Quoting People

Suppose you know whom you want to interview, but you haven't spoken with them yet, either in a pre-interview or a filmed interview. You should never make up quotes based on what you hope someone will say, even if you have a good idea of what it might be, if only because the world is small and if Professor X finds out that you attributed a statement to him that he hasn't or wouldn't make, the chances the he will cooperate with you in the future are slim.

Instead, there are a few options for sprinkling in quotes from sources you haven't spoken with directly. First, you can simply describe what someone will be asked about, for example,

"Dr. Hunter offers an introduction to photosynthesis____" Second, you can quote from the individual's published writing. Third, you can quote from interviews that others have conducted with the person. However, if you do any of these, you need to be clear that you have not yet contacted the person directly, and that he or she has not yet agreed to participate in the film. You might say, "Except as noted, quotes are taken from print material published elsewhere." Suggestion: If you decide to do this, write a version of your treatment with footnotes, so that you can go back to this source if necessary. Remove those footnotes in copies for outside review; they're distracting and unnecessary for readers who are "seeing" your film on paper, not reading a research report. Another possibility would be, "We have gained the cooperation of Dr. X and Reverend Y, but have not yet spoken with Mr. Z and Dr. P, who are also quoted here." In any case, quotes should be used sparingly. This is your treatment, not your script.

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