New Boyz Plays a Game with Me!

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 The New Boyz performed at Duke’s “Heat Wave” concert at the beginning of the school year. Since I am the Entertainment Producer for Duke Student Broadcasting I jumped on the opportunity to talk with the explosive music duo New Boyz (comprised of Ben J and Legacy). Luckily, I had seen their performance on “America’s Got Talent” and knew of their music for some time, but as any interviewer should do, I heavily prepared for my interview with the duo. After their YouTube video for “You’re A Jerk” went viral in 2009 (warning uncensored version), the duo released their debut album titled “Skinny Jeanz and a Mic.” Fast forward to 2011, New Boyz are still going strong blending their hip hop roots with different musical genres such as electro, R&B and alternative rock. Their sophomore album came out May 17, 2011 and is titled “Too Cool Too Care.” Their second single off that album “Backseat” has sold over 1 million digital copies to date and became the duo’s third top forty hit. Now more popular than ever, “Better With The Lights Off” featuring Chris Brown is blowing up the music scene everywhere.

After waiting for over 5 hours for my interview, I walked into the green room nervous and excited to meet the duo. The New Boyz were very friendly and open and graciously waited while my partner and I set up the equipment. Part of New Boyz group’s motto is: New Boyz do new things. Therefore, I decided to be creative with my interview with the group. Luckily, they were receptive of my interview surprise and you can see for yourself:

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Summer at MTV News

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Over the summer I ate, slept and thought only about MTV News. I absolutely loved my summer internship in New York City. I was given responsibilities and opportunities to learn and explore. Because of my summer internship, I’ve developed a passion for writing and especially for blogging. Even after coming home from a full day of work over the summer, I would find myself writing my own blogs and staying current on popular culture. MTV News was infused in my blood.

At first, I wanted to write a detailed paper about my summer internship at MTV News for my Internship Course credit. I learned so much over the summer and it would be pretty easy to write 20+ pages about my summer. However, I have come to the realization that there is still so much to be learned. Part of the reason I loved interning at MTV was because I learned something new and different every day. I learned all different facets of the MTV/Viacom industry from the digital, legal, creative and press. Of course, the other reason I loved the internship was because I was able to gain hands-on experience with production and writing for entertainment news.

Instead of just recounting my experiences at MTV News, I decided to continue with the knowledge I gained from the summer and develop my own blog applying the tools I learned from my internship. This is why the majority of this blog will be postings about behind-the-scenes shoots, television reviews and entertainment events. I will also be posting videos I helped produce (develop, shoot, edit, etc). I want to expand on the knowledge I gained and build my own site. However, this blog wouldn’t feel complete without a posting dedicated to my summer internship. In the next few paragraphs I will provide an abbreviated blog of my summer experience at MTV News.

I was able to actually contribute stories to the various MTV blogs on the website. I wrote an article reporting on Bruno Mars’ Today Show appearance that over 10,000 people have read to date. MTV News was able to secure press clearance for me and I would attend the concert and stand in the press area (which sometimes meant a great view). Additionally, I spent a whole day writing a blog about two of my favorite subjects, Britney Spears and dance, and it was actually posted on MTV’s interactive website. Besides reaching a large part of the general population through the MTV site, blogs also impact the celebrities that the articles are written about. I worked with one of the other interns on a blog in the form of the game “Would You Rather.” I was really excited to pitch and write this blog and it was really rewarding to see that the actress Katie Cassidy read the article and tweeted about it! I also attended the screening of “The Myth of the American Sleepover.” The movie was really interesting and I was able to speak to the director after the movie and talk with some of the audience members to get their reactions. Afterwards, I wrote a review of the movie. In total, I wrote over 20 blogs for MTV for the Newsroom, Hollywood Crush and Movies Blog pages. Each blog had a different style so it was fun learning how to cater my writing style for each blog.

Let’s admit it. There are many, many perks when you work at MTV. After all, it is the entertainment hub of New York City. Josh Horowitz, a MTV reporter, has a hilarious show called “After Hours” where he features movie stars doing silly stunts. I was able to participate in four memorable “After Hours” skits. Elijah Wood came to our office and appeared in an “After Hours” segment. I was able to watch the shoot and “act” in a scene with Elijah which was really a great experience. I attended the Danny McBride “After Hours” shoot while he was doing a press junket for his movie “30 Minutes or Less.” Josh Horowitz changed his format and did a mock talk show. For this shoot, there were four cameras and tons of equipment. It was a large task getting that equipment around, we had about 12 crew members with us and it took multiple trips to transport the equipment. I learned all about production management at the shoot as I observed room changes, pizza orders, car services, setting up an extensive set, etc. It was incredible to experience.

Additionally, I helped out with the Harry Potter press junket at the Waldorf-Astoria. I helped set up cameras and lights. I also helped to mic the actors. Since I was the designated “mic girl” I was fortunate enough to talk with each interviewee and help them with their microphone. Ultimately, this led to me falling head over heels in lust with the unsuspecting Neville Longbottom…aka Matthew Lewis. He was tall, had beautiful eyes, carried himself well, and totally won me over with his British accent and charm. Besides this heart-fluttering experience, I thoroughly enjoyed working the press junket. It was really cool setting up an empty room into an interview-appropriate room. We were able to scan the room and figure out what would look best and than did a lot of mix and matching till it was just right. It was also awesome watching Josh Horowitz conduct his witty interviews and play the popular “American Talk” game (currently it has over 600,000 views). Lastly, I was able to witness an “After Hours” shoot, and press junket, with one of my favorite actresses – Anne Hathaway. She is beautiful in person and I was able to help set up and watch the interview! I’m so glad I had the opportunity to experience a press junket as well as the other amazing “After Hours” shoots.

Another memorable experience I had involved the “MTV: First” shoot with movie star Chris Evans. The producer for the shoot had me look through tons of past Chris Evans interviews and footage to see if anything was of “interest.” I came across an interview from 2000 of Evans dressed in this outdated tracksuit, acting very silly and immature and talking about his role in Not Another Teen Movie. Evans, now a superhero (star of Captain America which hit theaters on July 22) would be embarrassed by that footage and I told the producer, Matt Harper, about the sound bites. He thought they were interesting and we cut it into a little clip. The MTV: First with Chris Evans segment aired on MTV.com and Evans watched himself back in the 2000 interview – the interview that I picked out and brought to Harper’s attention. Evans laughed at how ridiculous his outfit was and was mildly embarrassed… my mission was accomplished. It was really rewarding. It was also cool to set up the shoot for this segment – it was really elaborate with three cameras. One “iso” on Evans, one two shot, and then one camera panned on an elaborate dolly-like tripod with Evans in clear vision and superhero figures in blurred images.

I also got to help out on a segment called “Opening Act” this summer. I attended interviews with Matt and Kim, J. Cole and NeedtoBreathe. Morgan (the other intern) and I researched questions for Vaughn Schoemaker to ask and it was so rewarding when the musicians were asked our questions. I helped with audio, setting up the camera, timecoding and paraphrasing the interview to use in the edit. We also took pictures and emailed them to MTV to put up on their Facebook. As you can see, MTV is very multi-media and interactive.

I also learned how to use a camera and shoot interviews. I really did get hands-on experience at my internship. I shot various MOS pieces and gathered and interviewed various people to talk with. I helped produce the MOS pieces for the Watch the Throne segment, the Harry Potter final movie review and the Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony split opinion video.

Another educational experience involved the weekly live steam MTV News produces called “Rapfix Live.” MTV Host Sway interviews different rappers each week and the show is streamed live on the website. I helped out with the shoot every week and had various responsibilities. For example, one week I was the twitter point person and I chose viewer questions to post on the television screen for the artist to answer. I learned how to work the audio equipment and manned the audio board for two different shows. This meant I had to make sure Sway and the guest’s audio levels stayed within the appropriate ranges. The interns also set up the set (from audio, lights, cameras, set design) and took it down.

I’m sad my internship is over with MTV News, but I’m overwhelmed with the incredible opportunities I had this summer. However, the moments that I will forever remember are not the daily duties and tasks that I worked on no matter how amazing they were, but the conversations I took part in with people around the office and building. MTV has always been my favorite network and has made such an impact on my life. I enjoyed every moment working inside the MTV building that I always had admired from afar. I’m so thankful for my summer internship.

The Show Will Go On Rain or Shine…Delta Rae Music Video

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Though Durham isn’t exactly know for its film and television, the growing city continues to surprise me with all the amazing opportunities that arise. On September 17, award-winning director Lawrence Chen (Duke c/o 2008), Duke’s own cinematographer Steve Milligan and Freewater productions produced Delta Rae’s first music video. I was fortunate enough to tag along on set and experience my first ever music video production. At this point I can’t reveal specifics of the shoot, but I can tell you that the music video featured Delta Rae’s “Bottom of the River” . The music video was shot in the woods of the historical Duke Homestead. Though it wasn’t as creepy of a location as you may think, it was raining, freezing and uncomfortable outside. However, in the words of showbiz, the show must go on!

I learned a lot on set of the music video working as a production assistant. Now I’ve always been a fan of music videos. I grew up watching MTV’s “Making the Video” and today I always strive to learn behind-the-scenes information on music video set and productions. This shoot was a dream come true for me to actually experience the music video shoot from bare grounds to a dressed set. I learned about all the little details the shows and publicists leave out. For instance, because of the rain we all had to make sure the outlets stayed dry at all times and the lights remain covered. We were also using a generator and had to ensure that stayed dry underneath a tent (which had to be aesthetically covered by trees). Generators also require gasoline, so I had to run out and purchase more for the shoot. Safety is most important on set and these are the little details a production assistant must take care of in order to ensure a safe environment for all.

There was an extremely large group of extras on set and one of my roles was to ensure the extras were being taken care of (fed, hydrated, as well as safe). The dancers had to do numerous takes time and time again. One of my friends, Spencer Paez, was in the ensemble and I asked him how he felt the music video shoot went. Spencer wrote to me, “In this sort of performance it’s important to remember that the dancing is not the focus. Our part was supportive of Delta Rae’s. I had worked on film sets before this, so I was used to a lot of what went on and variations of other things. But I was reminded of the importance of meticulous preparation and a positive attitude. The corrections, adjustments and number of takes all require these two elements.”

This is the type of experience I yearn for, the type of experience that calls for a large crew, ensemble, set and requires extreme effort. It’s a beautiful thing when all elements of production blend together on a project. The hard work on the camera operator, the director, the creative director, the production assistant, the cast and ensemble (and more) merge to make a masterpiece (hopefully). I am sure the shoot will result in an amazing music video. I am so thankful I was able to be a part of such an extraordinary shoot.

Till next time,

Danielle Genet