Emotional Storytelling

Intro Script:
In 2011 Christchurch experienced a devastating 6.3 Richter scale earth quake. Five years on Katherine Brigden reflects on the destruction and resurrection of her city.

In: “A state of…”
Out: “…on their feet”
Dur: 1 min 55sec
Music: “November” by Bensound- www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music/cinematic

A Reflection:

My emotional history piece features an interview I did with a friend about her experience during the Christchurch Earthquake in 2011. A native to Christchurch, she experienced the devastation first hand. We had spoken of it once before, and I found that the earthquake had a much greater impact than meets the eye. I thought this made for an emotional and eye opening story. As Ira Glass said “If it isn’t surprising, it’s dead,” (Glass, I 2016), I found that this story skews from the normal disaster narrative, to take a more unexpected human element to it that worked quite well. We as Australians and outsider viewers saw a lot of news coverage that featured the destruction, however never stopped to think what a person living within that destruction truly felt.

Unfortunately, while the story itself was strong, my interviewee had a mild stutter, and tended to lose her words, or repeat sections. This meant that much of it had to be edited to make it flow better, however some of the stutters and extra words were impossible to remove whilst maintaining the integrity of the sentence. The zoom was also recorded slightly further away than it ideally should have been, meaning the sound levels needed to be adjusted.  There was very little to no sound in the background though, which worked as a saving grace for the sound quality.

The interview itself went fairly smoothly, although Katherine felt a tad uncomfortable to start off with. Thankfully we are good friends and she soon settled into the interview, needing only the smallest of direction from me. For the most part she directed me into the areas that she felt were important to her experience.

The news reports were added to give a sense of the travesty as it was experienced, and start the story off on a serious note. I kept the sound of the laughter in mid-way to contrast the light-hearted way that Katherine tone with the sadness that came with the realization of the destruction after.

Ira Glass said in a Q&A, “You’ll hit gold more often if you simply try out a lot of things” (McKenna, B 2000) and I tried to follow this by being open to trying a variety of sounds, or lack thereof, to see what made an impact and what didn’t. I didn’t want to become too clique with the use of rumbling, and although I experimented with the sound of sirens. They were distinct, and yet I couldn’t find a place where they added meaning. Instead I went with a gentle piano music underneath, it help fill the space between the sections, shape the emotion of the piece and add extra layer of pacing, as music has the power to do (McHugh 2016). This was after another great deal of trial and error, as it is almost impossible to predict whether a music piece will work with the audio track until you give it a try. I found the strongest tool I could use were gaps in the vocals, to let the impact of what had been said sink in. Originally I tried these gaps without music, but found that the cords of the music added a greater sense of spacing. The music also meant the audience wasn’t left in silence, however had time to gather their thoughts. It also worked well as an indication of a new section of the story.

My hope for this piece is to engage feelings of empathy for the victims of the earthquake, and also a sense of hope for the future.


Glass, I 2016, Ira Glass on Journalism, podcast, 10 August, Ideas at the House, viewed 29 August 2016, < https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/sydney-opera-house-talks-ideas/id640445035?mt=2>

McKenna, B 2000, Mr. Glass Goes to Santa Cruz: A Q&A with the evocative, invisible Ira Glass, UC Santa Cruz Currents, viewed 15 August 2016 http://www1.ucsc.edu/currents/99-00/04-03/glass.html

McHugh, S 2016, ‘MUSIC and MIXING AUDIO STORIES’ powerpoint slides, JNRL102, University of Wollongong, viewed 22 August 2016.

Audio Log

Time Dialogue Comments
41s /The Christchurch earthquake was February 2nd 2012 at 12:47 pm *** Good and clear
55s During the earth quake I was at high school because I remember it was lunch time and I was sitting outside the music block I was under the mezinine and I was like should I move? Will I die? ** Needs some cleaning up, a few stutters.
1min 15s The city was not good **Slightly quieter
1 min 21 s Everyone was in shock, because we had the first earth quake the year before ** A few stutters that need to be edited
1min 35s 181 people were dead, there was nasty liquifation everywhere, people were going to have to leave their homes ***
1min 54sec It was all because this one building CTV building that pancaked, that’s where the majority of  people were, I actually know someone who died there. *** Clear, a little choppy
2min 27 s A good couple of months, there was the phase of shock that it happened, then the rebuild **Clear, however intro into the topic isn’t clear
2min 29s It’s still getting back on it’s feet, going through the steps of getting over the earth quake **Will be hard to cut into this section
3mins 1 sec The sewer systems are still messed up, like if it rains really badly the streets flood ***
3 min 26 sec I developed this thing called survivors guilt, what happened to me was that I saw all the people that died and all the destruction think “why did these people die, why didn’t I die?” *** Clear, good level of sound.
4 min 5 secs I ended up going to counselling ** maybe be hard to cut into at the beginning
4 min 8 sec The city was not in a good way, I was not in a good way. ***Good
4 min 18 sec The survivors guilt didn’t last for too long, I went to the counselling  ** A few stutters
4mins 24 sec The city really came together afterwards ***good
4 mins 33 sec My parents and my neighbours would get together and go and have dinner  ** Spoken too quickly
4min 40 sec They started up this new campaign focusing on mental health saying “Have you talked to someone today?” ***Good
5 min 9 sec Cantebreans are resilient as it is, the earth quake pushed us, I think we are coming up stronger. ***
5min 30 sec The city has like, really come together ***
5min 54 sec So at the time of the earth quake my mother worked at the kindergarten for the uni, and there is a story about a lady who lost her husband. *** Good, but maybe not relevant for this piece