Sunday, January 31, 2010

It's all about the experience(s)

When I first came to New York City, it was all about the glorious idea of this awesome internship, and needless to say, the internship is beyond awesome thus far. But I think part of coming to New York City for the internship involves much more than just the internship itself, but all the other avenues that I get to explore and experience while in the city. This week I got to visit new places, converse with strangers, and learn things that I hadn’t even really thought about before, and I think that is what truly makes the overall experience of the internship as rewarding as it is.

One of my tasks since coming here has been to visit as many television show tapings as possible, try to get experience shadowing at talk shows and late night shows, and become well-accustomed to the production world. I took a break from that this week. That, of course, may have been hindered partially because I found myself bed-ridden Wednesday due to either the 24 hour bug or food poisoning. Either way, my break from the TV world, this weekend, was a solid one.

Saturday, one of our freelance producers, who recently graduated from NYU’s grad program, had a showing of the documentary that she worked on through out grad school. Her documentary followed guns in churches, in Kentucky. She examined the differences that people in the south feel towards guns as opposed to the way people in New England or the tri-state area really think about guns. The overall idea was excellent and the way that she went about it in a lighter (not so dark) mood, really helped to get the story of these people in the church in Kentucky across. But in going to the showing, I not only got to view my producer’s documentary, I also got to view many other student documentaries including one on recycling in NYC, one on a home-schooled family in Massachusetts, one on a type-2 diabetic mother, and two which hit even more larger topics such as illegal immigrants who attend public school but then find troubles after and families who take in elderly war veterans and try to help them to recover. Each of these films offered me something that I didn’t know before. Whether it was that broken glass that gets recycled becomes part of our roads or that illegal immigrants are working in accordance to get a bill passed called DREAM—I was able to take something and care a little bit more deeply about it, something that my documentary teacher at URI had explained is the purpose of making documentary.

In addition to the documentary showing, I also visited the Tim Burton exhibit this weekend, where I saw some of Burton’s earliest drawings and writings. All I could think as I looked through his drawings was “wow what a hobby.” Some of his earliest works represented pictures that I recognized from the big screen—and of course others didn’t but were still rather amusing.

The best part was the life size statue of Edward Scissorhands, which serves, with no doubt in my mind, to be his best film. The work that had to go into that film and how beautiful it turned out is absolutely beyond me, and from the sketches I saw, it seemed as though it was a project he did not want to get wrong—and he didn’t.

After this weekend, I am sure that I will take advantage of many more free showings like that at NYU, and will probably take even more advantage of museum special exhibits…. Who knows what sorts of ideas may pop up for my own greatness.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010



I think I got that down to a science now as we jumped into shooting our new series called Job Hunt last week, in which host Tory Johnson discusses with various panelists different techniques of how to get a job in the low economy right now.

My responsibility on the shoots is to run the teleprompter and help the guests out as needed. Of course, I always wish I could write in fun things on the teleprompter such as: Libs is amazing.

The show is extremely helpful, especially to someone in my shoes, specifically because, soon, I will be searching for my own job. I have learned what to put and what not to put in my resumer, how long the resume should be, how to format the resume, and how to get it into the hands of the right people. I have also learned new networking sites such as LinkedIN, and I have also learned the best way to speak to someone via Skype or iChat for a job interview. All this information is necessary as the economy stays low and the job hunt for those unemployed or just leaving college increases.

Last week, I also had the chance to get to know a few my producers a bit more. I learned that one taught in Jamaica for a bit, and that another taught in Japan for three years. I also learned that one producer grew up in Mexico and also lived in Spain and Yugoslavia. All of their advice to me was to travel--and enjoy life--that's what your 20's are for. And they are absolutely right. I can't wait to get my feet out the door and flight tickets in my hands for this summer. Am hoping for a trip to Munich for enjoyment, and Haiti for help and documentation.

One disappointment this week was that I learned that many of the producers on the Job Hunt show are freelance, which means that they will not longer be with us after the Job Hunt. It is from many of these people that I have already learned a lot about the industry, gained a new nickname "Cheerios," and seen how television is run. I hope that I will get work with them on future projects.

But in good news--my co-workers have all taken a liking to my Jeans Video---and I now go by ceLibs and Libs at work, which makes me that much more comfortable.

Last thing worth noting is that I have found a home here. It reminds me a lot of Rome...I don't mind my time that I have by myself, and the days seem to go fast--I think that is how college should have always been for me. Whether it's Chicago or NYC where I end up in the next 6 months, I know a big city is all I want--and all I need.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Week 2 of Production

Before coming to New York City, I was convinced that if I walked by a celebrity on a street, I would have no idea it was a celebrity. This happened to me twice this week. As I looked on at the set of Gossip Girl for a quick hour on Monday, Taylor Momsen walked by me several times, and I did many double-takes, but still was convinced it wasn't her. The next day I saw fan pictures online, and of course--it was her.

On Thursday night, NYC Media helped put together an event at the Apollo called Fighting for Justice in which a choir opened up the show before a presentation of the documentary called Fighting for Justice which features two New Yorkers who helped break the boundaries between black and white. Following the film, there was a guest panel. Sitting in on this event were two well known people--Billy Cosby's wife and Tamara Tunie who plays the coroner on Law and Order SVU. I had no idea.

But maybe I had no idea, for a good reason. It had nothing to do with these celebrities who were sitting there, sure in a way it did, but the night wasn't about who showed up, it was about the idea that people did show up and that people care to see these movements and the change that has happened over the years.

As I helped to check-in guests, I could hear the choirs performance echoing through the auditorium. I knew this was a night to remember for everyone who sat in on this event.

This week also brought with it, not only missed encounters, but more projects to focus on as the new show we are putting together gets close to being filmed and edited together for it's premier in February. This week I helped transcribe more film, researched New York City job fairs coming up, and New York employment and unemployment rates. Other projects included digitizing film, researching New York City factoids.

I also began my own project this week, in which I hope to start planning out a bit more, but it was the first time I took my video camera out since settling down from the craziness of moving in. Am hoping to write up a story-board and get moving on this as soon as I have a new battery and new DV's.

It's already been two weeks since I have moved here, and with the time moving fast, I can easily say that it is going to be a fantastic semester filled with missed-celebrity spotting, new opportunities, and plenty of surprises.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Production of the world--beyond the camera

There are certain events in our lifetime that we will undoubtedly remember every detail of. For me, these events include the first time I missed an episode of Full House, the moment I verbally committed to a college for field hockey, the night in which I made my high school graduation speech, the very first step that I took off the plane in Italy my junior year of college, and the exact moment that I watched the twin towers fall. Only one of these experiences I have shared with millions of other people, and we have all experienced in different ways.

One of my favorite things about meeting new people is hearing their stories, taking a trip through a part of their life, and seeing what makes them the way they are. What has a person been through? What stories has that person heard? Where has that person traveled? What is their typical day like? And what could be a disruption to their typical day?

The answer is a traumatic event. I have had many discussions with people about the falling of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Some people seem numb to the fact that it happened, and in others I can still sense devastation. As I walked out of the subway system at the Chambers Street and World Trade Center stop, I realized that I was walking where thousands of people had ran in fear just eight and a half years ago. Later in the day, as I looked out the window of my internship building, I realized that some of my co-workers, my producers, my new mentors may have seen the entire event from a front row view. This terrified me.

As I reached to put my folder away, I realized that I had been met with the tantalizing view again. I looked at my fellow producer, sitting at her desk, and asked how long she had lived in New York. Her response was that she had moved here in the 70’s. My next question was if she had been in our building when 9/11 occurred and her response was no, that she had been doing free lance on the upper west, but that for some time that year, and the years prior she had taken the subway into the World Trade Center and walked through the World Trade Center every day to work, but that it is a day she could never let go of.

I watched her eyes, carefully, as she continued to tell me her story. At the end of each sentence, she paused, taking a breath, as if with each breath she was envisioning that day perfectly. I can imagine that many New Yorkers remember the day in a similar way. She continued telling me the story by jumping to the weeks following before adding on to the day itself. She said that for weeks she envisioned herself walking up through the subway station and seeing the faces of the workers in the shops on the bottom floor--for weeks that's what she saw.

As she continued on telling her story, I realized that what I felt that day compared in no way to what people felt, who were here and part of the entire experience. I felt in a way, really badly at the moment, because speaking about such an event must be traumatizing, in itself, but she didn’t seem to mind telling the story, just so long as she could pause every few moments to re-gather her thoughts.

The story got more intense as she discussed the moments following the first hit and the experience that she had in those following minutes. Before she had known about the second plane crashing into the WTC, she walked down the street and next to her was an Israeli man. As she got into this story, the pauses got longer. The Israeli man turned to her and asked her in a commanding way “You know who did this right?” And her response was no. The words that came out of his mouth next were shocking…”It was those sand N……” I was taken aback as that sentence came out of my producer’s mouth—nearly as shocked as she must have been.

As she continued her story, she mentioned that this was the first moment in which she realized that this could be an act of terrorism…and that she was in such disbelief. The days that followed brought to my producer very somber times. She spoke of a time that she got on a bus, in the city, sat down, rode for a little, and then watched a fireman get on the bus. In the moments that the fireman stepped from the road to the bust, the entire bus went silent. New York City was still in a state of shock.

In the days following my producer’s story, I can honestly say that I am in a little bit of a state of shock as well. When I look back on the events that I remember every detail of, nothing adds up to something as huge and terrible as the trauma and turmoil that the people of New York City felt in those moments of the attacks. My conversation with my producer came at a time when a catastrophic event was taking place across the world, in Haiti. It is these moments, these events, that really build character and personality, that really build a person and broaden the understandings of things around them.

When put into perspective, this story is just one of the millions of stories of people who witnessed the event with VIP access. It is my experiences at the office and my experiences in and around the city that are going to make my internship the most memorable. As I learn about the production world filled with cameras, teleprompters, and sound systems, I learn about the production of the entire world and how we all run—and I think that will be equally as rewarding as the moments I spend behind a camera or at a desk helping to put together a show. It is just one unbelievable story in a library of others that I look forward to hearing in the coming months.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Pre-Production Nerves, Production Excitement, Post-Production Happiness

When I was younger, I swore I would never go to school in New York and that I would never live in New York. Now, I am technically doing both. At the moment, I am currently enrolled in my last semester at the University of Rhode Island, but spending it in New York City earning credit for an internship with the NYC Media Group by aiding them on every avenue of production.

Strolling to the subway stop on my first day of the internship was by far one of the most nervous experiences of my life. I was asking myself questions that I would never ask myself on the way to my first day of classes. "Should I stop for a coffee?" or "Should I pick up an apple now for lunch?" "What if my supervisor hates me" "What if I make a terrible mistake on the first day of my internship" "What if they've decided that I am just not what they were looking for?" The thirty minute subway ride only seemed to be getting longer as I fidgeted through my thoughts.

By the time my train reached my stop, I had realized that I should pass on the coffee and just head straight into the office. As I would later learn, going through the security at the front and catching an elevator to the top floor of my building can be a timely process-I must always schedule 5 extra minutes into my plans.

I headed up to the tower, and when I walked in all my nerves were erased with the arrival of my supervisor who welcomed me with huge smile and words of excitement that I was joining them. It was in that moment, I knew that the NYC Media Group internship was the perfect choice for my final semester at URI. My supervisor took me to meet my co-workers who were all just as welcoming as she was. I was told that the office hadn't had an intern in a month so every person was truly happy to have me on board to pick up projects and get stuff done.

After that, the rest of the day seemed to fly, as I sat in on a production meeting and transcribed interviews for an upcoming show that our group is producing focused on the unemployed world of New York City.

During this first day, I also learned how to run a teleprompter, something that will be useful to me for the rest of the semester as I will be the one to run the teleprompter for the show "City Scoop" and other various shoots that the station will do.

After transcribing for a few hours, I packed up my things and headed out for the night. It would be another two days before I returned, as Wednesday is an off-day. I used that day to really go exploring, and was lucky enough to look on as NBC filmed a scene for their popular show Law and Order SVU. I got a glimpse of Mariska Hargitay and Kathy Griffin, but spent a majority of the time chatting it up with a production assistant and a grip about where to look for side jobs and how to really get myself involved if it's absolutely what I want to do. This was more rewarding than actually seeing my favorite fictional show on television be filmed right in front of me.

The following day I caught the train down to our Brooklyn studio to work the teleprompter, and there I was introduced to our "City Scoop" make-up artist, who is originally from Michigan but came to NYC to do make-up artistry. Next, I met our audio artist and our wardrobe assistant. And of course, I met our two hosts, Lauren Scala and Meena Dimian, who are absolutely fun to chat with and equally as fun to work with while they film their segments for "City Scoop." I was just glad I didn't mess up the teleprompter!

After we finished up "City Scoop," a few of us headed back to the studio and I received a new project which was to write 7 second promo lead-ins for the next two weeks worth of shows. You know those promos you hear before an episode of SVU? Like: "And at 8:00 PM watch as Elliot Stabler fights off another child molester on SVU." My project was to do that for about 15-20 shows, a project I would have to finish up the following day-Friday.

Friday, I arrived to our Manhattan office--this time coffee in hand, and immediately got back to work on my promo project, and then headed down to finish up some transcriptions. Mid-transcribing, my supervisor and one of the producers came in and told me that they needed me to go on location for a shoot, so I caught a train to mid-town and watched the entire process of a television scene take place--even more rewarding than looking on at the set of SVU.

Following the shoot, I went back downtown, and I sat in on our production meeting for the new jobs show, that I previously mentioned. I can't lie, some things that they were saying were over my head, but I will learn in time. I received a new project for next week and was also set up with a schedule for days I have to head to the Brooklyn studio for our new show's shoots. It's going to be a busy semester, but I would be lying if I said it wasn't worth it.

The lovely Mariska Hargitay