Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I interviewed Michel Gondry yesterday in advance of the terrific new film Be Kind Rewind and it was a terrific experience. He was an engaged, thoughtful interview subject and I found the whole experience quite pleasant. He's French and has a pretty good command of the English language, even though he sometimes needs to take the roundabout way to get to his point. He also has a distinct French accent, which, of course, only makes sense. When I'm talking to someone who's not a native English speaker, I find, as I'm sure everyone does, that the mind naturally adjusts to meet them halfway. It just kind of happens.
If you're not there, however, it can be baffling. I passed the audio file on to one of our new interns who started work on the 38-minute conversation at 10am. I got busy and didn't check on him until around 2:30 and I asked him how he was doing. He said, "It's tough." I said, "How far into it are you?" (Because, you see, it kind of has to be done soon to make the deadline for our Sundance issue.) He said, "Twelve minutes." And here's a sample of what he had done:
AVC: It’s seems to me, maybe I’m making the wrong connection here, but was this in any way influenced by Dave Chappelle’s Block Party?

Gondry: Yeah, completely. And in that, she’s(?) the ground basically. I had this concept for years, the fact that this kid remakes these movies. Uh, it’s as if(?) someone fears if he got a concept that had, for years, if he couldn’t keep it up he put it down for 10 months(?) and then he doesn’t do it itself, because there are needs. And the film would not have to be typically achieved, because it’s like watching a home movie. You don’t watch it for the technique or aspect, you watch because it’s reminiscent of the good men known to these parts(?) as your friend, or it reflects who it belongs to.

It's beautiful, in its way. And completely unrunnable. I ended up doing the transcript myself.
And I don't blame the intern at all. I probably would have transcribed it the same way if I weren't a participant in the conversation. Funny how that works.
Also funny: Gondry's parody of the popular "Will It Blend?" clips that float around the Internet that doubles as a commercial for his film The Science Of Sleep.


Eric Grubbs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric Grubbs said...

I still use a Walkmen-style tape recorder for my interviews. Kyle couldn't believe it when I told him. He said, "once you go digital, you'll never go back." I'm still not sold. Plus, I'm really stubborn.

Well, everything was great and reliable until I didn't notice the battery was going out. (Yes, my fault instead of the recorder.) Nothing like transcribing interviews with Brian Baker, Nate Mendel and Jeremy Enigk (aka, people I had to really track down for a book interview) and they sound like they were in a wind tunnel. Luckily everything was audible, except the last twenty minutes of my interview with Jeremy. Oh well, the most important stuff came out.

Anyway, I find transcribing difficult when the person constantly says "Um," "You know" and "And." And/or when the person gives rapid-fire answers. I can only imagine how crazier it would be if English was the person's second language.