A Peek into Roger’s Process

Roger Durling and Sophia | Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

In this week’s cover story, Roger Durling profiles Freddy Janka and his work for the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara. Curious, we chatted with Roger about his interviewing technique.

I’ve heard that you like to follow a specific method when interviewing someone for a story. Can you talk a little bit about your process?  I like to set up three meetings of 90 minutes each. I like to go to the first meeting having read as much as I can about the person. The first conversation is about building trust and finding common ground. The second meeting is where I start to dive deeply. I do all my interviewing by hand (no recorder); it keeps me grounded and listening more. I then transcribe sessions one and two, and read them. It gives me an opportunity to see what I have — where is the story going, and most importantly, what is missing? Then the third session is about rounding out the story. I also interview one or two other people that can create a more three-dimensional picture of the subject.

What’s your ideal setting for an interview?  It’s important to make sure the interviewee is at ease, so I usually do the interviews in a location of their choosing — their home or studio. In the case of Freddy Janka, we met all three times at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s outdoor courtyard that it shares with Center Stage Theater, overlooking Paseo Nuevo.  

Have you ever interviewed someone new, who then became a close friend?  Hank Pitcher is now one of my best friends. One of the reasons I keep agreeing to do these features is because of the mutual respect that is formed during this process. It’s very rewarding.

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