LIFE STORIES: Seeing The End (view this story)

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Rep: 87
Michael Fagans Dec. 15, 2010, 9:23 p.m. permalink


You found a great personalty and a fun story and that is often 85% of the battle.

There are some great, fun quotes, especially the "getting old is a nuisance" line.

I wanted to see more B-roll. Did she ever rest, does she 'suit up' or prepare her cart or drop the money off, does she drive, take the bus? Were there any wide angle or telephoto shots to be made? Could you have used the mirrors I often see in hospitals for a different perspective? In other words, the story is there, it just became visually repetitive without some other possibilities.

I am curious, when you look at the video now, are there any parts of the interview you would cut?

Keep up the good work and submitting work, that is how we get better. The folks who lurk or don't submit are short-changing themselves. You have committed to the process, keep going.

Rep: 15
James Gregg Dec. 16, 2010, 5:56 p.m. permalink

Hi Phil,

I agree, this is a great find for a strong personality piece and I think that most of the elements are in your piece at some point.  Visually I think it is done well, and you made a good connection with the people around you that comes through.   A tighter edit could have helped a lot I think.  Taking only the very best of what you have here and letting it flow smoothly around a specific focus would make it stronger.  It would also probably get it around the 2- 2:30 minute mark without losing your story.
I heard a bit of rustling/handling noise from the microphone at times, but I couldn't tell if that was from her clothes rubbing a lav or from handling a shotgun.  If it's a wireless, take care with placement so that if your subject moves it doesn't rub, are you using headphones in the field?  Sometimes you can catch that kind of thing and correct for it right away.
The title slide went on a bit long.  I think it was 5 or 6 seconds, and 2 or 3 could work fine. I was already engaged with the story, going with the moving cart, and the long slide felt like a bit of an interruption.
At one point a woman buying an item jokes that the price is "a rip off" then seems to turn her attention to you, which kind of breaks a 4th wall for me.  Those two have other good moments of interaction, and I thought you might be able to lose this and cut down on distraction.
The lower third identifying your volunteer has the text running over her face, perhaps lowering it a bit in the frame would help.
The quote about "getting old is a nuisance" is gold.  It comes at about halfway through, I'd consider putting it nearer to the beginning or the end to make it really stand out as one of your strongest quotes.
I think you have a  nice video here, with some more time on the edit, it would be really solid.
My 2 cents.  Looking forward to you next one.


Rep: 48
Pat Shannahan Dec. 17, 2010, 10:28 a.m. permalink

I agree with James that all the elements are there for a good personality piece. I think it might need to be edited a bit tighter. She has some great quotes but it takes a while to get to them. What I found most compelling was around 2:20 when she talks about how she is going blind and how she knows it is going to come. There is plenty of opportunity to give this story a little twist. The surprise isn't that she a 103-year-old lady at a hospital. You expect to find an elderly person at the hospital. The surprise is that she's not there to be a patient. While she's loosing her vision and slowly going blind she is there to help other people; listening to patients and raising the sprits of the workers. That might be a more compelling way to edit. It might take the viewer down a path they didn't anticipate. That exact story line might not fit into what you were trying to do but you might consider revisiting your interview and see if there is a storyline that stands out. 

The visuals are nicely shot. The video from your EX1 looks great. We recently got one at our paper and need to give it a try.  Is Life Stories something your newspaper is doing as a staff or a personal project? It looks like a good outlet to get out there and tell some stories. 

Pat Shannahan

Rep: 14
Phil Carpenter Dec. 18, 2010, 5:02 a.m. permalink

Hello all, and thanks for your kind comments.  Pat, you are bang on; the main surprise is that she's going blind and I tried to structure the piece around that fact.
I just realized that I wrote about, that it was turned around in more than a day.  Fact is, that included the pre-interview.  The actual shooting and editing was done in less than a day.

My actual intent was to focus on the fact that, on her last day at the hospital, when I shot the story, they threw her a birthday party.  It was during the interview after the party that she revealed that the reason she was "retiring" was that she was going blind.  Oh man when I heard that...!  But I had no time to speak to her doctor, she didn't know too much about this affliction, and so I couldn't elaborate on it.  But I couldn't leave it out! 

It was shot o a Wednesday, I think, and my plans was to air it oline on the following Sunday, when my Life Stories are aired.  But the city editior didn't want us to loose the scoop by waiting, assigned a writer to the story and insisted that we get it out for the next day.  Sigh!!!

Life Stories is a project that I proposed to the paper, and it's just stories of people that I try to do once every two weeks.  They stories are presented on Sundays.  The plan is to make this a weekly series, but it's hard since I have to do this along with my other assignments.  But I'm getting there.  ;-)

Thanks agaiin.

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