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  • Leyland Del Re

WATCHING TV: Things to know before you BINGE your next show


Watching TV: Recently, we filmed a pilot episode for a TV show. My husband wrote the show based on his experience as a nurse anesthetist working at a dental office. I play the part of the dentist. I believe that as we consume more and more shows, our knowledge of how TV is actually made is still very poor. Let’s just say that creating the hyperreality of film is very time consuming and meticulous. Since we are amateurs, beginners, and novices (all the way from writer, actors, cinematographers to editors, producers and promoters), everything was a learning curve. We did have some professional help creating a “poster” for the show. (Thanks Bridget Camden and Russ Ray!). A few seconds of dialogue in the script could take hours to film. There were issues with the audio, the lighting, the angle of the camera and even some “oops we forget to press record” moments. After everything was filmed (through various obstacles such as scheduling the actors and camera crew), there was the editing process. Every take was watched, labeled, re-watched, sometimes new audio was dubbed in, sound effects and music was added and then the clips were strung together, piece by painstaking piece (for example, did you know an average time between shot change of perspective is about 7-9 seconds?).

A typical TV episode would be edited full time by paid, professional editors for hundreds of hours. I asked my husband (writer, producer, actors, editor, promoter of his pilot episode) to tally his own hours of labor, plus those of the rest of the crew and actors and the volunteer promoter. The number is around 6,000 hours. That estimate includes all the time driving to set, all the filming time, editing time, social media promotion time, and writing time for him, plus the hours of all the other volunteer collaborators. For instance, I was usually in charge of childcare for actors who came with their children and for ordering lunches for everyone, in addition to my acting role. To me, the concept of a 40-minute pilot episode being the culmination of 6,000 hours is outright preposterous!

Why do we spend our time pursuing these creative endeavors? What else might be accomplished with 6,000 hours of labor? Do we do art for art’s sake, for the creativity that flows, or to make a difference, to bring a smile to someone’s face or a chuckle? – in the case of TEETH, which is a comedy. What is the role of audience or was it the process of creating and working together that was the real and tangible result? Does creative work even need an audience once it is made? And that leads to the very real question – how do you even bring your creation to the public eye? As we happen to know some friends who live in Germany, we are aware that “the arts” are treated differently there and in other countries. One can get funded by the state to do projects! It sounds like a larger-scale National Endowment for the Arts that has better funding and is potentially more fair and equitable. These are the types of questions that I am interested in. I don’t know that there are real answers most of the time but to me they are worth thinking about. What is your favorite form of creativity and do you share it with the world?

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