Landing that perfect person for your next film
‘This woman is worth millions, CEO of one of the world’s fastest growing tech companies and generally keeps her interviews to a 15 minute time slot.. But you need to get her.’
The very first interview I had to secure for my first feature documentary was ambitious to say the least. We were trying to get three crazy successful CEO’s of three large tech startups in Australia, to join our documentary, and to be honest, I had no idea if I would be able to get them or not.
For this very first interview and many others since then, there were three main strategies i've based my contact around:
1. Let them know you are different
We weren’t going to show up 30 minutes prior to the interview, set up and get started, with no idea who we were talking to. There would be no notepad full of prepared questions, instead we would explore themes that we were incredibly familiar with thanks to our hours of research. It is important that our prospective interviewee's are aware of that and that we stay true to that when/if the interview does go ahead.
2. Find something that will connect you
This is my favourite thing to do when approaching someone for an interview or even to be involved as a crew member. It is normally pretty easy to find at least one thing in common, even with the most unlikely people. When you make an effort to find common ground, you'll find they are a lot more receptive and hopefully will start to take an interest in you as well.
3. It can’t hurt to do a little name dropping
Whether it's name dropping a person that you may have in common or someone that referred you, or, simply naming a production/award that you've received to help differentiate you from the huge amount of other requests they have. If I was name dropping some of our previous work, I would make sure I put a link to the project so they could take a look at the same time.
That first email I sent covered all of the above points and I received an email back very quickly saying she would love to be involved and could give us 30 minutes of her time (and if you knew her you would understand how generous this was). This 30 minutes turned into over an hour on the first day, plus a second interview a few months later and extremely unique access to her life for multiple days. And man oh man, was she worth it.
So, what’s this got to do with Em Rusciano?
You may have read my blog post from last week based around a really important project I have recently started - Mama Collective. This is something incredibly close to my heart and it is crucial for me that it has the right people involved from the very beginning.
The majority of the stories I tell will be real women, real mothers and people that haven’t been given a platform to speak out, until now.
However, there is one woman who has been very open with her journey as a mother and who, at times, has inspired me in a HUGE way to accept myself the way I am and take pride in the way I parent.
When I first heard ‘I’m a person first and a mother second’, it was like a giant weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Finally, someone was saying it like it was, and not just someone, but an amazing, gutsy woman who a hell of a lot of people listened to.
I can't think of anyone better to launch Mama Collective than Em Rusciano. And so, Project: Get Em Rusciano has officially commenced.
There are a number of ways I can approach this..
For a short time (over five years ago) I worked with an awesome guy Tom who I know is now very good friends with Em, and i’m not going to lie - it has totally crossed my mind to call him up and see if he can work any magic. This would be pretty cheeky of me as there is a good chance Tom doesn’t even really remember me, and I haven't actually spoken to him at all since I stopped working with him. So I have decided not to give Tom a call on this one.
I could track her down in person and lure her in with Dolly Parton earrings and glitter. I know where her studio is, I also am fairly sure she does school drop off at a school nearby a previous home of mine. But this is kind of stalking, and not at all my style, so I will pass on the crazy stalker Diana option.
What feels right to me is to structure a very sincere email to Em. I will link her to my previous blog so she understands how much this means to me, share that we have some things in common and of course, I will let her know what Mama Collective is and just what it will mean to have her involved. This is a rare opportunity to empower a hell of a lot of parents around the world and from what I know of Em, this is something that means something to her.
I have managed to get a lot of people on board for interviews that I actually doubted I could in the past. Well, this is probably the most important I have secured to date, as it means so much to me, so please wish me luck in getting Em Rusciano involved.