I had the great privilege a couple of weeks ago of heading up to the still frozen north to spend a day filming for series 1400 (and a segment for series 1500 too) of Quilting Arts TV which airs on PBS. I’ve done it before (series 400 and 1100) but it’s been a while. There were some familiar faces and some new ones. I love and greatly miss the talented Pokey Bolton to whom I owe a great debt of gratitude. She built Quilting Arts Magazine and the TV show into something truly amazing. Now she has moved on to new and wonderful things and we will have a new hostess for the show.
I’ve got to to admit, I did the happy dance right in the middle of an airport when I heard the news that Susan Brubaker Knapp was offered the position. They couldn’t have chosen a more talented, gracious, and smart woman to fill Pokey’s (adorable, high heeled) shoes. She is one of my favorite people! And so of course I said “yes, I can fit it into my schedule” when she asked if I’d like to film a segment or two even though I was teaching that week, chaperoning an out of town field trip, and getting the family ready for a spring break beach trip all at the same time. Can you say, “insane?” Getting all of the materials and projects, and especially the “step-outs” ready took a couple of weeks worth of crazy work and of course, I crammed it right up until the last minute – stitching and beading on the airplane.
Once I arrived it was all happy time! The “green room” which is no longer actually green, is where all the guests get set up and hang out while waiting for their time on set. It’s so much fun to arrive and see people you know and love! (And some you’ve actually met in person before!) Sarah Ann Smith was filming, as were Sue Reno and Jane Sassaman. I unpacked my suitcase and made sure everything was there for my three segments then settled in and watched the show. Kind of literally. There is a set monitor in the green room so that we can see what is being filmed. They shoot segments all day then one of the guests stays with the production crew to film an instructional video that evening. It can be a very long day for them!
Speaking of the crew – I talked my way into the production booth for a few segments. I am one of those people who is always fascinated by the way things work. I spend more time watching the special features on movie discs than the actual movies. In this booth there are four people. One that you can’t see has her own monitor and keeps close track of timing. Each segment needs to be an exact amount of time. She tells the producer that it’s one minute, four minutes, etc. as the film rolls. The guy with all the fun buttons and the big fancy screen with a bunch of windows to watch all at once is controlling which camera is on. He is talking to the camera guys cueing which one will be on and when to switch. The guy in the corner is the sound technician. He mikes everyone up then listens for trouble like someone’s bracelet clinking on the table. Kathie Stull is the producer and has a mike through which she speaks into Susan’s ear throughout the filming, telling her not to forget to show certain things, how much time she has left, and what to say at the end of the set.
The next day we all arrive early in the morning for make-up and make sure our wardrobe works with whatever Susan is wearing for any particular segment. You should see the chart she has to follow – changing her outfit (and jewelry) multiple times each day according to which segment they are filming. Because the guests have complicated travel schedules they can’t just film the whole show in order. The day before Jeanne, the Bernina rep who camps out all week to make sure everyone has what they need for the machines pulled out whatever machine feet and accessories I needed for my segments and let me play on the machines for a bit. When it is my turn to film a crew carries out my supplies, Jeanne, in her spiky high heels hefts out and sets up the machine, and we get ready to go. Kathie, the producer runs through what we will be covering and always has really good directions for making the segment flow well. The mike guy is snaking wires through our clothes and taping mikes and cords here and there. Susan is trying to stay on her feet at the end of a very long week, and the camera guy is handing me a tissue for my suddenly allergic and drippy nose. There are three or four other Quilting Arts staff people there all doing various things while trying to also meet their publishing deadlines. It’s quite the…. well. Quite the PRODUCTION!
But most of all, it’s good fun. Sharing this fabulous world of fabric with you all! I truly have the best job in the world!