There I was banging away at my Mac, looking for an easy romantic get-a-way for my wife, Sue, and I. We wanted something different and exciting, we were sick of the old New England standbys (though wonderful destinations) like Martha’s Vineyard, Newport Rhode Island, Woodstock Vermont, and even Foxwoods™ Resort and Casino. With 720,000 square miles from Maine to Connecticut there just wasn’t anything that we were interested in doing in all six states combined.
So I decided to look elsewhere outside of New England, but within driving distance, that we could spend a quality three-night romantic weekend during the Fourth of July holiday. I looked at Niagara Falls, the Poconos, and even another jaunt down to Virginia (that we’ve been to many times), but nothing sufficed. We weren’t interested in flying, spending way too much money, and being under-whelmed by cheesy tourist traps.
And that’s when I said to Sue, “How about Canada?”
To which she replied, “I don’t know, I’ve been to Montreal and didn’t like it all that much.”
“Well, maybe there’s somewhere else in Canada we could go to,” I retorted.
“Well, go ahead and look,” she added.
So I did and after about two-seconds of searching on the Internet I came across Quebec City.
And we’re so glad I did.
I started with the official site of the city that had some basic information about visiting this French Canadian enclave. That piqued Sue’s and my interest. Then I came across the official tourism site and we watched a well-made Quicktime video about the wonders of Quebec City (i.e. the capital of the Canadian province and the surrounding areas) and we were hooked.
What a charming little city it seemed to us, and potentially a wonderful adventure for to embark on within a six and a half hour drive. Quebec could be the perfect romantic destination that we’ve been looking for—and it was as it turned out.
I made a few calls and got us reservations at a quaint little B&B near the old city (more on that later), and Googled the driving directions, looked up some sites and attractions, and asked my wife how to say, “good day,” and “thank you,” in French.
Just before our trip we made sure to get our passports as per the on-again off-again TSA rules for going between North American countries. We also got lots of recommendations from co-workers of things to do and see while there. And finally we packed up our car and were off to the Great White North on our little odyssey.
Though the Google maps website puts the drive at about six and a half hours, it really took us more like nine and a half with the stops we made for lunch and gas and just plain stretching out. No matter, the country-side that far North in the US was absolutely amazing. Lush old New England landscapes (right out of a classic painting) permeated the horizon and beyond, the little NE hamlets lining the road and the valleys were charming, and mountainous regions like the Franconia Notch in New Hampshire was awe-inspiring. Even though the Old Man isn’t there anymore it does not detract from the beauty of this venerated place.
Crossing over into Vermont for the last fifty miles before the US/Canadian border I began to get a sense of something unique, something I’ve never felt before: I have never been this far north in my entire life. What a feeling it was to be driving to another country. Sure, I’ve been to other countries like Italy, Germany, and The Bahamas, but I’ve always flown and expected the routine to be the same—kind of a disconnected “get on the plane in the US, sleep for a bit, have a few drinks, and get off the plane somewhere else.” But this was not the case when driving to Canada. I felt like a real explorer (for what it’s worth), charting new territory, and getting exhilarated in the process.
Finally it was time to cross the border. The Canadian border check point was relatively quiet and the person checking our passports was pleasant and unassuming. He waved us through and then we were in Canada. Just like that. Not just Canada, but a French Canadian province with its own language and customs. How incredible! Now I was driving Nord on Autoroute 55, and trying to take everything Canadian in as much as I could from the driver’s seat of my car. My wife was amused by my fascination with this whole experience as if she did this everyday and it was no big deal, but it certainly was to me.
We made a couple of nondescript pit stops along the way, but ultimately we got to our destination: Quebec City. I was still having trouble resolving miles into kilometers when suddenly the outskirts of the city crept up on us as the sun was starting to wane. What a beautiful site it was seeing the Saint Lawrence River for the fist time in my life as we crossed over it at that part of the day. Finally, we crossed the bridge we were on and headed for the heart of the city.
Our immediate goal was to get to the Rue Grande Allée towards the Old City. Our bed and breakfast, L’Arvidienne Couette et Café, was a charming little chateau-like home right across the street from the famed Plains of Abraham where the French residents fought the British army for control of the city back on September 13th, 1759. The French lost, and for over a hundred years Quebec City was ruled directly by the British until 1867. Founded on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River by Samuel de Champlain in 1608, this little settlement had seen centuries of war, development, industry, culture, tourism, and world renown to become one of the greatest North American cities. Per capita, Quebec City has the highest number of fine dining restaurants, and is one of the few places on the continent where English is “not” the most commonly spoken language (excluding Mexico of course).
Our ebullient hosts at the L’Arvidienne, Mireille Hubert & Serge Gauthier, were fabulously attentive and endearing as they doted on us from the moment we arrived. Mireille had taken the liberty of making dining reservations for us that evening at an impressive little French restaurant in the Old Walled City called, Le Saint Amour. After freshening up a bit we headed out on the Grande Allée to the restaurant.
Here you will find a cross-section of videos that I directed, wrote, shot, edited, produced, distributed, and sometimes even hosted.
They are sorted by type, i.e. documentary, special program, genre news/journalism, promotional video, PSA, and performing arts.
Also below you will find detailed discussions about video scripts and video projects; some of which that did not get past the proposal or development stage, and some that did not work out as planned.
Feel free to watch, read, and enjoy!
Noble and Greenough — Stamp Out Hunger — 2014
Production Notes: Directed, shot, and edited by Nick Iandolo for Dedham Television. This was a request from the Noble and Greenough School to cover this annual community service program. After arriving, I decided to shoot it as a documentary because there was so much human interest material and the school campus made for a great picturesque location. I got a wealth of footage that day including B-roll, interviews, and montage material.
Back at the studio, I used Final Cut Pro 7 to edit the video; adding classical music from Bach, Beethoven, Delibes, and Rodrigo. I also used a variety of motion techniques to convey theme and story elements.
Overall, this 11-minute video really captured the essence of this all-day charitable event to benefit the hungry and food insecure. And it was lauded by the school’s marketing and communications department as the best coverage and broadcast of their yearly event.
Taste Dedham — 2014 — The Halloween Special
Production Notes: Directed, hosted, and edited by Nick Iandolo for Dedham Television. At last minute, I was called in to host a special annual event called Taste Dedham. This is a local food expo where restauranteurs, caterers, and food service organizations come together to showcase their delicious wares, along with music, and dancing, and fun! These expos usually are theme-based and this one was a Halloween special. Therefore, I thought it would be a good idea to go and host it as Batman!
I had a cameraman with me who shot while I hosted and directed. Back at the studio, I edited this program on Final Cut Pro 7. I used royalty-free music and media from Video & Audio Blocks. I used some public domain images from The Internet. And legally under the Fair Use Policy, I used snippets of commercial music.
This 34-minute program is a cavalcade of food exhibition and fun montages, jaunty interviews, a memorial to Boston’s late great Mayor Thomas Menino, and there’s even a blooper reel during the end credits!
The Dedham Rotary Club and Open Table praised the production and broadcast as being the best and most entertaining coverage of this event ever and to date.
Production Notes: Directed, hosted, and edited by Nick Iandolo for Dedham Television. During my time at Dedham Television/DVAC (Digital Visionary Access Corp.), I produced and ran a show called NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER. It was a genre/pop-culture news, comedy, and commentary show that featured guests from the film and TV industry, characters from sci-fi/fantasy books and movies, original characters, fun locations, and music.
This episode was shot at San Diego Comic-Con. I brought a cameraman with me and we shot the entire convention including this panel discussion with two players in the Hollywood film and TV industry: Daniel Thron and David Bryant.
There is also lots footage and montages from the convention as a whole (5 days worth). I make use of fast and slow motion techniques to help convey the scale of this massive event. Footage was also shot on an iPhone 5s as well as multiple digital HD cameras.
The episode was edited by me with Final Cut Pro X (the first to be edited on this new platform for Dedham Television). I utilize a wide range of editing techniques from: motion transitions, multi-camera angles (using PluralEyes to synch the audio), multiple video tracks that include overlaid media (i.e. public domain images and movie clips), multiple audio tracks that include royalty-free music and sound effects, scrolling backgrounds, and even a 7-video track 2-film comparison starting at time code 26:49. I also used animations generated in Adobe After Effects.
Finally, I added a memorial to the late great Leonard Nimoy (better known as Spock from TV’s Star Trek).
This is my best producing and editing work thus far and it was well received for YouTube Comic-Con-related broadcasts of 2015, and the best show Dedham Television ever produced!
Sandra Gilpatrick — Wealth Consultant
Production Notes: Directed, co-written, and edited by Nick Iandolo for Sandra Gilpatrick, CFP®, CDFA™, Wealth Consultant. Sandra is a good friend of mine. Her woman-owned business, helping independent women manage their finances, is a remarkable enterprise. So when she wanted to promote her business, she felt that a promo-video would be a great place to start. We discussed various options at my studio office and decided to draft a 5 – 7 page script first. We whittled it down to about 4 pages, coming in at about 3 minutes.
The first iteration of the video was shot at my studio in front of a blue screen, edited on Final Cut Pro 7 which later I put in lots of royalty-free establishing shots of the Boston skyline from Video Blocks. We also used some jazzy royalty-free music from Audio Blocks. Though Sandra and her husband appreciated the first pass at the video, they felt that they needed a more intimate setting that captured the class of sophistication that Sandra really does exude.
So we decided to reshoot the video at the St. Botolph Club in Boston’s Back Bay. We used a single camera shoot with a teleprompter. We shot in two of the most elegant rooms in the club (the Atlantic Room and the Green Room). Finally, we shot some B-roll footage of Sandra walking along the Parisian-style mall on Commonwealth Avenue.
Back in the studio, with the blue screen concept abandoned, I chose a different editing approach. Sandra wanted to pay homage to her wonderful and inspiration grandmother, so I did a Ken Burns-effect image pan of Sandra’s grandparents. Also, we changed the background music to something trendier and hip from Pond5. We used some iPhone captured footage from lectures on finance that Sandra gave in a montage. I also added overlays, chirons, and titles.
In the end, I produced for a Sandra a nice little promo-video that she is very happy with, has had many views, and screenshots from it adorn her website’s homepage.
Public Service Announcement/PSA
NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER – ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: Batman vs. Harley Quinn!
Production Notes: Directed, written, hosted, and edited by Nick Iandolo for Dedham Television. A few years ago it seemed like everyone was jumping on the Ice Bucket Challenge to help raise awareness and research funds for treating ALS. Well, I felt that Dedham Television needed to do their own version of the Ice Bucket Challenge and since I was producing NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER at the time, I decided to do a superhero/super-villian version of the Internet meme.
I got one of my actors, the beautiful and whimsical Katie Lewis (who loves to cosplay at comic cons herself), to dress up as Harley Quinn, and I donned a Batman costume, so we could do a real cute and sneaky version of the challenge!
This was a multi-camera shoot outside of Dedham Television’s studio in the parking lot. It was edited on Final Cut Pro 7 with very little bells and whistles as far as effects were concerned since it was a PSA.
This was a very well-received version of the Ice Bucket Challenge and Dedham Television also donated $100 to the cause.
Kira Seamon’s Bird Ballet
Production Notes: Directed and edited by Nick Iandolo for Dedham Television. This one was a bit of a challenge because there was very little time to prepare for this shoot. Essentially, I was asked to cover this performance art event at the Traditions of Dedham, Senior Living Facility. Kira Seamon is a performance artist, and one of her passions is community service—especially for seniors. Therefore, she choreographed an entire ballet to music from Tchaikovsky’s three most-notable ballets (The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake) along with a visual presentation of photography centered around domestic and exotic birds.
Some of the more difficult aspects of filming this was that I was only allowed one spot in which film (the rear of the hall); therefore, I focused solely on Kira’s performance. The greater challenge was the audio. Kira’s audio system was not up-to-snuff; the music was poorly amplified. Therefore, being a classical music audiophile myself, I dubbed over pre-recorded digital versions of the ballet pieces in place of the original audio.
I also wove in and out of the performances in the editing process (using Final Cut Pro X) fading between Kira and her photographic work, which I felt made for a more interesting video presentation. Finally, I added a few small interviews during some of the performances, and a royalty-free video from Video Blocks of swans during the end credits.
This was also the first time Dedham Television utilized the new video bumper tag and logo that I created in both Adobe Photoshop and After Effects.
The Executive Director of Dedham Television praised my work on this project saying that I took a nearly un-film-able event and turned it into a work of art!
Video Scripts/Video Projects
Writing for educational and public broadcast media or for commercial video is somewhat different from traditional screenwriting or episodic television script writing. I have written lots of traditional screenplays (following the tenets set down by McKee, Field, Snyder, and Trottier) and pitched them to Hollywood executives as events such as The Great American PitchFest. However, when I began working for Dedham Television/DVAC I had to learn new styles to writing production-level scripts. Furthermore, I started producing commercial videos where I had to modify my screenwriting skills to meet the demands of that media type.
The following are three examples of this type of Video Script Writing.
Sandra Gilpatrick — Wealth Consultant
The following script is the final version that Sandra and I wrote and produced. Sandra provided all of the financial and personal information, I then reworked it into concise marketing/commercial video dialogue and formatted everything into a proper video script. I also converted the script into teleprompter text that Sandra read from while shooting the video.
AOC Investment Advisors
Jennifer Williams-Bulkeley, a referral from Sandra Gilpatrick, and Founder of Vinolytics (formerly, AOC Investment Advisors) contacted me about developing a video series that focused on investment opportunities in the world of fine wines and vintners.
The first official contact between us resulted in a Project Evaluation (PE, which you can read here). She was intrigued enough by the PE that we then moved to a Newcast Video Project Statement of Work (SOW). The following SOW, though not a video script, is a highly-detailed video project that covers every aspect of the video production from technical details, a comprehensive development process, future episodes, production costs, and more. I could have easily written the five-page script mentioned in the SOW based on all of this research.
Though the project never moved past this stage, is it interesting to note that AOC evolved into Vinolytics, and Jennifer began producing her own wine and vineyard videos in a blog format that she broadcasts on her Vinolytics Vimeo Channel. Though my vision of what her winery and wine culture video series did not match up with hers, I still think that I provided her with invaluable information that she seems to have adopted in a more subdued form.
Which is why I do PEs now instead of full on proposals, and I usually charge for an SOW these days because I do not like giving away intellectual property for free—lesson learned.
But I’ll still allow you to read the SOW because it was geared towards that one specific project. And if I can help out a fellow creative/entrepreneur how is trying to start their business with what a solid SOW for this type of work should look like—and more importantly, what they should be getting paid for a similar project—then I don’t have a problem posting the SOW here.
Prime Motor Group
Now that I think about it, since I’m all about helping my fellow creative/entrepreneur, I’m going to include here the comprehensive proposal I wrote for the Prime Motor Group (PMG) that details a Group Training Video Production Project.
This was a particularly poignant endeavor because I was essentially lied to by the PMG exec who assured me that the project was already approved by corporate even before I had written the proposal!
What they wanted was a new series of training videos for their automotive sales representatives—and believe me they needed it! The old one they showed me was something from the late 1980s with bad, bad, bad video green screen effects; terrible audio, and the most boring dry old man explaining on a white board how to sell cars! Yeah, it was that bad.
So I knew what they needed, and needed it badly, but it was going to cost them.
But it didn’t work out that way, unfortunately.
You see, the problem here is two-fold:
Trying to determine a reasonable budget for a project like this that takes into account how valuable the video producer’s time is, plus all of the production costs, and a minimal profit to make it all worth it. I took great pains to figure all that out. Though I had the benefit of Dedham Television’s studio and equipment, I still required a host of production expenses (as detailed in the proposal). My time and work is worth something to me, and I wasn’t about to under cut it just to land a contract—any business person or freelancer will tell you that is the surest way to sell yourself short and not be taken seriously—and be miserable in the process. Therefore, I went to a few freelance videographer and producer websites and a videographer hourly rate calculator and worked out an hourly wage (along with all of the production costs) that was acceptable to my needs. Which I guess didn’t jibe with theirs!
The second problem is that the client really didn’t want to pay for the work! They thought they were going to get a massive discount (or even FREE WORK) from me because of their relationship with Dedham Television. This happens all the time. When clients see what these projects really cost, they balk at it. And that’s when you know that you DO NOT want to work with them; they will rip you off either deliberately or through ignorance. Run!
And that’s what happened with the PMG project.
I got into a heated discussion with their contact when they tried to “nickel and dime me” with a fraction of what the project was worth along with pushing it out six months or more (or really never!). When I called them on that, I was told that I was making a $54K mistake. Really? They had rebuffed the actual cost of the project and tried to get it for a song, and then they tell me that I was making the huge mistake, losing the cost of the whole proposal that they had already dismissed!
Anyway, I knew that the project was dead right then and there despite the promise that it was already approved by corporate!
So I left them to go and pay 3-times as much from an ad agency or video production house to produce their training videos.
I have no idea what ever happened to the project; my guess is that they didn’t do a darn thing and continued on with the tepid old-white-guy and the snooze-fest bad training videos.
Lessons to take from this experience:
Never sell your work short!
Never do any free work!
Always put a high on value your skills and experience!
And if you want clients to take you seriously: ask for a lot of money, which you deserve!
Here’s the training video production proposal my friends for you to learn from:
NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER – NSFC @ SDCC – 2014
This episode was so, so, so near and dear to my heart! It was going to be my NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER Magnum Opus. I had originally planned to do a 3-episode series all based on my adventures at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC).
When I got the green light from my executive producer, Donna Greer, to go to the San Diego Comic-Con it was like I had hit the jackpot. I had pitched a bunch of show ideas, which I thought were pretty inexpensive and easy to pull off; I also added SDCC in for laughs never thinking she would go for it. But she did! In fact, that was the only pitch she accepted—she said that was the most doable one, go figure!
Anyway, my mind went into overdrive as to how I was going to produce this show. SDCC is a 5-day mega event (4 full days and a 1 preview night). There was literally an infinite amount of possibilities with regards to doing a show there. And even more doing a NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER show!
My show had a lot of scripted stories that complemented the reality-based stuff like movie reviews and real-life sci-fi/fantasy adventures. There was a sub-plot brewing that my character, Nick (obviously) gets transported into my version of the Mirror Universe (think: Star Trek’s Mirror Universe but without the violence). Also, I was being stalked by a crazy fan Susie Prince (played by Emmy Kuperschmid) who was bent on stealing me away from my fictitious scientist wife Katie (played by Katie Lewis and not my real wife who is Sue Howland).
Anyway, figuring out how to mesh the two (the fictional stories and the real-world adventures at SDCC) was an extreme challenge.
So the way I approached it was the way I always approach a project: with writing (a teleplay in this case).
I wrote the following script that included footage to be shot for the scripted “Nick in the Mirror Universe/Susie Prince pursuit” story-line; as well as, trying to envision all of the amazing things that I would see and experience at SDCC. Also, trying to do movie reviews while out there (particularly the 2014 Godzilla), and what ultimately became The Renegade Panel.
The Renegade Panel was originally going to be an actual SDCC panel that I put in for way in advance. It was going to be called D-I-Y Sci-Fi, and it was going to include myself as an indie sci-fi show producer and author; my buddies Dan Thron, David Bryant, and Benjamin Hansford as indie movie makers, VFX artists, and writers; and finally David Patrick Turner (whom I met at the 2013 SDCC) as an indie comic book and graphic artist. Between the five of us, we had thousands of followers on social media and would have done an amazing official panel as SDCC 2014.
However, it didn’t happen. The reason it didn’t happen (and I state this in The Renegade Panel) was because of its “indie” nature. Despite appearances, SDCC is a very corporate and traditionally-bound media event. They like traditionally published authors, studio movie directors, and established traditionally published comic book artists. Oh they allow independent artists to have tables and exhibit booths on the convention floor but very rarely are they doing panels in the conference rooms above.
I worked tirelessly to get the SDCC organizers to approve my panel. I even went there myself before the convention started to meet with their programs manager and make my case. An easy case because there were panel cancellations that we could have fit right into.
I felt very slighted by the whole experience—and a bit demoralized. It was unfair.
But then something wonderful happened!
Dan and Dave!
My two best friends in the whole world (mentioned above) came to my aid! They drove down from Los Angeles and to meet up with me in San Diego. We partied the night before, then the next day we (along with my cameraman Dan Hallissey) went to the convention center, took over at table at a nearby Starbucks outdoor patio, and shot The Renegade Panel.
The resulting video (which you can watch above) was awesome!
In fact, I think it came out better than if we had just shot a traditional Q&A audience-driven panel discussion.
I made it a point to edit the heck out of that video as I’ve documented in its production notes.
Now the rest of the convention was a cavalcade of happenings after happenings.
We even recruited fans like Chuck Hoster and Ric Meyers to act in the show’s scripted parts!
And, after the convention we shot more footage of all the Mirror Universe stuff, which included an insane scene of Susie Prince forcing me to marry her!
Yeah, it was crazy!
However, that is all footage no one will ever see—except for me.
Several things happened to derail the 3-episode series.
The Renegade Panel was the only episode produced, which took months to edit and used up all of my available resources given to me by Dedham Television.
And worst of all, when we got back from California and looked at the convention footage (after we shot the Mirror Universe scenes) a tragedy occurred: the sound for most of the footage was ruined by a bad microphone cable!!!
I was crushed by this! Hours and hours of irreplaceable footage destroyed by snaps, crackles, and pops! Devastating!
This happened to the footage that was shot only at the convention itself, which thankfully did not include the footage to The Renegade Panel (we used lavaliere mics for that).
So when I edited The Renegade Panel, I used soundless clips from the overall convention footage in montages throughout the video.
Anyway, that was almost four years ago now (at the time of this page update) and I still haven’t gotten over it!
Regardless, here is the shooting script, which hopefully will give you a sense of how the other episodes NSFC @ SDCC 2014 would have gone: The Renegade Panel, The SDCC 2014 Convention Coverage, and a special NSFC Update! – Mirror Universe episode that would be a broken out sub-story between SDCC2014 and the Mirror Universe. Like the other NSFC scripts, they are written in a particular format for broadcast video production (like network TV teleplays but tweaked for the smaller indie scale on which they are produced).
Sadly, only The Renegade Panel survives.
And the show got cancelled shortly after The Renegade Panel was broadcast.
However, what I learned about show and video production (writing, directing, editing, shooting, producing, casting, set design, makeup, stage management, budgeting, scheduling, and acting) would become invaluable skills and experience for the rest of my career.