When I arrived at the little studio in Cleveland the first time several years ago, I didn’t know what to expect. Now I look forward to walking in and spending a few days with many amazing artists and technicians who also happen to be amazing people!
The studio, owned by the production company (not Quilting Arts) is very, very unassuming from the outside. It’s just a door in a long string of doors in a long bring building in an older light industrial part of town. It’s not huge and fancy. You walk right into the green room where tables are set up for guests to do prep work. Each of us has one or two tables and we are given giant cookie sheets to organize our stuff for each segment. There is a monitor on the wall (you can see it in the previous post) so that you can see what is happening on set.
Off to one side is an office. There the incredibly organized Katherine Lamancusa mans the phones and keeps everything organized with charts posted on walls. The lovely Jeanne Delpit from Bernina is there all week with the latest model machines and everything she needs to help us look like we know what we are doing. I practiced at the local shop and after I got to Cleveland so that I could do the bits I needed to smoothly. (I work at home on a great little workhorse Bernina 930 Record. Yes, the new machines are fantastic – but I tend to beat mine into the ground and love the simplicity of it’s function.
What amounts to two walk-in closets in the office have become the Make-Up room – where copious amounts of paint are applied to the face just so that you don’t look like walking death under all those lights. There are a LOT of lights on set. On the other side is a “dressing room.” It’s just a garment rack for the bazillion things Susan (the hostess) has to change into with a mirror and room for your things too. There is a list of things NOT to wear on camera – notice how you almost never see stripes? Pure black and white don’t really do well either. Often what you see as a white shirt is actually a very light blue. And you need to not clash with what Susan is wearing. Or with those walls.When it’s your turn on set people swoop in and help you make everything go smoothly and look wonderful. It’s a big room with the same set the show has used for years. I wonder where they store it for the rest of the year? They raise or lower the table, cover it or not, hang stuff behind you or not… whatever it is you need. The sound guy threads wires up your shirt, clips a thingy onto your pants in back (I learned to wear things that something can be clipped to the hard way once! He had to clip the little box remote thing to my undies while I blushed.) The mike gets clipped to your neckline somewhere where rustling cloth or jewelry won’t make noises.There are at least three (maybe four – it was dark back behind the cameras) tech people making things work in the room with you during filming. Everybody has a job but it seemed like everybody was also willing to pitch in wherever needed to help you get set up. I really loved the way the celtic knot quilts looked on set!Before you start filming a team of folks goes through the plan with you. Kathie Still, the producer is on the right. She can listen to you walk through what you’ve got set up and knows so much about this gig that she can let you know right then if you need to cut something or stretch something out with a little chatter. Vivika from Quilting Arts is in the yellow. Camera/plug-thing-like-irons-in-so-they-actually-work-when-you-need-them guy is in the back. Left is (another curse my brain can’t remember her name moment) also from QA is on the right. She takes lots of photos for marketing, monitors the monitor, and makes sure we didn’t forget stuff.
It only takes a few minutes to get a general road map of what is going to happen then everyone disappears into the control room. You can see a picture of that on this previous post. I bring printed lists for everyone of my steps. Mostly they are for me so I don’t forget anything. Except that I always forget to put on my favorite pair of earrings. I kind of obsess about what to wear and find the perfect artistic earrings to match, then get there and forget to change earrings. Ah well. Next the cameras roll, I talk as fast as I can, Susan has to keep track of what Im doing AND listen to instructions through that invisible earpiece, and whoosh – it’s all over! Well – except when they decide something needs to change. Then they do what they call a “live edit.” They scroll back the tape to a reasonable starting point, tell you where to put your hands and your things and what you were saying, and you get a “do-over.” I seem to try to pack so much into my time that there isn’t room for Susan to chat much so she just lets me go full steam ahead and says “yes, nice, great” until it’s time to put the brakes on. I admire her ability to work that magic and help her guests look great.
So – stay tuned! I filmed four segments, two for series 2300 which begins airing on National Public Television in January 2019, and two for series 2400 which stars in June or July. Look up your local PBS station to see if it will play in your area, take a peek, and let me know what you think.