Interviewing Arudou Debito

Arudou Debito by Alfie Goodrich
Arudou Debito by Alfie Goodrich. Special thanks to Alfie for taking this photo – for more of his work visit
Earlier today I finally managed to post my interview with Arudou Debito, recorded a week or so ago at the Foreign Correspondents Club Japan. It was a lot of work, but well worth it as I learnt a lot in the process of production.First off was the practical stuff: we had an interview room booked at the FCCJ – but it turned out to be totally inappropriate: poorly lit, and with a ventilator that couldn’t be turned off. It might be good for pen and paper interviews, but for anything else it’s pants as it is. Next time I would check out the interview location myself first, and then make sure I took along any lights etc that I needed (I bought some lights last year for photography projects – although only ever used them once (false nails) – oh, and once to light up the sea of cherry blossom in front of our balcony).

Next: I need to know my equipment better. One of the cameras was leant to me by a kind friend – but having not used it before it was only when it switched itself off whilst Debito was talking that I discovered that it will stop when files reach 1GB. I also need to make sure I have enough tapes – I forgot to take a spare, and was only saved by the fact that had taken a third (digital) camera along with me.

I shouldn’t be mixing the DV tape cameras with the pure-digital cameras – the DV cameras play back at a different speed to the digital recordings – this cost me hours of additional editing time spent trying to sync the recordings. It’s odd though, as I thought DV *was* digital…

The sound worked out fine. It was recorded using iTalk on the iPhone – what I use for much of our non-studio Japan Podshow stuff.

I do need better (semi-pro) equipment. At the moment I only have relatively old household electronics, and although this stuff is only going out on YouTube I believe it does show. Also, working with output from different devices makes editing take forever – I spent the best part of two days editing the Debito interview and outputting it in the various formats.
I also need to figure out what happens when I try to put multiple media files in a single WordPress post. I spent hours today trying to sort the RSS feed out, reposting at least 5 times using different plugins and combinations. I apologise to anyone who was spammed by them.

As an intermission, here’s the full interview. If you’d like to choose which parts to watch, please see the post on Japan Podshow. For more info on Debito, see his website

Japan Podshow Interview: Arudou Debito from japanpodshow on Vimeo.

Personal lessons:

I need to develop my interview technique. The laughter at the beginning of the interview was totally out of place – we’d been laughing before we began. Also, I need to cut back on the amount of feedback I give – I am getting better at this, tending to nod rather than offering vocal feedback (this was a huge problem in a recording I made for episode 2 of the podcast – the recorded was peppered by my ‘un’s and ‘eh’s and ‘I see’s). I also need to stop saying things like ‘no way!’ and ‘awesome!’ – on recordings at least. I also need to be more conscious about cutting down on ‘um’s and inserting spaces after I have made a mistake for easy editing.

I was also too casual in my body language at times.

I’m glad I feel able to learn in this public way. I know that if I were a professional producer (and not me) I would want to pull all this stuff offline straight away due to the amateur nature of it all, but I’m not a pro yet, and I am me. …and the best way to learn is to do, right?I want to document my journey – and these first efforts each mark an important step taken towards reaching my goal.

The comments over on Japan Soc

I find it interesting that (so far) nearly all of the comments made on my video on the Japan Soc entry are criticisms of Debito. It reminds me of Japan Today, a site I rarely visit these days, where you get hundreds of comments missing the main point of the news story altogether and instead focusing on criticising others for no apparent reason other than to make the comment authors feel superior or ‘right’. I wonder why these people feel the need to criticise him for continuing to raise important issues that few others take the time to raise.

It strikes me that these are the kind of people who might claim that non-Japanese in Japan are ‘guests’ and that we have no right to complain! What a load of rubbish! Imagine if all minority groups (such as black people in the US in the early 1950s) had gone along with this twaddle – we’d still have segregated buses!

I even found that one of my friends shared this view the other night – I tried hard not to roll my eyes.

Anyway, I don’t want to make time to get into that debate here – there’s plenty of other places you can go for that.

My train’s just got in to Naka Meguro, time for me to go. `

EDIT: Orchid64 has written a 2-part post on discrimination against foreigners in Japan here – and looks into why some foreigners insist on defending it here.