Posts Tagged ‘This American Life TV’

Question No. 29: “Do you have the time?”

November 9, 2009

Ira Question | Written by Nathan Mattise

With the big lecture just over a week away,  I managed to get a few of my classes to agree to hold TAL TV showings.

We opted to watch the “Escape” episode because it’s so rich and offers a journalism class tons of topics to draw on (visuals, interviewing, narration, angles, staging shots… the list goes on).

The one question that came out of it that no one seemed to have a pulse on was about time however. Clearly a story like the Mike Phillips piece in “Escape” requires tons of time to research beforehand, conduct multiple interviews to develop that frank rapport, and then clean-up time for follow-up interviews or additional shoots if you need visuals to match some great audio.

I know time is a limited resource, but when you’re only filming six episodes a season…

On average, how much time does it take to produce a great story? What is the time breakdown between preparation, actual filming and reporting, then tying all the loose ends (refilming, follow-ups, etc.) in post-production? How does the TV preparation compare to doing the same for a radio episode?

Links: n/a

E-mail us if you have a question for Ira Glass to discuss or if you have insight on this one.
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Question No. 20: “Seriously?”

October 22, 2009

Ira Question Written by Nathan Mattise

This weekend we have a project for my web journalism class that’s largely based on sequencing (basically the idea of storyboarding out your video, but applied to documentary/journalistic video).

The issue with storyboarding out something journalistic is that you don’t have creative control over pure documenting.  This leads to the lure of staging shots in order to complete your ideal vision.

It’s not the most ethical practice, but in the commentary for “Reality Check” episode from season one of TAL TV,  Ira Glass admits the crew uses fishing wire to lead the bull around the yard to complete the background aesthetic.

For real?

What are your thoughts on staging visuals to complete your stories? Is that one of the reasons you opted to stop doing the TV show?

Links: Mastering Multimedia | YouTube

E-mail us if you have a question for Ira Glass to discuss or if you have insight on this one.

Question No. 13: “Where did you move the furniture?”

October 12, 2009

Ira Question | Written by Nathan Mattise

Describe that picture in one word.  Is it Storytelling? Pretentious? Memorable? Awesome?

This American Life on radio has the iconic soundbite – Ira’s self-admitted slightly nasal, a bit too quick delivery of the “It’s This American Life…” intro. After Season One of TAL on TV, Ira Glass sitting at his Ikea-chic desk in some remote and scenic location seemed to be the frontrunner for the show’s “defining image.”

They opted to ditch it all in Season Two however. The new intro was Ira on a handheld video camera, taping himself in the middle of some organic experience (on escalators, driving in cars, etc.). I understand that Ira never wants to be the focus of the program, but if he is the face that people recognize and then sit down to listen to (inevitably leading them into the entire program)…

…what gives?

In this age of meticulous marketing and branding, why would you opt to move away from having a defining image (Ira at the desk) for the television series?

Links: n/a

E-mail us if you have a question for Ira Glass to discuss or if you have insight on this one.

Question No. 1: “Why Ira, why?”

September 21, 2009

Ira Question | Written by Nathan Mattise

This entire blog/project was sparked by the This American Life: Season Two DVD .  Specifically, my friends and I were moved by the John Smith piece.

My colleague who worked in broadcast journalism commented it was one of the best produced pieces of television he’s ever seen.  The other one simply warned me he cried during his first viewing.

As an aspiring journalist, everything This American Life does impresses me in terms of idea generating, execution, storytelling, emotion evoking, etc.  “The Life of John Smith” was no different.  The piece ultimately helped Season Two win two Emmys. It also has the distinction of Ira calling it, “…one of the best things we’ve ever put on, on TV or radio.

In light of all that, today’s question:

With the success of This American Life on TV and your continued pursuit of more challenging and innovative journalism, why put that project on hiatus and return to radio only?

Links: KCRW.com| Amazon| Chicago.Decider.com| WBEZ Blog

E-mail us if you have a question for Ira Glass to discuss or if you have insight on this one