Big answers from little questions
By Justin Bruhn
The Life’s Big Questions project was the first I’ve done for ABC Open.
I used to wonder why they called them big questions when in reality they are quite small. But after heading down to the Mooloolaba Wharf on a Tuesday morning and annoying people with my camera and microphone I can guess that they’ve called them Life’s Big Questions because nobody wants to answer them.
What do you do when you get sad? What is the most annoying thing about you? What advice would you give to your 16 year old self? These are questions you would feel strange asking your best friend. Needless to say, approaching strangers with a microphone in your hand and a camera in their face is a sufficiently daunting and at times humiliating task.
My success rate attracting talent to appear in my short video was abysmal, but with every little bit of rejection I grew a little bit more ambitious and demanding and a little less shaky and nervous.
But it wasn’t the rejection that surprised me in this project. That was to be expected. What I found surprising was the amazing ability of people to talk when they are being heard, and how quickly these three strange, cheesy questions can give you an insight into someone’s personality.
Interviewees would rarely launch into hilarious anecdotes or pep-talk like speeches immediately, but it just takes the simplest of follow up questions to make them forget the camera for a few seconds.
And a few seconds is all you really need, especially with the advice to your 16 year old self question. You just need that moment when their gaze tilts up to the left and they drift off to that time when they were 16 or the time that they’re going to be. For some reason they seem to forget that the camera was ever scary and they try to use it as some sort of Skype into the past (or future).
They plead with the camera to “study more” or “do what you like in life” and it’s all somewhere between sad and inspiring.
This project taught me how to film, edit and put together a ‘vox pops’ package, but it also taught me the importance of actually listening to people and power of the follow question.

Thanks to (in order of appearance) - Wendy Crowe, Samara O'donnel, Gracie Coe, Eric Vandriel and Vicki and Adrian Gray for agreeing to be interviewed for this video.

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