Christina Velocci: interning on lifestyle series Decked Out (week 4)

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

“Last week I got a chance to sit down with our story editor Robyn Bigue. She does the story editing for two of our shows: Decked Out and Disaster Decks. I thought it would be important to spend some time with her as she plays a very important role executing the show vision. The story editor takes all the footage and creates a clear storyline for the editor to work with. Together the two of them put the show together. Robyn took me through her process and will continue to show me what she does from the time she receives the footage to when the final script is ready, and when the final product is complete.

The first day we went over screening footage. In the beginning the show bible is very important. It really guides the story editor on what elements need to be in the show. When the series producer initially creates the show concept, he/she maps out what the show will look like scene by scene. So the story editor uses these documents (detailed treatment) as a guide for navigating through the reams of footage she receives from the field.

One of the most important parts of dealing with all the initial footage is figuring out what you definitely won’t use. There will always be funny moments from the field that just don’t work for the show, and recognizing them off the bat helps filter out hours of extra footage. She also mentioned that with a new show there can be tweaking by the series producer. What may have worked on paper, doesn’t necessarily work once it is put together. So initially the footage coming in will have alternate scenes and different versions of show elements that may never make it to the final product. Once the series producer figures out exactly what works for the show vision, the process becomes more streamlined and efficient.

That’s where notes from the field come in handy. Robyn uses the notes our PA writes as a guide for each shoot day. The notes tell her how many takes were done, what takes were good and what she can expect to see. The notes also give her an idea of what to look out for (funny moments, good interview points). Once she knows exactly what she needs and what she has, she can begin with her initial script.

When working with regular people as participants on a show, each episode will have its own challenges. Knowing what characters are strong, how fast or slow they speak, what type of funny they are all becomes clear as she goes through the footage. This is important because it impacts the theme of the show. The characters guide the story so knowing what they are like early on helps Robyn see how the show is going to develop.

She then inserts the notes she has made into a script format (this is where the show treatment comes in again). Each day begins to make sense once it’s organized scene by scene. This paper edit is still quite large – there are elements in it that may or may not be used. But Robyn tries to keep all the ‘good stuff in at first and will begin to pair it down once the first ‘cut down’ is done.

The initial assembly or ‘cut down’ is done with our assistant editor. He takes the paper edit Robyn has created and assembles it on a timeline. From there the two of them sit down and watch it. She can see what isn’t needed and they cut the viz down some more. This second cut down will be delivered to the editor so he can begin cutting a final script.

My assignment for this week will be to go through footage for the first scene of one of our shows and take my own notes. I will attempt to put together an initial script and compare it to what Robyn has done for that show. I’ll let you know how that goes in next week’s post. I’ll also sit in for additional screening to see how a final script is developed, changed or tweaked by the series producer and how it all comes together during the fine cut stage.”

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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