Capturing yarns from a senior star is like going on a series of dates, you have to gain trust and woo them like its Valentines Day.
Sometimes being a “young person” generates suspicion for example when I tried contacting CWA Frankston, I got placed on a wild goose chase.
I called so many people but not many knew who was in charge and I eventually gave up in the end and wrote a letter.
Not surprisingly my letter was never replied to, so I thought I would rock up to the next CWA meeting and speak to them in person.
It was like meeting the Queen, I was looked up and down and told my letter was received and they had sent a reply saying no thank you.
I felt really bad and like someone who had just stolen a handbag!
However I have been really fortunate to be greeted with enthusiasm from other groups like National Seniors, U3A and Independent Retirees Association.
Even though wooing Independent Retirees Association was a bit difficult especially when their media liaison forgot I was coming!
It was funny, I was greeted with looks of confusion and the big question “Are you here to join us?”
But in the end it worked out and my speech on Celebrate Living History was slotted in just before the tea break!
Let me just say if you want to capture the heart of a senior hover near the food table, this is where all the action happens!
I’ve lost count on how many conversations I’ve stumbled on about cakes, knitting and slips in the bathroom.
This is a great method for starting small talk and to gain trust from a senior.
Personally I’ve heard many a great yarn over the snack table but the main barrier is some are too shy to share them on camera.
Sometimes in a room of 50 people I’ll only get two potential interviews and that’s if they don’t change their minds!
Even though it is exciting to gain their phone numbers, I know the second date may be hard.
You would think once they give contact details then its smooth sailing from there.
But you would be wrong! The longest I have been on the phone is one hour and that was because my potential senior star had a busy diary, after talking about classes at the U3A and the troubles of public transport, he eventually squeezed me in.
After all that, he forgot his interview with me!
Another potential was in the middle of doing his taxes to which I replied “That’s ok when would be a good time to call?” he told me his disappointment with the senior meeting and that I should try calling him when he was in a better mood.
No surprise I slotted him in my diary as “Nope not in this lifetime.”
Always cross your fingers for a senior who agrees straight away and writes the interview in their diary!
Once all the phone calls are done then the magic of the third date happens.
My favorite interviews are ones which I can complete conveniently in my own home, sometime I get weird looks running around with my tri-pod in tow!
Some of the main problems with capturing yarns outside the home are noises such as the interview I conducted at Frankston City Library with Dorothy Dempster.
It was a nice day so I set up my tri-pod and captured Dorothy’s stories out on the front seats near the main road.
When it came to editing, the yarns could be heard but traffic noises and wind made it quite difficult to focus on Dorothy.
But I do enjoy meeting seniors in their own home as I could see a glimpse of their home life and little bits and pieces jog their memory.
Personally one of the interviews that stick out is with William Buckland the founder of Buckland Real Estate.
I really did not know I would be interviewing such a big wig especially since I was referred to him by one of my stars that used to mow his lawn.
If I had known, I would have been a bit nervous! So maybe it was a good thing!
As it turned out William turned out to be really nice and we bonded over our shared love of dogs.
He mentioned how he missed his furry buddy who passed away and I told him about my Labrador Bunny who eats anything!
Surprisingly William was keener to capture my story and at one stage took my camera and started taking snap shots of me!
Personally what I have learnt over the past three months are old values, its sad in this society that we often forget to say simple words like please and thank-you.
I remember chatting to one senior and he told me how he was treated with suspicion when he gave way to a small family at the local supermarket.
The family told him to f*ck off and that he was a strange old man.
If this were a scene back in the 1950s the family would have thanked him.
Hopefully my dream of setting up the Celebrate Living History website will be made a reality because I really hope that I can share these old values with the world.
Sometimes we forget to look beyond the wrinkles and really understand the person underneath.