May 24th, 2012
It always sounds easier than it ends up being, but working through the surprises keeps things interesting.
My relationship with the Pomegranate Center started at a wedding last summer. Catherine and Andy’s, to be exact. Their officiant happened to be the managing director of Pomegranate; she had a big project coming up, and needed some help with it. For both Pomegranate and myself, this turned into an ongoing relationship with the Tully’s Coffee brand and it’s parent company, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc.
A couple months ago, Pomegranate asked if I could produce a video for their annual fundraiser breakfast. They didn’t need a “What is Pomegranate Center,” they wanted something with a little story about diversity, community, and leveraged the content I had shot in 2011.
Over coffee, we looked at the potential characters and found a story about parenting and exposing children to diversity and community. John, a single parent, was a volunteer at one of the Pomegranate builds last year. His two boys brought him to the event which struck a chord with the values he developed as a teen.
The work plan was simple: shoot an interview, collect some B-roll, and show off Pomegranate Center with existing visual content. I enjoy working in a team, but I’m comfortable in the field, the edit suite, or as a producer. This allows me to fit a variety projects with a scalable approach. It works well for a fundraiser short or more intense documentary pieces.
The challenges quickly emerged, mostly related to creating new content. To keep the production within budget, without compromising quality, I built an interview lighting set with hardware store work lamps and a reflector, finding John’s overhead track lighting an acceptable rim light. The boys watched their dad’s interview and then sat in the hot seat themselves; I monitored audio, both cameras, and hit the subjects Pomegranate wanted to address while trying to tease out some narrative elements. Making the interviews a family event helped keep it fun and down to earth.
Fitting into someone’s personal life to capture visual sequences (B-Roll) can make for tough scheduling, especially with shared custody and a surprise work trip that took John to Alaska for days. Additionally, with a lot of his personal effects in storage, I wasn’t able to source the historic imagery I wanted for the reflection on his youth.
Still, John and his boys were extremely forthcoming and went out of their way to accommodate this production. It was a pleasure to see them at various points and, when the school play came about, I seized the opportunity to show both Nick and Ryan stepping out on their own.
Post production was, no surprise, not as easy as expected. The rough script was approved by Pomegranate but, as I whittled it down to its essence, it needed some reorganizing. When I archive projects, I dump the ProRes conversions of my original h264 files so I needed to transcode these again. Because I was working with four different archived projects, I though it would be faster to rebuild audio-synced sequences in the new project rather than export sequences from each of the original four projects. I’m still not sure that was the best choice.
With John in the field, client reviews were done with gaping holes in some of the visual sequences. When he returned, some last-minute shooting and editing allowed me to finish the video in time for the fundraiser.
Real people can give a video that authentic voice, but you have to expect a few surprises and a lot of flexibility. Which keeps things interesting.
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