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My daughter as client

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Mark SuszkoMy daughter as client
by on Nov 19, 2013 at 9:43:31 am

My daughter is in Latin club, and the school clubs compete in various games and things inter-scholastically. One of their projects was to make a short about some facet of mythology, but updated to the present. I first heard about her project about 2 weeks from the deadline, when they were first seeking someone to edit their student-shot footage. But my daughter said I was a distant backup possibility; one of the students would cut the piece together on imovie or something, don't sweat it. And I hear not a peep afterwards.

Of course, this forum being what it is, you know what comes next without me writing it.

2 Weeks later, Friday night, just got home from work, opening my emails, and she plops a camera bag in my lap, all frustrated:

"So the project FINALLY went ahead and shot TODAY, the video has to be presented tomorrow at the competition: can you cut it together for us, pleeeeease?"

"Only if you sit in on the edit session to guide me and to watch and advise on the process, since they made you Director and producer."

She hadn't wanted to direct and had been trapped into it at the last minute. I heard nothing but complaints of unprepared actors, a script half-written, half-improv, no effects budget... and it has to rock the audience's world, in about 8 hours.

oh, and BTW, while it was expected to be DV footage, it accidentally became HDV footage during shooting: do you have a deck to play that with?

I am struggling not to laugh out loud by this point, but also frantic, because we can't find quite the right cables between my new imac's firewire and the camcorder's old one. After driving to three closing stores in a row on a wet, late Friday night, without finding the cable, I resort to dubbing out a composite SD signal into my DVD recorder, then ripping the DVD into FCP7 using MPEG Streamclip. It works. We can start cutting. it's only 10:39.

The next hour proves quite educational for my daughter, who has never really seen or understood what dad really does at the office. She has to walk me thru organizing the footage which was shot out of sequence and with multiple takes. She quickly observes where her camera placement worked, and where she had wrong shots or continuity problems and plain missing shots.

Over the next hour, I fix the bad shotgun audio, color-correct the horrible exposure, add foley and music, and pull out short shots from longer ones, flopping them and re-timing them to fill in for missing second camera matching action. Slowly, she is beginning to understand that making these isn't a one-button operation, and why dad is the way he is, some days.

She has made just about every mistake my real word grown-up clients ever have, all in one little production, in one night. But I fix them all, one by one,and gradually, she becomes more and more impressed by the application of tech and timing skills and creating narrative flow thru shot choices. When I pull out some snazzy effects from Motion to dress the titles and graphics, her eyes become saucers, looking with new appreciation at what Dad has transformed her disaster into. The end needs a narrator: I step in and give it with a Nordine-like flourish. We upload it at 2 AM. She suggests I give myself a screen credit. I go for the Alan Smithee.

We took second place the next day. But I won the battle with my producer, and taught them how important good editing and good directing are to a successful media project, and how skilled artisans can repair and transform bad material. She's never going into my field, and that's really okay. But I love that this father-daughter trial by fire gave her better understanding and respect for what dad does to bring home the bacon. I still can't stop laughing, thinking back on it.

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Steve KownackiRe: My daughter as client
by on Nov 19, 2013 at 11:52:55 am

[Mark Suszko] "...and why dad is the way he is, some days" Love it!

Been there too Mark in the exact same circumstances. It's great when your kids finally "get" what you do. How do you really credit yourself on a gig like that? Miracle Worker? Best Daddy Ever!


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Roger Van DuynRe: My daughter as client
by on Nov 19, 2013 at 1:57:49 pm

Hey Mark,

It's good for dear old dad to feel needed.

As a matter of fact, I'm getting ready to capture two more of my son's tapes for his high school JROTC. This spring will be the fourth year I've put together the highlight video for his battalion's awards banquet. (It's usually about six tapes for about six minutes for the finished video).

My son does a pretty good job shooting, in fact, he took tv production for three years in high school, after taking it in middle school. But he's not always the camera op, so there's a lot of messed up footage. Nevertheless, we always get enough for the video and the other parents love it ( and so does my wife! )


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Todd TerryRe: My daughter as client
by on Nov 19, 2013 at 3:53:18 pm

Mark, I do hope you taught her the value of the star wipe.

Lisa Simpson: "Dad, there are other transitions besides the 'star wipe.'"

Homer: "Yes, but why have hamburger when you can have steak every day!"

Will you do my homework for me???


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Nick GriffinRe: My daughter as client
by on Nov 19, 2013 at 4:01:01 pm

I'd be happy if a project came in from one my daughters. Instead I have a sister who, although having worked in network television as on-camera talent, remains clueless on any detail whatsoever of what goes on behind the cameras. Instead she brings me DVDs and tapes shot by "the best guy in town" (a town of 1,400), with the only light and mic in said town.

"Can you pull this together right away because we really need it to put on our web page so the foreign buyers will be impressed?" Really. THIS is what you think will impress them? Whatever happened to flying me and real gear out to shoot something decent? "Oh we didn't have time for that, so we figured we'd do it ourselves to save you the trouble."

I believe that I have worked using these kind of materials for the last time. (Until the next time she shows up with puppy dog eyes and a story of desperation.)

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Ned MillerRe: My daughter as client
by on Nov 20, 2013 at 11:49:38 pm

Mark, you've given me PTSD! That happened a lot with my kids for school. Glad to see it's "normal"(?)

But now I have clients that act the same way. Glad the tornadoes didn't hit your area.

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer

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Mark SuszkoRe: My daughter as client
by on Nov 21, 2013 at 5:20:02 am

The tornados missed me, but I've wound up chasing them: going back out to Washington IL tomorrow for damage assessment. Just came back from live-directing the IMAG and streaming video feeds at the Gay Marriage Bill signing. We did a 3-camera shoot into a Tricaster and streamed that out to two larger streaming servers.

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