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!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

To infinity and beyond!

To Infinity and beyond... that's a Toy Story reference for those of you who might not know. It was my daughter Lydia's favorite movie while she was in the hospital. Don't forget Toy Story 3D is in theaters June 18th!
14 days until we leave on what should be the biggest solo undertaking of my career to date! A good friend of mine is blogging about a year of firsts so in a way that might have been what inspired me or I'm just crazy. Being in tv for so long it's probably a little of both. We seem to think we can do anything when we put our minds to it. Which isn't so bad is it?
Does anyone know of a nice moderately priced hotel in Chicago near the Sears Tower? I have to book a room for the 7th/8th of June. Some good news, I have access to the Sears Tower (renamed Willis Tower) Skydeck on the 8th to shoot aerials of Chicago. A coup for a small company, I think.
Any way, this week is filled with booking, buying, and blogging (not really blogging all week but I needed another B lol) My next blog will be next week. I'll up date the final progress before we leave. I'll attempt to blog and tweet daily on the road from the 8th until we return in July. Oh, yea, I have to set up the twitter account this week too.
I want your feed back! Let me know what you think about the blog. If you have ideas, technical assistance, or just encouragement that would be great! You are my friends, co-workers, family. You are who inspire me to do this everyday. (and besides, I've told too many people so I can't back out now lol) But seriously, you're my peeps! I want to hear from you. Since leaving, I miss chatting with all of my friends and colleagues at the station. And my family and non-work friends, thank you for your continued support in life! I love you man!!
Have a great week!!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It's all in the family...

Well, it's official! My 22 year old niece will be traveling with us. She just recently graduated from York College with a Fine Arts degree with an emphasis on photography. I had hoped she would come along to shoot stills of the trip for a companion photo book. The Honda will be cramped, but I hope that means the car will be heavy enough to withstand a tornado. Tornado season runs until July, and unfortunately we are traveling directly through tornado alley. If you have been following the news, a few just hit Oklahoma and Kansas. I certainly don't want to see the wizard any time soon!
We will be arriving in Chicago late on June 7th, and spend the next day traveling around the area shooting the flavor of the town. I hope to shoot aerials of Chicago from the Sky Deck on top of what was once the Sears Tower(now called The Willis Tower... whatcha talkin' bout? lol). The actual start of west bound Route 66 is at Jackson and Michigan Streets. I hear it's very busy during rush hour so I hope to get there early.
We have to arrive in Kansas by June 18th for the Route 66 Festival in the Downstream casino. It takes about 9 hours to drive from Chicago to the casino. I have allowed 9 days to stop in the towns along the way to talk to residents and business owners.
One of the highlights of this leg will be a stop in Litchfield, Illinois. There is a drive-in theater celebrating its 60th anniversary. You get 2-double features for just $2 dollars a person.
That's about all for now, I am in the process of lining up interviews for the rest of the trip.
Thanks for checking in!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pre-production... the devil is in the details.

Pre-production. This is the first step in producing anything. It's all about the details. The better the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed the better prepared you are when it comes time to actually start shooting. Well, that's where I am right now.
Over the next month, I will be making calls, setting up meetings, establishing contacts, and researching the route we will travel. A lot of the old route established in 1926 is not well defined any longer. In addition, I have to purchase equipment, have my car checked out to ensure it will be able to travel the 2,400 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles (Santa Monica) and back. I also have to make sure the hard drives I will travel with are sufficient to hold my footage. I do not want them to crash and lose everything. That would ...(fill in your own word).
This will be a trip of both new and old technology. I purchased a large wall map to plot my assault on the Mother Road along with an 8-subject notebook. One subject for each state. I will be traveling through. I also bought a new MAC Book Pro with a 17" screen to run my AVID editing software, and several gig's of P2 cards for the camera I bought. I have to buy a wireless microphone, and several hard drives with many terabites of storage space. And if I have enough money, I hope to purchase a P2 player to make dumping my video easier in the field.
Producing a documentary is not cheap if you want to do it right. I am bank rolling this whole endeavor in hopes of finding a home for it on some network when I get back. It's a big risk, but well worth the experience! Life is too short not to take chances sometime.
I also have to set up this blog, and a Twitter account to be able to use the new social media to hopefully generate some buzz along the way. I will try to post video of the days shoot if time allows.
Now, with all that equipment packed into a 2004 Honda CRV there won't be much room for luggage,and food let alone two people. I am traveling with my 75 year old mom who has always been up for an adventure, and has always been there for me. I think she is more excited than I am to start this trip. She'll be my security, and we will share driving duties. Someone has to drive while I hang out of the car getting the shots I need! And besides, I'm a small production company, I can't afford a grip. lol
And so begins the next phase of my career... long form program producer/photographer (that's video not stills... this term is used in the business. We're also called photog's, shooter's or photojournalists. I can't stand the term videographer.) I will leave out any details about Route 66 you can garner from a simple internet search so as not bog down the blog.
Thanks for checking in... I will up date you as it gets interesting.