Food On Film – Assignment 3 (Blog Post 5)

Rabiger’s work on conducting documentary interviews was useful both before and after we conducted our own interviews during class. The idea of interviewing groups stood out for me, for the purpose of “putting [people] together who disagree” on a topic because both familiarity and “antipathy reduces inhibitions”, (Rabiger 2009, p. 464). When it came to our experience interviewing a group, I was surprised by the amount of comfort and energy in the space, exceeding most other on-the-spot interviews I’ve conducted in the past. The three students we questioned together were friends first, classmates second, and comically shared their opposing views on each other’s financial situations. Once we stated our purpose they were eager to participate. In a group interview in my own film, I would use more than one camera to capture reaction shots, accurately depicting the level of interviewee engagement, and also to aid continuity between jarring cuts. Our aim to “catalyze people’s thoughts and feelings” (p. 464) did not require much intervention on our part however. Emphasis on ‘much’ – there were instances where we had to remind the trio not to talk over each other, as the dialogue we’d pick up was almost indistinguishable through the yelling. I think we could overcome an issue like this in the future by initially explaining why talking over each other should be avoided, and offering a demonstration. The background noise in our interview and vox pops was distractingly loud. We can prevent having to correct this in the editing stage by using a quieter location.

My group has found someone we’re super keen to interview and most likely centre our entire documentary on (though we’re also remaining adaptable and open-minded to any unexpected events we can document). The lifestyle of our current interviewee is more than inspirational. It’s a step up from what even we would consider ourselves to be capable of. According to the reading, the metaphor or plot we’re considering depicting is “the one against the many” (p. 465) because this person challenges social norms in terms of diet, career, relationships, and connectedness to the planet. Though we are still in the research stage, from what we have learned about her, the “antagonist” (p. 465) of this story is the collective, oppressive, force of the meat, dairy and egg, and big pharma industries, and societal expectations as a whole. How our interviewee has responded to these challenges is our focus for now.

In terms of camera placement when we interview, we will direct the interviewee to look on-axis towards the camera. The interviewer will sit below the camera lens. The reading mentions that “the interviewer’s role [is] to ask questions the audience would ask if it could” (p. 468), and we have this responsibility to conjure honest answers from our interviewee. Because sitting down and watching a film is generally a “passive” (p. 470) experience, when the person interviewed talks to the camera lens, through it, and to the audience, the audience will feel expected to respond — and we definitely want to evoke a response.

Rabiger, M 2009, ‘Conducting and Shooting Interviews’, in Directing the Documentary, 5th edn, Taylor & Francis Group, New York, USA, pp. 462-482.

Photo: Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary (a hint to where we’re going to film)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *