Be A Shrink, A Bartender And A Rabbi On Set

A New York Times obituary by Bruce Weber for Sheldon Patinkin (a major force in the Chicago theater scene) ended with a perfect description of Patinkin's note giving style.

Written by Jeff Perry of Steppenwolf fame and delivered at a recent awards ceremony that honored Patinkin:

“As most of you know and have benefited from, Sheldon is a world champion note giver. His process is gorgeous; like movements in a symphony or rules of comedy, it comes in threes.

“First are the Socratic questions that lead you to this pleasantly shocked re-understanding of your intent. Then he continues with a great, blunt, nonjudgmental articulation of what he saw compared to what you intended. And finally, as you launch into a spin cycle of anxiety and self-justification about all the obstacles sabotaging your genius, he has the knack of being able to steer you, like a shrink, bartender and rabbi rolled into one, into the belief that the fixes are easy, they are absolutely in your reach, and there’s plenty of time to work them in.”

What a great reminder this is when working with professional talent or non-professionals, to bring all your intelligence, non-judgements and patience to set by being a shrink, bartender and rabbi all rolled into one.

Make 'Em Laugh

Libba Bray, the New York Times bestselling author, moved to New York after college and wanted to be a playwright. After five unsuccessful plays she wrote her first novel, A Great and Terrible Beauty, in 2003.  She hasn't stopped writing books ever since.

But if you ask me, she could have easily gone to Chicago after college and took up improv -- eventually moving to NYC -- and in my alternate-reality fantasy -- she would have been discovered by Lorne Michaels...

A couple weeks ago, Libba asked me to produce and direct a video to accompany her opening monologue at this year's Audie Awards (honoring the best in the audio book world).

Let's all hope she invests more time making video.


Follow Libba at //twitter/libbabray.

Snackable, Emotive And Sharable

"Show, don’t just tell. In a world of increasingly limited attention spans, we need to harness the power of video and photos because they are more snackable, emotive and sharable. We must also provide deeper, more informative visuals, such as infographics, as well.

Aim to have the dominant creative idea. The stranglehold of advertising on the marketer is now loosened."

From The History (and Future) of PR by Richard Edelman.

The original post is here.

Watch a snackable video with (info)graphics I produced that originally appeared in The Daily.

The Video Editor You Never Want To Let Go

Look for video editors that have these qualities:

  • He has ten years of experience.  There's just no substitute. Editing is a skill like any other.  But if you haven't put in the time, you're not going to be on my "go to" list.
  • She looks at all the footage. Sounds nuts not to look at all the footage but it's easier not to. Some editors just grab the first things they see.  I've seen people do it. There's no short cut.
  • He's musical. As a general rule, the finest editors I know also are pretty competent musicians. It makes a lot of sense... editing is all about timing. Having an ear for beats is invaluable. Certainly there are exceptions, but it helps.
  • She's funny.  Editing is about surprises. You want to shake up the audience to keep them watching. Someone who can make me laugh tells me she can catch me off balance with her edits as well.
  • He dabbles in After Effects or Motion. Certainly some projects don't require it, but the editor who can nimbly switch from AE to FCP is a keeper. It also shows me that you're willing to stretch and learn new things.
  • She is a collaborator.  Is it going to be a battle every time you elongate a shot, delete a white flash, or have to trash the last hour of work? Stick with editors that listen and then make your ideas better.
  • He is persistent.  Editing requires time in the seat. A 9 to 5 mentality is not going to do it for me or the project. And it's not only time, it's a drive to make it work, to finish and to conquer.

What makes your editor great?

Another Priceless Video Tip: Don't Use That Chair

I've talked here about ways to get a better looking shot.  There's the The $4.95 Solution To Make Your Videos Better and remember the importance of showing a philtrum.

But here's another one.  Don't use an executive chair when you're doing an interview.


Executive chairs are super comfortable and make you feel regal. However, on video they make you look small.  The backside of the chair goes up to your ears and kills the needed seperation between you and the background.  Plus, your talent is going to end up swiveling and that's going to make your talent look impatient as well.

Use a bar stool or use a chair with a short back.  Sit back alll the way and keep your back straight.  


That feels better, doesn't it?