NEL magazine joined host Rachel Holt recently at JP Licks in Jamaica Plain to get an insider look at the day-to-day business of filming an episode of New England Living. From call time to wrap, it was a long but enjoyable day of camera setups, audio checks, interviews, hands-on demonstrations, and—best of all— tasting some of JP Licks’ famously delicious ice cream.
Here, in her own words, is Holt’s moment-by-moment diary of the day:
“Evan Berenson, our Executive Producer, plans things way in advance, but we also have to stay fluid for any production changes that arise. Before we film, I do as much background research as I can, but ultimately, it’s about meeting someone and having an engaging conversation with them. I want to learn what’s new and exciting to them and have their personalities come across in our segments.”
“My shoot day typically starts around eight in the morning, and I usually give myself about an hour to get ready. I do my own hair and my own makeup. I will have picked out my wardrobe ahead of time. I try to let my personality and style show through, but I also try to match the time and place. We film year-round, but our show airs mostly in the spring and summer, so I don’t want to appear all bundled up for cold weather. If we’re going to a place that’s casual, such as today’s ice cream shop, I try to dress down a little. It’s fun to tailor my outfits to what I think suits the location, although I’ve had some flops in terms of the wardrobe, like when I wore high heels to a farm. That ended up being a bad decision, but we live and learn!”
“While I’m getting ready, the crew is unloading all their gear and setting up the first shot. It’s so interesting seeing these film professionals go about their business. We have a great crew who are truly the best at what they do. For today’s shoot, we had three cameras, operated by Pete Slabysz, Matt Morse, and Josh Lifton, Michael Ruzicka on lighting, Eoin Donaher running audio Evan, and myself.
Our team has worked together a lot for the past four years, so we’ve gotten to know each other really well. I’ve ended up hearing lots of dad jokes, and they keep coming! The worst part is that I’ve started to really like those jokes.”
“My favorite part of the job is meeting the interviewees. Today was a really fun day because the owner of JP Licks, Vincent Petryk, is amazingly creative and very outgoing. He was so conversational on camera, and you could tell he loved talking about making and selling ice cream. I’ve been coming to JP Licks for many years, since I was in college in Boston, so it was great to learn more about how he started the business and how it has grown. I was especially intrigued to learn about some of his flops—like the Tabasco ice cream he tried— and how he keeps changing and developing new things for his customers.”
Joining the Fun
“We always try to get me involved with the practicalities of the businesses we feature, if possible. We want to be experiencing what people would be experiencing if they were part of it. (The only thing I will probably say “no” to is if sharks are involved!) Today we took a look at the operation from the other side of the counter. I learned how they grind their own coffee, and then I helped make some Salted Caramel ice cream. They use only the freshest ingredients, and I was really impressed with their machinery and process. Plus, I got to eat some of the end product, so what’s not to love?”
Tasting the Results
“When I was at Northeastern, I would always get the cookies-and-cream flavor with gummy bears mixed in. Maybe that’s a crazy combination, but I love it. So I did make sure to save room for a cookies ’n’ cream cone at the end of the shoot. And it was as good as ever.
“After the shoot wraps, Evan and the editor, Rob Root, work on turning the rough footage into a seamless segment. It’s a process that takes weeks. I go in to record the voiceover, and then once we put the sound bites in place and get the story exactly how we want it, Evan and the editor will go back and forth and then make additional changes and add the music in. I’ve watched them a lot and have just been blown away by the results. It’s always rewarding and fun to see how everything turned out, and the whole story just really comes together.”
“My family has tried relentlessly to have watch parties and get everyone together with me to view it live, but I like to watch it alone. I still find that completely nerve-wracking, but it’s always nice getting congratulatory texts and calls the day after, and I’m happy that they watch our show. At the end of the day, I’m always proud that we’re able to tell so many fun stories and go to interesting places, and, hopefully, have viewers learn about new things along the way with us.”
“I really wish more people could see how much work is involved in making a short TV show. Everyone in the crew works so hard and is really resourceful and adaptable. They make my job a complete pleasure!”