Posts Tagged ‘tips and tricks’

I, Like You, Hate To Write

June 26, 2019

Most writers don’t really like to write. Sure, we wax eloquent about the power of the written word but we also have tons of other things we’d rather do – go hiking, shop for a shirt, or even just alphabetize the pantry. Plus every blank page is a new opportunity for paralysis and failure, so that’s awesome too! So we procrastinate. I do, too. Here are a few tricks I’ve come up with to help me turn delay… into delightful!

  1. Be clear on what the deliverable is, precisely. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer size and magnitude of a topic, but it’s almost always the case that the final deliverable is more limited and focused than you imagined. Be clear on what the client wants then deliver only that (display excess only in the speed and quality of your work).
  2. Break your writing deliverable into smaller bits. If you have 800 words due in a week, set your goal to write 200 words a day for 4 days, then reserve the final three days for editing. That way you’re only panicked about 200 words rather than 800. Big difference.
  3. PROTIP: Writing is re-writing. Don’t try to make it awesome in the first draft – just get something, anything down on paper, with the knowledge that you’ll go back and edit for clarity, brevity, and impact. No one has to see your first draft but yourself, so give yourself permission to be awful.
  4. Make writing pleasant. Choose a time of day to write when you’re most relaxed and productive (for me, it’s early morning while the day is young, the air is cool, and the coffee is fresh); find a place that is quiet and free of distractions; pour yourself a refreshing beverage, open a bag of pretzels or pistachios (if your premium time is later in the day, perhaps even a bracingly bitter IPA); and choose an inspiring Pandora radio station or some other music hosting site.

I don’t ever want to sugarcoat the process of writing and suggest it’s easier than it is. But by applying just a few strategies like these you can overcome inertia and get that writing job done.

ACTION ITEM: Add these new approaches to the mix when writing

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Table Read

June 21, 2019

I mentioned in one of my very recent posts that I’d auditioned for a minor role in a local film production (working title, “Shutdown”, part of the “Through The Lens” film series here in Nevada County). Here I am (second from left in the black ball cap) reading lines with the other actors. I think I did okay (still have the job ;-), but it was pretty intimidating to be working in the presence of gifted, real-life actors. If there’s anything I learned it’s that the more you rehearse the better you get – more relaxed, more nuanced, more convincing. I think the three lessons for anybody hopping up in front of the camera are 1. rehearse, 2. rehearse again, then 3. rehearse a bunch more

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ACTION ITEM: Take a risk today. Stretch the boundaries of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid… to be a little afraid.

Watch It, Buster

June 17, 2019

I rarely get to see videos I’ve helped to create displayed in the their actual, for-realsies environment. But last month I got to watch 5 videos that I co-produced for client QAD displayed on a huge LED screen onstage at QAD’s premier customer event, “Explore” in New Orleans, LA. These Customer Showcase Videos were beautifully shot and edited by James Barnett and are always well-received by attendees. But what did the in-person experience teach me that I could apply to future productions? On the plus side, they’re well-received and appreciated (I’m trying to be objective here, but the entire audience seemed pretty engaged and attentive) so that’s helpful to know. But I did notice that for anyone in the audience behind the first row or two, anything on the screen under the lower quarter of the frame is pretty much lost, blocked by audience members’ heads and shoulders.

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ACTION ITEM: For the benefit of the entire live audience, keep important images and graphics above the bottom third of the screen.

I’ve Got A Splitting Head…Phone Jack

May 3, 2019

I sometimes will do rough edits on my laptop, with my client joining me in making the decisions about what to keep and what to discard. If we’re working in a space occupied by other life forms, like a bar or lounge, we’ll both use headphones connected using a splitter like this one – works well, very inexpensive, and should be a part of your traveling Producer’s kit

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ACTION ITEM: Take a headphone splitter with you

Get Some Long Straws

April 5, 2019

This came up on a shoot recently in the SF Bay Area: everyone on your shoot has some basic physical needs that you need to prepare for in your planning, scheduling, and execution. I know this sounds silly, but I can’t tell you how many times a day has been planned with no time for breaks to use the bathroom; no periods, however short, to catch a breath between set or location changes; or to spend 30 minutes contemplating a tuna sandwich and an apple. These are not nice-to-haves – they’re critical for the effective functioning of your crew (I had the DP mention to me, specifically, as we rounded 4:00 pm with no lunch break, that he was getting concerned about making errors). Plan for having humans on your shoot and accommodating their very-human needs.

Protip: have extra-long straws available for your female speakers to use (I snatch one or two from Starbucks when I grab that morning’s cappuccino) when drinking from a water bottle – they’ll appreciate that their lip gloss doesn’t smear while they sip.

ACTION ITEM: Be sure to incorporate the physical requirements of talent and crew in your production schedule

The Amtico Co., Ltd: Craft Services Wizards

December 11, 2017

While on a recent shoot in the UK, the customer arranged craft services (catering) duties with skill and aplomb. Delivered from a nearby restaurant, everything was delicious and attractively displayed; a well-balanced variety to suit any taste; plus lots of it for our crew of three. The choices were really practical, too, as much of it didn’t require plates, tableware, or messy condiments.

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ACTION ITEM: Whomever is in charge of craft services, be sure 1. it’s delivered to your shoot location (so you’re not wasting time traveling), 2. It’s fresh and flavorful, 3. It’s simple, and 4. It respects anyone’s dietary restrictions (Not sure? Ask!)

Customary

November 3, 2017

My clients (Kristin Poulton and Jim Barnett, both of QAD, Inc.) patiently waiting at the customs counter at Birmingham Airport (BHX).

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Our gear was left on the tarmac for an hour, then another 30 minutes waiting for an agent to appear. Traveling with gear means being an exporter/importer, with all the preparation and paperwork you can imagine that entails. I’ve done it about a dozen times; Kristin and Jim have both become experts.

 

ACTION ITEM: Do not travel overseas with gear without full documentation, usually in the form of an ATA Carnet.

8-Passenger Van

September 20, 2017

I think I might have mentioned once that when I order ground transportation for crew and gear, I’ve learned not to order any kind of minivan. Rather, I’m sure to specify a minimum 8-passenger van. We use 1CARES while in Europe as they go all-out to meet our expectations – even to the extent of providing this (for a trip from Krefeld Germany to Amsterdam) just to be sure we had the room we needed.

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ACTION ITEM: It’s hard to overestimate your needs when ordering transport for people and gear

Travel Tip for Producers

August 26, 2017

Some (I hope) helpful advice if you ever rent a car while traveling for work or play

ACTION ITEM: Bring some way to use your phone’s GPS when you arrive on location

Flash Flood for Dry Mouth

July 28, 2017

I always make sure an interview subject has a bottle of water nearby to battle “dry mouth”. But an experienced special event producer friend, Stephanie Nix, offers her speakers this stuff.

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It’s a squirt of gel, minty fresh, to lube up your speaker’s mouth parts with a shot of moisture. Gonna try this out.

ACTION ITEM: Try it, let me know what you think


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