Reality Pro Tip: Tops n’ Tails


Several years ago, I worked on a show that shot a series of interviews in what we referred to in post as the “God chair,” a big red chair set against all-white background, shot with a diffusion filter.  The resulting effect made it seem almost as if our cast was addressing camera from the afterlife.   It was a creative decision that seemed like a great idea but ultimately didn’t pan out, and the decision was made to go back in and reshoot the interview content.  Problem was, it would take more than a week to try to wrangle everyone back in for interviews.

I went back into interviews from previous seasons to look for tops and tails that could be added to the interview content to give the editors something to show while the God chair content could be buried under picture.  Simple phrases, like “All I have to say about that is…” and “I can’t believe he just said that.”  Those phrases would be tacked to the top or tail of the God chair interviews to form phrases like, “I can’t believe he just said that. // This was an important day for me, and now it’s ruined” or “All I have to say about that is… // If she thinks she’s getting away with that, she has another thing coming.”

We actually managed to bury almost all of the God chair content by employing those tops and tails, and didn’t have to worry about doing pickups at all.  The scene-specific stuff still packed a wallop buried under picture, but the generic interview look from the past season served well enough to show who was speaking.  Best of all, it saved us a few hours of cast wrangling and reshooting.

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