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Virginia Production Alliance

Rachel Ciehoski

                                  Why you should join the VPA.

                                         By: Rachel Ciehoski 

    As a student member of the Virginia Production Alliance for the past two months, I highly recommend joining and attending the monthly meetings held at WCVE on 23 Sesame St, Richmond VA. Not only do you have an opportunity to network with industry professionals but every meeting they have 2-3 special guests who come and speak about their specific job in the digital media world. From talent agents, location managers, directors and producers. I have noticed the topics discussed are always engaging and educational.  And even though I might not ever be a location scout, a producer or a gaffer, I learned a lot about these positions which affect all types of productions.
    Joining the VPA  you are part of a 400 plus member strong volunteer organization.  As a member, you have can setup your own profile on the VPA website, (http://virginiaproductionalliance.org), and signup to send and receive notifications about upcoming industry jobs.  Also, you can receive a VPA newsletter which informs the production community of all types of events:  film contests/festivals for attending or submitting your own work. 
    The VPA is all inclusive welcoming those both in-front of and behind the camera.  It is comprised of every level of someone’s career in production - i.e.,  those breaking into the industry as a Producer’s Assistant or Production Assistant as well as seasoned professionals who work daily as directors and producers. 
This is where the magic happens. 
Having the opportunity of meeting not only peers in the production industry; but also, networking with a wide variety of talent could possibly lead to a connection which would turn into a job opportunity!
    Just last week, I was contacted by a member of the VPA to fill in for her at a production shoot in Richmond as a PA. It was a great experience and I’ve been looking to PA for a while now! The opportunities are endless when making good connections.
    To become a member of the VPA visit the website, linked above, it costs $50 annually for access to general meetings; but, if you are a student it only costs $15! 
Join today and start networking! 

For full disclosure:  I am currently interning under the current VPA President, Gwynne Brown. The above entry is based on my own personal experience.  
 

Always say YES.

Rachel Ciehoski

       A guide to being well-liked and respected in the digital industry.
                                     By: Rachel Ciehoski

As an intern, I am always looking for opportunities like these. Whatever mundane task anyone asks of me, I attempt to bring forth a high energy and positive attitude. This is a common mindset among interns, we want to give off a great impression and yearn for every experience possible. Something to consider for each project: 

Think about start having the attitude of an intern’s. 

Be helpful and energized

Want to help other people

Try to gain any sort of experience possible. 

   This way you can learn of another’s job responsibility.   It could be wrapping cables, changing lenses, or merely bringing water to the set, you are only part of the whole if you engage yourself with a friendly, helpful attitude. 
    It doesn’t matter whether you are in video production, education, nursing, etc. being generous will fulfill you in more ways than one. Generosity is contagious, if you help and give to others then soon your community will turn into a helping, friendly environment. 
Whether it’s a holding a boom mic or helping someone fulfill an office task, always be willing to be helpful. Always be friendly and generous. It is amazing how this will come back to you. 
At some point you will need assistance and possibly that same person you helped, will be there for you. This world is full of gives and takes, if you give enough, it will come back to you. 
    “If you really want to receive joy and happiness, then serve others with all your heart. Lift their burden, and your own burden will be lighter.”
                                                             -Ezra Taft Benson
 

Lombardi Time

Rachel Ciehoski

     The importance of arriving on time for a crew call … or before.
                                    By: Rachel Ciehoski


As an intern, I don’t know this from experience; but, I do know of people who have lost their jobs from arriving late to work. In the video production world, if you miss a shoot, an interview, a recording, a producer’s meeting, you will be wasting the time of multiple groups of people. Medium platforms such as TV or radio have very little forgiveness to them because everything is centered around time. Missing even two minutes of time could be devastating to a production.  In TV this could represent thousands of dollars in advertising revenue. Don’t be that person that ruins the whole production because you were sleeping or not paying attention to the clock or knowing how long it gets to a location and consider traffic and other factors. Of course, life happens, and in cases of emergencies or sickness make sure to call in immediately so your manager can get a replacement.   
If you don’t know what Lombardi time is… it means to arrive 15 minutes prior to the expected time of your arrival. Vince Lombardi expected all his players and coaches to arrive 15 minutes before when you were expected. If you weren’t there 15 minutes before, he considered you to be LATE. Everyday attempt to follow Lombardi time no matter if you are arriving for a production session or meeting someone. This way if you are a few minutes late, then you will still be considered early. 
My internship supervisor, Gwynne Brown, told me on the first day of my internship at WCVE that “The 1st pearl of wisdom is to never be late.”  When you are meeting with a prospective client, location manager, talent or production team it is critical to be on time. This pearl can be tough to follow strictly because things do happen no matter how hard you prepare ( i.e. setting 7 alarm clock times). Here are a few things which may be of help should you be on crew for an early call. 
•    Make sure to get enough sleep. Your body will more likely want to ignore your alarm clocks if you’ve only had four hours of sleep (trust me on that one).  
•    Create a sleeping schedule for yourself, record the times you fall asleep and the times you wake up. If you see a pattern of waking up late then change the time you fall asleep at. 
•    Log your hours as if they are your time card for work. It’s important to schedule your sleep just like any other part of the day. 
This blog post is essentially a personal journal to myself, so that I recognize the importance of being early and on TIME.
 

Video Interviewing 101: 8 Simple Steps

Rachel Ciehoski

How to setup a basic interview for recording purposes.
By: Rachel Ciehoski
 

1.    Don’t assume you know how to spell the interviewee’s name. 
Even the simplest of names, DOUBLE CHECK.  Recently while creating a social media post, I was interviewing a dressmaker/seamstress/consultant who is vital in making period pieces authentic. She handed me her business card. It spelled out JUDI. I would have easily made the mistake of spelling it JUDY, as would anyone else. Making a careless mistake like this could cost you a whole lot. While the camera is on ask the interviewee’s name prior to the formal interview and ask them to spell it out. This way you have it recorded if you forget or need assistance. Also, remember to double check their official title and company name before creating a lower third.    

2.    Create a depth of field.
Before pressing record, you must make sure there’s a depth of field to the interview shot. You can create this by making sure you have overhead lighting. Never place the interviewee right in front of a wall, this gives the audience no dimensions. While taping, you can preset your lighting to create shadows which will create a depth of field

3.    Hide the microphone cords.
Visible mic cords in any interview shot looks messy and unorganized. Ask the interviewee to wear a button up shirt so they can pull the cord underneath the shirt through the top button hole  and place on collar. This is the best way to hide those impossible mic cords. If your talent is not wearing a button up shirt, then a jacket lapel or collar will also work.  Make sure any hair or jewelry is not in in any contact with the mic itself.  Any sudden movement may cause friction and mess up the audio of the whole interview. Audio is most important. 

4.    Check the background.
Always make sure there are no stray papers, water bottles, or anything to make the frame look unorganized.  Double check and recheck the background while the interviewee is sitting or standing where they will be for the formal interview.  If a plant looks like it’s coming out of their head, then move the plant. Sounds simple, but this are mistakes people commonly miss and they cannot be fixed in the editing process.  

5.    Keep a record of what time each question is asked.
For editing purposes, it’s good to know what time of the recording each question was asked. That way the editor doesn’t have to search through the interview footage for one part they are looking for.  In other words, if possible, ask your questions in order.  

6.    Bring blotting sheets.
In case the interviewee forgets to bring their powder foundation, bring some blotting sheets they are cheap and soak up the oils the face naturally produces. The lights on their face accentuates any shiny spots, so for a good look on camera provide these oil blotters. Even men need to be blotted too! 

7.    Make the interviewee feel comfortable.
Get to know them prior to the formal interview, whether it’s meeting before the date of the recording or it’s fifteen minutes before while setting up, be kind to them and make them feel comfortable. This way they will answer the questions in a more natural, conversational tone.  

8.    Don’t interrupt the interviewee and be reticent.
It is natural to respond with “mhmm” to their answers, instead gesture an affirming head nod. This way you’re not interrupting the quality responses with pointless audio that will have to be edited out later.   
 

8 Tips for Filming in the Heat

Rachel Ciehoski

         By: Rachel Ciehoski          

         Whether you are a director, camera man or woman, a PA, or just an intern there to watch and learn, filming in the heat can be dreadful and heat factors can sometimes affect the equipment you are working with to the finished product. I’m here to hopefully remind you of a few tips on how to beat the heat as well as insight you to new knowledge that could benefit your film career.

1.   Bring plenty of water bottles.

This may seem obvious but it’s necessary to bring more than enough water bottles in a cooler. There should be at least double the quantity for each person on the crew.  They should be kept chilled in a cooler not sitting in the back of the crew van left out for the sun to warm them up. Who likes warm water on a scorching day? Also remember to always offer the talent or spokesperson on the project a bottled water!

2.  Pack wash cloths.

There’s a reason why it is important to pack double the water bottle amount per person. If you bring a few wash cloths, then you can pour the cold water onto the cloth and place it on the back of your neck while you’re filming, directing, or getting the extra batteries from the crew van. Hey everyone on the crew is as important as the other. As an intern, I live by that statement. 😊 With the cloth, you can dab off the sweat you have rolling down your face... hey at least you’re not in front of the camera! Instead of pouring water on your head, which could get the equipment wet and you look foolish in front of your client, the cloth will cool you down subtly while still being professional.

3.  Bring umbrellas.

No this isn’t a tip for filming in the rain. This tip is more for your equipment. You don’t want to be in the middle of a shoot and have to stop because your cameras have overheated. Hold them over the equipment while the talent is in preparation mode. If you can have a PA hold the umbrella above the camera while it is shooting. This way the cameras are protected from the harsh sun! 

4.  Avoid shooting on asphalt.

Plan the location of your shoots wisely. Look up the forecast days prior to the shoot and if it looks like it’s going to be over 80 degrees, try not to film on asphalt. The black color will absorb the sun and make the day miserable for you and the crew. Grass and concrete are best for hot days.

5.  Slowly expose the cameras.

When travelling on a hot day to the on-location site, you and the crew are going to expose them to the heat. If you immediately expose them, dew will get inside the camera and its lens. Let it sit in the van in room temperature prior to taking them out into the dreadful heat.

6.  Bring powder foundation.

You’re not the only one sweating out in the heat. Powder foundation mattifies the skin to appear less oily. Maybe the talent will bring their own powder to put on their face before the camera starts rolling. If not, politely gesture your powder foundation to them. More than likely they’ll take it as a blessing instead of an insult. You want the talent to look their best to get the most aesthetically pleasing shot and you want to hide the fact that its scorching hot.   

7.  No SUNGLASSES.

Sunglasses are great on sunny days to give your eyes a bit of a rest. For filming wearing sunglasses is a big no-no. If you are operating a camera, if you keep them on it will completely mess up the appearance of each shot looking through the lens. For other crew members shades may hinder what you are actually seeing.  If something looks wrong, you need to let the director know about it. Instead of wearing sunglasses, I suggest wearing a hat of your choice. 

8.  Suck it up.

I mean this literally. After the crew has collected all the necessary B-roll, thanked the client, and packed up the cameras go and get a Slurpee of sorts. You deserved it, especially if you’re an unpaid intern. 😊

A Way of Thinking

Rachel Ciehoski

  The People of Virginia Home Grown

 By: Rachel Ciehoski

        “Nature is the master gardener, the rest of us are permanent students.” The first thing I heard Virginia Home Grown guest, Pat Ruggiero say. She said this with such wisdom and truth, like she’s never said anything more meaningful in her life. As an intern for merely two weeks, I found that my judgement of television has been inaccurate. To never truly believe what someone says because they are more than likely just trying to sell me something. Well I recently went on-location with the crew of WCVE for the show Virginia Home Grown. I saw how the director, Shawn Fruede works, I learned how long B-roll takes to get all the necessary shots, and I saw how many camera angles it takes to get the most aesthetically pleasing shot. Not only did I learn about production but I learned that there are genuine people on television who just want to share what they believe in. Just by watching Pat Ruggiero speak about her years of experience, I learned such a small but significant lesson.

            She was showcasing her beautiful garden and gave all the credit to nature itself. She’s spent years and countless hours working in her yard, but her humility never failed to impress me as I watched her engage in her passion. “Gardening is a way of thinking,” she said. Well I, myself am no gardener, but I find this quote to be relatable to almost anything. To anything you have a passion for, life is a way of thinking. She answered her interview questions as if she was replying to a grandson or granddaughter. There was no fake presence or persona. She answered in full detail why she has chosen, for years, to no-till garden because it doesn’t harm the soil. She mentioned the creatures in the soil and how special they are to the Earth. What a humbling experience for me to join the crew on-location in Wilmington, VA for a Virginia Home Grown shoot. I now have faith in authenticity behind the television screen.