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Welcome to my blog

Thank you for taking the time to check out my blog. Over the next several months I will be preparing, planning, and shooting a documentary on historic Route 66. My actual trip begins in June. I hope to be back by July to start writing, and editing. I hope this will be an interesting look at what goes into producing a television documentary, and how the documentary is coming along.

A little background about me...
I am a broadcast video journalist with over 20 years experience shooting, editing, writing and field producing. I decided to "retire" from local news in 2009 to pursue the next phase of my career. Much of my experience is in local tv news as a Field Producer, and ENG Photographer, but the fundamentals of producing long form stories are the same as producing shorter news packages.
You are telling a story, plain and simple. The better you plan the better the final product will be.

Thanks again for reading, and enjoy the ride!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Life Along the Forgotten Highway... Route 66

Well, after 4 months I have finally finished a 30 minute documentary on the lives of the those who live along the 2448 miles of Route 66. It has taken a month of planning, a month of traveling through 8 states shooting and interviewing some very interesting people, and 2 months of logging and editing over 20 hours of broll and 50 interviews. I couldn't have reached my personal deadlines along the way if it were not for all the help my family, and friends in the business have given me along the way. From equipment to constructive criticism. From titling, graphics and FX help to composing and performing they all have made it possible for me to say I met my goal of competing the documentary By November 1st. I leave November 10th for Santa Monica California where I will be showing the piece to several RT 66 legends. I had 9 days to burn DVD copies so I could take them along. If anyone is in the Santa Monica area please stop by the pier on November 11th. There is a big 84th birthday celebration for Rt 66. You see, on that day in 1926 the road was born, and it just so happens to be my birthday too. The road has aged better than me! I was asked by a friend I meet while shooting this summer to moderate a panel of Rt 66 Legends on November 11th. I still have about about 15 minutes of stories to add so it will be what amounts to a television hour (minus commercials), but that should go relatively quickly. Then the real work begins. I have to find a distribution outlet for the show, and plan a local screening on the East coast. But for now, I cut a tease for you to view.
Thank you for following along over the past several months. I'll post when and where the screening will be, and what network if any will air the documentary. Cross your fingers!!!

RT 66 blog tease.mov

Friday, September 17, 2010

What happens in Vegas doesn't always happen as planned!

When you first start out on any project you have expectations. That's true with anything in life whether it's a back yard project or the way you propose to your finance'. Some times the game changes and the focus shifts. (This is truly change you can believe in because it will happen.) The outcome is the same, but how you got there wasn't the way you planned.
This is true in journalism too. You roll out to cover a story with the facts at the moment in hand, and proceed to talk to your partner in crime (either a reporter, producer or photojournalist) about the angle of the story. (You are a team after all. It has been said that no man is an Island. Well, no journalist acts alone even if they think they do!) Sometimes, when you pull up on the scene or location of the story you quickly find out that it's not exactly what you were lead to believe. The story has changed or was never what you were lead to believe. It's no ones fault, but the first inclination is to blame the assignment desk. Don't waste your time. Just focus on the mission at hand... telling a compelling story. That is why being flexible, and opened minded is pivotal to being successful.
This willingness and ability to adapt to changing situations is what experience gains you. Having worked in local news for 20 years, I have more than enough experience in this. And I am a better journalist for it! My experience came in handy on this trip because the angle I had in mind- lives along Route 66 being effected by the recession -really never materialized. I also thought of locating a family who telecommuted to a big city, but choose to live in small town America along Route 66. My other hope was to shoot a food piece, but that would have taken another whole month. (Maybe if someone picks up this piece they will want me to shoot the food documentary too)
Lofty goals, but the angle never materialized like I thought it would when I set out to cover the story of life along Route 66. My initial angle was based on what I had read. I then made an assumption or hypothesis, if you will, as to what their lives may be like today. Well, thankfully their lives are better than I thought, but they still have compelling stories to tell. Life is still hard at times, but small town America survives today albeit a little differently than what I had imagined.
I also figured I would have to eat at a lot of diners to be able to connect with the real people of Route 66. (Actually, we didn't find many diners as we know them on the east coast) I connected with the people in everyplace but a diner. I met some in Antique shops, some on dead end roads, some riding bikes to raise money for the Special Olympics, some waitressing in iconic restaurants, and still some just lending a hand to help a neighbor clean their store so it could be rented out.
Ultimately, all of these stories may not end up in the documentary. I want to keep it to an hour, but they will be the driving force as I edit. I had a news director once that championed the acronym FAB... Fair, Accurate and Balanced... and that is my goal in telling the story of the people who call Route 66 home.
I am now about half way through editing the skeleton of my documentary (sound bites without broll or nat sound). The stories of life along Route 66 are stories of survival, happiness, and hope. I am honored to tell them. And I am honored that you are reading my blog! Thank you!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Rt 66... Post-Mortem or Carpe Diem... It's been a while

I know it's been awhile since my last post. For those who have checked in during my hiatus I thank you. After I arrived home on July 7th, I decided to take a step back from the project so I could approach it fresh. I spent 2-weeks on the shores of North Carolina, and a week along the Atlantic beaches of New Jersey. It's been a great summer. I have only been home for a total of 4 non-consecutive weeks. As promised, I didn't want to waste your time reading boring blog posts when there really wasn't anything to write about. But now it's time to get to work. Here is a quick summary of what has happened.
We arrived home on July 7th exactly one month after we left for our trip. 50 interviews, over 20 hours of video, and countless terra bites of memories all make for a great time. I'm just sitting down to tabulate the cost of the trip, but the memories are priceless! My 75 year old mother (now 76) drove almost 7,000 miles. She refused to give up the wheel, and she says she had a great time driving! (I'm actually glad she wanted to drive. It helps to have a driver and navigator if you want to successfully follow Rt 66 because it isn't always marked very well.) My niece shot over 4,000 digital pictures for the companion photo book.
It may seem like we have alot for a video, and photo book, but I would rather have more than not enough when telling a story. We can't really go back and shoot something after the fact.
Now the fun starts. Hours of logging interviews, and broll, a trip to the National Archives in Washington DC., acquiring permission to use clips from the movie CARS, and of course, that famous song by Nat King Cole. All heading for a deadline of November 2010.
Today, September 4th, I am proud to say I just finished logging the last interview. It actually took less time than I thought. I guess stepping away helped. Listening to the interviews put me back on the road (I miss it). Being home is nice, but traveling Route 66 is great. My excitement and my passion for the story must have taken over, and now the fun starts (really!). Putting the story together.
I have set a few deadlines. I want to have the skeleton(the interviews without broll and nat sound)finished by the end of September. I am aiming to have a rough cut done by the middle of October. I'll keep you posted!
I want to thank everyone who has checked in on our trip.
Happy Labor Day!!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

On the road again...

We left Santa Monica June 30th, and made it all the way to Williams Arizona. We stayed at The Route 66 Inn on the east side of town. Williams is a must see along Route 66. Well, actually, all the towns along Route 66 are a must see in my opinion. We did stop off along the way to interview a few people in Seligman Arizona. This town was by passed by the interstate and almost shriveled up and blew away. A man named Angel Delgadillo and the people of Seligman rallied around the town they called home, and started an organization to promote their town and all the towns along Route 66 in Arizona. The other 7-states soon followed. I had the honor of speaking with Angel, his daughter Mirna, and son-in-law Mauricio.
On day two of our trek eastward, we made it to Albuquerque, New Mexico. If you like country music check out Albuquerque's classic country music station 104.7 at www.classiccountry1047.com
Today, July 2nd, we made it to Clinton, Oklahoma. Our goal is to make it to Missouri by the foruth of July. I would like to cover how a small town along Route 66 celebrates the nations birthday.
At this rate, we hope to make it home by July 8th. That would make it a full month we've been on the road, but from here we do have a few stops to make along the way to shoot some more broll. That would be the only thing that would slow us down.
Happy Fourth of July!!! And thanks for checking in!

Grand Canyon Caverns.mov

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

From Chicago to LA.. errr Santa Monica

After 20 days, we finally arrived in Santa Monica on June 20th. The Santa Monica Pier marks the unofficial end of Rt 66. We finished shooting interviews on June 28th, or so I thought. Our last interview was with Dan Rice and his fiance' Jessica Slating. They own and operate 66 to Cali (http://route-66-to-california.com), a store on The Santa Monica Pier that sells nothing but Rt 66 merchandise made in America. It is also the last stop for many weary road warriors who finish getting their kicks on the Mother Road. (I met a couple today from Norway who just finished their trip on the road.) Dan and Jessica meet everyone who has completed the trip with a friendly smile, and a welcomed seat on a captains chair facing the Pacific Ocean. Talk about ocean therapy!!! The view is enough to regenerate even the most road worn soul.
Well, as I said, I thought I had my last interview until Dan suggested I speak with one last person in Seligman Arizona. So, on our return trip home we will be making one last stop to interview a man named Angel Delgadillo. Angel is credited by many for starting the re-discovery of Rt66 after he helped establish the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona, which set in motion the founding of the other seven states’ associations along the Route.
I hope to be home in Pennsylvania by July 10th. My niece, who is along taking still photo's for a companion photo book, has a concert to attend in north Jersey. And besides, we will have been traveling for over 30 days, and it's time to come home. I miss seeing my family, friends, and visiting my daughter's grave in Princeton, New Jersey.
The only thing that remains after our last interview in Seligman is to pick up some video of iconic Rt 66 images on our way back to Chicago. The trip out was dedicated to interviews, and making contacts. I have to say we have succeeded in that effort and then some! I left time on the return trip to get anything else we may have missed in our effort to keep to our timeline.
I am very proud to say we have kept to our schedule every step of the way. The final milestone of the trip depends on where we stay on July 4th. If it happens to be a town that has a 4th of July celebration I will have to cover it. What better way to close a documentary about the spirit of those who live along America's Main Street than with fireworks celebrating America's birthday.
Oh, speaking of birthdays, I just found out I share the birthday of Rt 66. We were both born on November 11th some 42 years apart. And I turn 42 this year. Maybe that is why I was drawn to shoot this documentary this year. I really couldn't say. I just wanted to tell a story about the people who live along one of the nations most famous forgotten highways.
I'll be posting some more video clips from our trip in a day or two.
I hope you all have a nice 4th of July! And as always, thank you for checking in!