Sunday, February 26, 2006

Shooting Up

Yesterday I wound up spending about five hours on a shoot with my friend and former instructor Elizabeth. Elizabeth is my age and has spent most of her adult life making corporate video films for DuPont and teaching TV Studio Production, corporate video and editing at a local private college. She thinks it's cool that I worked at HBO and I think it's cool she made a living making corporate videos for a big company. I love working with her and yesterday was no exception.

The band is called Shelton Davis and consists of two thirty-something year old musicians and singers whose songs are clearly influenced by the music of my generation - the 60s and 70s. The fact that the man we were focusing on taping yesterday was so cute to the point of distraction was a good challenge for me as I need to focus even when I am pleasantly distracted. My initial role for the taping was to assist in bringing in the equipment - the cameras, sound mixer, monitor, and all the stuff for a shoot. The shoot took place in the home recording studio of this band and it was way cool by itself. Just prior to our arrival incense had been lit and that was heavenly. The lighting was created for the purpose of relaxation and focus. It was still a small space for a production crew of six and then the two musicians but we made it work. The set up took about 90 minutes to 2 hours as there was some initial problems with calibration of equipment and white balancing the cameras. That was finally resolved and we spent the next two hours shooting the band in rehearsal, laying down a track, and then playing together. I was watching the monitor to ensure the unusual lighting was being picked up by the main handheld camera Elizabeth was using (there were three cameras involved: one static and two handhelds) and nothing was coming out too dark.

This group was writing original music for Elizabeth's indie film Norah's Choice and in exchange for that, Elizabeth was shooting and going to create a promotional video for the band to help them get more gigs. She was getting some great cut-away shots in addition to filming the rehearsing group at different angles and some very cool angles too. I got to get on a camera and also went in for some unique shots utilizing the reddish lighting for what I hope will be a great effect. I was certainly happy with the material that was shot and so was Elizabeth.

I am going to work on putting up two websites for Elizabeth: the one for her indie film and the other for her video producing business. She wants to focus on creating instructional, training and educational videos but will produce other sorts of work if asked. What is so good about this current work is that I have more recent experience to offer corporate video producers to hopefully acquire freelance work. I am on the rolodex of two now and on the shoot was given the card of another local video producer who has high end clients.

It's all about networking, baby!

I love the feeling of having several creative projects to work on and each one different in some way.

The camera work I was doing on the shoot does reflect whatever I possess as a writer and actor. In order to understand what kind of shot works in a particular shoot, you have to know what is dramatic or interesting for the viewer to see. The whole purpose of of any video being shot is to appeal to a particular audience. The sensibility that I have as a performer and writer informs the decisions made when editing a video project, assisting with the creation of a trailer, acting or writing any kind of script. When I know who the audience is going to be, I know how to approach a project.

All this comes from not only experience but simple observation. If you watch a commercial for a car dealer and another one for headache medicine, the audience could be the same but the approach for selling the product is completely different. The car dealer is on fire, acting like it's a chance of a lifetime being offered to a prospective buyer and there is shouting and great excitment on the part of the announcer.

The spokesperson for the headache medication speaks softly - almost becoming the sound of comfort - as he/she transports you to the memory of when you had your last bad headache and how wonderful it is to have relief just a reach away.

What was funny yesterday was Elizabeth said she didn't know how to introduce me to people because I had worked in so many aspects of the business. I shrugged and said, "Just that I am here to help with the shoot" is fine. In each project situation, there isn't any need (or interest) in knowing my entire background.

I can just give them my card for that!

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