Alain conducts his interviews with precise, simple and elegant style. In pithy conversations some of the most well-known and successful personalities of our time reveal what makes them tick. Each interview crystallises into a unique story as his subjects express their lives and loves. Their words become timeless keys that we turn in the doors of our own minds, reaching a deeper understanding of our shared human nature.
This website is managed by Alain Elkann Interviews Limited, 2nd Floor Connaught House, 1-3 Mount Street, (Entrance Via Davies Street), London, United Kingdom, W1K 3NB. England & Wales Registered Company Number 13712344.
Is making an Interview an art?
Not sure, but it is a craft, a métier.
How do you learn it?
By doing it and finding your own style. The most difficult part is to find the person you want and fix an appointment. Then you have to prepare yourself in order to know something about the person you want to interview. You have to be equal to the person you interview, even the most famous or powerful. It is impossible to be arrogant, or humble. Just be yourself and never prepare the questions. Only the first one, in order to start. The interview has to be like a short story: a beginning, the central part and the end.
When is the end?
Just before the person you interview will say, “I am sorry, but I have to go.” Just before your concentration span is slowing down. Just before you feel that you don’t have much more to ask.
But what do you want to know?
It depends, there are no rules. Maybe you will dare to ask things that others don’t dare to ask because they find them banal. Sometimes you know in advance that your subject is particularly keen on something or has a secret pleasure or passion. In that case you can start with that and then everything becomes easy. One has to ask names, episodes, feelings. One of the most interesting things is the job. What is the job of your subject?
What questions do you ask?
I personally like very short questions, like “Why?” The answer is important, but does not have to be too long or detailed. The reader or the person who watches TV does not expect to be bored. Therefore the rhythm is important. There must be a pace, like in a conversation, never too fast or too slow. Better fast then slow.
Does it always work in the same way?
Sometimes there are exceptions and the interview becomes a book or a documentary. It is a mistake for the interviewer to try to be the protagonist. His job is to make the other speak, because the reader wants to know about him or her. The interviewer is a sort of a Virgil, a guide that has the task to bring you inside the life, the thoughts of the person interviewed.
What is the difference between an interview and a short story?
You interview a real person. The characters of a short story are symbols and, even if inspired by real people, they are fiction. The person we interview is a reality.
One has to tell a real story, in a way that is as clear as possible for the reader to follow. The person that accepts to be interviewed does not have to say everything, just what he or she wants to say – but not too much, otherwise the interview loses momentum.
The plot of Money Must Stay in the Family, unfolds around the family matriarch’s last will and traces the story of an upper class Jewish family from Turin, the fictional Ottolenghis. The multigenerational saga begins with the flight from Mussolini’s Racial Laws of 1938 and continues with the arrival in the Upper West Side of Manhattan and the dispersion from New York to Rome, Paris, Tuscany, South America, and Jerusalem.