Today we're gonna do something a little bit different. I have been doing this for nearly ten years. Yeah, that's kind of crazy. I thought about waiting until the last interview or until the tenth anniversary of Newgrounds to do this. All of that said I figure that one is never promised tomorrow, so I figured let's do this now instead of later. I don't know how much this will interest people, but I wanted to let all of you know how I do these interviews. I'll chronicle it throughout the years I've done it.
[ 2007 - The Lost Episodes ]
This is when I started to do The Interviewer. These were not good and no longer exist. They were originally posted on my Newgrounds profile. I felt that was a bit unprofessional. Back then all I did was found someone of notoriety. Ask them for an interview, write some basic questions, send them off, and then post it haphazardly on my profile. After a while I didn't like the way it looked or felt. I abandoned the project.
[ 2009 - The Interviewer ]
I was watching Inside the Actors Studio on TV one day. It was a show that interviewed famous actors, actresses, directors, and even musicians from time to time. This show pretty much became the bedrock to The Interviewer. Trust me if you like The Interviewer and you like film, television, and music, then you will love watching this show. James Lipton became an idol to me when I brought The Interviewer back.
I decided to look through the show's history. His first guest was Alec Baldwin. This was a recognizable name that a lot of people knew. I thought that my first guest should be just as well recognized. They also talked about the person's craft, where they came from, how they grew, what inspired the art they made and what they were doing in the future. I liked this idea. I made a separate profile, called it The Interviewer and decided my first guest should be @TomFulp, the creator of Newgrounds.
Looking back at that interview I am still proud of it, but in a way an artist might be proud of a crayon drawing. The first one, that started it all. If it weren't for Tom Fulp I would not have taken this as far as I have. It probably wouldn't have garnered the attention that it has.
I still just sent a request letter out and still just got a response. This was done through the PM system, so a lot of people's answers would be split into multiple PMs. I then constructed it all together. This was and still is the most mind numbing part of the whole experience. I really wish we could just schedule news posts because that would have made many of those years easier. Why? Because for a while Tom would post the new interviews on the front page. Which was cool, but that meant the demand got higher. I posted each new interview every Wednesday. Which meant I needed to construct the entire interview on Wednesday, send the link to the guest that week, send the link to Tom so he can post it, and then post the link to Twitter, Google+, and the official thread. The Twitter and Google+ are no longer updated, and with Newgrounds going mobile I don't think there will be a reason to do so. However I still send Tom a link and still post one in the official thread. Now I also have to update The Interview Codex which was gifted to me by @deathink.
That's pretty much a short history. Let's get into the nitty gritty now.
[ BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE INTERVIEWER ]
I've actually been chronicling this so I could have pictures. This is the process in which I've taken in interviewing @MeghanLuna. Also at one point in my life I bought and started reading David Allen's Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, specifically the 2002 version. A lot of that has helped this process and I believe any creative person should read this book.
[ STEP 1 - THE GUEST ]
This starts one of two ways. One, I check my list of suggestions to see who to interview next. This list includes people suggested by users, Tom, a past interviewee, and myself. Since I don't know how the past three operate I will tell you how I find people to interview. Usually it starts while I'm just browsing Newgrounds. The Front Page tends to supply quite a treasure trove of people. I can also find people through the forums as well. This happened when I interviewed The Elite Guard Barracks and The Graffiti Crew. Case in point one day back in September I was just browsing Newgrounds and came across something interesting. A picture of a psychotic looking bunny.
I watched the movie, voted on it, and left a review on it. Then I started to wonder where the idea for this came from? Why this art style? As I started to ask myself questions I decided to consider this person for an interview. That's when the initial phase begins.
During the initial phase I do a small scan of a person's profile. I'm looking for anything interesting about them. Their works, their styles, I need enough to formulate an interview. After all the most important thing is looking at the person and their story.
Once I see enough for a potential story I send off The Interviewer Request Letter. Yes there is a request letter that is the same for each and every person. The only time this changes is if I'm doing a group interview. In that case some of the wording will be different, but overall it's the same. Why is this the case? Because it got tiring typing out a short letter each and every time. I wanted something a bit longer and a bit more professional, so I made it better and now all I have to do essentially is just copy and paste.
The response is the next part. If they don't respond, I wait one week and send another letter. After two weeks I stop sending the letter. If they respond with a no, then I wait one month and send another letter. Getting the interview done with @Gagsy was difficult because of this and she finally caved in and said yes to the interview. If they say yes to the interview, then we move onto the next step.
[ STEP 2 - RESEARCH ]
This is the part that takes the longest and is honestly the fun part of doing these interviews. I look through everything. Their entire profile. Top to bottom. Every post, every review, every movie, and I play every game. I even go off Newgrounds when looking into the person. I will find everything. I've surprised some people with what I've found like when I interviewed @WoodTick and @CosmicDeath. As I go I write down anything of note.
I want to study their craft as a whole. Some topics I wonder about and then when I start to dig I find either something of interest or nothing of really much to note. Great for a portfolio, but not so much for learning. Sometimes I cut some questions and/or topics entirely. I've only had one interview that I cut completely and that was Interview with The Creators of "The Room Tribute". It was an interview with @TomFulp, @JohnnyUtah, and @Oney. I completed the whole thing, got all of their answers, and while reading it, it was just boring overall. There are cases where every topic and question I kept throughout the entire process, such as @AlmightyHans, @Troisnyx, and @Back-From-Purgatory.
When the interview is done I throwaway the research paper, so unfortuantely those are now gone. A lot of people I condense to one, maybe two pages. @AlmightyHans took up the most pages with five. I don't do front and back of the paper. Once the research is done it is time to write the questions.
[ STEP 3 - WRITING THE QUESTIONS ]
As we continue with this process you should think of it as a downward spiral at this point. Finding the person is the most fun part, doing the research is the second fun part, writing the questions are the third fun part. You might assume that all I have to do is simply ask HOW YOU MAKE THIS? Granted I used to do my interviews that way. Much like the people I've interviewed though I got better at this. Yeah I still have some questions that just boil down to that blunt level, because there is nothing else I can really ask about said piece. I started to evolve and ask more about why they do what they do. Everyone has their own story.
Asking the questions is not the same as writing the questions. Mainly because this is not a face to face interview. One of my goals is to try and make it seem that way while in a prepared state with myself and the guest from different parts of the world. I have often thought about doing a live interview, but scheduling that would be hell to do. When I was still living with my parents it was impossible with all of the noise in the house as well as my nosey family members (they mean well though). Now that I have my own home, scheduling would still be difficult due to time zones as well as my own job. Maybe someday though.
Overtime, the first and last questions have always been the same. How did you find Newgrounds and why did you join? -and- What can we expect from you in the future?. If I am interviewing the person for a second visit, the first question recounts the past interview and again the last question stays the same. When I have a musician or artist on then I ask them the defintion of music or art. I want to expand this even further though, especially with games after interviewing @Nutcasenightmare.
It used to be that I would write the questions in a PM, send them off, and ask for the answers back through PM. That got messy quickly and made it harder for me to post the final product. I then started making a document with the questions and filling it in with answers. I also set up an E-Mail for Newgrounds related material. This made things a lot easier. Then one day my laptop crashed. Thus I lost a lot of information. This was around Interview No. 90. I had to change how I did things.
I already had The Interviewer account set-up to not receive PMs from anyone. Then after the friends list was implemented I changed it to allow only friends to send PMs. I then friended my personal account. This way once I sent the questions off to the guest, I would send a copy to The Interviewer account to hold onto with additional information for posting the interview. I essentially use Newgrounds as a Dropbox. When I receive the answers from the guest through E-Mail, I hold onto that to in my E-Mail before posting The Interview. Any links they link to in their answer I keep in a folder in my browser.
Therefore everything is kept secure and I don't have to worry about a computer crash or power outage. Then I wait for the response with the answers. If I don't have a response within two weeks I check up on them to see if everything is okay. If they have posted anything new in that time I may or may not add additional questions. I haven't had to thankfully. Once I get the answers if I don't feel they went into enough detail or didn't get the answer I was ultimately looking for, I reply asking for expansion or more clarification. I haven't done many follow-ups, again thankfully, because they're busy and I wouldn't want their time wasted. Once I receive the answers it is time to schedule and post the interview.
[ STEP 4 - SCHEDULING AND CONSTRUCTING ]
Back in the day when I was on fire with these interviews I would have multiple ones ready to post. I would post them on a weekly basis. The schedule would fluctuate between every Wednesday then every Friday, then back to every Wednesday, then every Friday again. After a while I stuck to every Wednesday and that seemed to work the best. To make sure each one gets posted at the time it needs to be I number the interviews in the order I want them posted. I have each tenth interview decided already. Once the interview is done I schedule it for posting on a day by filing it in my tickler file. Once that day comes up, I post that week's interview. This is the part that takes the longest.
Each interview has always looked nice and neat. This is when I write the introduction and the closer. Mainly because I want a fresh mind to work with when writing about this person and their works. It gives me more to talk about then. I also need to add the links to the Index Page, Official Thread, and the Theme Song for The Interviewer. I then paste in the questions and answers along with any other links that go with The Interviewer. I also embed any videos I may want in the interview. I try to not post too many videos in the interviews so it gives people less to do while reading. Mainly because I have the theme song for The Interviewer and if people don't like the song they be listening to their own song.
I then have to add the spacers in. With each update to the site Tom makes, makes this process longer and more difficult. It does look nicer so I'm happy, but each time requires another overhaul. If you look at past interviews they look ugly. With Newgrounds going mobile, they definitely need some sprucing up.
This process takes some time to do depending on the interview. If it's a long interview that is split into two parts, it takes longer. Usually it takes me around fifteen to twenty minutes to construct and post the interview. @AlmightyHans interview took me nearly one hour to get fully constructed and ready to be posted. It's not hard just time consuming to get it down and looking nicely. Once it's constructed it is time to be posted.
[ STEP 5 - POSTING ]
All Done? Yep, that means it is time to Submit the interview. This is when I push the button and hope that nothing is wrong and that it comes out nice and neat. If it doesn't come out neat or if I encounter an error I have always contacted @liljim immediately. Think of The Interviewer as a car. I know how to drive it, keep it running, people like it, but if something happens to it I need to take it to the mechanic. @liljim is the mechanic for The Interviewer. Each interview he has fixed I give him credit for at the start of the interview. Without him I wouldn't know what to do half the time. Sometimes it was a simple HTML fix, some information about Newgrounds that I needed and didn't have, or something has gone completely wrong and he's jumped in to fix. He's the one who gave The Interviewer front page posting abilities which is awesome! @liljim is the real deal.
When everything goes right or when the problems have been fixed, the interview is then posted. I send the link to the guest first, then a link to Tom, then I update the official thread, and finally update the Index Page. When I update the official thread, it involves a news update on The Interviewer, the new interview with links to the guest's works in the post, as well as related interviews. I try to do something else fun in the post, then I post the upcoming interviews and sometimes some closing notes.
Then it is done and sent off to the world of Newgrounds and beyond.
That's it. That's how the interviews are done. Each one is a labor of love from beginning to end. Some of them I remember just writing yesterday. It has been nearly ten years and I still love doing these as much as I did when I relaunched them back in 2009. If you enjoyed this little behind the scenes then I'm glad. I am pretty old school with pen and paper, hell back when I wrote my first interview with Tom, I did it all by pen and paper and then typed it. All in all I wouldn't trade these experiences and stories for anything else, and I'm happy Tom gave me and everyone interviewed a place to share our works and stories. So what can we expect from The Interviewer in the future? To keep moving forward.