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October 23, 2010

The Elephant in the Room

My mantra is “A person is not a story” This week I was a multimedia coach at the Mountain Workshops, my mantra could have been:
“An assignment is not a story.”

Maya Sugarman proved my mantra by taking a slip of paper with a name and address, asking the right questions and producing a powerful and surprising story that no one expected.

Maya told me:

“The slip of paper read:

Charline is a nature photographer who has overcome a disability to achieve her dreams. She lives with her mother, Pam, and they are very close.

At the end of an interview with Pam, I asked her to think about anything she didn’t mention about her, her daughter, or their relationship while I recorded room tone. After 30 seconds, she told me there was something she hadn’t told me, at which point she said “my last drink was August 20,1980″ (the last actuality of the piece). Thus beginning a very long and intimate conversation.”

Maya spent four long days figuring out the narrative, shooting, interviewing and editing this story as a one-woman band. she showed it story last night.

When her story, In Their Blood faded from the big screen, my friend and fellow multimedia coach Eric Maierson turned to me and whispered “Talk about the elephant in the room.”

John Poole of NPR was Maya’s multimedia coach. Yup, a radio guy coaching (very well) at a photographic workshop. Awesome!

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