Christina Velocci: interning on lifestyle series Decked Out (week 3)

Back in October our NSI Lifestyle Series Producer students blogged about each day of their bootcamp training. The next step in the course is an eight-week internship on a lifestyle series. We’ve asked our students to write a weekly post about their experiences.

Christina Velocci, Architect Films, interning on Decked Out


Christina is a communications graduate from York University and journalism graduate from Humber College. She has been working in the television industry for over seven years. Her experience includes television news as a production coordinator, videographer / reporter and, most recently, a news writer. Her current position is in lifestyle television as a researcher/coordinator at Architect Films

“Well I did something super exciting last week! I had an opportunity to work on the show bible for Disaster Decks with our director Steve Milne. I’m working/interning on our flagship show Decked Out and our not-yet-aired show Disaster Decks.

With Disaster Decks we have a huge amount of comprehensive documents outlining the show and how it will run down act by act but we didn’t have an outline of what happens each shoot day (that document existed in the director and series producer’s brains). Steve did have beat sheets that were created beforehand but because the show is new, changes were made during the initial filming of the first few episodes. There were also a lot of notes that came from the series producer once the first few episodes had been screened. So there needed to be a more streamlined version of the day-to-day schedule for shooting.

Steve and I sat down and spent an entire day outlining everything the crew does on each day, act by act, question by question. This was a particularly exciting activity for me because I’ve watched the show in screenings and I understand the final product but I really didn’t know the details of how to get to the end product.

We started with day one which is the most complicated shoot day. I can’t tell you much about the structure of the show because it hasn’t aired yet but I can tell you a bit about the process. Aside from the final reveal day, this day has the most structure. The set up of the story is identified from homeowner interviews that will be developed during the rest of the shoot days. It’s a very heavy day with interviews and Paul Lafrance consulting with homeowners. What we need is very specific and needs to be mapped out. We also incorporated notes that Steve had received from the series producer and story editor during the earlier episodes in the season so we had a better handle on what worked and what didn’t.

The next three days of filming have a much looser structure. They really rely on the characters and what happens naturally between them on construction days. There were a few ‘beats’ that we follow up on but, in general, the characters shine.

The final day is reveal day. Like day one, it’s also very structured. We outlined hour by hour of filming, what would happen and each necessary question that needed to be answered. This is where the story lines wrap up and there’s a very defined resolution. Obviously you can’t outline how a homeowner will react but you ask them questions that will delve into how they’re feeling about the project and final reveal.

This activity was so important for me. I have spent many days on set but I haven’t always had a chance to see and hear everything the director is doing. I think one of the most interesting components of this activity was breaking the days down after trial and error has already happened. Steve already knows what works and what doesn’t for the show after filming 10 episodes this summer and fall. So creating this document now is different than creating it before the show has been shot. There is no guessing what might happen or what type of feedback the director will get from the series producer/story editor. It gave us the advantage of writing down exactly what needs to happen to get the job done right.

This activity also reinforced the importance of these types of documents. Having a map of each day gives production a safety net if the director is sick or needs a few days off. Ideally it would allow someone else to step in and do the job without much interruption.

Finally it gave me a chance to be a part of the process – to see how the vision of the show is spelled out on paper in a direct instructional way and a step-by-step guide on how the product is created. I have a new found appreciation for the amount of work that it takes to make a show come together – how much planning is involved before, during and after filming.”

About Decked Out

Decked Out is an outdoor construction show that follows charismatic designer/carpenter Paul Lafrance through the process of creating backyard decks with a ‘creative edge’ for his roster of clients. It is an entertaining, funny, irreverent show for the viewer who is fascinated with, or even mildly interested in, watching (and learning about) the creative process of designing and building impressively intricate outdoor decks and beautiful backyard spaces. Each show follows, from concept to completion, the story of a backyard makeover with a focus on the construction of the unique deck project.

The central character throughout the series is Paul Lafrance, a 38-year-old carpenter and designer who runs his own small, successful boutique construction company. What’s compelling about Paul’s personal story is that he did this without any formal training, he learned carpentry and design all by himself. He’s a good-looking, well-spoken rock-star-like dude with a bit of an edge – while at the same time being very personable and charismatic. Paul’s creative edge and energy is visible in every episode and is an integral element of Decked Out’s identifiable tone.

NSI Lifestyle Series Producer is made possible by Program Partners Shaw MediaCorus Entertainmentand Bell Media; Supporting Sponsors Cineflix MediaPaperny EntertainmentFrantic FilmsRTR Media Inc.Big Coat ProductionsCellar Door ProductionsArchitect Films and Canadian Media Production Association (CMPA).

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