Wednesday, 5 January 2022

Feature Interviews - Some Thoughts

I've been thinking on my interview skills of late having spoken with a variety of people all over the world whether it's for a publication or my book research. Generally interviews for me are easy to plan except where when that person has put together a biographical piece. Case in point I revisited two of my video interviews - Matthew Polly (author of 'Bruce Lee; A Life') and Kevin Derek (writer/director 'More than Miyagi'; The Pat Morita Story') What do these two have in common? Both their works (book and film) are biographies of larger than life personalities. It's here where my interview approach is altered. 

When Matthew's book was released interviewers mainly asked him about Bruce Lee. This was understandable to a point after all some forty plus years after his death we are still fascinated with the man (and the myth) of Bruce Lee. I noticed this recently when Kevin Derek's biopic documentary about Pat Morita came out. Interviewers wanted to know what these personalities were like, their ups, their downs and of course some juicy little tit bits of detail that perhaps we might not have known about before. I found this somewhat puzzling, after all if you want to know about these men then read the book or watch the film. I rarely heard any of them asked about their journey, the painstaking research, and how in these deep dives their view of the person is changed. After all interviews surely are more about the person sitting in front of you, a little less about the subject of their art. In prepping for my chats with Matthew and Kevin this was the approach I took. 

For me the interviewee is the story, and so questions should reflect on telling their story. I asked both Matthew and Kevin how they felt about their respective subjects, their feelings, perceptions (sometimes other people's perceptions), and about putting together their respective works of art. Their journey is a vital part of the story and so questions should chart that journey. I would then conclude with how that journey affected them, in both cases whether there views on the person whose life story they told had changed. From a personal perspective I find the most fascinating stories in this kind of questioning but in keeping the focus on them I get a more emotional and authentic response. It's something I feel holds a reader's or viewer's attention.

I always keep in mind in interviews, the story is about your subject, not you or the person they're talking about. This, in my mind is the essence of building a legacy piece people will revisit repeatedly years from now. 

If you have a story that needs telling, and a legacy to build why not contact me


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