In season three, Artist’s Connection reached its maturity. All the processes, from recruiting guests through shooting the episode to editing the show have been worked out, debugged, and documented. I also assumed directing responsibilities, on top of the production and editing jobs I was already doing. I didn’t take over the director’s role because of an overinflated ego, or out of any kind of dissatisfaction with Alex’s work. DMA had lost a staff member and Alex was buried in work, so if I wanted the show to continue along the path that we’d started, I’d have to direct it myself. Incidentally, I wouldn’t recommend trying this if you can avoid it. If you’re busy doing a good job as a director, it’s almost impossible to pay attention to the “big picture”. Things look different in the director’s chair.
Lori and Kevin have come a long way as well. Lori’s upbeat attitude and sense of humor keeps the studio ambience light and breezy, which really helps to make the shoot a relaxed and fun experience for the guests and crew. But all the while, she’s going through her check list like a machine. Nothing falls through the cracks when she’s on the floor. Nothing. She’s also the one that turns screenshots and smart phone images into those beautiful pictures we upload to FaceBook prior to uploading the accompanying episode. She’s been doing Photoshop since the late 90’s…and it shows.
Kevin came to the show with over twenty years of newspaper experience. He’s received more than ninety industry awards, including a Stanford fellowship. He spent his late teens and most of his twenties traveling the world as a street musician, sometimes sleeping in king sized beds, sometimes sleeping in the grass beside the road. You’d think he would have nothing to learn from this show, and yet, when I compare his first interview with Roger Trott to the one I’m currently editing—Lisa Iskin—I see a marked difference in his approach, his focus, and his technique. Along with “getting the facts” like any good news reporter, he’s taken the leash off of his natural curiosity and allowed his empathy to guide him to the person behind the musician’s façade. He isn’t always successful at this—we artists have to build thick walls to shield ourselves from rejection or thoughtless criticism—but most of the time I am simply awestruck at the way he can draw out the humanity of his guests, showing us that they can also be your doctor, an employee you’re thinking of promoting, or the guy down the street. They are just like everybody else, but they are also making a priceless contribution to our world.
Season three ended on May 28th, and we’re looking forward to a summer of reflection, reassessment, and even a little relaxation. I see a lot of changes on the horizon, including a book deal that Kevin is pursuing. I’m not thinking about those changes at the moment though. We’ll deal with them when they come. For now, I’m feeling a quiet sense of satisfaction and pride in what we’ve accomplished, and what we’ve learned.