Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Choppin’ and Shavin’

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Both of these are about cutting, but how they do it is the difference between using a meat axe and a scalpel.  When editing an interview, at the beginning, the meat axe is OK.  I mean, some things just have to go because they don’t fit with what the overall context is.  That can happen when somebody goes off the subject of the moment without context.  Then, that thing is sort of sitting out there by itself and not really applicable to anything else around it.  It’s got to go.

Another example is when something has to be moved, like when somebody says something that is really a reference to something they said a lot earlier and you realize it would go better there than where it trickled in later.

Or when somebody loses their train of thought.  When they jump the track, everybody listening flies off with them, and that’s where you can lose them, so that’s got to go too.  All of those are examples of gleefully chopping up interviews with abandon.  It’s too easy.  You don’t have to be very delicate.  Swinging a chain saw, like knocking down walls in a home renovation project, can be kinda fun.

But shaving is very different.  Shaving starts to happen when the meat axe blade is just to wide to be beneficial.  Now, you’re talking about breaths and syllables and words and thoughts that need to be nudged closer together or further apart for logic or pacing or time.  And all this while not changing context.  This is where editing is the most miserable and the most fun.  Like using a straight razor to remove cat hair from a balloon, that’s what this kind of editing is like.  I don’t like cat hair, or big, squeaky balloons or very sharp pieces of metal.  But altogether, they’re like ice cold root beer over vanilla bean ice cream on a hot summer day.  Gimme.


Written by Interviewer

March 2, 2013 at 04:55

Posted in Scratchpad

Tagged with , , , , , ,

One Response

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  1. I love the imagery you created with this article. Beautiful! Thank you for the gift! Have a wonderful Memorial Day!

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