Sunday, August 29, 2010

Did I tell you the one about…?

Presented by Only Human Communication
Presenter: Moya Sayer-Jones
Friday 27 August, 9:00 am

By Anneliese Milk

There is something infinitely arresting about watching an unknown individual on film: imparting the quotidian, the tragic, the intimate details of their lives to the camera. It becomes both a forum for, and a record of, a person’s story – a validation of their self-worth.

Only Human Communication is an innovative company using story-based strategies to assist and celebrate the lives of people within not-for-profit organisations, government agencies and corporations. Only Human founder Moya Sayer-Jones is a firm believer that storytelling can bring us closer together. ‘Stories,’ she opines from the lectern, ‘are capable of turning us around and opening up the world in a different way.’
Turning to us, the anonymous crowd before her, Sayer-Jones swiftly and eloquently breaks us down as individuals. ‘So, who is here?’ she asks, and proceeds to fire off a series of questions that require us to stand if our answers are in the affirmative. Sayer-Jones’ point is thus: everyone has a story. Yet not everyone has the forum in which to tell it.

By listening to, validating and celebrating marginalised groups, Only Human create short films (under five minutes) of individuals’ stories. Produced through the simplest of means, Sayer-Jones explains that the films are ‘recorded only with what we can keep in our back pockets.’ In this case; the ubiquitous iPhone.

The Only Human philosophy of interviewing is clear-cut: ‘Find your heroes, ask the questions… don’t forget your ethics along the way… get it out there.’ At the same time, Sayer-Jones stresses the importance of valuing the process of the interview over the outcome. An interview can be beautiful, surprising and spontaneous, if one lets go of the agenda and embraces the story at hand.

Following the forum, I meander across to Only Human’s Story Lounge, temporarily located across from the Grand Chancellor Ballroom. Here, people can have their photograph taken and fastened to a postcard upon which they can then scrawl their names, their origins, their roles, their hopes. Awkwardly posing for a Polaroid picture, I too join the growing wall of individuals who find themselves in Launceston this chilly week in August. Another story added to the fold.

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arts Tasmania.

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