March 24, 2003

Of edits, creativity and bosses …

Things were extremely hectic last week and while I thought of writing something here several times, I just didn’t seem to find the time to do so. So what was I so busy with? It was the edit for the shoot that I’d gone on the week before – the one about the Sinhalese family living in a Muslim village. Though I’d planned to do the story in a particular way – by exposing the inconsistencies in the stories of both sides and showing (or at least trying to …) that in a conflict like this, people lose their perspectives – the actualities of editing and time constraints forced me to do it as a straight story. Basically, the story that we’re supposed to broadcast is only five minutes long and I just couldn’t fit all that into five minutes and had to be content with just a retelling of the incidents that led up to the problem.

Even with all of that, I was happy with the final result but then my bosses decided to come in and rape it in their infinite wisdom :p One of my bosses is the managing director and the other is the editor-in-chief. Now the editor-in-chief (EC) has many years of experience and I can’t claim to be anywhere close to her as far as being a television producer/director goes but I do believe that each person has their own vision for a story and that you should be wise enough to let things be unless there is something so dramatically wrong that it cannot be broadcast at all. But not so with my boss the EC – she believes that all the shots should be the way that *she* thinks they should be and so she sits down after I’d done the edit and changed all the shots. Now I’d heard complaints from other people along this line saying that there was no need for creativity (and no room for it either) since the EC always changes your shots but this was the first time it happened to me.

Then the managing director (MD) comes in and he wants to change the wording of the narration since he thinks that Muslims are being portrayed badly. I had a big argument about what he wanted to do since he basically wanted to point fingers and say specific things about the Sinhalese and the Muslims in this incident. I didn’t think that was right, the incident was over and I didn’t want to stir up more trouble … plus, I was sure that the MD was being influenced by the fact that he himself is a Muslim – which is something a lot of Muslim’s in Sri Lanka (or for that matter anywhere else in the world …) can’t seem to get away from. They can’t seem to realize that first and foremost thing to being a Muslim is to realize that you are part of the human race – instead, they cling to this false identity of being a part of a subset of the race called "the Muslims" and seem to think that others don’t matter as much. To me, this automatically makes all these people non-Muslims.

Be that as may be, we argued back and forth and I finally agreed to change the narration slightly but still without going into specifics. I later understood what set the MD off but I still think that he really is not looking at this correctly. In my closing narration, I said something along the lines of "this kind of situation is going to continue to happen when a majority and a minority are involved. It can only be resolved when the majority realizes that they have certain responsibilities and the minority realizes that they have to make certain compromises in order to live in harmony". Now I was simply thinking in terms of majorities and minorities and in this specific case, the majority were actually the Muslims but my boss kept on saying that I was saying that the Muslims have to compromise and I kept on arguing that wasn’t what I said. I later realized that to him, the Muslims would always be the minority because he thinks in such terms, so to him what I said simply meant that the Muslims must compromise irrespective of the situation :p Ah well, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to change his opinion but I told him that I’d put in some wording to show that what I said applied in general rather than specifically and he seemed to be mollified but I don’t think he’d still be happy if he saw how I changed the narration :p

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Posted by Fahim at 6:15 am  |  2 Comments