The show I have put two years of my life into, “Green Goddess,” finally got to air to a widespread audience this past week on NYC-TV. http://www.nyc.gov/html/film/html/news/040110_nyc_life_green.shtml Full episodes should be online soon and I’ll put a link up when that happens.
The show was a lot of work, more work than you can ever imagine. While the Food Network has dozens of people working on the show, that certainly wasn’t the case with “Green Goddess.” I organized it from start to finish, on my own. Luckily, my husband has a production company, AviLand Productions, so he was there to provide lots of help and support. However, for much of the project he had a fulltime job as the Executive Producer/Co-creator of NBC’s Reel Talk so he wasn’t exactly able to work fulltime on GG.
Plus, I must admit I am very hands on and a bit of a micro-manager. I’m also the one with the cooking degree and knowledge, so, of course, I knew what I wanted from the show and with some additional help I was able to put my vision onto video. When we shot the kitchen cooking scenes on the show we loaded up a van, hired two photogs and an editor, then made our way out to a great kitchen in NJ. In one day we shot all seven cooking segments that are the foundation of the seven episodes of the show. It was a very long day and the beginning of a long road ahead. In the next few days I went along with a photographer and shot all of the restaurant segments. While it was definitely work, it was great fun, and it turned out to be the easy part of the entire project.
From there I logged and wrote the scripts for the episodes, and that took about a month. Then an editor I hired took my notes and put the episodes together. While I have been on TV for years, you have to remember I never actually created a show from the ground up like this so every little step was a learning experience. After rough cuts, some episodes came out to just 18 or 19 minutes long. Standard broadcast television 30-minute episodes typically have 21 minutes and 30 seconds of content — allowing for 8 1/2 minutes for commercial breaks — so it was back to logging more video and trying to stretch the episodes to reach that length.
A few months later, I had what I thought were the finished episodes in my hands. Now came the task of trying to sell them to networks. Of course everyone said the natural place for the shows to air would be the Food Network. Thanks to some friends, I believe, some executives there did look at some clips, but nothing ever materialized. Plus, remember the Food Network has tons of people working on their shows, would they realize that I did these shows with $$ out of my pocket with so few people helping out? I don’t know. In the meantime, as I tried to get the shows on-air life went on. I still needed to keep doing my day job, so while I did that I kept trying to to talk to networks like Planet Green, etc. Planet Green actually told me they liked the shows, but they were only programming primetime and said my show had the feel of a daytime show. I had hoped they would add original daytime or weekend programming a la FN, but I don’t believe they have up to this point.
Now fast-forward to December 2009. My wonderful husband met with some execs at NYC-TV to pitch some shows from his production company and GG was one of them. It was actually the only show he had fully shot so he left them a DVD with several episodes on it. Luckily they watched the DVD and called just a few days later saying they liked the show and wanted to air it for green month in April. We were thrilled, to say the least, but the journey definitely didn’t end there.
We were told since NYC-TV is a public television station and therefore doesn’t have commercial breaks, that the shows had to be 26 minutes and 45 seconds long. This meant having to add content we didn’t have. Also since NYC-TV isn’t a traditional for-profit TV station, we’d have to find sponsors for our show. Sponsors are the backbone of all public television programs.
Sounds easy enough, but neither one of us has much experience in sales so we didn’t even know where to start. We put out some feelers and found some people ‘in the know’ working on sponsors. The problems encountered here had to do with people not being familiar with what NYC-TV is, etc. so finding sponsors wasn’t easy. Even harder was adding the time to pad the show out to the new length. It meant shooting new segments. To do this my husband got a new, top-of-the-line camera for his production company and we set out to find segments that fit into the different themes of each episode. It was exhausting
Pregnant=tired. Work=tired. My anchor job at NY1 x my job working on GG=exhaustion. I spent more sleepless nights than I can count editing the new segments into the shows.
Then we delivered the episodes to NYC-TV.
We quickly learned they didn’t like the format my editor edited the episodes in so the episodes were sent back to get reformatted. This was technical stuff, that had nothing to do with the look of the show, but it proved to be very tedious work. With my editor now living in Florida I was left to either hire someone new on at this late stage or edit it on my own. I chose the latter. I did, luckily, get help from a friend, Anthony Innarelli, who edits at a big network. Whenever I had questions or needed stuff I simply didn’t have the expertise to do, Anthony helped out. From there, NYC-TV then had another round of changes they wanted for the show. Lots of editorial stuff about how different things looked, etc. So we went back and forth editing for about a month. It definitely put tons of stress on my life, at a time when everyone said I shouldn’t be stressing at all. Oh well what could I do?
In the end the show premiered this past Thursday, April 15th at 9:30pm on Channel 25 in the NYC area. Watching the first episode with my husband and some good friends was great, very fulfilling. It was also just very rewarding to know that was my work up there. My hard work!
I got great feedback on the episode. People I didn’t even know wrote me to tell me they loved it. They also said they want to try my vegetarian cornbread chili, which was featured in the episode. Many people are also dying to try Curly’s, the restaurant spotlighted in episode (it’s on 14th St. between 1st and 2nd Avenues in Manhattan, btw).
I’m sure there are critics out there, as there always are, but you know what? I don’t care. I am very happy and satisfied with how it turned out. This is a time where I am not going to be hard on myself and say I could have done this better, and nitpick the show to death. Of course everything can be improved, but considering the circumstances, “Green Goddess” turned out to be a damn good show. I’m also proud to have created a program that also informs people about how great vegetarian food can be and it introduces them to a side of meat-free food they maybe haven’t seen. That is the best reward of all!
VEGETARIAN FOOD WORLD, YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE LAST OF ME!!!!!!!!!!