Channeling Barbara

We started our first day of filming with back-to-back-to-back interviews.

The night before, we sat in the social hall located between the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and the Sunday school rooms that double as our sleeping quarters deciding people’s roles for the next day. People were volunteering for audio, video, and B roll. When it came time to decide the interviewers, Madeline and Claudia raised their hands to volunteer. Carol then needed a third interviewer for another priest we would meet the next day. My mind flashed back to our last reflection in Omaha about widening comfort zones as my hand shot up. “I can do it,” I told Carol.

What had I done?

I had planned on being an interviewer at some point in the week, but much later after I had a chance to see how these ordeals played out. Instead, I followed my impulse and became nervous immediately after I folded my arm back into my lap.

I fell asleep that night to the rhythm of Claudia’s snores while the guidelines for the interviewee preparation ran through my mind, “ignore the camera, eye contact, no reaction, pause, include the question in the answer.”

Usually, I like to have a good handle on what I’m doing and let’s just say I haven’t been perfecting any well-versed interview skills recently.

But the next day came and we took a short trip to the Lutheran Church to meet with Michelle Dewitt, a person who deals with community outreach in Bethel to talk about the environmental impact and the Native culture. We set up in the corner of the church with only natural light to create the Rembrandt lighting effect for our cameras. Claudia rocked her questions for the hour long interview only interrupted because of a few loud trucks driving by and low camera batteries.

We broke for lunch and then set up for a pair of interviews in the living room of the apartment above the church. Madeline and I had the same set of interview questions for adult faith formation leader, Patrick Tam, and Father Mark. Sitting in on Patrick Tam’s interview I got to know the set of the questions well so I felt more and more excited to have the chance to interview next.

Prepping for Fr. Mark's interview
Prepping for Fr. Mark’s interview

Once Patrick’s interview ended, I took one big calming breath and thought “What Would Barbara Do?” Barbara Walters would know her questions and be confident. I sat in the chair and less than one hour later stood up to shake Father Mark hand to thank him for his great thoughts and stories.

I felt satisfied that I had accomplished the goal of pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I found it rewarding talking with Father Mark about faith and culture and asking questions to further his explanations.  My hope is that I continue to push my journalistic skills on this trip and after I return home.

This was only day one of filming. Keep up with our progress throughout the week here on the blogs and on Twitter @cubackpack.

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