Travel Channel President and GM Pat Younge recently declared that all employees of The Travel Channel will have to take the Academy VJ training course.
It’s a good move. We start with the executives.
The first (of what, I think will be nearly 200) to go through the course was Lori Rothschild, an Executive Producer at Travel Channel with many years of television experience.
Here’s her bio:
- Lori Rothschild Ansaldi
- My job is to travel the world creating travel content. My travel motto is “Work Hard to Travel Right” – and my focus on travel content is centered on the fact that your vacation time is the most important time of the year to refresh your mind and reconnect with family and friends. While I love to be pampered, the bulk of my travel research is for the “real traveler”. Lori Rothschild Ansaldi is an Emmy Nominated Executive Producer for the Travel Channel where she is responsible for the production of over 100 hours per year of Travel programming and content. Some of her recent TV credits include Passport to Latin America with Samantha Brown, Great Hotels, Best Places to Find Cash and Treasures, Green Getaways and The Coolest Camps for Kids and Adults. Lori’s expertise ranges from the budget conscious to the super luxurious. Her work has taken her around the globe in search of the coolest things in travel; from the best hotels and restaurants to the newest trends in eco-friendly tourism.
- And here’s her blog:
Monday, March 10, 2008
Sometimes I forget why I am in this business. I never get the butterflies anymore when I am on a shoot and I never feel like a rockstar when I am wearing a headset and watching a monitor while on set. I just do it and think about the next shot… the next line… what I am going to eat for dinner. Then, something happens that makes the hair on my neck (I have a few short strands there FYI…) stand on end and shows me how lucky I am to do what I do for a living. This past week I was fortunate enough to be invited to take a class called the Travel Channel Academy up in NY. Yes, I have some travel tales to tell… my Delta shuttle flight was cancelled on the way up and I chose to rent an apartment instead of stay at a hotel. I’ll get to all of that. The big story here was the Academy and if you are reading this blog… I URGE you to go sign up and take the class. It was that good. Of course you all know that I work for Travel Channel and you probably think I am just saying this because I work for them and I get some kind of kickback. Well, for the record… I don’t. I suck at sales and I am just telling you so that you have the opportunity to check it out. If you decide that it is not for you… well, that’s better for me because then I can submit my films and I will get paid and you will just go back to whatever it is that you do. OK… that’s the end of the rant. The class is run by Rosenblum Associates; a NY based production company who produced a ton of programs for Discovery and other nets. The guy who teaches the seminar is Rosenblum himself… Michael Rosenblum and he might just be the most fascinating character I have ever met. He’s a short Jewish man…maybe from Queens who dresses in all black – head to toe. Even his Prada glasses are black rimmed. He talks with a thick NY accent that reminds of a guy that I dated from Brooklyn. (Note to self… husband is a subscriber… move on) Michael starts the class with a basic shooting lesson that shows any idiot how to shoot. Close up on the hands… close up on the face… wide shot… over the shoulder and then from the side. Sounded like a simple assignment… so, I was psyched to get out into the city and shoot my first film with my little HD handycam. I went to Zabars on the upper west side and went to work. I scouted the place for like 20 minutes. I then chatted with the managers, talked to some butchers, a few fish mongers… the girl who packed the cheese. This was going to be a great piece. So, I took a break for lunch and created my shot list. Two hours later… close up on the hands, close up on the face… I was done and I was excited to bring my footage back to show Michael and the rest of the class what an Executive Producer can shoot all by herself. I went back to the class and we all started screening the student’s footage. Most of the footage was great…some a little shaky… but all in all… not bad for first timers. Then, it came time to screen my footage and I was so proud to show Michael my stunning footage. Twenty seconds into the screening Michael stopped the tape and channeled his inner Simon Cowell and said. (I will never forget the words)… “You do this for a living, right?” I nodded. He continued, “Well, its not bad… but its not good. Its a little raggedy. Its too shaky and it just looks amateur.” I started to feel a lump in my throat and knew that I was the face of the very network that was running this class… my inner voice began to chant DO NOT CRY… DO NOT CRY. After the screening some of us decided to go back out for a reshoot. So, I grabbed my camera and took the 1 train back up to the upper west side. I went right back to Zabars and just started shooting. Close up on the hands… close up on the face. No, No… its not good enough. I know, I will just shoot something else. So, I went across the street to a diner. I told them that I was from the Travel Channel and they all looked at me like I was NUTS. So, I went to a dance studio who had an 8pm salsa class. That would be great. I spoke to the owner and she asked that I come back at another time when she could have her hair colored. No go. No close up on the hands… No close up on the face. So, I put my Executive Producer business card away and took my sorry ass to Fairway and picked up some salad for dinner. (And ice cream… again, the hubby is reading this and knows me too well.) The next morning, I went back to class determined to make Michael see my shining talent. I started editing my piece and all in all it was not too bad. It was not my best work… but, I managed to make a weak chicken salad out of chicken shit. That night I met my friend Kelly out at Lupa downtown for dinner. Lupa is a Batali restaurant and it was jam packed! The food was nice… a bit too earnest of a menu. They had beets as an appetizer and there was far too many bizarre choices for an Italian restaurant. I ended up asking our waitress for a recommendation and she told us to order the octopus, the sweet breads and she absolutely loved the tripe. Eww.. no bitch… I’ll stick with the fresh pasta with the pulled pork ragu and skip the nastys. All in all.. it was all very good and worth a try if you want something less pretentious then Babbo. The next day I was back at the class and Michael had another lecture for us. Now we were going to shoot characters. We had to have real people as the focus of our short films that will be submitted to the network as our “graduation videos.” Not too hard… more close up on the hands, close up on the face… but, now we had to put action into the shots. When you take the class you will get the lecture. I cannot get into detail in the blog. At around noon, we all took to the rainy streets of Manhattan to start shooting our second piece. My first idea was to shoot with a NY cabbie. I would sit with one cabbie for a couple of hours and just get the story. Then, I had this image of the couple at the very beginning of that movie the bone collector. They grabbed a cab on their way home from the airport one night back to NY and I think they were both chopped into little tiny pieces. So, I abandoned the cab idea and called my cousin who lives in Hoboken. She was going to get her hair done today… perfect… I’ll do my piece of her getting her hair done. She is a 26 year old casting director for MTV… she would be a great character. I took bus 126 out of Port Authority and in 10 minutes was out in Hoboken, New Jersey. Eww. But, it was fine. I met her at the salon and we started shooting. Close up on the hands… close up on the face. Ok… now I am cooking. No shaky cam… read through all of my class notes. I was going to get this right. After about 3 hours of documenting her color and cut; I jumped back on the bus to start digitizing the footage. I worked for about 2 hours and then decided that I needed some rest. I needed to walk away and come back in the morning to finish it. The next morning, I went back to class and started editing. We only had until 3pm and then we were going to screen the final videos. I worked right up to the deadline and just took to my seat to wait to be creamed by Michael. He went through the videos one by one and I was beginning to squirm. I was not thrilled with my finished product… I should have stuck with the cabbie. Why did I not trust my first instinct? Oh, well… Finally it was my film to be screened and it was fine. Most of the class laughed on cue and overall it was fine. Was it art? Not by a long shot… I was upset that I was not the teachers pet. Oh well… not this time, Lori. After the class ended, I jumped into the black sudan that was ordered by my company to take me to the airport. I looked like an EP.. but I felt like a film student. I could not wait to purchase my own mini-DV cam and MAC to practice my new craft. The butterflies came back and I felt an inspiration that I had not felt in a long time. That all said, I am now dedicating myself to working on these videos. I will post them when they are ready so that you can see for yourself… close up on the hands, close up on the face. More tomorrow. Lori