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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!

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!!!