Research interviews

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  • Research interviews

    (I searched for similar threads but came up short, so please post a link if I've overlooked any.)


    I'm currently researching my latest spec script, a horror/thriller set in Boston, and I need to contact the Boston Police Department in hope of interviewing a homicide detective.

    Arghhh, I'm so nervous! I've never done this before, and I've been putting it off because I have no idea what to say without sounding like a crazy person! Hellllp, please?! Lol




    How do you approach people/ organizations??

  • #2
    Re: Research interviews

    "Hello? Boston police? I'd like to talk to someone there about killing people."

    You're guaranteed to get a response!

    Just tell them you're a writer doing some research and would they have someone available who might be willing to answer a few questions. Most people and groups are more than happy to share the benefits of their experiences.

    Trust me.
    http://www.scriptmag.com/features/co...y-dan-goforth/

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    • #3
      Re: Research interviews

      You might have an easier time if you reach out to a specific officer or detective. How do you find out the names of these people? Look up news articles about recent homicides in Boston, take note of the names, then call the police department and ask for that person. Tell them you're a screenwriter and ask if they might be able to take a half-hour out of their schedule in the next week to answer a few questions for you. Most people will respond warmly to this, so if you don't have success on the first go, try again a couple more times.
      QUESTICLES -- It's about balls on a mission.

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      • #4
        Re: Research interviews

        Originally posted by sbbn
        Eh, as someone who has worked in law enforcement and worked with a lot of homicide detectives, I disagree with picking a specific person and trying to contact him or her (after you read about them in a local newspaper... which, honesty would be unusual because the newspapers don't typically name/interview/quote the actual homicide detective, particularly with large police forces). That's a bit weird. If someone did that to me it would be off putting.

        Just call the police dept., you'll end up with the front desk, tell them why you're contacting them and ask who you should speak with. They'll probably put you in contact with a desk sergeant and then ask that person who would be a good detective to ask to interview.

        Keep in mind these guys are extremely busy, frequently on call, and don't have much free time for themselves or their families. Be conscientious of that and grateful for what they do offer to give.
        Well, there you go. Experience wins out, so listen to sbbn. And definitely be conscientious.

        That said, I've contacted specific people before (admittedly, not law enforcement), and it's usually well received. It's all in the approach.
        QUESTICLES -- It's about balls on a mission.

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        • #5
          Re: Research interviews

          Thanks for the advice, guys.

          I'm going to bite the bullet later on today and see what happens.

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          • #6
            Re: Research interviews

            I'm not sure what info you need, but if it involves how to become a homicide detective (specifically in Boston), I have a friend that once looked into it. Not sure if the rules are different or I misheard them, but here's what he told me:

            You have to have lived in Boston for at least a year before applying to be a cop.

            You can't have done any illegal drugs for at least 6 months prior to applying.

            You have to walk to the beat for two years before becoming a homicide detective.

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            • #7
              Re: Research interviews

              Originally posted by sbbn
              I disagree with picking a specific person and trying to contact him or her.... That's a bit weird. If someone did that to me it would be off putting.
              Just call the police dept...
              Yes, best advice. Large police departments usual have a public relations department or public information department and some even have someone whose role is to liaise with film and tv productions. The name of the office varies between police departments - it can be called public information, media liaison, public relations, etc. In Boston the public information bureau is probably the best place to start. Email them explaining what sort of research you want to do and they will help you contact someone. Don't be nervous about this - police departments deal with these sorts of inquiries all the time and you won't appear crazy. Just be open and to the point.
              Last edited by DavidK; 09-28-2013, 10:12 PM.
              "Friends make the worst enemies." Frank Underwood

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              • #8
                Re: Research interviews

                Another resource is your city library's reference librarian. A good reference librarian can help you find a lot of information before you talk with your police source, so you can cut through the basics and get to specifics.

                Don't discount BU's libraries; some university policies are such that the general public can use their services in the library. You may not get borrowing privileges, but you may not need them. Just pick a slow time to go in (before noon, usually). When I worked a reference desk, and it was slow, I loved having questions (especially interesting ones).

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