Over the weekend, my brother Paul and I discovered a video featuring Dave Batstone before he started Not For Sale (or maybe just after). You can find it on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NN41aheGYhk&feature=relmfu. There are so many things I love about this video that I’m having trouble starting. I’ve rewritten the beginning to this blog entry five times.
First, the video’s style. In single-camera interviews, the editor usually has to find a way to mask his cuts. I don’t mind cuts. I think we should all accept jump cuts in video the way we accept paragraph breaks in writing. But most people don’t think that way, so part of my job at Not For Sale is to hide my video edits. Often, I put B Roll over the top of the cuts, and this method remains the most effective. When no B Roll matches the video’s content, I zoom in every other cut to create the illusion of different camera angles. (Like this: http://vimeo.com/32560024.) I feel a little sheepish about these methods. I always think people must notice. The editor of this youtube clip has cheered me up enormously. He has chosen to move Dave around the frame so that, by the video’s end, Dave is shrunken at the bottom. In related videos on youtube, you will find Dave shrunken and shoved into every corner of the frame. I don’t really have a point to make here. But I felt a whole lot better about myself when I saw the way this editor handled his footage. Maybe I should let him know about the zoom thing…
Second, the video’s message. Here’s the heart of why I love this video. Dave has a philosophy of vocation that departs from how most people think about their careers. He wants people to be on fire for their careers. He wants people to wake up every morning and thank God they get to work that day. What an attractive message for a young person like me. And I imagine it must resonate with just about everybody.
Third, Dave’s delivery. It’s hard to describe why it’s so funny. Yes, he is putting on an odd voice, as if he were speaking to a crowd of dimwits. (Please know that he does not speak this way normally.) And, yes, he is staring wide-eyed at the camera. And, yes, he uses the word “folks.” But the funniest part about the whole video is the chasm between Dave’s position today and his position then. It’s sort of like seeing high-school photos of a movie star or photos of the U.S. president in his first job or photos of your parents before they had their first child. I shake my head and think, “If only you knew what was about to happen to your life.” I do not mean to undermine Dave’s past. I know he loved being a professor and a writer. I guess it’s just cool (and it makes me laugh) to see how the very philosophy he espouses in the video has taken him into one of the most soul-affirming jobs I can imagine. That’s inspiring really. You never know what’s about to happen to you, but if Dave Batstone is good evidence, your ideas can shape your life.