A day in Jurassic World

By Amanda Bavin

I’ve been a member of the British Institute of Verbatim Reporters since approximately 2004-5. Like most people, I pay the membership, take up the odd job offer, network occasionally and that’s where it ends. In June last year, however, a BIVR advert for a Special Skills Film Extra caught my interest!

Someone from Pinewood Studios contacted BIVR, the advert went out, and so I emailed the contact. First, I had to go through “casting”. This sounds more exciting than it was. Basically I had to run to my local Next shop and try on a few different types of suits and get the sales assistant to take photos of me in each suit and then email these over the Pinewood. [Ed. Note: Next is a British clothier company.]

Eventually I received a phone call to say Pinewood was happy with both me and the suit. I asked what film it would be. It was all subterfuge, and I was told only the code name of the film, which was Ancient Futures, and that “It’s a good one.” After Googling, I found out that it was probably the next Jurassic Park called Jurassic World.

The info about the filming day was very vague and sketchy. So when I hadn’t heard anything the day before the shoot, I rang my brothers (who both work in the film industry), and they reassured me that it was normal to not receive any info until late on the evening before. Eventually I received an email with only the details of a random car park and its postcode near Pinewood. Setting my alarm for 3 a.m. the next morning, I was very excited (not how I usually feel before providing speech-to-text at a board meeting).

Bleary-eyed, I arrived on the wrong side of the car park and eventually found the minibus to a random location. I was rushed on arrival to the front of the queue for Hair & Makeup and Wardrobe, as runners shouted, “Here’s the stenographer. Quick! Get her ready. They’re about to shoot Senate scene.” Makeup wanted a “natural look,” which translates to “I should have packed my makeup bag.”

Breakfast was eaten in the next minibus to the filming shed. Little did I know this was the start of about six meals – it was definitely an eat-a-thon. At this point I still didn’t know for sure if it was Jurassic World, but I got some very helpful advice from other extras on the minibus, such as how not to look at the cameras or get distracted, etc., and just do exactly what the director asks of you.

On arrival, I stumbled across the set in the heels that wardrobe had kindly given me and set up my Stenograph Luminex machine as requested to the right of Jeff Goldblum. If you’re as old as I am, you’ll remember him from The Fly. He then came over and introduced himself and thanked me for doing the Special Skills role. He was lovely. I was shocked throughout the day at how hard he worked. I assumed the stars would be let off repeating their lines: He worked from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and was very professional.

From zoomed-in screenshot of the official trailer: Amanda seems as though she’s in a witness box, but she is indeed playing the stenographer!

The next day, I was told filming would be in Hawaii — of course I would make myself available. The nine hours of filming went by in a blur. I felt sorry for the extras who were part of the audience as they had fake daylight on their faces for hours and so got very warm. It was strange doing the job for real when everyone was talking about dinosaurs; next time I’ll input a shortform for Tyrannosaurus Rex.

No one can say that the stenographer isn’t really writing properly for this film; it’s authentic. We had regular breaks, but it was a repetitive day with the director’s voice booming out every so often.

So if you go to the cinema to watch Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, look out for me in a black suit jacket to the right of Jeff Goldblum. He gives a speech in a Q&A during the Senate scene.

This is probably the best day of my career to date, and next time I hope to get some lines!

(Official trailer – https://youtu.be/vn9mMeWcgoM )

 

Amanda Bavin, NRCPD-Registered Speech-to-Text Reporter/Stenographer, is a freelancer based near London, UK. She can be reached at www.abavinsteno.co.uk.

You never know where the job might take you

Tiffany Treffeisen, RPR, is ready for anything, including on-site trials in the Florida sun!

While working for Orange Legal in Tavares, Fla., Tiffany Treffeisen, RPR, and Lisa Shuman, RPR, shared reporting duties on an eminent domain case earlier this year. When they heard more about the proceedings, they learned that the parties agreed a view of the site – the house and road – would be beneficial to the jury in making its decision. The jury would then be able to see the boundary lines, home, and property lines that had been discussed the previous few days.

Treffeisen, who is also certified in Florida, has been reporting for 20 years in the Fifth Circuit and surrounding counties in Central Florida. Shuman has also been reporting for 20 years throughout Central Florida.

JCR | Did you know when you were assigned that something different was going to happen with this case?

Treffeisen | I was not aware when I accepted the assignment that it would include a site visit, but I learned about it on the first day of trial. Then we just had to wait and see whether it was going to be Lisa or I who was the lucky one to be the reporter, depending on which day they decided to make the trip.

Shuman | Tiffany and I split the trial, and we had heard that Thursday there would be a site visit. They wanted to move it to Friday, but it was supposed to rain, so she was the lucky one. The job I was on that day canceled, so I wanted to go along for the ride to see how it’s done for next time! And also see the road and the house!

JCR | What was the experience like? Did you have any challenges?

Shuman | It was an eminent domain trial for some property in Lake County that was taken by the Department of Transportation for the Wekiva Parkway. I had done a couple things in the case, but was very familiar with the location. I used to use the road every day and it’s being moved due to the Wekiva Protection Act. They wanted the judge and jury to see the land that was taken so they could get the market value for it.

Treffeisen | When I was talking with the attorneys about how the site view was going to take place, they informed me that we (judge, jury, attorneys, bailiff, clerk, and myself) would be taking a transit-type bus to the active construction site and that we would be getting off in several locations and that the surveyor would be testifying as to boundary locations. They advised that we would then be going to the property owners’ home and touring their house and the farm. They also assured me they would make sure I understood when to be on the record.

With the construction of the road already starting, it was a great opportunity for the jury to be able to see exactly where the road was being constructed on the property and how it was affecting the property owners.

The attorneys had also suggested I bring my own chair so I would have some place to sit while taking the testimony. So I loaded up a folding chair that morning and took it with me. I certainly got some strange looks and questions from the security station about why I needed to bring a chair into the courthouse with me.

Thankfully Lisa was there to assist me with the chair so I didn’t have to juggle my machine and the chair while getting on and off the bus; however, the judge often grabbed my chair and scolded the younger male attorneys for not being gentlemen and getting the chair for me. One of the younger attorneys took his cue and began to assist. The judge got a laugh out of “educating” young men on being proper gentlemen.

At each of the five stops, everyone exited the bus onto the road that was being constructed, which was currently lime rock, and gathered around the surveyor for him to show the jury where they were standing in relation to the maps that they had been shown all week. I think the biggest challenge of the day became the wind. It made it difficult to hear the soft-spoken surveyor while he was testifying as to the boundary lines at our stops. It was also super frustrating to have my hair blowing all over my face while trying to write. Fortunately, we were not outside taking testimony for very long, though. And when we arrived at the home and farm, the attorneys said there would be no testimony taken there.

JCR | How long were you out in the field?

Shuman | We were on site for about an hour. We stopped at five stops in various locations on the road, and then we viewed their actual house, stable, and land. There was 434 acres before the taking and 230 after, so it was to see the effect it had on their land and wildlife.

Treffeisen | We were gone for a total of around two hours – but, technically, outside and reporting, probably less than 20 minutes.  The judge gave the jury a half hour to view the house and farm portion, and then we headed back to the courthouse to finish out the day with more witness testimony.

JCR | Anything else you can tell us about what happened?

Shuman | The trial finished the next day. The jury deliberated for 1.5 hours and came back with a $4.9 million verdict!

Treffeisen | It was a pretty laid-back field trip, and it was great to get out of the courtroom for a few hours. The attorneys and the judge were all super nice and were very accommodating to me; making sure that I had everything I needed. Really, the entire trial was like that for Lisa and me. They were a great group to work with.

NCRA member shows off realtime skills during high school courthouse visit

A story posted by the Tacoma [Wash.] Weekly on March 27 noted that NCRA member Kim O’Neill, an official court reporter from Tacoma, demonstrated her realtime skills to local high school students visiting the courthouse.

Read more.

Cascio retires after more than four decades of court reporting

The Daily American posted an article on March 5 about the career of NCRA member Donna S. Cascio, FAPR, RDR, CMRS, from Somerset, Pa., who recently retired after four decades working as an official court reporter.

The following article is reprinted with permission of The Daily American.

After more than four decades as a court reporter, Somerset resident Donna Cascio maintains high regard for the position.

She retired Friday after a distinguished career full of accolades.

“It is unheard of today for someone to remain in the same job for four decades,” she said with a smile and a straight-forward look as she sat in a jury room surrounded by party favors and congratulations signs that were put there by her colleagues.

She ran her hand over the curved bangs of her layered bob as she sat writing out a list for her final day. Cascio was wearing her professional uniform, her petite figure outlined by a dark skirt and jacket and muted colored blouse.

During the interview, several of her colleagues popped in to say a few words.

“I feel very honored and appreciated the fuss that has been made over me,” she said. “I did not ask for it. I did not expect it, but I do appreciate it.”

Court reporting has suited her well.

“It fits my personality as a professional. The profession of court reporting demands that,” she said.

She ticked off some of the traits needed that she sees in herself.

She has a great sense of right and wrong and ethical conduct, she said.

“That is what being a court reporter in the courtroom is all about,” she added.

“I’m an impartial person in the courtroom, an extension of the court. It is my job to maintain an accurate record of what happens in the courtroom to protect people’s rights, because the court record made by a court reporter is the record that goes to appeal in higher court and proves whether people were given their rights.”

Working at the Somerset County Courthouse has enabled her “to see the picture from beginning to end.”

People who are trained in court reporting have many avenues today, from close-captioning for television, owning a freelance court reporting business, or internet work where they can be called to record important business matters.

One of Cascio’s friends works for the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. Another friend also retired Friday from his job as an official reporter in the (U.S.) House of Representatives.

“So the skill set possessed by court reporters today can take you many places,” she said.

She provided a quote about the profession: “Court reporting is a profession that puts the world at your fingertips,” she said with a grin.

Then Cascio highlighted one avenue for court reporters she supports wholeheartedly, Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), also known as live-event captioning.

“A trained reporter will go with a computer into a classroom for the hearing-impaired student and provide the verbatim lecture of the professor in college and enable hearing-impaired people to expand their knowledge, get a great education and have a degree,” she said.

She believes in education.

“I came from a family, my mother had an eighth-grade education only, and I was the first one of my family of five girls to pursue higher education and I chose court reporting,” she said.

She took enough courses at Conemaugh Township Area High School to finish college in one year instead of the required two years.

While she was in school in Pittsburgh, her father saw an ad for a court reporter in Somerset County and called her. Then-President Judge Charles Coffroth interviewed her for the job. It was a Saturday, she remembered.

She was 19 when she started on Feb. 5, 1973, as a part of the justice system in Somerset County.

She said she has never looked back without a gracious smile.

There have been highs and lows over the 45 years, she admitted.

A low time was in the mid-1980s when a local official, who was part of the justice system, misused his authoritative powers and hurt people under his protection. He was later sentenced, she said.

A high time was witnessing how county residents helped each other during the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

She said she enjoyed working with people at the courthouse and helping others.

“That is what we do every day,” Cascio said. “And we work together to do that. The help I’ve been provided by all the offices has been outstanding.”

Her career has opened the door to meet other people in her profession. Being on the board of directors for both state and national associations allowed her to make friendships that she has maintained.

Cascio was a past president of the Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association. She was a member of the National Court Reporters Association, and in 2014, she earned the National Court Reporters Association registered diplomate reporter certification, the highest credential available to stenographic court reporters. In the same year, Cascio was named as one of seven fellows countrywide in the Academy of Professional Reporters, a professional distinction conferred upon an individual with outstanding qualifications and experience in the field of shorthand reporting. They are nominated for membership by their peers.

On her final day she was set to “entertain her colleagues” who wanted to be part of her farewell.

Now she plans to become more engrossed in her watercolor art, do a little gardening, enjoy cooking and learn to balance her life with everything she wants to do as a busy retiree. She said she is thrilled that she and her husband, John Cascio, a retired judge, can attend their children’s big moments in their careers and personal lives. Their daughter lives and works in New York City, their son is in Washington, D.C.

Life is about a good balance, she said.

Court reporters: Crucial and often unsung players in court, elsewhere

NCRA members and official court reporters from New Jersey, Argia Riggs, RDR, Lois McFadden, RDR, CRR, CRC, and Colleen Kisielewski, RMR, CRR, CRC, were featured in an article posted by The Burlington County Times on March 12 about the court reporting profession both in and outside of the courtroom.

Read more.

NCRA member interviewed on radio program

NCRA member Steve Clark, CRC, of Washington, D.C., was interviewed by Ray Raysor, host of “Sight ‘n Vision Disability and Senior Talk Radio,” about how broadcast captioning works. Clark explains that  live realtime captioning is mostly provided by stenographic captioners using specialized computer translation software to provide word-for-word access for people with hearing impairments. He also spoke about stadium captioning and conference captioning.

The interview with Clark starts at approximately 12 minutes.

Listen here.

Two NCRA Members Tie for First Place in 2018 NCSA Challenge

For the first time in the past four years, the National Committee of State Associations (NCSA) friendly challenge among state associations and individuals to spread the word about the benefits of a career in court reporting or captioning has ended with a tie for first place. Earning first place honors were Cindy Isaacsen, RPR, an official from Olathe, Kan., and Kristen Wurgler, RPR, a captioner from Cottage Grove, Wis. Isaacsen and Wurgler will receive free webinars from NCRA. The challenge ended with the culmination of NCRA’s 2018 Court Reporting & Captioning Week, which was celebrated Feb. 10-17.

NCRA member Lisa Wagner, RPR, an official court reporter from Highlands Ranch, Colo., earned top honors in this year’s challenge. She hosted 10 school career fairs. As grand prize winner, Wagner has earned a complimentary registration to the NCRA Convention & Expo being held Aug. 2-5 in New Orleans, La.

The JCR Weekly reached out to learn more about what motivates this year’s first prize winners to promote the profession.

Build a network

To help promote the profession, Isaacsen attended a number of career fairs in the Kansas City metro area and was interviewed by her local television station.

“I have been attending career fairs and talking about court reporting for a long time, so a lot of the same schools I have been working with contact me yearly to attend their fairs,” she said.

“The television interview is an interesting story. The TV anchor of our local station was a victim in a criminal case, and I was one of the reporters assigned to the case. I made contact with her. We built a relationship through that contact and we have stayed in touch. So when Court Reporting & Captioning Week came around, I asked her about doing a television spot about the shortage of reporters.”

The news reporter also noted in the interview that Isaacsen was offered a freelance job as a result of the research she was doing in preparation for the story about the number of openings available for court reporters in Kansas and Missouri.

Another added benefit of Isaacsen’s television appearance was that, once the piece aired, participants in the local A to Z Intro to Machine Steno program jumped from three participants to more than 20, and a second television station also aired a piece about the shortage of court reporters. That story was filmed at the local courthouse, Isaacsen added.

To help round up volunteers to staff career fairs and step into media interviews, Isaacsen said you need to just keep asking people around you. She also advises taking a friend as well as your computer and steno machine so you can feel comfortable just talking about what you do and demonstrating how you do it.  Students love to see their words come up on the court reporter’s laptop, and while they will pick up handouts and candy from your table, they really like to just touch the keyboard on the steno machine, she said.

“Teenagers need to have another option when it comes to careers. The idea of attending a four-year college and walking away with huge debt and a low-paying job is scary to them and their parents. They need options and they need to know that there are other jobs available, and I think court reporting provides them so many opportunities. I always hear students saying, that is so cool, when they see what I do. They also say they have never heard of court reporting or if they have, that they didn’t realize it was the computer doing all the work,” she said.

One of the school career fairs Isaacsen attended this year was held at a middle school. To help students feel more comfortable, she ditched the traditional suit for a younger look.

“I get so excited about what I do, and it shows. The last career day I did was at a middle school, and I decided that they would listen better if I looked more like them. So I wore Converse sneakers, skinny jeans, and a sweatshirt that said ‘Court Reporters always get the last word.’ And they asked more questions, approached me more, and were more interested in what I had to say when I looked like them,” Isaacsen said.

As for the future, Isaacsen said she would like to reach out to more high school students since they are the group beginning to research their future. She’d also like to spend more time getting in contact with high school counselors and making an impact with them.

“Counselors have a lot of challenges these days, but I would really like to get in with the local counselors’ organizations and have them identify some specific students who they feel would be perfect for this career,” said Isaacsen.

Showing off captioning

Wurgler, who tied Isaacsen for first place in the NCSA Challenge, is one of several staff CART captioners at the McBurney Disability Resource Center at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She and coworkers hosted a CART trivia contest, among other activities. Each day a different question was posted on a whiteboard, along with several hints regarding the answers. The McBurney staff member with the most points on the scoreboard at the end of the week won a gift card to a specialty grocery store on the school’s campus.

During the week, Wurgler also gave a brown bag presentation to the Division of Student Life entitled “What is CART at UW-Madison?” The topics discussed in the presentation included delineating broadcast captioning from CART, some information about the student population who receives CART services on campus, a tour of the machinery including all hands on the steno keyboard for participants as they learned how to stroke ‘Bucky,’ staff qualifications, and when CART should be provided for a division event.

“Overall, our staff and division felt a greater understanding and appreciation for the complexity of CART here at UW-Madison. So even though we were not directly involved in enticing new students into the court reporting, broadcast captioning, or CART professions directly, it was an educational moment that drew attention to how CART can benefit an entire campus community.  Even more important, we all had fun while learning how CART benefits students at our beautiful campus,” Wurgler added.

Wurgler said her goal for next year during Court Reporting & Captioning Week is to ensure that captioning is always turned on at every television on the campus, including in the dining halls, the residence halls, and the educational buildings. The captions, she said, will not only benefit the school’s deaf and hard-of-hearing students but also the many international students on the campus whose first language is not English and who may find reading English captions easier than hearing the language initially.

“Imagine an extraordinarily loud environment like a dining hall on a college campus of 50,000 students with glassware, silverware, and trays clanking all the time, let alone the conversation levels. You can imagine the important safety messages that students will have the benefit of seeing on the TVs even before they can hear them. Unfortunately, receiving these important safety messages is a vital issue for schools of every level in our country during these sad times in our country,” Wurgler said.

Elite Reporting Services welcomes new reporters

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyIn a press release posted on Feb. 22, Elite Reporting Services in Franklin, Tenn., announced that Sandy Andrys, RMR; Joy Kennedy, RPR; and Ariela Pastel have joined its team of court reporters.

Read more.

How does court reporting really work?

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyGood Morning Iowa aired a story on Feb. 16 featuring NCRA member Karen Teig, RPR, CRR, CMRS, an official court reporter in Cedar Rapids, and Patricia Ziegler, CRI, CPE, director of the court reporting program at Des Moines Area Community College in Newton. The two demonstrated how the steno machine works.

Watch the segment.

Missoula court reporters keep the record clear

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Missoulian posted an article on Feb. 18 about the responsibilities of court reporters to accurately preserve every word of a court hearing. NCRA member Stephanie Morrow, RPR, from Missoula, Mont., is one of the official court reporters quoted in the article.

Read more.