A while back, around September, I visited an old theatre on High St- Its name, the Warner Theater. I saw a peculiar movie that night, ‘The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia’ and though I was pretty appalled at the documentary, I was also appalled at something else. On that Memorial weekend night, it came to my attention that the Warner would be closing over the next couple days. Apparently it had outlived its 80-year history.
Over the past couple months, I was forced to waltz pass the theatre, gazing at its desolate and gloomy front doors. I’ve also seen some very spectacular films in 3D-that to my knowledge, took a competitive advantage on the Warner that the ol’ theatre just couldn’t contend with.
Recently, I had come across a story about a women who was aspiring to re-open this aged venue. I decided to pitch the story in my news meeting in hopes that I would be in contact with the women before hand. Through a process of elimination I eventually became in contact with her after receiving a relieving phone call from her on a surprising late Sunday night. We talked for a while, longer than I had wished, on her plans for the Warner and how determined she was to save it.
Me and this women, Lori Tanner, seemed to have a lot in common and I was very excited to do a story on her and the Warner. I pitched the story the next day, got the assignment, and began my expedition on the story.
From the beginning it didn’t start to go in the direction I wanted. People were not returning my phone calls, Lori and I were having trouble making room in our schedules for the interview and I hadn’t got permission yet to film inside the theatre. Causing some common journalistic anxiety early in the week.
Nonetheless, I was persistent with my phone calls, lined up two interviews and got permission to film inside the Warner. I got the keys to the 80-year old building only to find that non of the lights were on and I soon found myself walking around a set that seemed like it was suppose to be in a horror movie. There is always something ominous about being in an old, abandoned building with nobody there and nobody to hear you scream. Anyways, I got the shots and was out of there as quick as could be. Not to mention the heating had been shut off for a while and it was the middle of winter…
I started editing early and realized my visuals were lacking (the one thing I thought would be great for this story) but put together a short script so I wouldn’t have a lot to fill.
I remember, at some point telling my teacher I felt a community obligation to make show so I could broadcast this women’s story about saving the Warner.
After everything came together, things looked a little bit better than I had contended and I was pretty certain I would make show (which I did.)
After this story, I learned a very important theme about journalism. You have to be aggressive as a journalist and a little hard hearted about other people’s schedules. Don’t ever settle on one source, particularly when its an official. There are always a couple of people that can fill that void. I called one guy, left him and email and he never got back to me. But I didn’t wait, as soon as I didn’t get in-touch with him I called somebody else and set up an interview right away. If you have to cancel an interview with someone so be it, better their loss than yours.