Yesterday was about as hectic and thankless a day as it gets at the news station. I was running around like a chicken with it's head cut off as usual, and for what? All my hard work rewarded with enough reprints 5 minutes before the show to make me look like the Pigpen of directors, except instead of dust swirling around me it was script pages. I was literally so awash in paper, that my marked scripts kind of got lost in it. I'd had a good 3 hours to prepare for this show with nothing else to do but record a :30 tease in-between. The problem was we were short-handed on script people. We only had 1 person at scripts, normally we have 2. And 2 directors preparing 2 shows, with 2 sets of rundowns to hand out. 2 studios in opposite corners of the building, both of which needed scripts and rundowns delivered to them ... 1 person to handle it all.
To make matters worse, just the day before we had an incident where a live update didn't air because both PAs were MIA. That was a huge "no-no". That got those PAs suspended. The problem, they claim, was that they were swamped doing scripts. So yesterday it was EVEN MORE imperative that they leave scripts to be at their posts on time. Jen, the other 6pm director had already left. That left me to juggle the massive reprints and hand out rundowns, and be in the booth on time. The commercial break between the end of the 5:30 show and the beginning of the 6pm show is less than 2 minutes long. So basically I need to have all my scripts marked by the time I get to the booth. The funny thing is, I had them all marked, until I began getting the avalanche of reprints. And I was getting multiple copies of the same page so I didn't really know if it was a duplicate or an actual reprint. As a rule I tell the producers they don't need to reprint for silly things, like only changing 2 words of the copy.
Somehow we came out of that show with only one discrepancy. I would like to take credit for that, and in many ways I do have more responsibility than other members of the crew. But the reason that show was mostly clean is because I got lucky - the crew was on-task and I didn't have to babysit as much.
Oh but it gets worse.
On the NBC side we have more post-show production than the ABC side. Well, yesterday we almost had a meltdown of one of the anchors involved. Not that I really blame her. We all feel that one particular piece of work that's been assigned to us recently is beyond ridiculous: it's a 4-minute recorded news segment that airs on a channel we're convinced "noone" watches. The channel is a 24-hour news and weather network. Well it was all weather before we started doing the news component. The problem is, those people you see on your local news at night have a remarkable ability to do their jobs in a live situation where you can't stop and start over again because you stumbled or mispronounced someone's name. You put those same people in a recorded situation and all bets are off. I can't totally blame the news people, because those of us in production are also responsible for having to start over when we make mistakes.
Last night the mistake was a joint effort between me and the producer. Long story short, he apparently didn't understand what I'd asked him to do and I didn't catch what happened until it was too late. I dissolved to an animated banner over black at the very, tail end of our hard work. It was ugly. I could feel the rancor of every crew member, because that meant we had to do all that all over again. Smoke, potty and drink of water breaks delayed again.
To make matters worse we had yet to record the normal four-second IDs and other news teases we usually do after the early evening shows.
And then after that we had another project: we had to stick around and record segments with the chief meteorologist for special hurricane coverage promos, and Lord only knows what else. Since the first news segment attempt got botched, the anchor doing it got up, left the studio, and made an appearance in the control room demanding to know why we couldn't air it "as is"? After we explained it to her, she left saying, "Well I'm not doing it again." Another anchor wound up doing it. And our chief meteorologist had to wait on us. Did I mention he doesn't like waiting? AT ALL. I don't think production of the hurricane promos started until after 7:15pm because of that.
You think that's bad? That's nothing. We get to do that all over again, after the 11pm newscast, with a different anchor. At the end of our shift. Last night we didn't get out of there until almost 12:15am. We had to recue 5 times. One of those times was after a perfectly well-spoken, error-free four minutes went :01 second too long. Nobody was bitter after that. We were all murderous.
Now I don't mind doing these things. I don't mind the extra work it creates. What's the problem? It's not like we're slaving under the noon Florida sun, or working with special needs people, or mopping floors. We have glamourous jobs! We work with studio sets, cameras, scripts and lights! And we have glamourous attitudes to go with it. And yet we sit there and criticize Paris Hilton left and right. We are not much better when you get right down to it.
The only thing I mind about doing those recorded news segments is having to listen to everybody bellyaching like a bunch of children. Sure it would be nice to jet out of there after the show is done like we're used to doing. And nobody, NOBODY has it worse than the director on that crew, because on top of having to punch it differently than we'd punch a show or an update, we have to help the producer keep track of time, and bear the burden of everyone's distress when we have to start over. Because of how we're punching it there's MORE risk of making a mistake and being the one to cause a recue. We have to keep everybody on track and listen to the moaning and groaning. It sucks! And there's no reward like we saved a life afterwards either, like a doctor or nurse would have. At least doctors and nurses are justified in their bad attitudes - they're holding someone's life in their hands! We only act like it's life and death.
Oh well. I get to do it all over again today. Actually today I think I have far more lenient responsibilities, which is awesome because today is my Friday. :)