Greetings, from Production! (289th new thing).

February 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Gem Shopping goes off-air only once per year, from 7PM Christmas Eve to 7PM Christmas Day. During this period we’ve experimented with various filler material: host greetings, employee greetings, employee photos, host photos…you get the idea. This year some coworkers and I, all working in the production department, had a brief brainstorming session before setting out to create our video greeting. We shouted out ideas that progressively grew larger and larger until I was imagining myself entering a shot astride a CG reindeer. Eventually we collectively decided to try a bit of superimposition of our faces on ornaments hanging upon a Christmas Tree, a first for me on Day Two Hundred Eighty-Nine. I really wanted to ride a reindeer, but apparently it just wasn’t practical time-wise and equipment-wise.

We recorded our little greeting blurb individually, then Joel transposed us onto a royalty-free Christmas Tree background. I envisioned the scene as a sort of  “Brady Bunch” intro style, so unfortunately I look quite spacey shifting my eyes all around me.

For your own amusement:

Next year, I’m flying in on a reindeer.


Business Travel (221st new thing).

December 11, 2011 § 1 Comment

Although most business travelers would probably disagree with me, I’ve always thought there was something a little glamorous about working out of town. It probably has roots in the fact that most of my trips in an airplane are associated with some sort of a vacation or long-term journey with pleasurable experiences attached (like studying abroad or visiting friends/family). I finally got to fully experience a little business travel myself on Day Two Hundred Twenty-One when I was put up for a few days in the Wynham Peachtree City while I worked as a Production Assistant at the nearby Raleigh Studios.

The hotel was massive, a configuration of rooms in which to sleep and those to meet. There was a pool, an exercise center, and access to the paved trails Peachtree City is known for. I didn’t really get to experience any of those though, considering I was there to work, from early in the morning to late in the evening. Besides, although the teenagers lounging by the water might disagree, I found it too chilly to take a dip in the outdoor pool nestled between the U-shaped block of suites.

I did however get a good night’s sleep in a bed (and bedroom) all to myself. I thoroughly enjoyed stretching out from one end of the full sized bed to the other, no Patrick or Murphy pushing me to my own designated area. That was glamorous enough.

Raleigh Studios (220th new thing).

December 11, 2011 § 2 Comments

I have worked on a small sound stage before, but never in a complex as sprawling (four whole stages) and guarded (you have to be on the list) as Raleigh Studios in Senoia, GA. Hello, new activity on Day Two Hundred Twenty.

We took over two of the stages, one for its intended purpose of shooting and the other as the production office and eventual dining area. Across the lot they were filming The Walking Dead in a super secret way. I accidentally almost headed to their restroom before being called away to our side of the road. I did see some cool zombified individuals wandering around, and this sign was kind of the highlight of the day.

A warning

Mostly I spent my time organizing the vehicle movement list and generally helping out wherever I was needed, but mostly in the production office. Maybe my next trip to the studios will be as a zombie. How cool would that be?

Moving Cars on Paper (219th new thing).

December 10, 2011 § 1 Comment

Day Two Hundred Nineteen found me back in Peachtree City, working freelance as a production assistant. As with other busy days, I’m sure I did a number of new things. However, the one activity that consumed a big chunk of my day was to create something called a vehicle movement list.

Because we had a number of people from out of town staying at various hotels (both in Peachtree City and Atlanta), we needed a caravaning system to transport people from Hotel A to Set or Hotel B to Meeting 1. It was quite a bit of activity. My Production Coordinator decided to test my organizational and reasoning skills by passing on the task of scheduling all of this movement to me, and designated me as a sort of Transportation Coordinator.

It wasn’t an especially difficult task, feeling much like the logic problems I loved in school. You know, Sally, Jimmy, Joe, and April are all neighbors. Sally lives in the green house two blocks away from Meeting Street. Joe lives on Fairburn Ave next to the red house. You make a chart or diagram and eventually figure out who lives in what color house on which street. It was kind of like that, except there was no definite right or wrong answer, just answers that either worked out or didn’t.

By the end of the late evening with a forty minute drive home ahead of me, my brain was shutting down. Could Mark pick up the director and agency producer before collecting the wardrobe stylist? Jason is driving a minivan, but the producer has the keys. Questions that may not mean anything at this point, but they filled my head on that day.

In the end, I created a workable beginning and finished up the second half of the day’s movements the following morning. And in the morning, after a restful night’s sleep, it all fell together surprisingly quickly. I vowed to always try to work with a clear, rested mind. It may not always be feasible, but at least I know my limitations (like not getting enough sleep renders me less productive).

Plus I impressed my Coordinator enough to warrant more responsibility and positive reinforcement, which always makes you feel better. Well, at least the positive reinforcement.

Suburban Confusion (216th new thing)

December 7, 2011 § 2 Comments

On Day Two Hundred Sixteen I found myself in Peachtree City, an area forty miles south of Atlanta where golf carts rule the streets (or at least their designated paths). I was working a freelance job in nearby Senoia, GA, but the production office and hub of the shoot was located at the Wyndham in PC.

The rainy Monday had me helping out with pre-production of an upcoming TI promo for his reality TV show which I think is now on VH1. My task for the day was mainly to run around the suburban town and pick up various supplies and shopping for the shoot.

This is what I learned about traveling throughout Peachtree City.

1. In the desire to look like a pleasant city, there is an incredible absence of signage. Even with my handy iPhone GPS I had the most difficult time finding large known stores such as Best Buy or Staples, much less smaller vendors like the Apple-affiliated PeachMac store. I had to phone the location no fewer than three times before I made it to their front door. “Where are you?” the sales person asked. “Um, by a big roundabout, next to the SunTrust bank. I see a GAP and Banana Republic.” “Go through the circle with the gazebo and we’re situated on the right.” OK. I followed the instructions, but no store. Turns out her right was my left. I was quickly growing to loathe the chic outdoor malls popular in upscale areas.

2. Medians suck. There were plenty of times I passed the place I was looking for, only to be limited by entry by a landscaped road divider. I made a ton of U-turns.

3. To complete the isolated suburban dream away from the hustle and bustle of a big city, this town is located ten miles from any major highway. And if there happens to be a car accident at the precise moment you are exiting I-85 to head to your destination, you have a bit of a wait before you can pass the wreck, with no alternate route. And then ten more miles before you actually reach PC.

So overall, my day’s experience in Peachtree City was riddled with travel woes. I’m sure the area is pleasant enough on a non-drizzly day when you know your way around, but for me, it was a soggy driving mess.

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