Behind the Scenes, Behind the Camera, Behind the Brains…


Do you ever find yourself stuck creatively? Hung up on technical details? Flying by the seat of your pants shooting in the dark? Up the creek with no paddle, and your deadline, one portage away?

Sure, the client will love what you create, but will they be in love with it? Heaven knows. You're too busy getting there, and this isn't Hollywood, right? There is no golden egg 5 star catering or rash of bubbly interns drowning you in infinite coffee espressos.

Did someone say coffee? Ok, I'll get it myself...

That's my world. From the scale of one to git-er-done, there are the you-do-its and then there's me: master anti-planner, a wobbly wave of gobbledygook dreamed up during long nights of baggy-eyed wakefulness before Captain ADHD on caffeine emails a brief synopsis the next morning and twists the arms of reason to settle on a script. Okay (churning fingers and thumbs), let's make magic!

“What's the video about?” you ask. “Oh, it's about 15 seconds...”

Three days shooting script, a ragtag crew of two: the Grip slash Assistant Camera Operator, and Makeup Artist slash Production Assistant. Heck, everyone gets an Assistant credit, slash this and that.

This time the client was us: an agency's self-promotional video--is that an oxymoron?

The first challenge we faced: confined spaces, low lighting and endless white walls. Solution: use every light in the kit, multi-colored filters, and a weird coat hanger thingy that looks like Poseidon's back scratcher.

Meanwhile, The Ivy Group continued, as 'per usual', the business of the day. And myself, red lighting the entire office before each take: Quiet...recording! Thank you!” The subject, on camera, worried about quibbling details such as “What exactly am I supposed to say?”, or “Does my face look funny?”, or “Hey! This microphone cord tickles.” And I'm reassuring: “Just say something funnier than you look.”

And when it's over: my crew, sad to leave a cakewalk gig, and me, facing hours of raw, unsorted footage. How did I motivate myself to create the best possible self-promotional such and such? I began with the outtakes (of which there were many). It's amazing: some of the meatiest moments are created when the subject is finally comfortable in front of the lights with strange people eyeballing every twitch.

It was fun, and it was a wrap. Hot lights were cooling from the buzz as I packed up the rented equipment. We followed the script exactly, adding personal asides here and there. [My most challenging moment?] When it was my turn in front of the camera. I didn't have me to direct! Can you imagine? [unloaded question]... But I did have the luxury of the final word, the editor's revenge so to speak, saying what no one else would say to tie our little story together. And our story will continue.

A natural bridge over improvised possibilities.