Nov
2010

Happy Un-Friend Day!

When I set out to plan something for my 30th birthday last month, I took to Facebook to see who would be able to make it. As I sat starring at my 255 friends, I realized I only want to see about ten or 20 of them.

Today is National Un-Friend Day for Facebook. Facebook does not sponsor it in anyway. The idea came from Jimmy Kimmel on his late night talk show. Jimmy suggests that we make these many connections on Facebook and they are hardly real connections. Are these people really your friends? As Jimmy says, would you give them your phone number? Would you be comfortable if they called you? Would you take their call? All good questions, his goal for today is to get you closer to the people who really are your friends and weed out the people you don’t even know.

I have sat on both sides of this topic. I have “un-friended” people and have been “un-friended.” Over the summer I found that had about ten “friends” on Facebook dropped me. For the most part it was random. I couldn’t speak to why they disconnected me from their lives.

Only one of the “friend’s” who dropped me made me stop and think. She was from my elementary school days. My school was very small. The class had about seven kids. In the first grade I met Meghann, who moved to my school from Canada. She sat in front of me and I terrorized her throughout most of the year. We became good friends. As I grew up, I decided in the third grade she would be the love of my life. A major decision for my third grade self. She was the only girl in the world for me. That puppy love crush lasted well into high school. While she made her feelings very clear over the years, moving away really cemented the fact that it would never happen for us.

Fast forward to 2008, I saw her pop up on Facebook. I decided to take the plunge and ask to be her friend, she accepted. We only really spoke once. Each exchanging polite comments on how well the other’s life was going. That was it. I followed her life as she posted updates and I assume she followed mine.

I was curious about how her life turned out. Facebook gives us that guilty pleasure. We get to be noisy about someone else’s life without asking them directly. If she and I met for the first time in 2010, we would have nothing to do with one another. We would not be friends today. She lives a very different life from me. I was curious, found out, and moved on.

When she “un-friended” me I was a little hurt. I thought; we’ve known each other since the first grade, why would you do that? Because I don’t really know her and she really doesn’t know me. We have no connection anymore. We are fading photographs of a different time. I would not have wanted her at my 30th birthday party and I know I would not have had a good time at hers. So I wish her well and focus on the friends that I do have a connection with.

I only friend people on Facebook I actually know. I need to have met you in real life to connect with you on Facebook. I often get requests from folks who I don’t know. To them I say, follow me on Twitter.

Sep
2010

What’s Old is New Again

Today, within the great walls of NEWS CENTER, we found out that the old classic show “Bewitched” is going to start running at 3pm on our air. Yes, that Bewitched, the one with two Darrin Stephens and one nightmare of a mother-in law, will be re-run once again on WCSH6.

I am an utter geek when it comes to television. Classic TV sets me off on some of my geekiest rants. This year I turn 30-years old. When I was a little kid, before TVLand and Nick-at-Nite, I would look forward to the syndicated re-runs of some of our nations greatest TV classics.  Shows like The “The Dick Van D/ke Show,” “I Dream of Jeannie,” and yes “Bewitched.” Many of these shows would air just before school started, or were on when I got home. I hated leaving the house before each episode was finished. Sick days, and summer vacations, were filled with great marathons of the shows I have come to adore.

My love of producing TV came out of a passion for watching TV. Which is why I am so excited about Bewitched coming back. When I was five years old I had no idea what editing was. To me, the magic of the show was real. With the snap of a finger, or wrinkle of a nose, all kinds of wonder could be created. It’s more then nostalgia, it’s the building blocks for the direction I took in life.

Certainly some may scoff at the notion of a show from the late 60’s being re-run in 2010, and I respect where they are coming from. However, somewhere in Maine or New Hampshire there is going to be a little kid, like me, who has never seen Bewitched before. One afternoon they’ll be flipping around and land on our station. And maybe, just maybe, that same spark that lit inside of me, will trigger a future editor or producer and that’s good enough for me.

Through that spark comes an incredible sense of pride in working for WCSH. As I walk through the doors of the station each day, I know I am apart of something special. As silly as it may sound, that respect comes from an appreciation of our television history. While the formats and ideas might be different, the fabric of what makes TV great is found in both what has gone before and what is still to come.

You can catch Bewitched starting the week of September 13th at 3pm.

Aug
2010

“Kill Your Darlings”

I knew I wasn’t going to become a great writer overnight, but I am happy with my progress. I see where I need to improve and accept there is so much more I can still learn.

Just being excited about something isn’t reason enough to write about it. While I do love “Doctor Who,” and I could talk about it all day, trying to write something thoughtful about is a harder task.

This was my first summer taking two classes at the same time while trying to balance work. It has not been easy. One class I loved, and the other I fought. This was the class I loved.  In the other class, I kept asking myself when am I ever going to do this work outside of class? I found it hard to summon the energy for the work, but I did and I like to think I did a good job.

The one thought I can’t get out of my head is “Kill Your Darlings.” Everyday it just screams at me. Wherever I am editing, in writing or in editing video, I think about this phrase. I just deleted two paragraphs from this essay that I adored. And just yesterday, I leveled a brilliant interview because I needed more time for my show.

My grammar is still weak, but the writing and the editing are getting stronger. They are better then they were 12 weeks ago. I wanted to gain vision in this class. I wanted to see in my writing what I was missing. I have plenty of editors for my work, but I could never understand what they were looking for in the editing process, now I have a clearer picture.

Writing is not some scary task writing can be simple. It’s ideas that are hard. I have trouble communicating clearly. I can’t figure out what I want to say, and I tend to ramble.

This class has helped me be more direct. I think more about my words. I let them sit and I walk away. I used to write something as simple as an email and then just send it right off. Now I sit with it for a moment. I ponder what I have typed and then consider what I am trying to say. Sometimes I just delete it. Other times I save it and come back to it later. No one should ever use the first draft. I trust my gut instincts.

12 weeks ago I had no idea who William Zinsser is, now I think of him all the time. I go back to his book almost every day. I am a slow learner, but the details are getting through.

While I am proud of the work I did in this class I also regret not having more time to focus. The other class ate up so much extra time. After getting feedback in this class I just wanted to go back and re-write. I was only able to a little bit. It wasn’t for a lack of trying, just a lack of time.

The work on pitch and presentation has been the most important work I have done in grad school so far. This was the idea I came here looking for. I will continue this work and refine the idea over and over again as time goes by. I hope to eventually make the idea a reality.

I feel like a writer now.

Thank you Bob.

Jul
2010

TV Writing

Throughout this class I have tried to beef up my writing. The time came this week to show the folks at work I have improved. Have I? You be the judge, here is a TV “package” from my show ‘207’ featuring the best breakfasts in Maine:

Jul
2010

The Interns

After screaming for about five minutes, I realized my intern couldn’t hear me. My mistake was yelling to him from five rows away, and during a hockey game.

When we got to the arena, I said, “Go find us a good spot to set up. I just need to park the car.”

I was doing a “the behind the scenes” story on a Portland Pirates game. I had a microphone on the coach for the duration of the game.  I needed to get into position quickly, before the drop of the puck. Unlike a normal sports story, the very beginning was important video. When I returned from parking the car, I walked into the arena and saw my intern sitting comfortably in a paid seat. We we’re suppose to be up top shooting down onto the ice. Since we work for a TV station, we do not sit comfortably in the paid seats. We are there to work. This was the message I conveyed to my intern as soon as the nice woman in front of him directed his attention to me.

Interns are unpredictable. I give every one of them the same speech on their first day. You get out of this what you put into it. I am here to produce TV, not to baby sit. If you want to do something speak up, and express an interest, otherwise you will spend a semester making DVD copies. When we have nothing else for them to do, we have them make DVD’s of stories we have done for the list of people who have made requests. I also explain this too can be a learning tool. Watch and listen to these stories, you can get a lot out of what you see here.

The one watching the hockey game got nothing out of it. He just didn’t care. That was about four years ago.

Over the last couple of years, I have been blessed with great interns. Three of my interns have gone on to get hired by my station, one just this summer. He is the one I am most proud of. He had just started his second internship with us, when my boss decided it was time to move him up. While I would love to take the credit for his stellar abilities, I can’t. He is a smart guy, who greeted each day with remarkable enthusiasm. He was excited about every aspect of his internship. He just absorbed information. He asked all the right questions. He just got it. He learned so quickly how to do the job and how to do it right. He has an incredible work ethic, one I have not seen too often with interns over the years.

To my delight, the intern that followed him was exactly the same way. A fast learner who has an eagerness to learn everything we do and how we do it. I have to give this one up in a couple of weeks. He has made my job so much easier. I love being able to trust my interns. He produced an entire show for me this week, and did it perfectly.

I have a story for just about every intern. One drunk dialed me in the middle of the night. Another ate all of the food of a cooking segment before we could tape. Yet another left after a few weeks saying he could make more money in administration. A year later someone from NBC called me as a job reference for him. Then there was the one took a customer’s seat during a hockey game, when we were there to work.

They’re a mixed bunch. They come in like strangers and leave like family. I always miss them when they leave and dread the next one. When they are into it, we both have fun. I enjoy showing off how cool TV can be and I love teaching them everything I know.