Posts Tagged ‘producer’

Somewhere in suburbia, two video dudes sit in a breakfast nook sipping straight bourbon from dirty SONY coffee mugs. They smile wistfully.

1st guy: (sighs) “You know what this reminds me of?”

2nd guy: “That strip bar in Thailand?”

1st guy: “The drugs, the violence…”

Both: “The hookers!”

This General Foods International Bourbon moment was brought to you by the year 1995, which called and said it would like its jokes back.

austriaOur travelogue concludes:

It was Friday in Linz, Austria, the last day of the trip. After a morning of running and gunning, shooting video in the cute little town and the cute little factory, it was lunchtime. So we decided to break for, you know, lunch. Afterwards, we went back to the factory floor, set up for the next shot, and waited for the workers to return. We waited a long, long time.  Finally we realized that, in Austria, lunchtime is quitting time on Friday. Which proves my theory that Austrians know how to party, but they don’t know jack about making videos. So, we spent the rest of the afternoon in the customer visitation center imbibing 100-proof schnapps with the company president. This is something that never, NEVER happened back home. Okay, once. Interesting Austrian trivia: the Danube isn’t blue, it’s brown (see photo.)

You don’t want to know why.

When flying home by way of Paris, remain calm (I recommend chai tea, tai chi, or oxycontin) or you’ll end up like me…pulled aside and interrogated like a common Tunisian hijacker. Apparently the dudes with the automatic weapons thought my hand trembled suspiciously as I presented my boarding pass. “Why have you for to being so nervous, M’sieur Lee-vuh-lee?” This shakedown, fifteen years ago, still comes to mind every time I fly, and provides a nice bit of perspective.  At least, I tell myself, the chick at the Delta desk isn’t holding a machine gun!

Aside from the undeniable glamour of Paris, it was a trip filled with sights painfully familiar to a healthcare manufacturing video dude: hospitals and factories in gritty towns. (Not to mention the back of some guy’s head on an airplane for 10 hours.) Dusseldorf is pretty much the Newark of Germany. Linz, Austria is could pass for Cincinnati (with about the same number of Germans!) And Pluvigner, France might as well be Spartanburg SC.  Despite the hassle, jetlag and machine guns, it was the most fun that you can boil down to half a sentence on your resume:

“…has produced corporate video in hospitals and manufacturing centers across the US and Europe.”

Until next time, this is your final boarding call!

*Final note (June 2017). One thing I will always remember is this Austrian Fabrikdirektor, whom I believed had escaped Communism, telling us “don’t believe everything you read; you Americans have nothing but friends here.”

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The Story so far: After a heroic depletion of the stock at the Delta Crown Room, our video dudes head for France. They have some interesting video production experiences, but none of them seem to make it into the record. Instead, we get endless mockery of the fine French people and their customs. Enough of that…let’s hassle the Germans now! But first…

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Beware the chunky local voltage! While in France we completely fried our video battery charger. I suppose we were asking for trouble, the way we left it plugged in for over an hour. It was only a blown fuse at first, but then a well-meaning French technician tried to “help.” It turns out he merely placed the French equivalent of a penny in the fuse box. Now, don’t let the fact that their currency is worthless fool you…”centime” can wreak as much havoc as an Abe Lincoln any day. Plus it has a bad attitude and it smells.

So we had to rent a battery charger at our next destination: Dusseldorf, Germany. And if you’ve ever crammed 15 mighty German volts into a cheap American knockoff of a Japanese 12 volt battery, then you have lived dangerously. The good news is you won’t need lights…the batteries will glow like a dozen sunsets.

Speaking of lights, here’s one of my dumb mistakes you can avoid. Either convert their 220v power to your 110v lights, or switch to 220v lamps…don’t do both. The result is weirdly half-powered lights and color temperatures that are more suitable for slasher movies or cheap 1970’s porn flicks than they are for corporate video.

Quick Tip: Avoid local ripoffs. After a $60 taxi ride from the Dusseldorf airport, our surly taxi driver refused to accept American Express. He was angry because, with all of our gear, we had to use his deluxe 10-seater taxi instead of the typical Euro-heap which is blow-molded around a human body. Anyway, he refused, despite the huge AmEx sticker on his windshield. So we did the only honorable thing…we ratted him out to the hotel concierge. I’ll tell you, seeing that little burgermeister barrel out of the hotel and utterly humiliate that jerk filled us with such German pride that we felt like invading Austria. So we did…but we had drinks first.

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Precisely 23 years ago*, I was asked to write a script for the European arm of the medical supply company I worked for. Come to think of it, this may be the first corporate video script I ever wrote.  That was exciting, but even more exciting was the notion that they were going to fly our crew over to bounce all over Europe shooting the video. I remember being amazed that it was actually cheaper for them to do this than to hire a video crew in the next town. With today’s dollar, I imagine it’s even more affordable.

So we blasted off for a whirlwind 8-day video shoot in France, Germany and Austria. What follows is an excerpt of the account I wrote for the ITVA Newsletter.  Please note: I was anti-French long before it was cool. Freedom Fries, indeed!

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Where does your big trip begin? In the Crown Room, of course! All the bourbon, Eagle snacks and Larry King you can handle–on the house! Sure, they tell you not to drink on the flight, but they’re just trying to save complimentary booze.

Actually, the smartest thing to do is try to build in an extra day if you can. Leaving home on a Friday night for a Monday morning shoot seems to work well. Yes, your company has to pay for the extra night. But if you work for a huge faceless institution, like I do, you’ll be surprised how quickly the guilt fades.

Next stop…Orly International Airport, Paris. Orly will instantly remind you of the Dayton airport, circa 1969, with its linoleum floors, hard plastic chairs, and people who haven’t bathed since 1969. Or, think of the Cincinnati Greyhound bus terminal, only with planes, automatic weapons and an equally incomprehensible public address system.

Now, dash for your connector…time is short! Grab your 300lbs of gear and kung fu your way across the most crowded, aggressive terminal known to man, Kennedy Airport included. Of course, at JFK you could leave the jostling to a hardened union skycap, but those don’t exist over there. Wheel up to the check-in desk, and have your wallet ready. You’re about to pay the Tariff on Baggage in Excess of 75 kilos, otherwise known as the 700-franc Spank. Good news is that’s only 150 bucks, and they take AmEx.

As for the local folk, its sad to say that the stereotype is largely true…these folks would rather smash you in the face with a baguette than admit they speak English. And, after two trips I can promise you that a working knowledge of conversational French isn’t going to kick in all of a sudden. So, invest five bucks in a phrasebook. They’re all pretty good, but I especially like the Rough Guide phrasebook. It’s about 20 percent hipper than the rest.

Quick Tip: Often, timing makes a world of difference. One thing that made the French leg of the trip run more smoothly, and the French folk perhaps 5% more accommodating, was that I arrived there on the 50th anniversary of D-Day. So, do that. It works!

Next Stop: Germany. Wie gehts, baby?

(* For my readers in the far-off year of 2017, I am referring to the summer of 1994.)

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