Hotels, VPNs & Eyedrops: A Multiplatform Producer’s Tale
Doing remote production is a fairly new thing in my life. I’ve only experienced it three times so far – once in Las Vegas for the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards, at the 2008 NY Comic Con and this past week in Universal City for the 2008 MTV Movie Awards. It’s part and parcel of the job and I enjoy the opportunity to test my skills and work with my colleagues in different environments. They all have their own unique perspectives and I’ve decided to share a little of my own.
Behind The Scenes Providing support on major events like this usually means working long hours, eating very little and often running into technical difficulties and delays as a result of conditions that are out of my control. My sleep schedule is ruined for several days and I often catch some sort of cold. Sometimes the hotel elevators break down in the middle of the night and I have to walk up nine flights of stairs at 2AM. It also means that I get to travel for free, catch up with family and friends in the surrounding area (as time allows) and the experience gives me with the opportunity to learn more about the process of capitalizing on planned and unpredicted content opportunities.
In my case, doing remote production meant traveling from NY to LA and staying at The Hilton Universal for a week.
I walked down a huge hill everyday to Gate 1 on the Universal Studios lot for my 4pm in time, flashed security my MTV Staff badge and received a temporary pass (until we received our official credential, then I just flashed that). I greeted my coworkers who had been in our production office for several hours already and started my “day” as the evening digital producer. I contributed in several ways – from prepping blog entries, to editing interviews, producing packages for online and podcast to helping our “on air” producers locate assets they needed for their packages. I chatted on AIM with my colleagues in LA and NY for assistance and for fun. I received texts from coworkers about social opportunities and requests for work support. I also regularly checked my Facebook activity feed to see where my coworkers were and to catch up on fun anecdotes.
A Requirement To Stay Connected? For Now, Yes
Last year I blogged about how many people use Facebook as a supplemental resource to stay connected to their coworkers and this trip was another example of that. I simultaneously heard about the Universal Studios fire (my work location) from the local news and a Faceboook status update from my boss. Thanks to Facebook status updates, I often knew where coworkers were going to be when their shifts were over, what they were seeing on the “gold” carpet in real time and who they were annoyed with at any given moment. It provided another layer to the whole experience that was intriguing and often helpful.
Being a successful multiplatform producer in a news environment means having the skill set, flexibility, experience and creativity to be able to generate content in a field of constant flux. Soup to Nuts is an idium that my boss Ben often uses to define what we do. I am thoroughly enjoying my role within our organization as it expands and reinvents itself. My experiences here are teaching me lot about all levels of content creation (script to all-screens), editorial decision making and the purpose and development of strategic partnerships.
It’s experiences like this that make me glad I took a risk and moved to NY four years ago. I didn’t go to school to prepare myself for what I am doing now, but life’s path has led me here and I will continue to draw as much as I can out of all opportunities.
Memories of Universal Studios
I visited the Universal Studios theme park for the first time when I was nine years old. I was so exciting to explore a “real” movie studio and it was one of the first events in my life that first sparked my interest in Film and TV. Seeing the sets and hearing descriptions of shoots was thrilling, even at that age. Sixteen years later I was back again for a long stay – only this time walking around the back lot as an employee of a company hosting a major event on those same grounds. I was saddened when I found out that the King Kong and Back to The Future portions of the studio tour ride burned down. I heard this from an aging security guard on the lot who broke the news with a somber face. It was like he was talking about an old friend.
It was a surreal experience to actually see the smoke from the hotel, realizing that a portion of my childhood history was being destroyed even as I was concerned for the safety of my coworkers and our work area. My father was in town for the day (who I hadn’t seen in a year) and we had planned to visit the park before I had to go to work. We quickly realized that wasn’t an option. I will never forget what it felt like to see the smoke and to realize that yes – I really was back again, yes – it was on fire, and yes – the show must go on.