Last night I had the opportunity to work with Sharon Ferranti, a filmmaker I greatly respect and also one of my mentors. She asked me to run the boom microphone while she filmed short interviews with party guests at an event at the House of Blues downtown. The idea was that once the guests got comfortable, they would automatically find themselves in this little room with a statue of Budda and freely give a humorous interview to the camera about the guest of honor.
As a filmmaker/video guy, I know how important it is to control your setting: make sure you have sufficient lighting, that the sound levels are balanced, the composition makes sense. Well, Sharon and I did all that we could to make sure this little space was set up for the best possible interview.
The only problem that nobody foresaw, especially the event planner, was that the guests did not want to be on camera. They were just too self-conscious and timid to sit and give an interview, no matter how many drinks they had. (Drunken interviews were not the desired outcome the event planner was looking for, anyway.) We spent a good hour and a half sitting in that room waiting for any guest who had enough nerve to come in. Nobody did. They would poke their heads in to see what the bright lights were all about, but that was as far as they got.
The other problem was that the rest of the club (decorated to look like an Indian temple) was almost pitch dark, except for candles on the tables and very low overhead lighting. It would be impossible to “roam” around the crowded nightclub to get “man-on-the-street” style interviews.
So when the party planner came and announced to us that we were “going mobile!”, the first thing I did in my head was negate the request. “Oh, forget it!” I thought to myself. There’s just no way it’s gonna happen. The look on Sharon’s face said the same. However, I saw Sharon quickly change her expression to one of eager enthusiasm, and she grabbed her camera and headed out into the crowded club.
Although we did not get any usable footage as we “roamed” around the darkness, bumping into guests and getting tangled up in microphone wires, we did create quite a stir. It was as if we made just enough of a commotion to get some of the guests really interested in what we were doing. It also took some coaxing on Sharon’s part, as she practically begged some of the guests to give an on-camera interview, but the effect worked. Within 60 minutes, we had conducted 5 great interviews back in front of the lights in the little room with the Budda.
Sharon once again taught me something. I’m sure I had known it all along, but she really illuminated the concept for me. We have to consider that we might be wrong. Even though all our common sense, all our expertise and training, might scream out that we know best, we have to be able to consider that there might be another way to do something.
As an exercise, try admitting you are wrong about something, even if you know you are right. See what kind of doors this simple act may open up for you. A simple lesson in humility can be one of the greatest things we’ll ever learn.