic or paper cup. Simply turn it upside-down and with a pair of scissors cut a slot in the base so your Smartphone can sit in. If you don’t have a tripod (or a paper cup), remember to have your thumb and forefinger on either side of the smartphone. Pull your elbows into your body and that will give you some stability.