Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Nutshell: Silvain Gire

My nutshell is at ease with most other nutshells: yes, Internet has successfully created new audiences and new paths for radio documentaries (or crafted radio in general). The audience is listening deeply, in a way that is for me similar to the act of reading: alone, concentrated, breeding mental images. And they can now listen to our stuff other and other. This creates an understanding of the art of editing, of how sound narratives work. This allows us to build an access to a library of features, which encourages a new generation to learn and practice. This is why, for me, audioblogs, festivals and the teaching of radio are very important.

Problem is: there is no money! In France, only France Culture and ARTE Radio do actually pay for radio creations. I personally receive three to five demands every day, and can only produce about 120 sound pieces a year… So yes, webdoc is an important gateway for crafted sound (and I agree with Thomas Weibel, "Nowhere Safe" which we helped to produce is a pefect example:

Because we must be true and straightforward: not a lot of people do actually care for crafted radio ! I know my bosses don't... It is a long process, expensive, requires craftmanship and is not very flashy or glamorous. Facebook may be cool for promotion, but you don't listen to a 50 minutes-long radio feature on it. So, here are a few personal thoughts:
  • public events like listening sessions are cheap to organize, fun and successfull in the long run. It is a slow but guaranted way to promote our art.
  • time is essential: you can have the craft and ethics of a documentary in a three-minutes piece, and THAT goes well on Facebook. Formats don't work on the web. Traditional radio formats are killing creation, and they are killing us.
  • the audience is king, not the author: down with the boring, self-serving, 70's avant-garde höspiel, narcissistic monologues ! We have to be challenging, interesting, funny, provocative through the course of a short or a long piece. Not selling our soul : that can mean time, silences, beautiful voices, strong characters BUT ALSO noises, brutal editing, changes of rythms, multitracks mixing, etc.
  • we have to learn from new tools: I now agree with hidden microphones, which were against my ethics at first. We can blend well-crafted"classic" recordings and impure, brutal sounds from telephones or personal devices. We have to find new ways of telling stories. And we can only hope that a new generation will shock us with a "crafted radio" that is not the one we grew up with, or the one we actually produce."
Silvain Gire, Head of Arte Radio, France

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