Weeks earlier, my power-hungry boss came to me with a major opportunity disguised as an assignment. “We’re taking over the Movie Trailer Show and you’re doing it,” he said to me. A cocktail of excitement, fear, glee, and dread swirled in my stomach. The company I worked for was handling a majority of the promotion on a fledgling new network, and my main duties involved writing and producing weekly spots. But there was also this Saturday afternoon movie, including short hosted segments . “Just do something better and different,” my boss added, as my only instructions. Hmm. The existing show wasn’t half-bad, shot on an insert stage with a pair of young, hip hosts and an Airstream as part of the backdrop. How was I going to radically change the format? That’s opportunity knocking, delivering a package saying ‘You’ve won! What are you going to do with the prize money?’ For the first time I’d be wearing three hats: writer, producer, and director. More responsibility, more chances to show off my creative juices. Or fall flat on my face.
I chose to reach high. First, dash the set, hosts, and any resemblance of the prior format. I opted to pick a new location each week– specifically a Hollywoodesque or moving-making environment. We visited a special effects company, a prop house, the Petersen Auto Museum, the Gene Autry Museum– even Merv Griffin’s game show warehouse, filled with an odd assortment of set decorations. I also chose two different hosts each week, selected from the network’s line-up of shows. The challenge: filming a dozen set ups, writing a dozen scripts, choosing a dozen different looks– all inside of eight hours. On a Saturday. We pulled it off, often with hilarious results. I wrote humorous bits for the actors, filled with trivia on the movies; directed without a manual, always thankful for a helpful D.P. to help frame scenes; raced against the clock to make my day; added amusing graphics, quirky music in post… in essence, totally digging this experience. One of the highlights: filming our actors in a fake snowstorm (see photo above).
The lesson here is when something seemingly daunting lands in your lap, go for it. Even when you may feel less than experienced to handle the job. Learn on your feet. Dive in. Enjoy the adrenaline rush of tackling new territory. Makes you a better professional in the long run. And you can offer more creative options to your future clients.