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  • Documentary interviewees

    Posted by Shane Ross on September 2, 2006 at 8:47 am

    I edit documentaries for TV. Discovery, History Channel, National Geographic. And I have done several independant docs as well. And typically, as most if not ALL of you know, when you have an interview byte you generally cover a lot of what they are saying with B-roll. OK, not if it is a PBS doc or some feature docs…they can get away with full sound bytes on screen all the time with no cutaways. But when I see that, I usually get bored.

    Well, we had an interviewee who just held your attention. He was such a good story teller, and had great facial expressions and gestures…just held your attention. Adding b-roll to him was distracting, so I didn’t. Just to see what my Producer would say. His only comment was “man this guy commands your attention doesn’t he?”

    Also with many interview bytes you have to “pull up” the byte. Take out the pauses, uhms, ramblings…cut them down to a concise statement. Not so with this guy. He was to the point, direct, and very conversational. So we sent the cut to the network, thinking THEY for sure would want us to cover him with something (which, by the way, we DIDN’T have footage to cover what he was saying). Nope…they didn’t say anything other than “we want more of this guy.”

    He was an Associate Professor of History who just graduated from Harvard and this was his first TV interview. He was very conversational and explained things very plainly. Like he was telling a story about last weekend. The other experts, also professors and historians, spoke as if they were writing dissertations…very wordy…BIG words too. This young guy was a ROCK STAR of history.

    ANWAY. His name is Brian DeLay and he will be on the documentary that I am FINALLY finishing called THE MEXICAN AMERICAN WAR that will air on The History Channel, Friday, Sept 29 at 8:00PM ET/PT.


    Littlefrog Post

    Erik Pontius replied 17 years, 9 months ago 4 Members · 8 Replies
  • 8 Replies
  • Chaz Shukat

    September 2, 2006 at 4:24 pm

    That’s amazing. I kept waiting for the shoe to drop and……nope!
    Usually someone along the chain feels compelled to stick to a “format” that restricts how long you can have a talking head on screen without b-roll, need it (or have any) or not. Just curious, how long was his longest uninterupted byte? BTW, how nausious would you have been if you had to ruin his bytes with b-roll?

    Chaz S.

  • Chaz Shukat

    September 2, 2006 at 5:09 pm

    I just checked out your website. Although I work in NYC now, I worked in LA from 1989-2004, and for several years at Termite Art before they became Creative Differences. My last project for them was in 2001. Eric Nelson had it in for me. My longest project there was Incredible Vacation Videos. Is Randy Boyd still there? If so, tell him Chaz says hi.

    Chaz S.

  • Shane Ross

    September 2, 2006 at 6:05 pm

    Yes, Randy Boyd is still there. Eric moved to Canada because of the whole George Bush thing, but still has his office and a BIG TV for video conferencing. Yeah…Eric is difficult to take. If he watches more than the first 2 min of your show, that would unusual. And you aren’t sure if that is bad or good. Did you know any of the other main-stay editors like JD, Kris Lindquist or Paul Morengo?

    Yeah, luckily this project and a couple future ones will kep me out of there. Now it is a sweatshop (well, when was it not?) turnout out fluff filler.

    Now to the cut. The longest on screen interview byte with him is 39 seconds. Another is 30 seconds…and he REALLY holds you attention. But he has several uncovered bytes, which is good because he is talking about stuff that we could really only use stills for, and the History Channel doesn’t want a lot of stills. In fact, the less the better…and if none at all…GREAT. They are moving more towards docudrama and away from their standard fare.

    Anyway…I wish I had this guy as my History teacher…


    Littlefrog Post

  • Shane Ross

    September 2, 2006 at 6:08 pm

    Oh, and no, I wouldn’t mind putting b-roll or stills behind him. But any way to save money (the edit has gone on for 4 months longer than planned) is a good thing…and the good thing is that with him, we don’t, and the audience I don’t think will miss it.


    Littlefrog Post

  • Chaz Shukat

    September 2, 2006 at 8:50 pm

    Yeah, I know Paul Morengo. I thought he left, maybe he came back? Anyway, it’s amazing that Randy is still there, that he hasn’t been fired or wanted to leave. I don’t know how he handles it. I don’t know if not having Eric there makes it better or worse since he still seems to be pretty hands on. He is undoubtedby a genious, but I also suspect he has A.D.D. (hence not watching more than the first 2 minutes). He’s the one guy I’ve encountered in my whole career that I just could not work with, and I’ve had some difficult producers that others couldn’t handle but I did. He’s a pipper alright. Do you think he’ll come back if the next prez is a dem?


    Chaz S.

  • Shane Ross

    September 3, 2006 at 12:55 am

    I just looked at your resume…BRAD LACHMAN PRODUCTIONS! I started out in this town at that company. I was their tape librarian and designed their tape database and numbering system. Gary Bormet’s office right behind my desk.

    Small friggin’ world.


    Littlefrog Post

  • Arnie Schlissel

    September 3, 2006 at 2:25 pm

    [Shane Ross] ” that will air on The History Channel, Friday, Sept 29 at 8:00PM ET/PT. “

    Damn! I’ll still be in Moscow… Guess I’ll have to catch a replay.

    On location in Moscow for Peristroika, a film by Slava Tsukerman

  • Erik Pontius

    September 12, 2006 at 6:49 pm

    I love it when you get an interviewee with a good screen presence. Recently I’ve been shooting and editing a bunch of interviews for a corporate project. We interviewed one lady in NYC who had such a great screen presence, was well spoken (wasn’t cursed with the “um” disease) and had great facial expressions. When I cut the interview I had to drop in a little b-roll here and there to illustrate her story and cover cuts between bytes with the same frame comp, but kept it to a minimum trying to keep as much of her as possible.

    Unfortunately, I wasn’t that lucky with all of them…


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