This winter the Vera Project approached me about producing the video to be shown at their big fundraising gala and auction. They loved the piece I did for the Northwest Stories series on the All Ages music scene, and wanted to know if I was willing to do a piece just about them.
I love supporting causes, but I told them I don't work for free. One reason is that you tend to be treated what people perceive you're worth. When you work for nothing, you often get that level of respect.
Vera had never paid for their gala video before. It was a mental and budgetary stretch for them. I told them, you decide how much it's worth, and pay me that. Figure out an amount that you don't feel like you're taking advantage of me, but that you can afford. I didn't care about the amount--I wanted to work with them. We agreed on a low, but reasonable fee.
At their holiday party I set up a studio in a conference room, and hauled Vera members up for short interviews. I don't work from a list of questions when I interview. Actually, that's not quite true. I just never remember to look at my list of questions. I just get my subjects wired and in front of the camera, and we start talking. It's entirely conversational and casual. After 15 or 20 minutes I'd send them out, with instructions to find someone new to send my way.
I'm used to getting people to forget the camera equipment when I do portraits. Video is easier, in a way. There is no shutter release, mirror flap, strobe going off, no singular instant when my subjects fears, yet again, they didn't get it perfect. The camera sits there, silent. It's wonderful.
The edit, however, was rough to organize. Where was I going to find my narrative thread? After a lot of looking, I recognized that each of my interviewees addressed three distinct subjects: what The Vera Project is, how and why they came to Vera, and how it changed them. I cut up all my interviews and sorted them into those three bins, and made that my arc.
In their eyes I proved my worth. "You instantly got what we wanted to say," said Kristina, the Director of Development. "It was a better product and an easier process than we've ever had."