Friday, 16 June 2017

Another Offer to be on TV

I have received the following letter. The names have been changed, but "John Smith" and "Joe Bloggs" are good friends of mine and well-known UFO/conspiracy/paranormal researchers.

Hello Ben.
My name is Kevin, and I'm a documentary researcher from Surrey.  I was given your email address by John Smith. My team and I are currently working on a project about UFOlogy. We're particularly interested in what it means to "believe" and have faith, while operating in a rational scientific field. Attached to the project we have John Smith and Joe Bloggs, who have been incredibly helpful during the researching phase. We feel like we have a handle on our angle and subtext now, and that's thanks to them.
We are currently looking for events such as meet ups, research expeditions and sky-watches to attend at the end of August. I'd love to hear about anything you could think of that could be an interesting event to use to tell the story of modern UFOlogy. We're also looking out for people who have had eyewitness accounts of what they believe to be alien encounters. If you or anyone you know has had one of these, we would love to come and have a chat with them about that.
All the best,
Kevin MacDonald

I responded:

Hi Kevin.
Thanks for getting in touch. I'll be glad to help in any way I can with your project, providing that your intention is to portray the subject of UFOlogy respectfully, rationally and seriously. Forgive my reticence, but the way the media has covered this matter in the past has fallen far short in that regard, to put it mildly. There are some good events coming up in late August, in particular the Roaming Skies conference which John helps organize. I expect he's already told you about that. I'll find a few more for you.
Best wishes

This was the encouraging bit; Kevin wrote back. Few TV or film producers ever return correspondence once they realize that you're not satisfied with merely being an ingredient in the broth; you want to see the recipe book too.

Hey Ben.
Super, thanks for getting back to us. That is exactly what we are planning on doing, which is why John and Joe are happy working with us. You're all scientists and our intention is to use that misconception of your field as our niche on the subject.
The Roaming Skies conference sounds incredible and it coincides with our shooting week perfectly. I hadn't asked him so you've really helped us out here.
Thank you so much for getting back to us!

I'm inclined to believe him when he says he is planning on portraying the UFO subject respectfully. I'm happy to give him a chance. I know I have a rule never to work with the mainstream media; and indeed, if he had been connected in any way shape or form with the BBC or Channel 4 etc, I'd have binned his letter immediately. However not everybody in the media is like that and there are some growing platforms and outlets that are, in my view, not controlled. Vice is a good example and I was pleasantly surprised with how good their documentary on targeted individuals was, see: Maybe it's the 2016 effect still hanging on. It's worth entering into discussion with these people. Be cautious, but positive. I'll let you know what "Kevin" says next.


Clive said...

What gives you the right to ask for respect; respect for something you are yet to prove even exists?

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

I think we HAVE proven it exists, Clive.

Dr Manjir Samanta-Laughton said...

Hi Ben
Having had some dealings with mainstream TV, I have also experienced how the team is often a bunch of freelancers who get an official looking email address for the project. They then send out junior researchers who will say ANYTHING to get people to come along including lie. I even had one say that Richard Dawkins was going to behave himself. What rubbish!
They get you there, do a hatchet job in post production and by the time the program comes out it could be a year later by which time all the email addresses and phone numbers are defunct as they were just issued during the project and there is nobody accountable.

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Hi Manjir. I recall your interaction with the Dawkinsian Atheist very well. Fear not. I will demand full transparency and negotiate a certain amount of editorial control. I've been in this position before, see the background links. It's better just to make your own movies, which we both do. Best wishes. Ben

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Clive, I won't publish your comments unless they're polite.