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Browsing "W.I.L.D. Videos"

When Your Client Says, “You’re brilliant” — Trust Her

Mar 20, 2019   //   by Ben Hollis   //   Ben's Blog, W.I.L.D. Videos  //  No Comments

At first, it’s music to my ears, of course. My favorite client who always heaps praise on me has given me the green light to do whatever I deem best. Perfect, right? Read on.

The job was to shoot an event and edit a short 3-to-4 minute video from it. Four or five hours on site. The occasion? The Illinois High School Art Exhibition at the Zhou Brothers Art Center on Chicago’s South Side. Over 1000 student artists displaying their work while a live “draw-off” figure-drawing competition took place in the center of the gallery, pitting a couple dozen teenage artists against each other for a cash prize.

My client is Cheryl Jefferson, co-founder of a social justice/human rights arts initiative called “The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions (BCT).” Cheryl and her co-founder and artist Ric Laurent, along with curator Chuck Gniech, invite artists to create beautiful works to raise awareness of unlovely practices like female genital mutilation, child marriage, acid violence, “honor” killing and more. Through displaying these sometimes provocative works of art, conversation can emerge, followed by compassion, inspired action and ultimately change for the better. They have presented their traveling exhibition around the country and have addressed audiences at the United Nations in New York City.

Today, the BCT crew is on the lookout for new works to include in their show. I’m there to capture the excitement of the event and to focus on the winning artists and their works, to briefly interview them and produce a video that will inspire other artists to join Cheryl and team, and move others to invite BCT to present at new venues.

As the day approached, I began to realize I did not have a plan for the shoot. I needed direction. Cheryl had said to me, “Just do what you do. Your work is always brilliant. I trust you.”

Nice to hear. But a strong video is built upon more than nice words. I needed to draw upon my experience and talk to myself as a client would. I knew this would be a visually rich location that could easily induce me to shoot way too much material. (My teachers and colleagues at WTTW in Chicago call the phenomenon “Shooting at the zoo.” There wasn’t anyplace you could point the camera and not see something interesting.) And there was, of course, way too much to shoot if I was mad enough to entertain the thought that I needed “to get it all.” No way.

Once on site, I learned that there were four high school artists whose work had been chosen by BCT to be added to their traveling show. I did a little figuring in my head and realized that 3-to-4 minutes of finished production would be eaten up very quickly by the following simple structure: Intro to the general event, a brief word from the three BCT principals, followed by time spent speaking with each artist and commentary by BCT curator Chuck Cniech on the merits of their works.

In a moment, it became clear: Everything else going on – other than for “b-roll” – was not necessary for this production. Which was like going to the circus and restricting your filming to one or two acts.

And you know what? I’m human. I wound up shooting quite a bit of extra footage anyway. Which made me very happy when I received a call a few days later from the organizer of the IHSAE General Exhibition. He wanted to know if I thought I had enough material to make a second video. Why, as a matter of fact, I do. (Brilliant when I don’t even know it! Thank you, Great Video Spirit in The Sky.)

Marketing Your Psychotherapy Practice with Video? She Thought it Couldn’t be Done…

Sep 15, 2018   //   by Ben Hollis   //   Ben's Blog, W.I.L.D. Videos  //  No Comments

Dr. Julia Rahn definitely had her doubts as I explained to her over the phone how the W.I.L.D. Business Video process usually works. And her reservations made sense. Using “customer” testimonials for her Flourish Studios therapy practice was not doing to work. Nor would she make claims of her effectiveness as a therapist. Talking about what makes her approach unique didn’t make her feel comfortable either. She seemed discouraged. What were we going to do?

And then the idea just floated into my head. “How about we think of this video as a public service? How about giving the viewer a handful of mental health tips that tie into some of the products you have for sale here?”

Oh, didn’t I mention that Flourish Studios is not just a place to go for therapy and counseling? It’s also a store. With lots of books and cards and healthy toys and art materials and more, all geared to helping her clientele do and be their very best. I’ve never seen anything like it. A big, beautiful, warm space with lots of light and room to spread out. That was going to be easy to show off on video. And now we had something for Julia to say, some useful content for the viewer to take away.

Julia loved the idea. It changed her mood from consternation to that of excited anticipation. And it freed her up to demonstrate her joy in what she did without worrying about violating professional standards. The shoot was fun and it showed. Dr. Julia’s 5 Mental Health Tips were excellent and easy to digest. What I thought was even better was Julia’s spirit and enthusiasm. How she expressed herself was equally compelling as what she expressed.

That’s what makes these W.I.L.D. videos so effective. I think they make you think, “Hey, this place looks like fun. I want in!” By bringing out Julia’s W.I.L.D. side — her “What I Love Doing” side — I gave her a solution that let her come alive. And everything else fell into place.

What are Dr. Julia’s 5 Mental Health Tips to flourish? Watch the video and see.W.I.L.D. Lakeview – Flourish Studios

Deleece – Fine dining in the Neighborhood

May 31, 2013   //   by Ben Hollis   //   Ben's Blog, W.I.L.D. Videos  //  No Comments

Fine dining does not have to be snooty. Or insanely expensive. Don’t believe me? Try Deleece. Super friendly, knowledgeable staff, super friendly prices too. Owner Lynne Wallack was chagrined over the dearth of top-notch dining options in her neighborhood, places where she and her husband John could relax with a glass of wine and enjoy an excellent meal without breaking the bank.  So she created one. That’s the essence of living W.I.L.D., living the “What I Love Doing” life. If an element of what you love doing is missing in your life, well, go out there and make it yourself. When you do, others benefit too. Proof of the pudding is the fact that they’ve been in business since 1995. Way to go, Deleece!

Deleece is Delightful: Dining in W.I.L.D. Lakeview (Chicago)

May 25, 2013   //   by Ben Hollis   //   W.I.L.D. Videos  //  No Comments

Fine dining does not have to be snooty.  Or insanely expensive.  Don’t believe me?  Try Deleece.  Super friendly, knowledgeable staff, super friendly prices too.  Owner Lynne Wallack was chagrined over the dearth of top-notch dining options in her neighborhood, places where she and her husband John could relax with a glass of wine and enjoy an excellent meal without breaking the bank.  So she created one.  That’s the  essence of living W.I.L.D., living the “What I Love Doing” life.  If an element of what you love doing is missing in your life, well, go out there and make it yourself.  When you do, others benefit too.  Proof of the pudding is the fact that they’ve been in business since 1995.  Way to go, Deleece!

 

 

 

Lessons from WILD CHICAGO

Sep 23, 2011   //   by Ben Hollis   //   Ben's Blog, W.I.L.D. Videos  //  No Comments

River Slim is telling me where his live catfish come from and how they get to his store here on Pulaski Avenue on Chicago’s West Side.  “They’re not from around here?” I ask.  “Nope,” says Slim.  “We raise ‘em in Mississippi, then drive ‘em up in a big truck.”

It’s a good line of inquiry, revealing some surprising facts.  But then I remember it didn’t come from my questioning of River Slim.  It had been fed to me by my director and co-producer, John Davies.  I’m watching show #102 of Wild Chicago, shot in May of 1988.  I’m selecting segments from the show to include in a DVD I’m planning to release in the coming months: Wild Chicago, The Early Years. (Working title, mind you.)

Not every one gets to see what they looked like on a given day, doing their job 23 years ago.  That’s one of the pleasures of working in visual media for a while.  (And it is a pleasure – I am unabashedly enamored of seeing myself on the screen.)

That day at River Slim’s Live Fish, however, was not a happy one.  At home, my wife and I were drifting apart and our recent move to a slick downtown high-rise had proven not to be the magic elixir to save our marriage.  We were both hurting.  But only one of us was on camera.  Fortunately the editing process had erased any hint of trouble with the pith-helmeted host.  But my memory could not be covered with b-roll.

Here’s the backstory.  I’d arrived at the shoot after a morning of particularly acute psychic pain over my domestic situation.  I had considered canceling but chose instead to show up.  Unprepared. 

After the first 10 minutes of the shoot, John Davies, my director, pulled me aside with urgency and said, “Ben, you’ve got to be more prepared for these shoots.  You can’t just wing it.  I saw your eyes roll up into your head and I knew you didn’t have any idea what to ask next.”  He was right. TV veteran that he was, John took over, fired off a bunch of questions to River Slim, got a handful of funny answers and quickly we had all the material we needed to make a good segment.  Though embarrassed, I was present enough to be impressed with John’s prowess.  I’d like to say some of it rubbed off on me, however painful it was to my ego.

And truth be told, that day was a turning point for me and my career in television.  I never came unprepared to a shoot again.  And I’ll forever be grateful to John for calling me out. 

I’ll be sure to include the River Slim segment in the DVD.  And some still shots of my reporter’s notepad from later Wild Chicago shoots so you can see how writing questions in advance became paramount in my development as a TV interviewer. 

Next time:  How cool it is to see the show evolve, along with my confidence, as I watch the first season unfold, episode by episode.

Ever want to be a professional speaker?  Or just make speeches?

Apr 20, 2011   //   by Ben Hollis   //   Ben's Blog, W.I.L.D. Videos  //  No Comments

Ever want to be a professional speaker?  Or just make speeches in front of an audience?  I did.  So I combined my natural hammy tendencies of making a spectacle of myself with my “wild” TV branding to create a super fun— and inspiring — interactive talk with video clips.  I call it “Living and Loving W.I.L.D. — How to Rescue Your Dreams from the Endangered Species List.”  More info at www.wildben.com