Channelling Michael Parkinson

I’m becoming accustomed to getting new experiences on this course; even though I read the module handbooks I’m never quite sure what’s around the corner. This time it was my chance to learn how to get people to give me interviews and it’s definitely not as easy as it seems! Michael Parkinson definitely had many years to perfect his craft whereas I had a few weeks and a car journey.  Firstly, conveying what you’re trying to do and who you are without waffling is an art form in itself! The first person I asked flat out rejected me, saying he didn’t have time at all, not even at the end of the day but I knew that it was my fault. I was a bumbling ball of nerves which doesn’t give off the right vibes to a potential interviewee and make them want to talk to you.

I almost persuaded the second person to talk to me; I got as far as showing him the questions that I wanted to ask but as soon as I explained that I needed to record him he did a U-Turn. He was afraid of saying something wrong and that negatively impacting his career and the people he worked for even though I explained that I wasn’t looking to catch him out. He wasn’t to be persuaded but I wasn’t sure that his knowledge was in the area that I needed for my project so maybe it was a blessing in disguise!

By the time I arrived at the third place I had my initial speech down to a T and after some more explaining about my project the third person willingly agreed for me to interview him. The interview went smoothly once I realised that I hadn’t plugged my remote into the recorder properly and apart from his college plonking a mug of tea down and scraping it across the table in the middle of him talking it was brilliant. It was a great experience asking strangers to give you interviews and to get someone who was as interesting and chatty as the man I did persuade was an added bonus! Hopefully I can cover up the sounds of that same college bustling around in the background with some other sounds and cut my voice out completely, the power of editing software is yet to be realised and I can’t wait to start playing about with it!

It’s strange what assumptions people make about you when you ask them for an interview and I realised that there are lots of negative connotations with the word interview. It might make them think about ruthless journalists twisting people’s words and so I tried to phrase it as simply having a conversation and asking some questions for five or ten minutes. Having someone who is willing to help is also a bonus, my interviewee offered further help if I needed pictures of their practices or more questions answering which was more than I could have wished for! Sometimes how you approach people doesn’t matter too much; the sort of person they are can have more of an impact on the success of an interview.

My next interview is with my parents which is a bit easier as they already know that I’m not going to ask them tricky questions and lose them their jobs, but it’s still important for me to treat it seriously and not get side-tracked because I already know them! Now it’s off to record the toilet flushing and a few more background sounds to create some ambience, I’m sure that I’ll find my inner Michael Parkinson one day!

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