Playing my part

Published 6:47 pm Saturday, April 16, 2011

I think Hollywood will get along just fine without me.

After spending the past couple of weeks performing the part of film producer, I removed that ill-fitting mask on Friday and went back to the familiar old role of community newspaper editor.

Some of my critics, of course, might say that this role doesn’t fit me any better than the other, but I’ll ignore those reviews today no less effectively than I did a month ago, before Hollywood called via the North Suffolk Rotary Club.

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I’m pretty sure I missed the Rotary meeting in which I was chosen to serve on the committee charged with producing a video tribute to Senator Fred Quayle. It would be shown during the ceremony honoring him as the 2011 First Citizen of Suffolk.

While I had expected my job as editor of the Suffolk News-Herald to land me on the publicity committee, I never had any idea that someone would think it qualified me to help make the video. My motion picture skills aren’t even good enough for YouTube, much less for the sort of film that gets a live preview in front of suits and gowns at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts.

So I brought a professional to the job. A new friend, Glen Mason of Right Angle Media Inc. in Norfolk, would come to the rescue with his high-grade cameras and tripods and his massive computer screens and professional editing equipment.

Glen, as it would turn out, also would bring his own artistic vision of the 10-minute film that we were to produce, thus setting up what folks in the industry like to call “a conflict.” Would the experienced artist or the clueless client shape this mini-feature?

The real-life drama behind the making of this tribute has kept my family and my co-workers on the edges of their seats for most of the month of April. Would I finally crack under the pressure of the insanely tight deadline that was before us? Would I start sobbing in my office after the 27th communication between myself and the governor’s aides, who were all very sorry that their boss’ schedule could not possibly accommodate a video statement sooner than the first Thursday of 2036?

I quickly learned that my job as a producer of this film had a lot in common with the job of editor that I hold at the Suffolk News-Herald. I formulate a vision of what the newspaper should be, hire a group of creative, talented people that I believe will achieve something close to that vision and then set them into motion doing their own thing in hopes that tomorrow’s edition will wind up looking the way that I had expected.

Sometimes it works better than others, but here at the Suffolk News-Herald I have found that the talented writers and designers usually perform above even my highest expectations.

As I sat in the auditorium at the SCCA on Thursday and took in the crowd’s reactions to the video tribute to Senator Quayle, I realized that God had blessed me with another team that had exceeded my expectations. The finished product had been so much better than I’d imagined or hoped, and the real magic had happened the moment I relinquished control of the process and let the talent of others take over.

One thing is sure, though. Whether or not Hollywood is ready for me, I’m not ready for Hollywood. You’re all stuck with me here for a little while longer.