>Scary. Mighty scary. The Knit & Crochet Today episode 213: Lovely Lace that contains my segment has just aired and I am afraid to watch it because doing so will only make me wish I could have a do-over.
Although I have plenty of experience and no qualms at all talking into a microphone, I’ve hardly ever appeared on camera. So last year when show producer designer/author Candi Jensen asked me if I would do an interview for season two I was hoping I said no, was totally sure I said no, but I actually said yes. How can anyone not say yes to Candi? The shoot was set for early March. All I had to do was trek to New York City, find the location, get grilled about myself and my work and remember to breathe. Seemed harmless enough. Yeah, right.
If the trip is doable in a day I prefer to drive. Danbury, Connecticut, Manchester, New Hampshire, Columbus, Ohio, Rhinebeck, New York, probably Buffalo, New York this summer… it’s all the same, an excuse for a road trip. This is coming from a life-long suburbanite who feels naked and vulnerable without her car. However, New York City is a different story. What, you’ve never noticed the sign at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel: “Here there be monsters”? And then there’s parking, a shudderingly nasty nightmare. So I opted to take the train from Philadelphia and the subway downtown to the Point Cafe, the location for the shoot. I had every expectation that this would be the less stressful way to travel and that I would arrive relaxed but perky, ready to do a brilliant interview. Yeah, right.
In order to make the transit connections I had to leave my house before dawn. Those who know me are now gasping in horror and disbelief because I rarely get up before 9. But I didn’t want to cut it too close. Wouldn’t you know it, Amtrak was running slow and the delay ate up my precious half-hour pad. That March morning was fair but blustery, so in my hurry and confusion when I miscalculated and climbed out at the wrong subway station and was obliged to jog the last few blocks to the location, I was a wind-blasted, runny-nosed mess.
I peered through the window of the cafe and was waved off because an interview with the delightful Mari Lynn Patrick was in progress. I had to pace back and forth on the sidewalk as nonchalantly as I could manage until the camera stopped. So much for arriving relaxed but perky. I desperately needed coffee or a few hours sleep. Although the cafe was closed to the public that day in order to host the shoot, the coffee was flowing and it was good. It took a few gulps, a few swipes with a brush at my unruly mane and a quick pat-down of my now shiny face before I deemed myself presentable enough for TV. Yeah, right.
Candi was happy to see me. Perhaps she sensed how little it might have taken to send me screaming out the door. Thank goodness for Brett Bara. A major factor in how painlessly an interview goes is the skill of the interviewer and her ability to put the interviewee at ease. I had already met Brett at CGOA conference in King of Prussia two years ago during the Professional Development Day luncheon when she spoke to about the launch of Crochet Today magazine. So I didn’t have to pretend I was just sitting at a cafe table chatting with a friend. I totally was. Brett was going to feed me the questions off camera with her side of the conversation to be edited out in post. I was instructed to begin my answers by partly reiterating the question so it would make sense. No problem, huh?
Problem one: the microphone. It had to be clipped to my clothes close to my face. The crochet vest I had worn to the shoot was not going to work, so I went with Plan B, an open front cardigan. Even so, it took a considerable amount of fussing to get the thing to stay in place. I think the sound tech was more embarrassed/annoyed than I was about the ordeal. Finally I just took the mic and arranged it myself. But I was warned not to move around so it wouldn’t fall off or pick up rustling noises. HOKEY SMOKES! I talk with my hands. This was never a problem in radio announcing (except that time I smacked the mic). I had to physically restrain my motions by sitting on my hands the entire time.
Problem two: the camera. A few minutes into the interview I could hear the camera tech telling the segment producer that I was looking at the camera. Well, yeah. I was working to camera. I thought I was supposed to be looking at it. Nope. I was asked to focus on Brett and direct my answers to her. So I decided to ignore the camera and pretend I was just sitting at a cafe table chatting with a friend. Am I having a deja-vu?
Problem three: my hair. In radio nobody can see your hair or anything else objectionable about you for that matter. Another time I will tell the stories about doing shifts in pajamas on bad hair days or why most radio announcers are unsightly. Don’t you know they had to stop the interview when the wind-tossed hair at the back of my head (perhaps a desired effect for a fashion spread but not for an interview) was too much for anyone to bear. Someone came over and smooshed it down, since I could not see for myself which were the offending hairs.
Problem four: the interview itself. Brett and I sat and talked for nearly half and hour, with the camera rolling part of the time. I never know when to shut up. The segment would be edited to a few minutes. It was never clear exactly when the chitchat with Brett ended and the proper questions began. For the life of me I can’t remember what I said in friendly banter and what was being preserved for posterity.
You must be the judge, now that I’ve spilled my guts about that day. In retrospect I know I could have done better. But it was a hugely valuable learning experience I would not trade. Here are my eternal thanks to Candi, Brett and the crew for making the segment possible and ultimately successful.
Hey, I’m ready for my close-up now.
PS. Knit & Crochet Today is a syndicated program and may be seen on PBS stations around the country. Check your local listings. Or visit the site to purchase DVDs of the show.