An Ethiopian Taxi Driving Painter (view this story)

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Rep: 33
Adam Wisneski Aug. 10, 2010, 9:39 p.m. permalink


Thanks for submitting this. I think the length of it is just fine. And you've found what seems to be an interesting character. But it didn't really grip me as a story. 

Here's what I think you could do to improve: 

First the technical. 

I think you did a good job by getting multiple views during an interview. It's easy to just let the camera roll, but you got some different angles and I think they worked well.

I didn't get the use of black and white shots (cab scenes maybe?). And then the fade to color when he's walking away from the cab didn't really add anything. I'd keep it consistent, either BW or color throughout. The reason is that anything camera/editing-wise that doesn't contribute to the story is just distracting for the viewer. 

I also would consider changing the type face that you used for the text slides. The one you chose (marker felt?) takes away from the seriousness that I think you tried to convey in the story because it's kind of a playful type. Stick with something plain if you're not sure what to use. I use Arial in all my stuff, but I think there is some wiggle room, if the situation calls for it. This one, in my opinion doesn't. 

Some of the camera movement at minute 2:16 were hard to watch. Kind of a floating feeling. I think I get what you were going for, and it's great to experiment. But make sure you also shoot some steady shots in case your idea doesn't work out. Your camera work was a little shaky. Tripod time. 

Some of the shots felt like they were up for too long. i.e. the title slide, the painting shots at :49. 

Second, the story. 

I think your story really stays on the surface here. I heard some hints of great possible story lines, but you stayed general in this video. For example, when I heard him talking about staying up all night to paint, and then getting up in the morning to go to work all tired, I wanted to see something that showed that, too. Another moment is when he's talking about the "avenue that you have to choose as a painter, you have to know which way to go." This is a great commonality between his two VERY DIFFERENT jobs, and would have made a great opening line or story thread. 

This is difficult to do. It's all about focusing your story. It's easy to meet an interesting person and think "I've got a story here." A lot of people then tell the story by thinking they have to tell everything about the person. It's more difficult to then take a second, and think about it, and decide what you want to say about him. What you decide to leave out is more important than what you decide to put in. By including every fact about him (i.e.natural materials he uses) you actually drown out the details that could've carried an interesting story.

There are several ways to do this (can't unbold, sorry). One is, act like you're telling a friend about this guy you met. And notice which parts you talk about first. Which parts you think are most interesting. For this guy, it might be that he's an amazing painter but can't do what he does best because he can't make money. So he's trapped in a cab for 10 hours a day, dreaming about something else. THAT"S YOUR STORY. 

The next step is to think about how you're going to SHOW and TELL me that. Is it him in the cab talking about how boring it is, then walking in the door, then opening his closet with all the gorgeous paintings. Then he starts working and talking about it. Then a shot of the clock 12:00 a.m., him tucking into bed, etc. What will you end with? 

Try that with your next profile piece. Decide what you're going to say, and how (with what visuals and audio) you're going to say it. 

Nice work.

Rep: 4
Nico Colombant Aug. 21, 2010, 9:07 p.m. permalink


Thanks very much for all the time you put into this very careful feedback.

I've been in a bit of a rut to take the multi-media reporting Ive been trying to do to a different level and subject matter, so this is all extremely helpful.

You also explain the points you make very clearly, so this feedback will stay with me.  Thanks again,


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