After pitching my idea for a TV documentary on assistance dogs for children with autism, the first thing I did was to create a Facebook page for my project. In my experience with social media so far Facebook has proven to be the best platform for sharing material and reaching a wider audience, as well as getting in contact with people. I then followed pages related to my topic and joined some groups. I spent a very long time messaging different people. I DMed the pages, wrote posts in the groups, as well as messaged individual members of the groups, explaining them about my idea and trying to arrange an interview. I was also calling up different organisations training dogs for children with autism all over the country. It turned out to be quite a daunting experience.
The organisations I got hold of said they were really understaffed over the Christmas period and therefore did not have any time for an interview, especially considering the fact that filming takes more time. One of the organisations told me to contact another one and this other one said they could only do it over email. After messaging in a few groups for parents of children with autism, most of those I managed to get in touch with were not comfortable with the filming aspect of it. Many didn’t even respond and those who were willing to do it were too far away for me to afford to go and film there and did not seem like the best case study.
After spending more than a month trying to find interviewees I started to get really worried that it wasn’t as good idea as I thought even though in my head I could see it just perfectly. But all of these efforts and still nothing… So I decided to review all the emails and messages that I had in my inbox.There was a woman who got back to me and at that time I thought it really wouldn’t work for me. She said she had a daughter with Down’s syndrome, but I was looking for someone with autism. Down’s? I hadn’t even done any research on this condition. She also said they lived in Lincolnshire and trust me, it’s obviously incredibly difficult to get there unless you are driving. And I’m not. The train was going to take about 8 hours and it was like £70 for a single ticket. I thought there’s no way and it’s not even the case study I was hoping for. But then when I read into it more carefully I thought I might just change my idea.
Firstly I decided to ask the lady if there’s any way to do the interview somewhere else and she said that her daughter is taking part in a play in London in 2 weeks so that was good news. I then spoke to my supervisor about about all the difficulties that I had with my current topic and how I had this great interviewee and another idea about Down’s syndrome. I also asked if I could change it to a radio documentary because it just seemed impossible for me to make it for TV. I now regret it a bit that I did not choose radio from the very beginning. Much easier to get interviews. She said that if I thought that would be the best treatment I could do it. I remember how happy I was after this meeting. Everything was finally starting to fall into place. I already had the date for the interview arranged so I booked a flashmic and spent the next 2 weeks reading about Down’s, checking what’s on the news about it and preparing for my interview which was just a week before Christmas.