Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Memories from a TV Star

Last night we watched Wonderland's Poway episode. It was great fun to see the Poway-Midland Railroad get the attention it deserves. It was also funny to see how standing around for 5 hours can get you about 10 seconds on screen for a TV show. (see my previous post about this show to get the link to the YouTube video showing the taping process)

This is the second time I've been on screen for the railroad. Neither time did I speak. Both times it took FOREVER and yielded a few seconds of screen time. I guess that is the way these things work.

The previous time was for a children's show called The Jumpitz. They sell on Amazon in both English and Spanish (completely different casts for the two versions). That means that they taped everything twice too. However, that doesn't get across just how much time went into that taping. First there were rehearsal shots, then filmed ones. Then more filmed ones (because something was wrong or they needed a different angle, or something). Since I was loading luggage into the train at a very fast pace (to music), every time they reshot, we had to unload all the luggage and start again. Oh, and they blared the music (a catchy little tune which is a worse earworm than "It's a Small World"--and probably enjoyed by children just as much, but causes groans in anyone over 12) every time they practiced or taped.

This taping for Wonderland meant a lot of standing around and waiting as the host visited the museum and the Nelson house (because time ran over and he couldn't finish with us before he was supposed to meet with them) and then James and I watched the taping of the other volunteers in the barn. For every interview you saw on TV (if you missed it, don't worry, it will repeat; it is KPBS) there were four takes, at least, plus maybe two or more interviews that never made it to air. What you do see, however, is great fun. The host, Noah, certainly knows how to make his viewers want to see what he shows. I hope that means that lots of people will want to come out to ride the train. The Poway-Midland Railroad deserves more attention than it gets. No other place in San Diego has a regularly running steam train.

OK, I titled this post "Memories from a TV Star" but if you have seen the shows I am talking about, you will know that in each I just smile, wave, and stand on a piece of equipment in a conductor's uniform (or toss luggage to an invisible crew member hiding on the floor). Still, it was interesting to see how much behind the scenes work (and waiting around) goes into such short segments of filming. In both cases, lots of editing went into the final product so that it looks very different than the experience of actually being there and taping it. The experience gives me a different perspective on what I see on TV everyday.

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