When it comes to the skillset of the Motion Media Manager at Discover Wisconsin, the requirement of several traits come to mind; the ability to balance creativity, preparation, organization, and improvisation. A Motion Media Manager needs to know how to set up for an interview, have extensive production knowledge, the ability to operate a camera, and the willingness to adapt on the fly in every situation.
The phrase “no day is ever the same” is without a doubt one of the most overused phrases said when describing a job or a workplace. However, it rings true with this role, in the ever-changing world of production there may be a week where our crew is filming for five different episodes, followed by a week focused on just one. With call times ranging from the crack of dawn to late into the night, the Motion Media Manager must always be on their toes and prepared for whatever obstacles are undoubtedly coming.
Managing the Production Calendar
Maintaining the production calendar is crucial when it comes to ensuring a good project workflow. The number of shows for the upcoming Discover Wisconsin season essentially controls the structure (and craziness) of the production calendar. Managing this calendar requires collaboration with producers to lock in dates and rain dates. An initial obstacle to overcome is managing resources and a variety of schedules; there are days where more than one shoot may be on the books, it’s important to make sure that if more than one episode shoot is occurring, that crew is prepared for each one, and gear logistics are covered in detail. Once a date is locked in on the calendar, it’s time to sit down with the producer and go through their show outline to get the feel for the episode. Determining the kind of shots that are needed for the show and understanding the overall goal and logistics of the episode establishes what kind of equipment and crew will be needed.
Coordinating Gear and Crew
In a perfect world, every production is set up with the right number of people and the exact gear that they need. That is rarely the case. After picking out a date on the production calendar, the next step is to look at which shooters are available. There are a lot of unknown factors when it comes to filming an episode of Discover Wisconsin. Oftentimes our crew doesn’t get to head to the locations prior to the day of filming, weather and conditions are always up in the air and that can change the plan for the day in the blink of an eye. Depending on the length of the shoot and what’s being captured can impact how many people are sent as part of the production. Sometimes a single shooter is sent with the producer, other times there may be 2 or 3 shooters there to capture all of the activities, B-Roll footage, and interviews. Understanding the layout and plan for the episode ensures that the Motion Media Manager assigns the appropriate crew and gear to a shoot.
On-Location – Envisioning Set-Ups
Now we’ve reached the day of a shoot and the gear (and crew) is packed in the vehicle, it is time to hit the road and head to the production site. As previously mentioned, producers and shooters are not always given the opportunity to scout out the location prior to the day of the shoot. This means the crew has to be on their a-game from the get-go. Once the destination has been reached, the destination hosts are greeted and the search for the best set up begins. Videographers look for spots that offer great views and other special characteristics that will aid in telling the story, great interviews with real people are an integral part of Discover Wisconsin.
The ability to improvise comes in handy because things don’t always go according to plan, pivoting on the spot, and anticipating hiccups on a shoot is key. Oftentimes, some of the best shots for Discover Wisconsin come from moments that weren’t originally anticipated!
This is not a 9-5 job. Working in production requires long hours in the pre-production and production stages of a shoot. Some days begin at 3 am so a single moment can be captured, and days that run late into the night so the best outcome can be achieved. It’s rewarding to see the final shots and the final product that our team captures and then shares with the world. Some shots take dozens of takes and resets, but once you finally get it, you know it was worth it. Once a shoot day wraps, you head home, get a good night’s rest, wake up and repeat.
About the Author
Teddy Maier, the Discover Mediaworks Motion Media Manager, studied Communications with an emphasis in media studies at UW – Stevens Point. The love of storytelling came from hearing stories from his old man and watching countless movies with his sisters. His drive, determination, and creativity comes from his mom, who taught him to put his best foot forward. Since starting at Discover Mediaworks in 2012, he started in the machine room and worked his way up to Motion Media Manager. He works on all three broadcast brands, as well as corporate video productions.
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