“30 Seconds to Air: The Making of the Bill Cunningham Show”

In my quest to book more documentary work this year, I got the opportunity to join forces with Tribune Creative Group for this reality-style, 30-minute TV documentary, revealing the making of an episode of Bill Cunningham’s daytime talk show. This fall, it was televised on Tribune’s NY affiliate PIX 11.

Though not my first documentary gig, it was first true reality-style shoot where, when you miss something juicy, it’s truly gone. Even “reality TV” is mostly scripted. This wasn’t.

The goal of the documentary was to capture the 5-day work-week, which is precisely how long each episode takes to make from scratch. Potential guests are mined through craigslist postings and referrals, and the stories are solidified by each of the five producers and their teams. The stories have to be TV-worthy, sufficiently complicated, real, and the guests have to be 100% on board and sold on the idea of dropping what they’re doing and flying to NY the next day. (Probably the only true incentive is it’s free.) But guests flake, as you can see, and the stress levels from Day 1 to T-minus-30 seconds go from bad to “Man, I hope this poor producer doesn’t get fired.”

Behind-the-scenes work is really good fun. You’re expected to get your hands a bit dirty and sneak into the center of the action at a moment’s notice. There’s a sort of journalistic excitement to it. You also learn to work in a small, lean and efficient team (director, camera and sound) which I truly enjoy over a huge set any day of the week.

The 30-minute documentary has been officially selected for the Big Apple Film Festival this fall and will be screened November 17, 2012. I wish director Jeff Pinilla and producer Andrew Oshan the best of luck and hopefully it is the first of many such shoots with them. Enjoy the clip!

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