I'm Ready for my Close-up, Mr. DeMille

song du jour: Shining Star, Earth Wind & Fire

mood: over the top

1 director, 1 cameraman, 1 soundman, 1 field producer, who doubled as a 2nd camerwoman, and 1 happy southern ham, and what do you get? A hopefully great TV segment and bunch of footage that can never air on conservative network television! The crew was here for 6 hours on Friday. They started off in my backyard (My mother will stroke out when she sees it on the small screen.) with Skyler and me shooting hoops in his munchkin basket ball goal that is only a few inches taller than the star. As I dribbled and guarded in high heels (of course) around my deck, all I could think was that the girl everyone dreaded to have on their basketball team in high school may well appear on national TV playing basketball. As the saying goes, the best revenge is living well.

They shot the whole opening sequence in various spots of my backyard (sorry, Mom), and again a gigantic bunch of thanks to the Cookie Monster for voluntarily(!) finishing my fence. I came home last Sunday to the question, "What's supposed to be done with all the bamboo lying on your deck?" followed by the question, "Where is a saw?" and suddenly the 2-1/2" wide bamboo retrieved from my neighbors yard trimmings were spanning the lonely fence posts that had been cemented in a staggering line by a drunken carpenter's assistant way back when Skyler was a mere beach ball under my shirt. What had taken me years of plotting and obsessing was accomplished in less than 2 hours while Skyler and I had an egg hunt.

Despite my dead leaf blower, the yard had a cozy feel to it, thanks to the fence, and the director herself cleared the pollen off one end of my pond so I could perch (in the heels) on a rock next to the fountain and show off the finished fish I was about to make in the studio. You didn't think the one I made on camera is really the one they show off, did you? Oh, and that $40 clawfoot bathtub I got on ebay is finally in stored out of sight until I can refinish it instead of appearing to be slowly crawling up the path to my house. My mother is so pleased.

I must say the crew were fabulous to work with and made the whole event smooth as buttah. They were highly professional, although by the 3rd or 4th hour of tapping in a relatively small space with no AC, we were getting just a wee bit punchy. One of the more interesting, uh, challenges, was that I could not mention, discuss, explain or use saliva to do the granulation technique I was demonstrating. Yes, 5000 years of people licking sterling sheet or sucking on a brush to pick up and scoot around granules, but we wouldn't want to offend anyone by mentioning such a gross and distasteful bodily fluid on the air.

They apologized profusely for the order from the high ups, and I explained I'd still have to slurp everything to make it fuse successfully when they shot that process, but I understood they would have to edit it all out. We each had to do what we had to do, including my looking into the camera, held by the cute cameraman, licking the sterling sheet like a music video chick, and saying "edit this!

After about the millionth time, I also caught onto the fact that when the cameraman put the camera down for any reason, he did so in a way that caused certain parts of my anatomy to fill the entire monitor, much to the delight of the sound guy, who technically had already had his hands down my shirt when getting me miked, although I will say it was completely professional, and unlike most men, who've ever attempted such a feat, he never touched anything but my shirt. Well, ok, and the back of my jeans. Hey, the battery pack has to go somewhere. He did also mention there was no danger of anyone actually seeing the mic. So after I caught onto the resting camera routine and, as time went on, the millionth 'boobalicious' joke from the director, I made yet another move for them to edit. No, not with one finger. Both hands and both... I had no idea conservative TV could be so much fun!

As for the real content, I still have 7 other fish in various stages of gestation, but they are each one step further along in their evolution. It was quite an experience working with one camera ever over my shoulder and one camera sometimes as close as 1/2" from my fingers as I scooted 1/32" granules one at a time across a sheet. It turns out that the very tasks I assume are boring for a group of 15 to watch in person make good TV when shot with a macro to fill the screen. They took great pains to capture freshly formed granules rolling off the charcoal block onto a piece of paper like boulders rolling off a mountain into a stream. There were also countless shots of my hand reaching for tools that will serve as the segues between processes. The whole 6 hours will eventually be edited into a 7 minute segment. How is mind boggling, but I've watched enough episodes to have an idea what will be shown and what will end up on the cutting room floor along with my slurping and grabbing.

I did everything within 2-3 takes. The actual working I did in one shot each except for times they needed to capture the process again at a different angle. Talking was a trip. My speaking voice has never been one of my favorite attributes, but for whatever reason, the director and sound guy were all over it. Guess they liked my hint of southern warmth for at one point they all made a big deal about it, although when I heard myself on playback, I looked at the director and said, "I'm letting go. I'm just letting go."

The segment was shot for their fall season. I won't know when until September, but I'll keep you posted!


Hannah said...

So cool! You'll have to let us know if anyone recognizes you on the street...."Hey, aren't you that fish lady??!!"

Can't wait to see!

David Jon Peckinpaugh said...

I am SO STOKED for you Victoria!! What awesome exposure for you and your amazing gift(s)!!


victoria said...

Thanks, guys!!! Yes, life is good, and in 5 or 6 months I may well be known as that wild crazy fish lady. (Better fish lady than fishwife!)