For the last 2 months I have been wading through interviews and b-roll. Mainly interviews. Zero transcripts…producers busy writing the other two shows. I have mainly been left to my own devices. Mainly what I have been doing is cutting “assembly” edits. Telling a story with the interviews and sound bytes that I have on hand. Culling out the good stuff and arranging it in story order. Leaving them long and full of information. I do this so that the producer can watch them and then write narration to better explain and condense what the interviewees said. Yes, this has been taking up my two months. Well, that and editing a segment or two for the other shows. But mainly it has been going over the stuff I have and trying to make a show out of it.
Now, one of the toughest parts of this is wading through all the interviews. Many of these people are boring. I mean, REALLY boring. They might be experts at what they do, but not many people are good public speakers. I know I am not…although I am getting better. But most of these people are so boring I find it tough to concentrate. Tough to stay awake and really CARE about what they are saying. Like that professor you had in college that just rambled on and on and no matter how hard you tried, or how late in the morning afternoon the class was, and how much sleep you get, keeping awake is a monumental task.
I was hit with a guy like this yesterday. Not only was he boring, but he was not the most well spoken either. UHM, AH, WELL…all over the place. Every 3rd word was a long “uuuuuhmmmmm” or “aaaaaaahhhh”…it was maddening. So instead of a nice long soundbyte, I have this thing on the timeline that looks like a chopped up carrot. CHOP CHOP CHOP CHOP CHOP. Lucky to have 2 seconds of screen time.
Needless to say I was dragging my feet. This guy was boring. Sure, what he said was informative, but it was boring as heck.
But then…THEN! Then this other guy starts talking. A foreman on the site who is from a country in west Africa. Not the best english in the world, but he was dynamic and fun. He didn’t just spout out facts, but told stories that illustrated his point, and made the seemingly mundane thing seem amazing and cool. WHAT A BREATHE OF FRESH AIR! I actually sat up and leaned forward…intent on listening. Hanging on every word. Suddenly editing was fun again.
Interesting how that happened. I was dying…hating my job. Slouched in my chair and hating life as I listened to one guy…then the next moment I was at attention, rapt on every word of another. And they were talking about the SAME THING!
I encountered something similar on the documentary I worked on for History…THE MEXICAN AMERICAN WAR. A few experts were good, a couple were snorers, but one guy was vibrant. VERY vibrant. He really knew his stuff, and was a great story teller and told the story so well that I didn’t want to cut away from him to show any b-roll or stills. I wanted to see him. So I left him on screen…for 48 seconds. When the producer saw it, he loved it, and also didn’t call for any cutaways. Then the network saw it and not only wanted him on screen for the full time, but wanted MORE of him.
What is my point? Well, that just plain old droning facts are…well, boring. We all know this. We all had some teacher that just taught dates and names and we didn’t retain one OUNCE of that information later in life. I can’t recall half the history I learned in high school. But get a teacher that is great at telling a story, one that doesn’t just relate facts, but can relate a story with cause and effect, conflict and resolution, then you GRAB your audience and they are engaged.