After a two-year hiatus, and thanks to the generosity of Avid Technology, “2 Reel Guys,” the video series that I co-executive produce and co-host, went back into production last week to create 13 new episodes. In this blog, I want to take you behind the scenes of last week’s production.
“2 Reel Guys” was the brainchild of Norman Hollyn, who also serves as the Co-Executive Producer, Writer, and co-host of the series. For his day-job, Norman is a Professor and heads the Editing Track at the USC Film School. A few years ago, Norman and I were talking over lunch – which is where all major business decisions are made – about the fact that there were a lot of resources on the web that discuss the technology of film-making, but very few that discuss the craft of film-making.
So, we decided to create a series of webisodes that “put film school on the Internet in eight-minute segments.” Avid was intrigued with the idea and funded the first 20 episodes. You can see our first season of 20 episodes here.
We got a very positive response when the series was posted. That was two years ago. At which point, Norman and I both became very busy. Avid funded us for a second season, but we were so involved in other projects that the second season, uh, languished a bit.
Becoming embarrassed at our inability to move forward, Norman and I resolved to get off our very busy duffs and do something about it. Norman went into seclusion for three weeks and came out with 12 scripts, which we revised into 13 shows.
Debbie Price, our producer, started scouting locations and finally found a small black-box theater in North Hollywood that would work as the location. Debbie became the organizing force behind the entire production. From making sure everyone showed up on time and at the right place, to organizing hot and cold running caffeine, to the myriad details of taking a show on the road, Debbie made it happen. These shows could not have happened without her.
Given the fact that both Norman and I are congenitally unable to remember any dialog longer than one sentence, we decided to shoot this with three cameras, using a two monitor presidential prompter providing a guide to the script outlines that Norman wrote. This much gear meant we needed a fair-sized team.
That team started with our Cinematographer, Ed Dadulak. Ed and I worked together on the first series of “2 Reel Guys” episodes, and first met [mumble-mumble] years ago when we both worked at the same television station in Boston. I have always appreciated Ed’s eye for lighting, which, when you are surrounded by black walls inside a 30×40 foot space, becomes essential to making each episode look great.
Ed assembled a talented production team of experienced professionals – Gary Woods on sound, with John Hale and Mark Zavad providing camera and lighting. (John is pictured above.)
In Hollywood, you expect top-notch crew who are willing to work hard. What most impressed me with Ed’s team was not only how good they were, but how they got into the spirit of the project with helpful suggestions, great humor, and a wonderful attitude. Working hard is so much easier when everyone is having fun.
We supplemented Ed’s team with members of my regular company – Hilary White (editing and production stills), Tori Anderholt (script supervision), Kori Murphy (prompter), and Mina Qubaisi (DIT and production stills) – who took to production like they’d been doing it all their lives. (Hilary & Tori are pictured above.)
One of the neat things about a budget is that we can hire cool makeup people. So we invited Ashlyn Melancon and Tomy Rivero to help make us look great. (Watching Norman get swatted with a pad full of powder was one of my personal highlights during the week…)
Norman and I are extremely good at presenting, but somewhat lacking in the acting department. (“Inept” is the term that comes first to mind…) So, we hired four outstanding actors: Danielle Hagan (dance and singing captain), Allison Chase Williams, Andrew David James (fight coordinator), and Patrick Saxon. You’ll hear more about them as we get closer to releasing episodes. (Danielle and Allison are pictured above.)
We shot using:
Everything was shot tapeless. The F-900 shot 1080p/30 and the two EX3’s shot 720p/60. All F-900 material will be down-converted to 720p before editing. All XDCAM footage will be converted to ProRes 422 before editing.
We captured media cards to two G-Technology 3TB hard drives during production, backed up to a third hard drive every evening, and created a fourth copy on the server when all file capture was complete.
The focus of “2 Reel Guys” is that story drives everything. So, each episode looks at how different crafts within filmmaking take their cues from the story. We start editing this Monday and I expect the first of the new episodes to post in about a month. I’ll keep you informed on how we are doing.
Here are the episodes we shot (the final release order will change):
I had a great time co-hosting with Norman – and wanted to share our efforts last week with you. I’ll have many more details – and photos – covering each episode as we get them edited and ready to post. Last week reminds me of how much I love production; especially when it is shared with a great group of people.
As always, let me know what you think.
P.S. Thanks to Mina Qubaisi and Hilary White for capturing so many great production stills.
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