Read all about it! Blind blogger interviews video producer!

October 21, 2013 • Posted in Uncategorized, writing by

My book club pick was a flop. Maybe because everyone else read it in print, and I got to hear Academy Award winner Rita Moreno read the audio version? When all was said and done, the only member who liked Sonia Sotomayor’s My Beloved World as much as I did was Jamie Ceaser.

Always knew that Jamie woman had good taste.

Award-winning producer Jamie Ceaser.

Award-winning producer Jamie Ceaser.

When Jamie isn’t reading fascinating books like My Beloved World, she’s busy putting videos and films together. She’s been producing shows for Chicago’s public TV station WTTW for years, and one of her latest productions debuts nationally tonight. Local, USA is a weekly 30-minute compilation of stories produced by independent producers, content creators, and public television stations across the country. Jamie and her co-producer Eddie Griffin have already put 13 Local, USA episodes together, each one exploring a particular theme. It’s a busy time for Jamie, but she was kind enough to answer a few questions about Local, USA for my blog readers.

  • Me: How’d you get involved in Local, USA?
  • Jamie: V.J. McAleer — He’s Senior Vice President of Production at WTTW — got approached by WGBH in Boston about working with them on a new show. VJ is my boss, and my biggest advocate, too. He called when I was in Florida on a Tuesday and said we’d need a proposal by Friday. So I tanned and wrote.
  • Me: Are you doing it all by yourself?
  • Jamie: I’m co-producing it with Ed Griffin. Maggie Ness is associate producer.
  • You drive me to book club sometimes, and I always love hearing about your work during those drives. You’ve produced programs on everyone from Abraham Lincoln’s wife Mary Todd to baseball icon Bill Veeck. What makes this project different from other ones you’ve produced?
  • Jamie: Well, To be honest, this project does bring back memories of something I’ve done before: my first show at WTTW. That was Image Union, also a show for independent producers. But it was way back–way before youtube and iPhones and Quicktime and even DVDs.
  • Me: How were things different then?
  • Jamie: Films would come on 16 mm reels or videos in VHS cases. Local, USA may end up being a similar show, but the technology has changed so much. Now people send weblinks to screen their films and videos., And i can screen all of the shows I’ve produced so far — on my iPhone!
  • Me: What do producers do?
  • Jamie: Production can mean a lot of different things – it all depends on the type of show you’re working on, and the studio where you’re working. Show development, researching, interviewing people, shooting, editing, or even gentle coercion — production includes whatever you need to do to get the project completed.
  • Me: So what did you have to do to get this one completed?
  • Jamie: For this program, basically, we’re screening videos, logging them and cataloging them by theme and seeing what works together organically. After that we script the show and videotape the hosts on location.
  • Me: Who are the hosts?
  • Jamie: Niccole Thurman, a performer from Second City, and Evan Allen-Gessesse, an independent producer.
  • Me: How long did it take to put these episodes together?
  • Jamie: It was a lightning-fast season — we started in March and finished 13 shows by the end of June. That’s a pretty quick production schedule.
  • Me: What can viewers look forward to on the first episode this week?
  • Jamie: The first show has four stories about times gone by.
  • Me: Any favorites?
  • Jamie: My favorite one is produced by a teenager. It’s about his grandfather with Alzheimer’s Disease. He intercuts old family films to link his father’s early memories with his grandfather, and those memories aren’t available to his grandfather any more. It’s very poignant and sweet.

Jamie says the first season (13 shows) focuses on human interest stories and art pieces. “The shows we’re working on right now are more social justice-oriented.” Local, USA debuts on The World Channel tonight, October 21, at 9:00 p.m. Central Time and will continue to air on Monday nights after that, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Blog readers who live in the Chicago area can also tune in to WTTW Channel 11 to catch it on Thursday nights at 11:00 p.m.

carol On October 21, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Nice interview Beth, and thanks for the reminder that Jamie’s show starts tonight! PS. I hardly think your book club choice was a flop though a spicy reading by Rita Moreno would have helped.

bethfinke On October 23, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Well, maybe “flop” was too strong a word, but I sure didn’t get the feeling most of our members would recommend the book to others…!

bethfinke On October 23, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Oh, and you are right: Rita really did spice it up!

Charlie Simokaitis On October 21, 2013 at 3:55 pm

My partners and I at Groundfire Pictures are proud to have a piece airing on Local, USA on November 4. Mae Ya Carter Ryan is an 11 year old singer with prodigious talent. Thank you Jamie Ceaser for bringing this to fruition!

bethfinke On October 23, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Thanks for the heads-up, Charlie. I’ll tune in on Nov. 4.

judy ciambotti On October 21, 2013 at 11:24 pm

I loved the Sonya Sotomayer book. Just so you know.

bethfinke On October 23, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Ha! Always knew *you* had good taste, too, Judy!

Sandy Gartler On October 22, 2013 at 9:41 am

I’m delighted to read your blog interview with Jamie Ceaser and can’t wait to see Local, USA this Thursday night. If anyone can generate the “steam” needed to put together this production so quickly, it’s Jamie; she’s the creative, hardworking force behind the scenes along with a talented, dedicated team at WTTW.
Thanks, Beth for sharing this interview. Jamie and I are long time friends from WTTW — before she screened videos on her iPhone.
Sandy Gartler

bethfinke On October 23, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Oh, my, I should have put that together — of course you would have known Jamie from your work at WTTW, Sandy. It’s a small Chicago world sometimes, isn’t it?

Monna Ray On October 23, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Beth, Sounds so interesting. Wish it weren’t so late on Channel 11. Monna

bethfinke On October 23, 2013 at 5:45 pm

Jamie thought the show might be available online at some point — I’ll check in with her at book club, and if she knows of a link, I’ll share it with blog readers here.

Laura Gale On October 24, 2013 at 7:34 am

I enjoyed this interview and now want to read the Sonia Sotomayor book too. And I used to love Image Union, and haven’t thought about that for a long time. I will definitely check out this new program. Thanks for sharing.

bethfinke On October 25, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Laura, you are the second friend of mine to say you liked Image Union, I don’t recall that show at all (must have been living out of town when it was on) but it sure is memorable to friends like you, with good taste! And I’m quite sure you will like the Sonia Sotomayor book, give it a read — or a listen!

Linda Miller On October 24, 2013 at 8:25 am

The show sounds great, and I loved your headline and lead-in to this post! I couldn’t resist reading it.

bethfinke On October 25, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Oh, Linda, thanks for letting me know that my title and lead-in worked. I *do* put effort into that,and now I feel rewarded for this one.

I was like, “Small world!” | Safe & Sound blog On November 3, 2013 at 10:46 am

[…] learned about a new project Charlie is working on when he left a comment to the post I wrote last month about my friend Jamie Ceaser’s new public television show. His guest post […]

boiler service cost On November 13, 2014 at 6:54 am

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Read all about it! Blind blogger interviews video producer! | Safe & Sound blog

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