2012 SHORTDOCS WINNER! The familiar faces of the red, white and blue bus, whose lives I will never know.
The Red, White, and Blue Bus, by Luke Eldridge, was one of four stories chosen (from 180 submissions) as a winner in the 2012 ShortDocs Challenge. The Challenge, a collaboration with EveryBlock, invited anyone and everyone to produce a short audio story that featured at least two neighbors and included a color in the title, and three seconds of narrative silence.
Read more about Luke's ShortDocs experience (his first-ever production!), Behind the Scenes, and listen to the other 2012 ShortDocs winners:
Crown the King: Red Takes Black, by Adam Kampe
Red, White and Bruised, by John Musto
Glass, Not Glitter, by Abby Wendle
Luke Eldridge is a first-time producer from the UK who found his calling with the 2012 ShortDocs Challenge. He has spend the past couple of years discovering and listening to the great public radio story-tellers from across the Atlantic and felt compelled to follow their lead. Eldridge works in Financial Services during the day but always has one ear out for the fascinating stories in everyday life that go untold.
BEHIND THE SCENES with Luke Eldridge
What's your background? How do you spend most of your days?
I have always been a creative person but have struggled for many years to find the right outlet for that creativity. When I was a boy I would write whole editions of my own magazine, put the pages neatly in plastic pockets, bind them together and then store them away. On family holidays in Wales I would toil away at my first (and as yet only) work of fiction - "The Hollow Tree" - and I would draw pictures of the racing car for my very own team over and over, carefully documenting the team name, the drivers and their backgrounds. Then I grew up, got married, got a mortgage and became a dad; my responsibility increased and my time for finding those creative outlets decreased, until I was inspired by the ShortDocs Challenge. I now split my days between working as Project Manager in Financial Services and dreaming where my next story will come from. I spend my evenings being continually amazed by my son, Ira.
How did you hear about the ShortDocs Challenge?
I sit on the X7 bus, the one in my story, for 10 hours a week and I fill all of that time with the best storytelling podcasts I can find. I started, perhaps predictably by my son's name, with This American Life and gradually built up a collection of other fascinating ways to spend 60 minutes. A few months ago I chanced upon the Re:sound podcast, loved it and the description of the Challenge struck a chord.
Please explain how each ShortDocs rule manifests in your SD.
Neighbors: I interpreted 'neighbours' as my fellow passengers on the bus, so in a physical sense. They sit right next to me. I think us bus passengers provide an accurate representation of British society as a whole; we're so close, yet so far away. We could share so much, but, for whatever reason, we choose not to.
Color in title refers to: The colours refer to the Stagecoach livery that the bus carries. I wanted to emphasise just how ordinary it is. It's just a red, white and blue bus, nothing special.
Silence: Silence is really the central theme of the story: we've all agreed that nobody breaks it. So, in a sense, my whole three minutes is a silence, there's only narration and there'd be no dialogue between the passengers if you left the tape running for an hour. But I cut the hum of the engine and the background music for a few seconds to really accentuate that point.
Did the rules help or hinder your experience producing your SD? Which rule was hardest to follow?
I'm a Project Manager so I spend all day seeking constraints: constrain time, constrain cost, constrain quality. Everything must be specified and controlled to meet that specification. Working with the rules achieved that same effect and enabled me to narrow my focus. The hardest rule to follow for me was the silence because it was such a hard thing to pull of with some legitimacy.
What's your next story about? (whether it's in the works or not, yet...)
There are two anecdotes I've heard from people around me recently that would, if told properly, make fascinating listening. I haven't yet persuaded either person to grant me the permission to tell their story, so I will keep the descriptions generic: the first is about where complete devotion of your life to moral principles can take you and the second is the classic theme of achieving success in adversity, against all the odds. Before the ShortDocs Challenge I would have found these anecdotes interesting and done nothing more with them, but now I feel inspired to bring them to life in audio.