Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What It's Like To Film A TV Episode

I've been asked by so many people to describe what it's like to film TV and DVDs that I figured it's probably time to do a blog post on this subject. First of all, lest you be disappointed later, let me come right out and say that it's nowhere near as glamorous as you'd think it would be. You do not get to sit around like Ginger on Gilligan's Island waiting for a makeup person to come over and run a powder puff across your nose. In fact, you work pretty darn hard, or at least you work pretty darn hard if you want your episode to be any good at all. However, having said that, let me also say that it's a complete blast and I love doing it. Words cannot describe how much fun it is to be part of a team of pros who are all working together on a common goal.

Work begins well before the taping date. If you ever hope to do something like this, I can't emphasize enough how important it is to be prepared. As in; prepared beyond any reasonable person's description of prepared. The first couple of times you do this, you'll find that the instant the camera turns on you will forget every single thing you've ever known in your entire life, and that's where the preparation comes in handy. You must, and I do mean must, know your material inside and out because that intimate knowledge of the project in front of you is what's going to kick in and save you from looking like a deer in the headlights and babbling like a goon.

So, weeks before the taping you start working on samples and more samples. You stitch things out and discard them because they're not perfect and then you stitch them again. You write up scripts and rehearse them and then throw them away because you sound like a complete dork when you read them, and then you write up a new script and do it all over again. And then, if you're like me, when all of your samples are perfect and your script sounds Oscar-worthy, you get a new idea and start all over from scratch at the last possible moment. I'm not kidding! I had everything perfect last week and then I watched my episodes from Seasons 1 and 2 and started thinking "Hmmmm..." and then Jodie made an offhand comment to me about how I maybe didn't need to finish quilting a sample quilt and I went "Hmmmm..." some more and before I knew it I was rewriting my entire script and making all new samples and completely redoing everything between Tuesday evening and late Friday night so that the all-new plan would be ready when I left for SLC on Saturday morning. So, basically, you start weeks ahead of time and it's all for nothing because your best work will be done frantically and at the last minute so really, it's probably best to just sit around eating Gummi Bears and watching Real Housewives in the weeks before the taping date. I will have to try to remember that next time.

When you get to the set things move pretty quickly, so be ready. There are camera guys, and a director, and sponsors on set, all of whom will be watching you, so get over your shyness! If you're very fortunate, there will also be a hostess like Jodie Davis, who is a riot to work with and makes everything seem like a piece of cake.

First thing on the list is to dress the set. You don't want to just stand there in front of a blank wall, so bring some quilts to hang in the background and make sure your clothes don't clash with your quilts.

Next, the director and the camera guys will get the introduction shot lined up. This part's easy; you just stand there and they say "Move to your left! No, wait, your other left!" and you just keep moving back and forth until they say "Okay, stay there!"

Next, the director yells "Rolling!" and you desperately try to remember what you'd planned to say in your intro. Of course, you can't remember a single thing because the red 'On' light on the camera is glaring at you like the Dreaded Eye of Sauron and you're lucky if you can even recall your own name at this point, so you frantically make something up and hope it sounds good, or at least sounds like you're not a village idiot.

Having survived filming the intro, it's smooth sailing the rest of the way. You realize that the camera will not in fact kill you and miraculously you start to remember all of that great stuff you'd planned to say. All of the prep work you did kicks in and you realize that "Hey! I really do know what I'm talking about!" and it all starts to become not just easy, but fun! Miracle of miracles! The director sits at a little table filled with TV monitors so he can watch you to make sure you look good, and he wears a pair of headphones so he can make sure that everything you say makes sense, and once in a while he yells "Cut!" and makes you say things over again so they are more understandable. This can be frustrating at first, but then you quickly realize that he's not trying to annoy you, he's just trying to make sure that you come across in the most professional way possible, so you start liking him again after all.

When you're done, you attempt to strangle the hostess.

That's it! That's what it's like to film a TV episode. A lot of work, A LOT of fun.I can't wait to do it again!


  1. And I can't wait to see it! BTW, do you know when the second series will be out on DVD? Loved the first one :-)

  2. You always make it look like it's a piece of cake!

  3. Looks like you guys had fun! I taped the day before you and was so bummed that I didn't get to meet you.....which was probably a good thing since I would have gushed and probably embarrassed myself!!

  4. I am tormenting myself this morning by reading your adventures with Quilty and Craftsy as I have an opportunity to do some video classes. I am already comfortable with doing my own Youtube videos, but the only parts of me that shows on them are my hands. Tormenting because while your adventures take some of the mystery out of the process for me, you are far more experienced, confidant and cuter than me! But who wants to turn down an opportunity because they are scared? Not me. I may blow it, but at least I'll try. You don't know me from Adam, but you're a mentor nonetheless. I know you're not posting lately, but I keep checking for new content as you are funny, educational and inspiring.