Saturday, March 13, 2010

Scott Video...Take One...BEEEEP!

Scott Video…Take One…BEEEEP!

Every time this line was announced it cracked me up. I get why you would verbally tag each segment so as to label what sequence you were filming. But I am used to hearing a machine generated sound for the beep. Not today…Gabe, the sound guy provided this sound effect with his voice in a comical tone. There is a surreal feeling that goes along with a normal guy like me being involved with a professional video shoot but this funny part of the day provided a much needed level of humor to what COULD have been an event filled with anxiety. But I am getting ahead of myself. I will start at the beginning.

On March 8th, 2009, I attended an awards ceremony in Olympia for the Washington Restaurant Association. I was one of three nominees for the Quick Service Operator of the Year. I remember the date because it was my wife’s birthday. Now I know there were about 10,001 things she would have rather been doing on her special day but she was good enough to be there for me. Long story short the honor of that award went to a very worthy colleague of mine from the Seattle area but what I remember most from that night was an incredible short film about the restaurant industry. This portrait style film was a moving snap shot of a few of the millions of people involved in the crazy restaurant business I have devoted my life to. But this was no ordinary film. The way each and every person was portrayed was very moving and very soulful. There was a depth and richness to this seemingly simple industry film that was truly unique. I was so impressed that when it came time for me plan a KFC Board of Director's meeting the following summer I found a way to commandeer a copy of the film to show. This is the type of production that helps us to remember why we do what we do in this weird business of serving food.

Fast forward to February 2010…I get a call from my friend who is the Communications Director of the Washington Restaurant Association. She asked me if I was willing to speak to the guy who created the film I saw at last year’s award ceremony. He was creating a new film that would focus on individual restaurant operators from all over America. His latest work would be part of the key note speech at the 2010 National Convention in Chicago for the NRA (Restaurants not Rifles). Always up for something new I agreed. Besides, if this new film was anything like what I previously had seen this could be something special.

Within a few days, Mr. Brent Souter gave me a call. Brent had a very natural, easy going way about him on the phone that made me very comfortable. After we talked for about 20 minutes Brent said he would like to include me in the filming but he was unsure if he could fit me in. And even then there was a chance I might just end up on the cutting room floor. But he also assured me that if I made it into the film he would make sure I didn’t look, in his words, “stupid”. I laughed to myself, “Yeah, but you haven’t even met me yet”. But what Brent said he really wanted to try to use about me was my passion for music. He had been told how I love to perform and I think he thought he could use that as an angle. He talked to me about performing on camera as in showing a different passion of mine besides the restaurant business. Hmmm, using me as an angle? I think that’s how these creative guys roll.

So filming day is here and Brent calls a few minutes before he arrives. It would seem there were a Starbucks a couple of blocks away that he and his team were attracted to like moths to a light. He said he would show up soon and I would know them as they would be the scruffy ones. Once again, he was putting me at ease. Within a few minutes, in walks Brent the Creative Genius, Brian the Photographer Extraordinaire and Gabe the Master Sound Dude and Maker of Funny Beeps.

Brent again began putting me at ease about how the shoot would go. I wasn’t really nervous as I have done a little TV/PR event work in the past. But I was a little anxious and I don’t know how most people couldn’t be. Naturally, I wanted the shoot to go well but I could tell that Brent and his team were professionals. So with some quick set up we began Part I: Interview with Scott. Gabe gave the video tag and the funny sound effect, Brent laughed like a school boy and I was once again put at ease. These guys really were good.

I have never worked with a true director before. I was quickly impressed how Brent would bring stories, words and emotions out of me. “Perfect Scott, but this time tell me more of how your experience with your family drives you today?” My favorite was, “Maybe this time leave out the story about the funeral”. That was probably for the best. Dead people can be depressing. But it really was fun to see real artists of their crafts at this level. I was getting to see how these guys created the film I loved so much. And I was being part of their next great work. Very cool!

After four hours we had completed my interview, the B roll footage of me interacting with customers and our team and some incredibly great shots of seemingly ordinary things made to look special. How they took unique camera angles in slow motion to make regular stools look like mountainous structures was really something to see. I was impressed. But after some goofy shots of me out the drive thru window it was time for what I was really looking forward to…getting chance to perform my music.
I have been playing music for 43 years with several different instruments but my latest enjoyment is playing the harmonica. The blues harp, as it’s called in some circles, has always attractive though its sound and how it touches me. That’s why I began teaching myself to play it about 10 years ago.

So Brent and team packed up their suitcases of equipment and followed me out to my house. My good friend Bob the guitar player was meeting us there and weather permitting, we were going to use the backdrop of my back yard fire pit as our stage. Just an hour before the skies had open up to a deluge that would have frightened Noah so I was hoping we would get lucky…and we did.

With the speed of seasoned vets the team set up and it was again surreal as light towers and a microphone boom was in my back yard. I got the fire going and walked back for a more wood. As I was gone Brian began filming Bob playing his acoustic guitar. Sneaking up behind the monitor I got to once again see their cinematic genius at work. On the screen was a giant view of Bob’s fingers playing truly great classic guitar. This was a new level of cool. But now it was time for me to join in. After picking the correct harmonica Bob and I began playing as a team. He played his role and I did mine. Back and forth we would put our own spin on that basic 3 cord blues. And as I do sometimes playing I got lost in the moment. But something was very different. The lights were set. The sound was ready. Brent gave his nod of approval and they began to roll the film.

The smoke rose from the fire for the perfect effect. Bob and I both stood at the circular fire pit with our feet on the side. There is a familiarity playing with Bob that is comfortable. We have these nods and looks we give each other when it’s time for something to happen. It’s the kind of teamwork that comes from experience. And it all came together. We played for maybe only 30 minutes total but it was more than enough. The team got the music spots they needed.

The next 30 minutes were spent getting shots of us tapping our feet, me pulling my harmonica up to my mouth and the coolest shot of the day…me opening my harmonica case in slow motion. Well, Brian said it was cool AND I BELIEVE HIM.

As this highly talented team of film makers began packing up their gear we said our goodbyes. They were off in the morning to Cleveland…then Rhode Island… Florida… Kansas, I think…Pennsylvania…then maybe New York…and several other ordinary places throughout the US. But they were done with me. My time in the spotlight was over and it was time to showcase someone else.

The reality is that when this 10 minute film is complete I'll be lucky to be in it for more than about 30 seconds. Five hours of filming for 30 seconds. Why I didn’t get my own trailer with green M&M’s to kill time in between shots is beyond me. But I feel honored to be asked to tell my story. I feel lucky to be a part of a great project like this. And I love that I got to play my music. Thanks Brent, Brian & Gabe. Go get some great stories about this way of life I have chose and the incredible people that serve us all over America.

Hey Brent, do us proud…and don’t make me look stupid!