I was a part of the team that produced a short documentary about the SC Mission 2012 event in Columbia, SC. This production won a Silver Wallie Award and a Golden Tusk award. Below is the video from the event. EXCITED!!!
Are we open to tell the stories that un-expectantly emerge? So many times we have a pre-conceived notion of a storyline, especially at the beginning of a project. We picture it in our head. We imagine how it will come together. We plan each shot, each interview, the music, the graphics…we have all the answers before the camera is pulled out.
It happens to all of us…we want to control and shape the message from the very beginning. But we better be careful, you never know what might be lurking around the corner and we might just miss it.
“The SC Mission 2012 clinic was held at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds where volunteers provided free medical, dental and vision services. SC Mission 2012’s goal was to provide services and match patients to a medical home where they can continue to receive the care they need. More than 2000 patients were seen and a total of 2100 volunteers including physicians, nurses, dentists, optometrists, pharmacy, nursing and medical students and lay persons helped make the clinic possible. More than 2000 patients were seen in all three services areas during the two-day event.”
I go into these productions always wanting to advocate for the patient. I want to find the patient story that inspires us to challenge and reform the way we deliver care. I wanted to shape the final piece around the patient’s faces, voices, and experiences.
The patient story was only a small portion of this year’s message and I almost dismissed the obvious…the stories of the volunteers. These individuals that gave their time, energy, and compassion during this two day event. These are the people that move South Carolina forward.
I spent the whole time during the shoot trying to find that un-believable patient story. I was struggling to find that one interview that moved the needle forward. Yes…there were a lot of great interviews, but I was comparing this event to the patient stories we found in 2010. CLICK HERE to watch SC Mission 2010’s video.
But after spending a whole day with Shalama Jackson (SCHA.org) capturing patient stories, volunteer stories, and the sights and sounds of the day…I went back to review. Patti Smoake (of SCHA.org) and I found something even more special, I had captured some tremendous interviews from the volunteers. I did not realize it at the time, but the volunteers shared something special, their passion. It was Patti that helped me look through a different lens as we crafted this piece together.
We always advocate for the patient and YES, we wanted that one patient story that would move the audience. But it was the volunteer’s voice in this story, the voice that not only advocated for the patient but the movement to provide better access to care.
As I sit here and work on a story for the SCMission2012 project, I am reminded the importance of listening. Many people have many different strategies when conducting on camera interviews for stories. I can remember working with a seasoned journalist who would spend hours outlining his interview questions, making sure he delivered the right question at the right time.
For years, I have never taken a list of interview questions with me to an interview. I rely more on the art of listening when trying to capture comments for a story. I spend lots of time researching the person, the cause, the initiative, and the purpose behind the story. I spend time thinking through the relationship between the person and the story. But when it is time to roll the camera, I let the conversation direct the questions.
The camera is intimidating for many people and sometimes it means that everything we ask will end up in the final version of the story. I guess the digital age has taught us that anything we say can end up on YouTube. So the approach of asking questions based on the conversation can be concerning for most interview subjects.
A few weeks ago, I was working on a story where the interview subject was not expecting a series of questions. Specifically, I started with a series of warm-up questions to allow us to get acquainted with the camera. Conducting an on-camera interview is all about relationship building and trust. This person thought that the initial series of questions were going to end up in the final story, thus revealing something that the person felt was a little to personal for the story.
A few days after the interview, this person called me concerned. I re-assured this person, that these questions were not going to end-up in the final story and I was going to delete these comments from all the digital copies.
We have to listen and we have to be transparent when conducting interviews for video use. We have to explain our process and provide our intentions in a transparent manner. We have to listen and we have to be prepared. The camera is there to capture moments very personal for people and our burden as storytellers is craft the story with utmost compassion.