When I came across the Audio Report assessment in the Subject Outline for the first time, I immediately decided to explore the Emotional History of Eddie Jaku, a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz escapee. But as I sat in my lounge room planning the interview, a story came on television about a survivor of the 2005 Bali Bombings. Glancing up at my mother, I saw her face drop and her eyes drift away from the screen blankly. I knew exactly what she was thinking… ‘If only that was Fiona’. It was in this moment that I changed the focus of my assessment and in turn changed how I see my mother’s past.
Your parents have always been and will always be your rock. It is their job, in times of tragedy, to put on a brave face and tell you that everything is going to be okay, even when it’s not. It has been nine years since the death of Fiona Zwolinski, my mother’s best friend, and the Audio Report gave me the opportunity to see a different side of my mother, a side that I never expected to see. As she broke down in front of me, she dropped all of the walls she had put up in the past and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
Going into the interview, I did something that I had never done before. I went in unprepared. Having abandoned the laundry list, I was able to control the flow of the interview and get more out of it as a result. This was an amazing learning experience as it allowed me to realise the full effect of a conversational approach. Another major interviewing skill I learnt from this task is that if you invest yourself in the story that you are covering, as I did in this instance, you will get much more out of your interviewee. If they laugh, you laugh. If they reflect, you reflect. If they cry, you cry. Obviously there is a limit to your emotional attachment to the story, but when you are only using segments of the talent’s interview, then I see no harm in, as I did, expressing your emotions without reservation.
The transition from what I had in mind to what I was able to produce with Hindenburg was both unexpected and astonishing. Under Aaron’s guidance, I was able to seamlessly transfer the interview, music and ambience into what is now a moving final product. After some issues with both a lengthy secondary interview with father and poor narration on my part, I decided to use the ABC coverage of the incident as an introduction to the piece. The desired impact of this was to both set the scene and to give meaning to what most people see as ‘news’. The addition of the ABC coverage gives the listener a background of the tragedy as well as adding a new layer of emotion to the report. It gives it gravitas.
As someone who has dreamt about becoming a print journalist his whole life, I am now so much more open to other forms of journalism as a result of this assessment task. This exercise opened my eyes to the unique ability of audio to encapsulate the emotions that tragedy brings to the fore.