THROUGH MY LENS: HOW I ACCIDENTALLY BECAME A TV HOST AT 50
I virtually met the author of this story, Carole Parsons Schafer, in 2011, through Twitter. We did not meet IRL until 2014, when she came to Calgary to visit family. Carole exudes energy and fun from the moment you meet her. It came as no surprise to me when she landed an ideal gig as the host of a local fitness program. That’s the crazy thing about life: you never know where your journey will take you. Here’s Carole’s story.
At the age of 50 there’s not much that I thought scared me.
But this past summer, I found myself staring down the black hole of a camera lens.
I create video for a living to make business owners look good. I’m a behind-the-scenes kind of gal, being much more comfortable behind the camera, looking down that barrel. But a few years ago I started placing myself in front of the lens when I began a fitness plan with a friend. On our first day, as a joke, I picked up my camera to scare my friend, Bob, while he was talking with our trainer, Val. Bob and Sugar’s Belly Blast Blog turned into a weekly vlog where we’d work out and then turn on the camera afterwards to babble about our lives and the journey. For a year Bob and I continued working out/vlogging until Bob’s schedule tightened up and he could’t continue. I brought friends or experts on and facilitated conversation.
Fast forward to April 2016. I decided to go to a networking event, even though I rarely go to these things myself. Being a bit shy in crowds, I’m not very good in large rooms making small talk. Luckily I ran into a few friends to hang out at with. Christine was one of those people. She introduced me to one of her colleagues from Bell Media (Dave) and then ran away to work the room. Dave was the new executive and content producer for the local Bell Fibe TV1. As we chatted I found out that he needed content. “Content?” I thought “I can do content.”
The show’s submitting process wasn’t as easy as I thought. I’d been goofing about with my video blog each week, but was that good enough to make a show? No, it wasn’t, I soon found out. I watched hours and hours of other shows hoping to come up with an idea that already worked. I took my favourite parts from my own content and pieced them together like a puzzle. Proposals were submitted, amended and then submitted again. Repeat this 3 more times and voila! I gotta tell you…it was so damn exciting when it was accepted!
There is a big difference between creating corporate video for social media and creating a broadcast media show. I was determined to learn and make it work.
I wasn’t prepared for was being on camera. Alone! Carrying a show. By the time I realized how terrifying it was, it was too late. We were well into production. People were relying on me. The first day of shooting was with Rod, my friend and Tai Chi instructor. I stood atop a picnic bench facing a late summer sun with a camera in my face. Dave, my shooter and producer expected this shoot to come off without a hitch but it took a whole hour to get my 15 second introduction out. And by the end I was biting back tears of frustration and humiliation. Later, the intro was mostly covered over with footage. Thanks goodness for the magic of editing.
The rest of the shoot went fairly well. Interviewing was easier and doing the activity, second nature. All through the 6 episodes I struggled with that damn fear and yet managed to get up there and do it every time.
What did I learn from the experience?
- Its never too late to do something you’re afraid of.
- So much more about the inner workings of broadcast tv.
- Compassion for my clients who freeze up. I now have a few tricks up my sleeve to help them get past the fear.
- That I *love* the camaraderie and creative flow of people in this business.
- TV is a crap ton of work but worth every bit of it.
I’m so grateful for the chance to face my demons and come out ahead. Would I do it again? Oh you bet! Season 2 is in the early stages of planning and will be even better than the first.