Multimedia Story – Workshop with Laura Candler

[note: these notes are for a workshop by Laura Candler held on September 11, 2012 with the Art 242 class at Sewanee]
1. INTRODUCTION.
Brief intro by Laura Candler, Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, current project, next steps.
2. WHAT IS MULTIMEDIA?
Discussion.
Show “Here on Earth” by Damian Biniek and Adrianna Widdoes (this was made by two colleagues at Salt as their first multimedia project. The piece was shot/recorded in one day. A good example of what is possible out of the gate!)
and “Women of Troy” (this is a multimedia story based on a poem, a different and effective approach to documentary. This link also includes a Q & A with the makers.)
Discuss stories.
Questions for story discussion:
 1. What is the specific focus of this piece?
2.  Did the piece make us care? Why?
3. What was at stake?
4. Is all the information there? Too much? Not enough?
5. What information did the audio provide that was not seen in pictures and vice versa?
3.WHAT IS A STORY?
Discuss elements of a story.
-universal theme (love, death, phase of life, relationship)
-connection on opening
-accuracy and truth
-“inciting incident” – the “moment.” the turning point. what puts the story in context.
-subject/characters
Discuss story Structure: Beg, mid, end. What happens within a structure.
Discuss FOCUS STATEMENT. “Somebody does something because…”
Watch “Waiting for Death” by Liz O. Baylen (OR “Last Minutes with Oden“)
Discuss. What is the focus of this piece?
–Break–
THE INTERVIEW
How do you elicit a story?What are useful interview techniques?
1. Know your character & story before you start recording/filming.
-otherwise you’ll end up with a bunch of facts
2. Plan questions to elicit strong responses.
-NOT about fact-finding. It’s about revealing a story in an engaging way.
-If you’ve already discussed it, remind subjects. “Tell me this as though I’ve never heard it before.”
-stack questions if you have to. Ask to speak in complete sentences.
3. Ask warm up questions to feel comfortable with equipment.
-What did you eat for breakfast?
4. Explain everything you are doing.
-Unplug appliances, etc.
5. Room noise
6. Save toughest questions for last.
7.Ask the same question until you get an answer.
-rephrase as many times as you need to. (use the Robert Krelwich example.)
8. Be enthusiastic – but silent.
-respond with silent cues, but no “uh huhs or “yeahs”
9. Ask for anecdotes
-“Give me an example…”
10. Allow for silence.
-count to 10 after questions if you have to. Ask people question…if you need to be more specific, they’ll tell you.
Watch –  “A Life Alone” by Maisie Crow
-Discuss importance of interview to a multimedia piece.
-Differentiate between interview and scenes.
-If not rushed for time, listen to a radio piece. An excerpt of “It Takes an Island” by Laura Candler. Discuss interview vs. scenes.
INTERVIEW EXERCISE.
Interview a partner: spend 10 minutes talking, the “pre-interview”, then 5 minutes recording as if for a MM piece (including 30 sec. room noise). Use interview techniques discussed. Switch partners and repeat. Return in 30 minutes.
-Maximize time to get key soundbites for a strong piece.
Return to class, spend remainder of class learning to edit interviews.
-Try and create 1-2 minute sound bite, as if for a multimedia piece.
-If you’re getting stuck…what resonated with you? What is your best piece of tape? What part of their story/interview drew you in?
multimedia pieces to watch during class:

Here on Earth by Damian Biniek and Adrianna Widdoes
Women of Troy by Lu Olkowski, Ted Genoways, Brenda Ann Kenneally, and Susan B.A. Somers-Willett
Waiting for Death by Liz O. Baylen
Last Minutes with Oden by Eliot Rausch
A Life Alone by Maisie Crow