MN Original creates 30 minutes of new arts coverage every week, a task made possible through the efforts of our staff of 15 employees. In an effort to pull back the curtain on the people behind MN Original, MNO On The Go introduces Associate Producer, Kate McDonald who was also recently featured on the651.com.
What are you working on RIGHT NOW?
I was transcribing an interview with rapper Astronautalis, who shook up our studios with a fiercely talented performance last week. I must say that in addition to performing, the guy has a way with words, so keep an eye out for his interview airing on MNO this fall.
What does an Associate Producer do?
Well, usually we are the ones asking the questions (so this is weird). However, our job is split relatively equally between office work and field work. We spend a fair amount of our time in the office researching and contacting local artists before pitching them to the group of producers who make the final call on who we profile.
Pre-production begins once the artists are selected and then I work with a producer to coordinate the best way to showcase the artist’s work and process. We usually spend about a day with the artist, filming their work and interviewing them about their craft and creative process. Once the shoot is complete we come back to the office and I help collect and organize the different elements needed for the editing process.
What aspect of working in production has been the most surprising or unexpected to you?
Just how much time, effort and collaboration it takes to produce a weekly half hour series! Lucky for us we have an amazing team here at MN Original all of whom make it possible for the show to get onto the air every week.
You’ve acted as Associate Producer for all of MN Original‘s studio music shoots over the last two years, including the performance below from The Cactus Blossoms. Walk us through your duties throughout that day’s shoot.
Music week is the best. Even though my day starts at 7:30 a.m. I basically get to see two free concerts a day for an entire week.
Schedule goes a bit like this:
7:30 a.m.: Arrive and make sure the day’s schedule is out for the crew. Set up coffee and craft services for the first band.
8:00 a.m.: Crew for the day arrives. We usually have 10-12 people working on each music week (aside from the producers). The crew includes a floor director and three photographers in addition to lighting, photography and sound directors and assistants.
8:30 a.m.: The first band of the day arrives (at an ungodly time for anyone to perform). We load in instruments to Studio A and our sound engineers start setting up microphones. During this time the band gets to drink coffee, eat food, hang out, change, and sign paperwork.
9:00 a.m.: Band has sound check and then we reset cameras. We also use this time to give the musicians water if they need it and apply face powder and makeup, since it can get quite hot under those studio lights.
9:30 a.m.: Once we are set, producers file into the control room (where they can watch all the action happening) and the crew gets on headsets. The producer will use the three monitors in the control room (one for each camera), to call out shots during the performance.
9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.: We ask musicians to preform two songs for us, and we usually run through each song at least 5-6 times so we can record all the different camera angles that we need. During this time it is up to me to take careful notes on what the producer, band, and the audio engineers thought of each take.
11:45 a.m.: We have a quick interview with the band and then rush to pack them up so we’ll be ready to record with the next band, who arrives just half an hour later. Then we do it all over again in the afternoon!
What is the most exciting part of working on MNO?
The most exciting part of working on MN Original is all the awesome artists that I get to meet on a daily basis. Also since part of my job is knowing about the art related events going on in town, I find that I always have something to do on the weekends for research. Definitely not a bad perk of the job.
It can’t all be fun and games. Tell us about some of the less savory parts of AP work.
There are so many little details that need to be kept straight for each segment. I spend way too much time thinking about whether or not a band meant to misspell the title of their song they performed for us. Sometimes it feels like they must be doing it on purpose because they know I am mildly dyslexic!
You recently spent a great deal of time in a hearse for an MN Original shoot. Can you explain more of what that experience entailed?
Apparently hearses come in handy in a variety of art mediums. Rumor has it they are especially great for hauling band equipment, but the reason I was in one last month was for a segment I was doing on the ridiculously talented sculptor, Michael Thomsen. He uses a hearse to transport his large assemblage sculptures, created out of antique objects and furniture that he picks up all over the city. Make sure you keep an eye out for him around town – he recently redid the hearse’s inside fringe.
What’s your favorite TV show (aside from MNO of course)?
My PBS faves include Art21 and Downton Abbey. However in order to eliminate all sense of professionalism I have built up in your minds during the course of this interview I will also admit I recently have made a guilty pleasure out of watching singing competition shows, in particular The Voice. Sometimes you can’t deny talent, no matter what form it takes. Also I can’t get enough of the interview cutaways of Cee-Lo petting his Turkish Angora Cat. It’s no MN Original but it’s pretty priceless.