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Australian Story - what it's like to be interviewed

By Ric Richardson. Wed Aug 16th- 5 days before the show airs.
Being interviewed by Australian Story is not like any other interview experience I have ever had.

When the news of the Microsoft court case win first hit Australia I was inundated with requests for interviews by everyone from the news programs to “A current affair”. My initial reaction was to try and make something more constructive out of all the attention than simply being the guy who invented the thing that ended up winning a court case against Microsoft for $388 million.

A decent message takes more than a 5 minute snippet to communicate… so I bided my time, until my good friend Jim Revitt convinced me that a request from Australian Story should be taken seriously.

Having been away in the States for the last decade meant that I didn’t have any idea what Australian Story was like, but having a glowing reference from Jim (who I hold as one of Australia’s most valuable behind-the-scenes television people) meant it was well worth looking into. The clincher was that as soon as I mentioned the show to Kaz (Karen my wife) she said “ooohhhhh yes”. She had fallen in love with the show in the short time we had been back from the US. A couple of phone calls later and an Australian Story researcher named Kristine Taylor (her credits are half way down the link) was traveling down to northern NSW to have a coffee with me.

She was smart, charming and genuine in her interest in the story and it’s possible positive angles that may be of value to the many hundreds of thousands of Australian Story viewers. I felt privileged that the story was worthy of their consideration.

While it was clear that the court win was the hook that got the initial interest for the viewer, it was also clear that the meat of the story was going to be about Aussie persistence, being willing to “have a go” and about being willing to stick your neck out a bit to see how far an idea can go even if it means leaving your home and mixing it up with the big boys overseas.

Soon I was handed over to the producer that was going to bring the story to fruition. His name is Kent Gordon, a dichotomy of congeniality and persistent investigation.

It may compromise the independence of the show, and him as a member of the press, but I can’t help but admit that we became friends. It’s really hard to talk about and explore things that are really close to the heart, and also open up some relatively private areas of your life and not develop the kind of trust that ends up in friendship.

Initially I was waiting for the “digging for dirt” to begin, but it never eventuated. That’s not to say he didn’t ask hard questions and make me think long and hard about some of my answers to his questions.

This is where I think Australian Story really stands separate from any other TV program I’ve ever watched or been interviewed for. A major intrinsic difference is that the reporter’s questions are never included in the program.

The show has to use ONLY the things you say.

They could edit “out of context” which would be out of character for them, from what I can tell, but generally you, as the interviewee get to control what is said.

When you think about that, this is amazing… also it is really hard for the shows producers since they really have to build a story around what you say… not what they want you to say… if you have had anything to do with television or script writing then you know this could be a real can of worms to do once, let alone every show.

Another special thing is the way the cameraman Anthony Sines and sound guy Marc Smith capture the moment without getting in the way of the natural flow of the story. There is one moment where I just parked my van at an angle to the beach and for some reason the shot lined up perfectly... the shot was over my shoulder working in the van, out to the beach and the lineup of the surf with my mate Bob McTavish catching waves in silhouette to a rising sun. Moments like that take an impossible amount of work to do when intentionally sought, but a filming team who are intuitive and adaptable catch those moments. Plus the three of them (Kent, Anthony and Marc) were just good guys... affable, easy going yet totally professional.

It took a few months to complete the episode and all the interviews but in the end I thoroughly recommend working with the show if you ever have the opportunity.

As I write this I am yet to see the story as it is still in the hands of the editor but I feel my story is in good hands and hope it’s worthy of a half hour investment next Monday night for lot of fellow Australians.
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