The Making of a TV Show

We are in full swing of the production for my show, Meatless America.  With five episodes already shot I figured it was time to pause and reflect.  Things have been pretty crazy up until now and you’re about to find out why!

The excitement of a network signing on a show that I created is one of the highlights of my life.  The opportunity could not have come at a better time.  Things are finally starting to go my way!  Signing the contract was the first step.  I had to negotiate quite a bit with the network to get the tiny budget I am working with.  I found a team that would work within that budget, as the chance to have our creation on air was a pretty big deal.

Episode One

Next came scheduling with the restaurants, my crew, and my family.  All of the stars had to align for us to find the right restaurant and shoot date.  Episode one was finally set to be produced.  I made a hair appointment so that I had one less thing to worry about, but I did my make up and wardrobe myself.  The script had been written and I called an Uber to take me to Avant Garden, where we were shooting episode one.  It was an exciting day throughout.  By the end of it, my hair, make up, and energy all started to wilt.  I was just happy that it was over and we made it out alive, with footage, of course.

The first edit of the first episode was completed just before we began shooting episode two.  There were some minor issue that had to be corrected, which lead to me traveling to Trenton, NJ early one morning to sit with my editor.  I didn’t get back to my apartment until after midnight.  This is the job of a Producer.  I wear many hats in this production.  From creating the concept, writing the scripts, scheduling the shoots, hiring the crew, hosting, and liaising with the network on a regular basis, I am involved in all aspects of this show.  I am seeing my years of professional Project Management being utilized effectively.

Focus with Purpose

When we are in production we are focused and activated throughout the day.  We oftentimes forget to drink water and eat because we have limited time to get all of the shots that we need.  There is a lot of pressure on set but we try to keep it fun.  One of my crew members consistently reminds me that we need more people to assist on set.  With the small budget I have it isn’t feasible for this season.  We are basically making a $10,000 show for a fraction of that.

So why are we doing it?  I am doing it because I love to create responsible media.  As a practicing vegan I want to show people the incredible variety of delicious vegan food available to them.  My crew is in it because they are passionate filmmakers.  The opportunity to produce a season for a multinational network is a step in the right direction.  We may not be making loads of money but we are making our mark.

The Good, The Bad, and The Goal

While the past month can only be described as hectic I am happy with how things are going.  Even the worst moment on set is better than the best day in a cubicle.  We have faced many hurdles during taping and editing of the first few episodes but we have worked through them.  I may be living out my dream job right now but it is by not means a piece of vegan cake.

We have our differences within the team and oftentimes there is a power struggle.  Every team experiences this while figuring out the dynamics.  The benefits of this production grossly outweigh the cons.  Every restaurant we have wanted to shoot at has welcomed us.  I have met some of the most powerful and influential restauranteurs and chefs in New York City and sampled their mouthwatering food.  Every endeavor will come with challenges but what makes them tolerable is the end goal.  I am making a show about conscious living and eating.  My goal is to revolutionize the way people eat, and entertain them along the way.  Five episodes down, five more to go!

The Good, The Bad, and The Comedy

There is only one word that could sum up the past two weeks: tumultuous. While I was wasting time worrying about trivial things like steady income, health insurance, and permanent housing, something terrible happened. I experienced the death of a young member of my family.

A Period of Contrast

If there is anything that pushes the reset button on our plans in life it is loss. Suddenly, the important things seem trivial and the things we overlook come to light. In this particular case my life was in stark contrast. I had started a comedy workshop around the time I find out about my cousin’s passing. Here I was mourning a young life taken too soon while attempting to write comedy material. None of it made sense, but all of it made sense. I wanted a challenge, and boy did life deliver.

I have been feeling a lot of pressure to think positive, despite my fragile circumstance. My husband lost his job just last month and I lost mine earlier this year. We live in a cramped apartment with a baby. I believe that the universe is benevolent and delivers what you believe you deserve. If I think about what I am lacking, I will lack it even more. If I am grateful, I will receive abundance. Thinking positive has started to feel more like work than a natural state of mind. Fear has no place in the paradigm of abundance. I must think positive and eradicate all fears in order to make progress! But what if I am afraid that I don’t have what it takes to think positive? Ugh, this is hard.

Still in the Storm

After the passing of my cousin I’ve started to find myself being present more often. I am genuinely grateful for the little things and I do believe that as long as I am alive, there is hope. It is all still very fresh and I find myself feeling deep sadness on one hand, and fearless on the other. Death has a way of liberating those left behind. What is the worst that can happen? When it has already happen, we tend to ease up on the little things that barely matter in the grand scheme.

I finished writing a five minute comedy set and performed it in front of my class today. My teacher said I am ready to take the stage at a comedy club this Friday. I never thought I would be able to do comedy while mourning the loss of an amazing human I was lucky to call family. But maybe that’s just the thing. Comedy is rooted in genuine emotion but delivered as a farce. The stark contrast between the inspiration for the material and the delivery is what makes comedy so engaging. Laughter is the best medicine.

Here’s hoping I can deliver a healthy dose of it this Friday!

Opportunity in the Pages of a Book

I received a book titled ‘The Irish American Tradition’ in the mail from its author.  The story behind this event is inspiring and sheds some light on why I chose to become a professional speaker.  I will be opening for the author at his book signing in Manhattan this Friday.  This post is about how booking this opportunity changed the course of my career.

The Revolving Door

About six months ago I was working a job that I did not enjoy.  I would spend every evening after work looking for other ways to make a living.  I had spent 1.5 years working for a company that had little value for the employee and much value for the bottom dollar.  While this is not rare, it is not my idea of a fulfilling way to spend the majority of my days.  Still, I managed my responsibilities and kept the companies client’s happy.

Then, out of nowhere, I was laid off.  My boss told me the company was downsizing and management was the first to go.  I went from a full-time employee earning a solid six-figure salary with full benefits to unemployed.  The situation could be perceived in one of two ways : look at it as the loss of a job, or look at it as gaining the freedom to do something I love.  I chose the latter, and joined a site where I could book speaking gigs.

A Positive Sign

Within 24 hours I booked my first gig.  I took it as a sign that being laid off was a gift of opportunity for me.  Since that moment I have wasted no time in honing my craft as a speaker and an MC.  For the past 10 years I have booked speaking gigs for television and various social events, but never thought to make it a full-time business.  It was only when I was faced with a situation where I had nothing to lose that I decided to give it a sincere shot and take it to the next level.  This is a prime example of how one door closing leads to another, more gracious and inviting, door opening.

I have booked other gigs since that time, but the first gig that I booked takes place this Friday.  It is indeed a very special occasion for many reasons.  Not only is it a prestigious event taking place in a historical city landmark, but it is a reminder to me to look for opportunity in every tough situation.  I share this as a reminder for you to do the same.

 

Why Your Event Needs a Professional MC

 

Whether you are throwing a sweet 16 party or organizing a corporate conference, you should consider hiring a Master of Ceremonies, otherwise known as an MC.  I’m not just saying this because I think I’m the creme de la creme of MC’s (though I am pretty darn good), but because they pack a lot more than just a witty introduction.  MC’s today are working professionals, stand-up comedians, motivational speakers, and more.  This means you are bringing high caliber talent to the helm of your event and transforming the entire experience.  Here are my top three reasons why your event needs a professional MC.

KISS…Keep It Smooth Silly

Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas dedicated a song to the one attribute that could make or break your event:  Smooth! You have your event space, your speakers, and your run of show all set.  The caterer has been hired and decorations are on their way.  Now what?  While you’re busy balancing all of these various elements of an event, who is keeping your audience engaged and ensuring the program runs smoothly?

Enter the MC.  They will oftentimes work with you prior to the event to help you organize the agenda.  In a recent gig I not only helped complete the run of show, but I shortened the bio’s of each speaker to help us stay on schedule.  It might be the first time you are throwing an event but it’s likely not your MC’s first gig.  Professional MC’s come with experience which could be instrumental in conceptualizing how a program should run.  Also, what better way to ensure that your MC knows what is expected of them than to involve them in the planning process?  Keep in mind that not all MC’s will do this, but it’s worth finding out if it’s included in the cost.

Once the run of show has been set and the event kicks off the MC will be the person to bring the crowd together and grab their attention.  From then on it’s up to the MC to keep the program on schedule.  If a speaker is running late or there is a mistake in the program, what happens?  These scenarios typically result in a group of people pulling their hair out wondering how to fill in the gap.  MC’s are professionals who can tell an interesting story or a funny joke, on demand, so that the audience’s attention doesn’t waiver.

A Strong Introduction

The introduction of the program sets the tone for the evening.  If you have someone on stage who seems nervous or unprepared the audience will take notice.  It’s an uncomfortable feeling for everyone involved.  On the other hand, if your MC is poised to perfection, confident, and witty, you have already won over your crowd.  This is equally important for anyone they are introducing.  If the introduction is on point then they are walking up to an audience that is enthusiastic and ready.

Prestige Status

Hiring an MC lets your audience know that you value their time and attendance.  It shows that, instead of making do with someone in your organization, you sought out a professional to create the ultimate experience.  The right professional will uplift the crowd and oftentimes entertain them when an opportunity arises.  When you have already spent a fortune putting together an event don’t skimp on the person everyone will be following.  You can bank on getting more than you bargained for with a professional MC.  If your event is being filmed then you can enjoy their performance time and time again!

Events are meant to create experiences.  Whether its to gain information from speakers or be entertained by performers, MC’s are the glue that hold them together.  It’s a small investment that yields a great impact.  I have hosted events where I introduced speakers, but at the end the compliments were directed towards me.  A good MC will fill in the gaps when things aren’t running on time, maintain a strong connection with the audience, and bring an element of prestige to your event.