Christina Velocci: interning on lifestyle series Decked Out (week 5)

Back in October 2012 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

“I can’t believe I have already passed the half way mark on my internship. Actually, I can believe it. I have been involved in so many things these last five weeks, it feels more like a six month internship! I am not complaining. Quite the opposite. I am so thankful to have been a part of this course and have a chance to be involved in every aspect of production. Can’t wait for the remaining weeks.

Now with that being said, in my last post I focused on beginning the process of story editing and will continue with more in this post.

I want to start off by saying you can never really appreciate what a person does until you see them in a challenged situation. This was the case recently.

I sat in with our story editor Robyn Bigue and picture editor Nathan Shields on one of the preliminary screenings for an episode of Disaster Deck. This episode was posing a big challenge for Robyn because the storyline, performance of the characters and general theme of the show weren’t lining up as smoothly as some of our other episodes. Bu Robyn was able to go through all the footage and pull together a great storyline.

When she and Nathan met to watch the first cut they discussed the episode scene by scene and changed what didn’t make sense or felt disjointed. At this point in the process Nathan had also contributed his artistic flair and style to the show. The process of going through scene by scene is a long and tedious one but so important to hitting all the marks essential in the story. After the changes were made it was time to have the series producer Bree Tiffin watch the cut.

There were more notes that came from the series producer. Two of the acts just weren’t that funny and fun is a big part of the show. Bree suggested things they could add or change to beef up the fun factor in those acts. She watches the show with a different set of eyes and a specific vision in mind. And like a good series producer, she knows exactly what the client (network) wants. Knowing what works and what doesn’t is really important in each episode because each one is so unique. Although the show has a specific direction and structure, the changing characters (homeowners) give each show a new twist. So the series producer’s role in shaping the show is so important at this stage.

Robyn then had to rescreen unused footage and really pull out the fun and funny moments. This posed a big challenge because a lot of the funny moments in the field just weren’t translating on screen. But after hours of hard work with Nathan, they found some really great stuff and changes were made. I have to give the two of them huge credit for their creativity, the show was even better once the changes were made. We rescreened the changes and Bree was happy with the results (with a few minor adjustments).

It’s incredible to see how the show changes with each screening and how each set of changes really cleans and polishes the product. Not every episode requires as many tweaks but when an episode is hard to sculpt you really see how talented everyone involved in the project is. This process also reinforced the ‘team effort’ factor for me. Creating a great show is such a huge collaboration and each person’s opinion and creativity is so important to the process. Obviously the series producer is the keeper of the show vision but she/he relies on the team to stay true to that vision.

It was also interesting to see someone with ‘new eyes’ watch the episode. Because I sat in with Robyn and Nathan each time they screened it, I was convinced the show was perfect. But once I heard Bree’s suggestions, I could see how those changes would make it a much better episode. The process is also a big reminder of the role a series producer plays during a screening. He/she must think of the show vision first, the end product they will deliver to the network. This is the number one priority and every tweak or change is with that thought in mind. Like my executive producer Mike Sheerin says ‘Delivering the product ordered on time and making the customer happy is number one.’

In my next post I’ll share with you some of the insight I received when I interviewed Mike – he’s my boss, executive producer and president of Architect Films. We talk about what makes a good series producer, creating and maintaining relationships and what he looks for when hiring a series producer.

Happy New Year!”

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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