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Journalist Katie Englehart interviewed on Longform

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Last Played: February 18, 2021
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Englehart answers the question of how she switched from print to video.
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a lot. I had Thio teach myself a lot, but no, I was very lucky. And then how did you get into doing documentary like, How did you make that transition? It's another sort of ridiculous story. But McLain's, the Canadian magazine sent me Thio Ukraine, to cover this revolution that was happening the euromaidan revolution. And I guess 2015, 14, 15, the center of Kiev Waas basically under siege. And this whole kind of central square, this whole My dad, it's called was barricaded. There were militia and semi army groups that filled the square that were opposed to the government. And inside of that square there was one hotel. So a lot of the foreign journalists covering the events were at that one hotel. And at that hotel I met some guys who were from vice, and they told me that they were starting this thing called vice News, and it was going to be they were gonna be really journalists and it was gonna be a serious operation and, you know, we kind of got along and they said, Did I want to come and meet their boss in London when I was back and I think by the time I started Vice News had just launched and there was this rag tag team in in the London Bureau, maybe 10 people in total. And I had no experience in documentary production, and I guess the trade off was we're going to pay you really poorly and we're going to teach you how to do this other thing. And I mean, I wasn't sure I wanted the job. I went back and forth. I had this idea that I should be a writer and I shouldn't go into film. But this is kind of during the great pivot to video of 2014, 2050. And I remember I asked my dad for advice and he said, You got to go with the market markets pointing you towards video like, but you should learn how to do this. And so, yeah, it was a vice for a few years. And what did you have to learn that you didn't know from your other reporting? I think everything I mean, I think really, at the beginning, nobody wanted to work with me because I was so inexperienced. I remember an assistant producer, you know, who's in her early twenties, saying to me the sort of exasperated way a documentary film is made up of scenes and every scene has one point. They have to connect to each other. So I think a lot of writers kind of looked down on video production, or at least assume that it's sort of obvious and easy. I had to learn a lot. I found it really difficult adjustment. Um, e think it helped my writing a lot, actually, because I had to learn to think a lot more visually. I did start to think of things in terms of scenes in a way that I hadn't really before. I think in video, a friend once described video reporting To me is sort of you have to kind of flirt with people, she said. I don't know if that's exactly the right word, but you have to kind of act in a certain way to drought emotion. You're a lot more focused on not what someone saying that kind of how they're saying it, and I think that really helped me. Later on, I was able to be more sort of emotionally connected during interviews and I was still learning how to be a reporter, Really? And you know, vice news is in its infancy. And so I had a lot of responsibility early on. I mean, I went toe Paris and covered the terror attacks there. I covered military exercises and Lithuania. I went back Thio East Ukraine and reported on the refugee situation there. And I mean all sorts of huge stories from Vice. You also. Then you were working for NBC and this documentary part of NBC left field and those films, they're they're really good. They're these really good short films and maybe when when you say, emotionally, connecting with the subjects. Also, there's a certain kind of on camera presence. Did that come naturally to you? Or were you sort of like I watch my tape and then say, like, You know what? I should not be nodding excessively right there. I should be. Is it that at that level that you tried to develop the person who was going to be on camera? I mean the nodding and the resting face. I think you have to be very aware of e think it could get very unattractive very quickly if you're not sort of aware of where each muscle in your face is at any given moment. But I started the on camera work advice. Not at the beginning, but kind of halfway through. I mean, if I'm honest, probably part of me thought it would be cool to be on camera. And I still sort of fancied myself like a Christiane Amanpour of my generation. And, you know, I thought, like maybe I kind of sparkling camera. Which e think I definitely did not. But there was also a part of it. Advice, frankly, which was, you know, I don't go on camera, someone else is gonna go on camera. And if I have done all this work and then some guy gets to go on camera instead of me, it starts to feel a little funny. Like, say, you're reporting out loud. Yeah. So I did both. I was behind the scenes and then in front of camera, too. But I'm too much of a control freak. I couldn't really just hand over interviews to people, So I learned a much as I could about the on camera stuff and then continued with that at NBC. Yeah, What happened to left field. It was the word they used was sunset ID. I was sunset it. I think you know, I don't think this is unique to NBC. I think a lot of you know, the big networks, they're struggling. They're trying to figure out how to attract another generation of viewers. Um, it was a really fun experience toe to be ableto work on documentaries and a friend outlet that was so well resourced. But I think ultimately, you know, I'd make thes sort of like nuance, ethically tortured little 15 minute documentary films. And that's just fundamentally not because I was interested in.
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