I remember the first time I ever saw a show on the Food Network. It was 2000 and I had just moved to Atlanta GA with my girlfriend. We used to sit around eating Chinese food and watching tv on our huge CRT tv back before their was high def or hdtvs, or at least not for a poor guy just out of college. I remember stumbling onto this channel one night and just immediately falling in love (with the channel, not the girl). The first show I ever saw was Alton Browns "Good Eats", and I loved the quirky way it was produced, then there was Emiril, and lastly, my most favorite Food Network show of all time, Iron Chef. I still to this day love the classic Iron Chef more than any other food show I've ever seen. Thinking back to those days, I kick myself for living in Atlanta and not going out to eat more at all the great places that they had down there....but back then, I was a web developer riding the wave of the internet boom, and food had really taken a back stage in my life.
Fast forward 5 years, the girlfriend is now the wife, and beautiful booming Atlanta had been traded for small town NH. While walking the docks at Portsmouth and after much toil and inner turmoil, I had come up with the new company name, Earl Studios, and with a sizeable investment by my loving parents, I upgraded to a, at the time, state of the art Sony VX-2100 video camera. My love of the food network only grew, and now armed with my amazing professional quality Sony VX-2100 I set out to take a stab at my own cooking show. So one Saturday, armed with chicken breast, rice, and all the ambition I could must, I set out to record my first episode of Merrimack Eats. The show was produced for public access and was shot in my parents kitchen, because they had an island I could use to cook facing camera. I shot and produced the entire thing myself. I was just me, I set up the cameras, started recording, made the menus, produced the episodes, edited them, everything. It was an amazing experience and after a few episodes I really started to get into it, find my character, and get my groove. Around that time, we found a great place in Amherst, and so we moved, and that was the end of "Merrimack Eats".
Since then I've done alot of growth in my video production career, I've met some amazing people like Philip Bloom who have helped to teach me the aspects of video production that have expanded my career in ways I never even imagined. I've moved on from the VX-2100 to shooting with Canon 7d's. One of those amazing people I have met is Michael Sutton, a world class filmmaker and a master of all things high speed. I was able to connect with him on the Twitter when I saw that he was looking for someone to shoot for a "food related" project, and I had to send him my enthusiastic inquiry about the project. I am eternally indebted to him for this opportunity, he will never pay for another gin & tonic whenever i'm around.
Geez, three paragraphs just to get to the actual shoot information, your still here reading?! Get that person a bagel! So the shoot was at a Mexican restaurant in Lebanon NH, and my shift started at 7pm. Of course, I got there at 6 because being a former solider, you never show up on time for anything, being on time is being late, and being early is being on time. I knew from the emails that I would be shooting with a professional panasonic broadcast camera, so I had spent hours reading the manual on line to prepare myself for this shoot, as to date, I had never used the camera, and I was nervous as shit, but nothing, nothing in the world was going to come between me and this opportunity. I cannot say enough at home amazing the crew, director, staff, pa's, and talent were. They were warm, inviting, they shared their knowledge and answered all of my annoying fan boy questions. I was nervous and I wanted to do good, so I was a bit chatty. I didn't actually take over camera work until about 9pm, but I followed the cameraman around and picked their brains. They had three extremely seasoned cameraman who had just a wealth of knowledge, and I am beyond thankful for how free they were to share it with me.
So at 9pm, everyone packed up, the crew headed out, and I was on my own, just me and a PA. Now, for each shot, the PA needs to write down the start and end time code as well as what the shot is about, that way they have a log to go by. This was somewhat alien to me as I am used to shooting free and wild, capturing things as they happen in a more feverish pace. So from 9pm to 3am, I went from spot to spot, capturing the makeover as it occurred, bits of drama here and there. It was everything I had dreamed it would be. The only down part was that they were painting the counters and stripping the floor, and the combination of the two chemicals at one point actually made me almost pass out. I could feel myself spinning and I was thinking "yeah, I'm about to go down", but i could have had hyenas biting my legs, there was no way I was missing the shot.
In reality, I've been shooting profession video for 2 years, thats an accurate count. I've done video work for years, but until I learned from Philip Bloom what real videography is, before that was just shooting video. In in just two years, I've reached one of my lifetime goals, to shoot for The Food Network.
Sometimes, my entire world is exploding around me, there are times when everything is going wrong, and people ask me "how are you still so positive, how are you actually smiling right now"....and I answer "Even on my worst day, I'm still doing what I love, even my worst day is still paradise. Look at what I do for a living? How could I not be smiling?".
Thank you Mom and Dad....for everything.