Big Cat Charlie (view this story)

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Peter Huoppi July 7, 2010, 5:56 a.m. permalink

I like personality pieces like this. They give us an insight into the lives of everyday people. This one was fairly well executed, and I don't see why this couldn't be a daily, other than the time constraints of travel and time spent before and during the game.

I don't know if Big Cat Charlie is a well-known character to Jags fans, but to someone like me he seems like your average passionate football fan. If he's not this exceptional character, I think you have to work a little harder as a storyteller to make me as a viewer care. Why should I care about this guy? It is interesting to me to see the behind the scenes home life of a crazy fan, but his quotes are a little bland. In the beginning he says a few times "it was exciting" but I don't get a sense for that excitement when he's speaking.

If you're going to go with a completely subject-narrated piece, I think you have to work to break it up a bit. You do this with some natural sound, which works in places. I'm a little bothered that sometimes the subjects seem to be performing for the camera. Another option for breaking it up is to include some other voices. What does his wife think? What do the kids think?

Another way you could break it up is with narration. You're the story teller, not Charlie. I think the story gets a little bogged down when he's explaining that he picked a section and then as assigned seats, they were good seats, we had four tickets and now we have six... I'm more interested in his emotional quotes. If you need to have facts in the story, you are going to be a better writer than a subject speaking off the cuff. I think you could eliminate some of Charlie's factual quotes with a line or two of narration.

The toughest thing about shooting a story with one main subject is having a good sequence of visuals that avoids jump cuts. You do this well on their trip to the stadium, cutting from the view out the windshield to the tattoo, to the stadium going past...etc. But the face-painting in the beginning is very repetitive visually. You cut from one shot of him being painted to a similar shot to another similar shot of someone else getting painted. Get super close so all I see is the brush and the spots, then turn around and shoot what else is going on in the room: are the kids watching? Back up and get a really wide view. These options will let you cut together a sequence with more visual variety.

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Kelly Jordan July 12, 2010, 3:13 p.m. permalink

Peter,

Sorry for the delayed response. Thank you very much for taking the time to review this. I agree about his interview not reflecting his excitement for the game. He is a passionate fan, I just do not think he communicates his passion very well. I am uncomfortable with narration, but I do see how it could have worked here. I thought the same thing about the jump cuts but unfortunately I did not have enough from that scene to break up the edit better. This story really opened my eyes to the importance of subject choice. They are very interesting people, but that did not translate into their interviews at all. The son and daughter did not want to talk on camera and the wife basically repeated everything he said. Perhaps I should have interviewed a couple of the fans in his section to add some other voices. I will think more about that in the future. I did enjoy working on this story and now I can see ways that I could have improved on this. Thank you again for your insights, I appreciate having a forum like this so help me improve as a storyteller.

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