I have the good fortune to live and work in New York City in an industry that is in high demand, which keeps me employed and has allowed me to grow as a filmmaker in a relatively short amount of time. I’ve found that there are many challenges that come with a career in this field, not the least of which is being able to pay the rent while still being able to grow into roles that interest me. I have had the good fortune to a few good, consistent clients that make this possible. I have had a relationship with Bon Appetit Magazine for a couple of years at this point and about six months ago, they started inviting me to direct various pieces for them. Most of the content is documentary style work so I jumped at the chance to direct a studio shoot for them this past February and document the process a little bit.
The shoot was sponsored by Woodford Reserve and was for a 5-part series entitled “Very Entertaining” in which Bon Appetit’s creative director takes the audience through how to play the part of a great dinner party host with tips for everything form building a great home bar to setting a killer table. I know what you’re thinking...but it really was a lot of fun!
We started off with a plain white cyc studio and a bunch of gear in cases:
But, thanks to my awesome DP Greg at Fluxgate Productions and our ability to get an extra half day to pre-light the space, we were able to get things looking really nice for the start of production
From a tech-dweeb / gear perspective, this was a three-camera shoot, with an Arri Amira and Canon C300 mkII as A & B Cameras respectively and we had a Canon C100 handling all of our overhead tabletop shots. Many thanks to the wonderful Zach Kuperstein for manning both B & C Cams and for spinning some excellent music in between setups! From a lighting standpoint, we lit minimally with a Joker 800 and a couple of Light Panel Astras in various configurations and that was all we needed. It pays to have a great crew who really know what they’re doing.
No production is without it’s challenges and I think the biggest one for this shoot was managing time. Again, we were tasked with fitting three days worth of material into a two day shoot, so always planning three steps ahead was a must. We would have Alex run lines on camera and then, while the camera team was shooting B Roll, I would take Alex and our sound operator, Greg, into a quiet room and run some more lines for voice over. Then, we’d have to reset the room for the next scene while simultaneously having impromptu production meetings to make sure we are capturing everything we needed for our edit, while not going too long on anyone bit due to time constraints.
Truthfully, none of these challenges are completely out of the ordinary for a production and I’ve given some pretty matter of fact descriptions of the shoot. So why take the time to write about it? Frankly, I like the idea of sharing knowledge and experience. I like giving credit to the wonderful people I get to work with. I like that I can say, “Hey, here’s how we did this thing and now you can watch the finished product”. It’s also a little selfish. I’m into the idea that hopefully, in a few years, I’m still here, publishing these post and the stories and behind the scenes just get more and more ridiculous and I can look back and say,”remember when?"
Click HERE to check out the full "Very Entertaining" Series
Until next time.