Friday, January 13, 2012

A resume tape looks different on paper than it does when you edit it

Last week the Denver Broncos upset the Pittsburgh Steelers in a playoff game. On paper, it didn't look like Denver had a shot. But, as my sports anchor friend likes to say, that's why you play the games. Things in real life are often very different than on paper.

I'm in the process of helping a client put together her resume tape. We've got the packages lined up just right... that's not the problem.

The problem is the montage, and it is two-fold. First, the client has so much good stuff I've had to watch all her standups and live shots many times in order to whittle things down. (A nice problem to have... you should all be so lucky.) The second problem came after I sent her the order for the montage.

As always, I ask clients to show me the finished product before giving them the okay to send out the tapes. But in this case, the montage I'd written on paper didn't look right when edited. It didn't "flow" correctly.

What that means was that one standup brought the montage to a screeching halt. It was a terrific standup, very clever, but the pace was so different from the rest that it just didn't work in the position I'd placed it. So what next?

Well, I'm going to juggle the order on paper and see if things "flow" better with a different order. I like the clever standup, but maybe it just needs to be in a different spot.

The point is that resume tapes are just like football games. On paper, you may have what you think is the perfect montage. But when you get it edited, it just doesn't look right. In this ear of non-linear editing, it's simple to switch things around, so do so. If you think your montage doesn't flow, play with it until it does.

Remember, it's not "paper or plastic" but "paper or tape" when it comes to putting together your reel.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

When you think no one's watching, someone's watching

I've heard it from just about everyone who worked weekends. Especially when referring to Saturday night. "Nobody's watching."

And I've said it myself as a manager, when referring to a noon newscast. "Let's break her in anchoring on the noon. Nobody's watching."

Yes, we may be conditioned into thinking everyone on the planet is out on a date on Saturday night and the only people watching noon shows are agoraphobes who don't like soap operas.

We all couldn't be more wrong.

Check the prime time ratings for the past week. The number one show, and by a longshot, aired on, get this, Saturday night. Granted, it was a NFL playoff game, but still... the number one show aired on a Saturday night. A lot of "someones" were watching.

Back in the 80's the top prime time show aired on Friday night. Dallas was number one for years, and for a time Miami Vice was right on its heels... also airing on Friday night. And this was when a lot of people couldn't even afford a VCR.

Point is, someone out there is always watching. Maybe not in the numbers that usually top the ratings charts, but they're out there. Yet another reason not to phone it in.


Monday, January 9, 2012

What your muse needs

A muse may be something from Greek mythology, but in my opinion a muse is very real.

For those who don't know, muses are the goddesses who inspire those creative souls who deal in anything artistic. While much of television news falls way outside the realm of art, a lot of what springs from your head may be coming from your muse.

Do you have a muse? Well, if you've ever written something and wondered how that script seemed to work out just perfectly when you were dog tired as you wrote it, you've got one. If you write everything according to Strunk and White and have absolutely no voice in your reporting, you don't. Either that or you're ignoring the one you've got. Many times you write your best stuff when you stop thinking and just let the words flow.

Back to those things that work out perfectly... how does that happen? It happens because you've been giving the muse what she wants. And since a muse doles out creativity and inspiration, that's what you must feed it.

When an author spends his whole life reading books, the starts to write his own, he draws on what's he's read. His subconscious has picked up phrases and styles that he's experienced while reading. He's been feeding the muse all along. By the same token, if you're a young reporter you need to watch a lot of other newscasts, and not just from your own market. Watch anchors, reporters... you don't have to take notes, because the muse is doing it for you. Watch without being critical, without looking for mistakes. Just watch and absorb what you see and hear.

Subconsciously you'll pick up things you like, and your muse will sort them out for your own use. Do this long enough and words will flow easier; you'll turn a phrase without batting an eye, your stories will come together perfectly.

Whether or not you believe in a muse makes no difference. The point is, you can't learn by only watching yourself. By the end of your career you'll have a style all your own... but in reality, it's a combination of little things you've picked up from other people along the way.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Proof that photogs can write

Well, I guess I'm not the only one in the business to get bitten by the fiction bug. One of the best photogs who ever shot for me, Rick Portier, has knocked out a kick-ass novel about a shooter in Louisiana. (Hmmmm... he's a shooter in Louisiana.) Check it out:

Rick is almost as sarcastic as I am. I think he might have a few New Yorkers in his roots.