Video journalism tips from a pro

Darren Durlach left television almost two years ago to try something new. He’d won two consecutive NPPA TV Photographer of the Year awards and, unbeknownst to him, was on the verge of winning a third. He’s now senior multimedia producer at the Boston Globe, where he shoots and edits stories both alone and in collaboration with the newspaper’s reporters.

It’s a different world.

Durlach spent six years in local TV newsrooms at WVIR in Charlottesville, Va., and WBFF in Baltimore, Md. Now he’s learning to meet the demands of a print newsroom that’s still relatively new at the video game.

Durlach sums up his approach to storytelling with three Cs:

  • Character
  • Connect
  • Collect

What makes a great character? “Access,” Durlach says. It’s not a person who’s quick with one-liners or the loudest person in the room, it’s someone who will let you in and reveal what really makes them tick. “People have walls, but when you get the feeling they may open up, stick with them,” he advises. “When you find someone to be compelling, most likely, you audience will also find them to be compelling.”

Once you’ve made a connection with a character, collect the elements you’ll need to tell a great story: authentic moments and great sound bites. Durlach says that for him, patience is key. “Don’t appear to be in a hurry even if you are,” he says. His best interviewing advice? Be yourself, and listen.

That approach paid off big time in a story Durlach shot about the opera singer Barbara Quintillani. “She was a tough egg to crack,” Durlach says. It wasn’t until he told her something about his own experience that the wall crumbled. “We started connecting and the camera disappeared. That’s your goal, to make your camera disappear.”

Durlach may be out of TV news but he’s still winning awards for his video work. The Boston Globe picked up five of the ten 2012 national Murrow awards for local online video, including work by Durlach, and he also won two regional Emmys.

Originally published at NewsLab