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The Truth of What Was Said: On Editing Interview Transcripts

I've found in editing the text for the Dave Hoover and George Mendonca pages that the truth lies deep within the content in the actual interview. Truth is indeed relative when one has the power to manipulate data and the skill to make others believe your version. It is quite scary to see that as long as it makes sense, the reader accepts someone's edition of another person's speech in blind faith.

The process started with me watching the actual film twice and discussing it with Professor Rosenheim. I then examined 294 (more or less) pages of material, including 263 pages of transcripts of the four interviews. I thought about what I saw and read and I rethought what I saw and read, and finally sat down to condense the 134 pages on Hoover and Mendonca and the related background info into a coherent story. Write and organize, write and organize; rewriting and reorganizing until everything seemed right. I put the two pieces together from what was authentic but organized them to the extent that they seemed more real and logical to me than the raw transcripts.

It really struck me as I uncovered more information how eerily similar the stories of Hoover and Mendonca were. At first glance, you see this newspaper journalist succumb to his childhood calling of following in the footsteps of Clyde Beatty. Then there's a topiary gardener who has grown up in a garden, knowing nothing else, and will ultimately die in one. Strangely enough, each in his own way comes to create his own miraculous world of wild animals.

George Mendonca seemed to be the most difficult to work with (in terms of editing) because he said the same things more than twice and often sidetracked during the interview (At one point, he went on to talk about Newport, RI for a few pages). Dave Hoover had more interesting stories to tell and told them in such a way as to tie in with the nitty-gritty of his profession as a wild-animal trainer.

Ultimately, my sifting through the original interview transcripts has given me the luxury of seeing the world from the eyes of these four eccentrics, with an element of purity and authenticity that was totally out of my control at the very beginning. The film takes on a whole new meaning when you really learn who these people are and where they came from. I have attempted to tell you the complete story. Whether or not I've done a good job of telling you the truth is up for you to decide.




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