Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Storytelling Video: a timeline

As promised, here is the account of my promotional storytelling video shoot. Grace Stahre of VersantMedia is producing it. Grace spent a couple of hours last Friday night setting up the space in the house of a friend where the video was to be filmed. All times are approximate.

Saturday, February 28
8:45 am. Bede, Lucia and I show up, bearing props, snacks and cupcakes.

9:00 am. Make-up.

9:15 am. Lighting, props set-up, rearranging of the plants, shifting of the furniture, etc.

9:30 am I begin warm-ups while Grace and her camera colleague work on the set-up around me. The microphone transmitter I'm supposed to wear has gone missing.

9:40 am The icmrophone transmitter is found. After I'm hooked up and transmitting sound, I realize I have to use the washroom.

9:50 am. The first guests have showed up early! Ahhhh! No worries. They've come all the way from Redmond, which is a big deal. Even though Redmond is only 20 miles away, you have to cross the water and potentially deal with bad traffic to get to Seattle.

10:00 am. More guests arrive, and I direct them to the snacks. The guests sign the release forms, saying it's okay for us to film their children.

10:15 am. Three-quarters of the guests have arrived, and I play a few songs for them while Grace shoots some "pick-up" shots.

10:30 am. All the guests have arrived, and we're ready to go. I explain to the children that in a normal show, if I make a mistake, I just keep on going. Because we're filming this performance, I may stop after I make a mistake, wait a moment, and continue on.

10:31 am. "Stories and Songs for You," an original song, opens the show.

10:35 am I start my first story, "Lazy Jack." I learned this particular English folktale from NYPL luminary John Peters, and while it has a quasi-modern setting (i.e. on one of the days of the week, Jack goes to a delicatessan to get work), I've kept John's rhyme that his mother says to him: "Jack, Jack, my only son, why is your head like a bun?" I was worried that this story was going to be too long for the youngest ones. I don't know why it never before occured to me to have the children chanting that rhyme with me, but we did it for the video, and it worked. They laughed in all the right places, too.

10:43 am. I played the song "Hop Up Ladies," and the children "clip-clopped" their hands on their legs and also got up and danced.

10:48 am. Everyone got to choose a color for "Jenny Jenkins."

11:03 am. Children chose silk scarves to sweep across the floor and into the air while I chanted the nursery rhyme, "There Was an Old Woman..."

11:06 am. I introduced the song "Aiken Drum," and one of the girls called out, "You already did that song!" It's true, I had introduced the song to them during the warm-up with the idea that if they were familiar with the chorus, they'd sing along. I called back, "I know, but let's pretend that we're doing this song for the first time."

11:12 am. We do the thumb story, "Up the Hill and Down the Hill," also known as "Mr. Wiggle and Mr. Waggle." In the story I learned from my mom, the characters are Ms. Cat and Ms. Dog.

11:15 am. The children are doing quite well, but I know that since "Jenny Jenkins" took a long time, I'm going to have to drop a song from the set. I play through the song Someone just once.

11:17 am. We close with the story This is the Key to the Kingdom.

After the show, I thank everyone, and we mingle and talk while the children eat the cupcakes. Then, I realized that I forgot to invite the children to come up to strum my guitar with relatively clean, dry hands. Grace says, "We can still do it!" and a few children strum the guitar.

11:45 am. We've all had a quick bite to eat. Bede takes Lucia home, and then we film almost the WHOLE THING again so that Grace and Mr. Camera can get direct face shots and record a cleaner sound.

12:30 pm. We're not done yet! Now, the furniture is shifted a bit and the plants rearanged while we get ready for the interview portion of the shoot. I had been well for two months, but in the past week, had been fighting off a cold. I began to feel it coming on, and drank some Throat Coat tea.

1:00 pm. There sure are a lot of planes in Seattle. Every time I begin to speak, a plane flies overhead. Stomachs gurgle, too. Grace says, "Aren't you glad you don't have to do this 10 hours a day?" I reply, "This is one of the many reasons I am not an actress."

2:30 pm. We film some shots of the silk scarves swirling around in front of the camera.

3:15 pm. I've cleaned up all that I am able to do, thank everyone profusely, and head out with Bede and Lucia.

Now, Grace gets to send off the footage to the editor, and they'll go from there.

I've left out quite a bit on this timeline in terms of the conversations I had with the children, some of the funny things Grace and Mr. Camera said, and other tidbits of that ilk. I will fill in later as needed. Nwo, I'm off to crawl under the covers and sleep this pesky cold away.


tanita s. davis said...

Dude, the whole thing sounds fascinating. I recorded music in high school, and we had a lot of takes and stuff, but... wow. This sounds really cool. Hope it looks great!

Charlotte said...

Wow, I remember way back when I first read your blog, and you were just begining to think about the story telling thing--and now look at you! Congratulations!

Lone Star Ma said...

Yes - now look at you! You are so amazing!

Also, I hope you feel better. Go away, cold!

Saints and Spinners said...

Thank you, Tanita, Charlotte and LSM! Bede granted my wish, and got me some nice hot lamb saag last night to blast away my cold. I hope everyone else resists it. Right now, I'm a little drippy and disgusting (only redeemed by the perkiness of the trillium hat).

adrienne said...

How exiting! Thanks for giving us a glimpse into the process. We're getting ready to get a camera and start doing some filming of things here, but we have no idea at all what we're doing--so we'll be learning as we go. We aren't looking for professional quality, but we do want to get to a point where we don't look like idiots. (This is pretty much my motto for daily life: "Try not to look like an idiot.")

Speaking from the perspective of someone who hires storytellers from time-to-time, I think this is a thing that is worth the effort. I won't hire anyone who I haven't seen tell stories, and I haven't seen at least 90% of the storytellers who send me fliers tell stories. A DVD would solve that particular problem nicely.

Saints and Spinners said...

Adrienne: You have a good point. Thus far, I've relied on word of mouth and recommendations, but I've wanted a proper video for awhile. It was one of the reasons I got a video feature on my camera, but still... I wanted someone who knew what s/he was doing to film it.

I know that Sno-Isle Libraries hold auditions, and that's great.