Thursday, September 22, 2011

In the Moment

          Producer Dave Salerno was under pressure for his August piece on Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne.  Another story was cancelled at the 11th hour, and Salerno was asked to pull off a tight turnaround.
          Kinne’s story involved his father Gary Kinne, his former coach at Canton High School in Texas.  In 2005 a disgruntled father of another player confronted Gary at the high school and shot him in the stomach.   He was rushed into emergency surgery, and a police officer told G.J. that his father had died.  But he hadn’t.
          Salerno moved into production mode without a script in mind.
He interviewed G.J, his mother, another coach, and Gary, and elicited detailed and emotional accounts of the shooting and aftermath.
          In edit he had two choices. 
          One was to use Gary’s voice in the re-telling of the incident.
          Another was to create a “reveal” - an editing technique in which crucial information is withheld until the middle or end for a surprise.   In this version, the reveal would be Gary’s survival.  Reveals are desirable for their dramatic tension. 
           E:60 has used reveals in stories about retired NFL-er Marvin Harrison, MMA fighter and bank robber Lee Murray, double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius, and brain-damaged college football player Preston Plevretes.
          An effective reveal requires interviews that stay in the moment, meaning they describe action without giving away the outcome of that action.  The subject knows the outcome, but is transported back in time to when he or she did not.
          “I knew there were things we had to hit,” Salerno recalled.   “I wanted to go into detail and build up the events of that day.”
          Salerno and reporter Lisa Salters managed to elicit G.J.’s description  - six years after the fact - in the moment.  In edit, Salerno went with the reveal because “we had the sound to support it.”
          At the top, when reporter Salters ask G.J. for his thoughts at the time of the shooting, he says “I’ll never see my Dad again. He’ll never get to coach me again. He’ll never get to do the things that Dads do because someone had taken that from him.”
          The first hint of Gary’s survival comes at about eight-and-a-half minutes into the piece.  Gary doesn’t speak until 9:10 - a powerful and uplifting moment for those unfamiliar with Kinne’s story.
          The reveal proved persuasive at the E:60 screening and became a segment titled, “Back From the Dead”.
          In retrospect, Salerno credited the interviews.
          “With material like that it’s much easier to hold the reveal,” he said.  “Sometimes you can do it, and sometimes you can’t.  In theory it’s great but in practice it’s more difficult to pull off.”

posted by Steve Marantz on September 22, 2011


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  2. I have a question for Mr. Salerno about the production of this piece.

    Kinne does such a phenomenal job of staying in the moment during his account, and that was clearly a major focus going into the interview. My question is did you ever feel the need to interrupt Kinne, or have him repeat a part of the anecdote in order to keep him focused on the subject matter as if it were happening in real time?

    Thanks so much to the whole group for letting me into your world today.

  3. According to Dave Salerno: "I was prepared to adjust the interview if need be, but never had to interject."

    Salerno said that on follow up questions he would "explain that he (Kinne) should stay in the moment."