"Lies can prevail against much in this world, but never against art."--Solshenitsyn
I recently had an interesting dialogue with a client and friend of mine who recently started a podcast. Like all newbies at anything, this person has loads of questions about all aspects of her show. I of course patiently answer these questions, as they're a reminder that I too was once a green, wet-behind-the-ears, pie-eyed plebe in the not-too-distant past
Well, this person recently interviewed someone who is very well-known in American pop culture, or at least was in the 1990's. When he was at the peak of his fame, he was a household name.
Nice feather in her cap to interview an A-list guest for her new show, right?
So it's less than 24 hours before the episode goes live, and she's freaking out.
Everyone is going to hate it.
There's too much this, not enough that.
The usual stuff.
(By the way, a podcast is a lot like having a baby. You freak out over every little thing on the first born, but by the time you have 3 or 4 rugrats running around, you're like, "Screw it, as long as it's not dead I've done my job." Same thing with a podcast. Get a few episodes under your belt and you quit worrying over every little detail.)
At any rate, this person sent me this loooong list of things to cut from the interview.
"After he says, 'after my first haircut...' cut to where he says, 'I had a toothache and took an aspirin and I was fine.'"
(Obviously this is made up. I would never compromise the integrity of my client by sharing the actual transcript of the interview.)
There were probably ten or so such instances in just the first 12 minutes.
What is one to do? You give the client what they want, right? They'll figure things out and eventually come around to the same conclusions you the grizzled veteran have: everything will be just fine.
So I opened up the audio file and begin to make the cuts she has requested. Within a few minutes, I realized that she wants to cut a lot of really interesting information about this person's personal story. Things that really define who he is and what made him a powerhouse in American culture.
So I, the wise, discreet and adroit producer, asked her, "WTF are you thinking?! You're taking out the best parts of the interview!!!"
"I'm just concerned about the length of his personal story," she replied meekly, with just a hint of embarrassment. "I want to make sure people stick around to hear his message..." Not a verbatim quote, but it's the gist of it.
It's a valid thought process, but it doesn't take into account why people are going to press play on this episode in the first place. In this case, people (myself included) want to get to know this person on a level deeper than the role he has played on television. When it comes to celebrities, you're always asking, "I know this person is like this when the cameras are rolling, but what's he really like in real life?"
I told my friend and client (who I love dearly) that if anything, his personal story wasn't nearly long enough! If I had simply done as she asked without asking any questions or giving any feedback, it would have seriously weakened the impact of the episode. Kind of like having the same amount of water, but less coffee grinds. Sure you have coffee, but it's nowhere near as good as it could be.
Thankfully my friend listened to the sage advice of her producer and did the right thing. She simply said in so many words, "Use your best judgment. It's what I'm paying you for."
Wisdom manifested rather quickly with this student... Would that all learn from her example...