Shooting NPR The Moth Miami
If you enjoy a good story, NPR’s The Moth is a champion of the spoken word.
TRUE STORIES TOLD LIVE…as related on The Moth Website “The Moth is an acclaimed not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. It is a celebration of both the raconteur, who breathes fire into true tales of ordinary life, and the storytelling novice, who has lived through something extraordinary and yearns to share it. At the center of each performance is, of course, the story…”
As George Dawes Green, the poet and best-selling novelist who is the Founder of The Moth states, “Audiences are drawn to the stories, like moths to a flame”.
As a videographer, the hardest thing about shooting NPR The Moth Miami, is maintaining focus while laughing hard enough to split a gut!
As a long time NPR fan I welcomed the opportunity to video The Moth in Miami. The Miami venu was first added to The Moth schedule in January 2015, and, at that time, was the latest venue added to an ongoing list of The Moth StorySLAM venues throughout the country.
Storytelling is deeply rooted in the human subconscious! Honestly who does not like a good story?
Humans are naturally predisposed to storytelling. It’s how we communicated and circulated information for, well, most of forever, until the written word came about, which, incidentally, scrubbed much of the spoken word as an art form. Until now!
As a freelance camera operator I always looked forward to shooting NPR The Moth Miami. I have always loved a good story, from the earliest days of parental inspiration, to my life as a river guide (some stories are not meant for print), to fireside chats with friends, to late night drunken sorties, to my current career as a media producer incorporating stories for business clients, I have always enjoyed the telling of a good story.
Akin to The Moth StorySLAM most of us have shared a few stories. For me, more than my fair share! Many were true, most were embellished, and a few were outright fabrication. But what the-hell, I got a laugh or thirty in the process. As far as that goes…I am no longer telling stories but preserving them. And what fun it is. Listening to a good story beats the hell out of telling one any day. Like moths to a flame!
The Moth calls this a StorySLAM. Storytellers are called ‘Tellers’. Interestingly enough I video document a storytelling show produced for, and broadcast, on public radio. The irony is not lost here!
The Moth rules of engagement comprise ten stories, on topic, by ten different tellers, limited to five minutes and judged on a ten-point scoring system by audience panels. Topic, timing and subject focus are primary qualifiers.
To date, in order of appearance; story topics have been as follow: Firsts. Love Hurts. Scars. Fools. Adventure. Delusions. Balance. Fast lane. Betrayal.
From my perspective, production is simple. Single camera, static set and framing, fixed lighting, with direct audio feed from the mixer board. I record 12 clips in entirety. Start, stop, start, stop, repeat, throughout the 2-hour live production. My shoot includes the entire show from start to finish, from Producer Introduction, to MC bylines and each Teller and their stories. Each video clip is contained in 5-10 minute sequences. Twelve total. After the first five Tellers there is a food & beverage break before the final five Tellers speak. A final congratulatory stage presence with all Tellers wraps the shoot and concludes the show.
My favorite topic, due to intensity of individual testimony and subsequent delivery, is, so far, without a doubt ‘Delusions’. As for the Tellers, or, the best story, the winner has yet to be decided, as the Grand Slam, the final chapter in this story, takes place at a yet to be disclosed date and venue sometime in December 2015.
The Moth StorySlam, second only to twenty years as a river guide, is my favorite storytelling venue to date, if not the most wondrous storytelling adventure one can partake in without stepping onto the stage itself. And you can do just that! Simply buy your tickets, attend, place your name in the hat and hope to be picked, step up to the mic, tell your story. The Moth is currently represented in 24 cities nationwide.
Thank you for reading.