I recently re-watched this segment of Ira Glass on Storytelling while discussing the series with my class. Ira’s message about being a ‘ruthless killer’ and cutting anything that doesn’t add to the story is really ringing true for me this week. I’m working on two more videos for Stan Clark Co.’s 20-year service award recipients, which is a huge undertaking. I had less raw footage to deal with this time, but taking 6+ hours of video down to an end-product that’s 15 minutes long is still a monumental task! Adding to this challenge is the story’s form – I’m letting the interview subjects tell the recipient’s story with no voice-over or scripted narration.
With every cut and cull, I find myself asking if I’m ‘propping-up’ the recipient’s story or confusing the story’s natural flow. Particularly when there’s no script involved, one has to pay careful attention to editing, so that the interviewee’s statements make sense in context with others around it; and also that these statements aren’t edited so as to deceive their true meaning. This leads to situations wherein I have an amazing clip – the person is saying something funny, deep, or genuine and it really sings – but I don’t have any other material to support it and make it the best it can be. If I keep the clip, I’m only doing so because I selfishly love it; not because that’s the best context or helps the story. Thus, even though I’ve fallen in love with the clip, I have to let it go. It hurts for now, but with Ira’s support I’m sure I’ll have a story that’s a lot stronger in the end.