Alistair Merchant had been thinking about writing his memoirs for some time when he contacted me. He has had an extraordinary life to date, full of twists and turns, coincidences and interesting events around the world. He recently experienced a vicious attack too but found it within himself to forgive his attacker.
We talked, and decided to video an interview where he would talk through his life and experiences. After the conversation, I drew up a questionnaire for the interview, and a running order. Here we agreed our objectives, the questions and their sequence. We agreed a date and a venue, and I sent him the questionnaire so he had time to rehearse some responses and recall some details. All this is part of our standard procedure for every client but we ensure it is tailored for each person individually.
The interview itself was done on Saturday 23rd November 2013 and was fascinating. Alistair is erudite and witty, ascerbic at times, hilarious at others, and retained his composure even when relating the saddest or cruellest of events. I would say the power and anger is amplified by being spoken so softly. We recorded his responses to 30 questions over 1½ hours, covering all aspects of his life and the sound came out very well, with a lapel microphone. The only downside involved technical problems with the lighting, so the film emerged rather dark even though shot with a High Definition camera. Despite this, the stories remain compelling.
I knew the shape of Alistair’s life but wasn’t quite sure when I started editing exactly what the final mix of films would be. I find it is easier to create a number of short films between 3½ and 4½ minutes that concentrate on a particular era, or character, or story. This shorter length makes rendering and uploading easier. It also means viewers can choose the order in which they view the films. So I set to work editing using Final Cut Pro X and a little while later produced 6 long and 2 shorter ‘chapters’ to form the whole.
The first film is an introduction or overview, so if people watch nothing else they can get a brief idea of Alistair and the fascinating life he has lived. I titled it ‘Coincidence & Forgiveness’, and this is the film I’ve put the Local Heroes page. In total the films are as follows:
- Chapter 1 (4m52s): Coincidence & Forgiveness (overview, online)
- Chapter 2 (3m10s): Ulster (as a student)
- Chapter 3 (6m58s): Active Service 1
- Chapter 4 (6m05s): Active Service 2
- Chapter 5 (5m45s): Twists & Turns
- Chapter 6 (6m36s): Attack
- Chapter 7 (1m30s): Literature
- Chapter 8 (2m05s): Optimism