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Tape Dead on the Ground
Photo by Flickr/Lee Jordan, cc by-sa 2.0

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"You gotta kill your darlings." That was one of those sayings that permeated our discussions back in film school, something our teachers would tell us during the editing of our film projects. It means you have to be willing to let go of that shot or that sequence that you invested so much time, effort, and probably money into making but, for some reason, slows down the pace of the story or isn't as strong as our hope for it. In some weird way, it's like that Buddhist saying, "If you ever meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha." Don't turn the Buddha or your "darlings" into idols that bar your path to enlightenment or a perfect film.

I'm now editing an interview for a show we are so eager to put out there about the 20th-century rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Heschel was a contemporary of Martin Luther King Jr., and equally provocative and challenging.

Sometimes we record an interview, and we have little trouble finding places to edit out. Sometimes the interview digresses from its core and we have to wrangle it back by cutting out some material. Other times, you listen to an interview, and it seems like every word is a darling. For myself, I count the interviews with Jean Vanier and Janna Levin in that category.

The other day, as we were doing our pre-edit listen of an interview with Arnold Eisen, chancellor of New York's Jewish Theological Seminary, who was greatly influenced by the late rabbi, there were more than a few times when I thought I'd burst into tears, whether from Arnold Eisen's own storytelling or from his reading of choice Heschel excerpts. I've highlighted a few in this audio excerpt:

  • The first part features Arnold Eisen talking about Heschel's advice to young people, his encouragement to them; it's something that echoes with the self-doubt I felt for many years in my twenties.
  • Following that is one for the SOF blooper reel.
  • The last part is Arnold Eisen reading from Heschel's writing. It's gorgeous.

There's another reading, in the interview, that comes after this one. It renders me helpless and it's too good to spoil by throwing it out as a teaser, so you'll just have to listen to the final show, which is a few weeks away.

Meanwhile, as I edit all this great material, I'm afraid that some of it will have to be lost for the sake of time constraints. But what do you let go, when it's all gold? I'm having serious trouble killing my darlings.

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5 Comments

Shiraz,
I believe where you're headed is called a "director's cut."
Slip it into the podcasts and see if Ms. Moos notices.........
I like the idea of a blooper-cast!

Ha ha, yes, I think you're right, although in this case the director's cut would be, basically, the entire uncut interview.

Hmm, this blooper-cast idea might just be worth investigating...

You know, in the world of radio, Technical Director's are famnous for collecting what we called the "out-take reel" of the host or reporter saying stupid things, or making silly mistakes, or behaving like an idiot in front of an open mike. I would warrant that our Senior Producer Mitch Hanley has such a reel of Krista's out-takes, and I would not be surprised if he had some of mine, as a reader for the show. If so, I can tell you it might include me singing "Fly Me To the Moon," reading scripture in a very bad fake French accent, and, possibly, saying my own name over and over and over. I will let Krista speak to the contents of her own out-take reel.
Kate

THE TITLE OF THIS SHOW "SPEAKING OF FAITH" IS MISLEADING CONSIDERING THE MAJORITY OF THE STORIES AND THE PEOPLE INTERVIEWED ARE ABOUT HOW THEY LEFT THEIR FAITH AND SPEAKING AGAINST THE CHURCH(S) THEY BELONGED TO.
THIS SHOW SHOULD BE EITHER CALLED "THE LACK OF FAITH" OR "SPEAKING AGAINST FAITH" A TYPICAL PUBLIC RADIO ATTITUDE AND BELIEF.

I hope now you have heard this episode on Heschel, your feeling has softened towards the focus of highlighting people who have challenged their faith and furthered it at the same time. On the other hand, Heschel might have written exactly what you did!