Friday, April 17, 2009

Life behind-the-scenes

Acting and being on TV may seem glamorous to some, but not to me. Not after the experience I’ve had filming our how-to DVD series and this upcoming $30,000 Style My Room TV show. Don’t get me wrong, it can be fun and exciting but it’s also a lot of work and takes a REALLY long time. And for a person like me who doesn’t like to wait around and wants everything done yesterday, it’s difficult to hurry up and wait.

Here’s what I mean.

We had an on location shoot for our Style My Room Makeover show at American Carpet One a few days ago. Call time was 8 a.m., that’s when the crew needs to show up. It generally takes about an hour-and-a-half to set up the lights—you don’t want shadows on faces and people looking green under commercial fluorescent lights, right? So while that’s happening, it’s time for us to get miked up, do a sound check and have our coffee and donuts.
This is also a good time to look over my lines. There are no cue cards, no teleprompters, so I can’t remember word for word what’s on the script. At the same time, I’m trying to be spontaneous and make the Agenas, our fantastic Style My Room Contest winners, comfortable on camera. At the end of the take, sometimes I can’t remember what I said! That’s why we have an assistant producer who makes sure I’ve covered the important ideas. After all, the show chronicles the Agenas as they learn how to decorate their own home and the show needs to unfold in a way that makes sense so our viewers can learn along with them.
Then we do a run through of the scene so that both cameramen and the lighting guys know how to block the shot. Blocking is where the director lets everyone know where their marks are, including the Agenas, me and the cameramen. We do a couple of dry runs and then it’s action.
WHOOPS! Not so fast! Someone hears a popping sound in someone’s mic, or the lighting isn’t quite right or the battery on that camera just went dead. You get the drift? It all adds up to being a long day.

But you know, this is the nature of the business and that’s partly why major motion pictures can cost over a hundred million dollars.

Fortunately, we have a great crew to work with, starting from the top with our director James Brennan, our two camera guys, the grip and the lighting guys, the sound guy…you’d be amazed at the number of people on board for this shoot. Everybody gets along and has a lot of fun. It’s a family environment and we’re all working toward a common goal—to get the show over with! Just kidding! To turn out a really great show, I mean.
Location shoots like this one at American Carpet One are a little more difficult because we’re mindful that we’re in a place of business. Customers are coming in, phone calls are being made, business is going on as usual. Every distraction adds to the delay, but everyone at American Carpet One was so easy to work with and so accommodating that it wasn’t that bad at all.

Our day ended right on time, just before five o’clock. We filmed two sequences—our flooring and window treatment segments—and a little teaser tip for our website. And by five sharp we had cleaned up and were ready to go. It’s a wrap! …until our next shoot!