Help me get through a TV taping
April 1, 2014 2:51 PM   Subscribe

I wrote a story for an online women's magazine, and it was picked up for a Canadian television network. They'll tape me as I'm telling my story, and then they'll re-enact it with actors. If you've ever seen Investigation Discovery episodes, it'll be like that, but funny. How do I get through this?

Anyway, does anyone have tips for how to look better (thinner, prettier, less crazy) on camera? They'll have a make up person, who may or may not make me look better according to my own standards. Is it okay to argue with this person?

I'm in the middle of a weight loss program, so I'm currently about half-way to my goal weight but not QUITE there. These people were inflexible on the taping date, so I have to go do this tomorrow. I'm still feeling fat (and a bit furious that they wouldn't give me an extra week). Can I persuade them NOT to shoot me from my double chin upwards? I sometimes see TV interviews being done like this, and I just can't believe the person allowed it. All I can think is that they weren't aware of the unflattering angle.

There will also be a camera crew, and a guy who will be sort of coaching me (asking some questions to keep my story flowing), but he won't actually be there, he'll be on Skype. I want them to shoot me from my best side (left), but how much can I ask them to do without being a diva?

I know I have a tendency to roll my eyes around when I'm talking to people. How can I stop doing this?

Do you think it's okay to bring notes so I can remember my own story? I know I won't be able to use them on camera, but it will help me psychologically to have them there.

Any other tips from videographers out there on how to look better on tape and get through this in a few takes as possible?
posted by cartoonella to Media & Arts (14 answers total)
Make-up on camera is a different thing than make-up for going out.... I would tend to trust their judgement regarding make-up, as they know how to do things to make them look good on camera (for example, to avoid glare).
posted by el io at 3:09 PM on April 1, 2014 [5 favorites]

You are way, way, WAY overthinking this.

Just go do the taping. The goal is to look like yourself. It'll be fine.

I wouldn't go in looking for a fight with the hair/makeup person. It's their job to make you look good. They know what that means, in terms of the effect that will be produced in front of the camera. Trust them. That said, if you have certain hair preferences ("don't straighten it", or whatever), or have a signature makeup look that is important to you, feel free to stick to your guns.

Unless you have a severe physical deformity/injury, I wouldn't worry about "your best side" and all that. Feel free to ask, "Can I angle myself left?" or whatever, but, in general relax. Don't be a diva by... not being a diva. Chill the fuck out.

The camera people will probably direct you about the eye rolling thing, specifically by giving you an "eye-line", AKA something to look at while you're talking. You might want to practice not looking up or down or crossing your eyes, but instead addressing yourself to one specific eye-line point. You can probably do this in the mirror or practice with a webcam.

I'm sure it's fine if you bring notes.

Don't worry about "too many takes", or the like. That isn't really a thing, and in the event that it is, it's much more likely to be because of technical problems and not because of you messing it up.
posted by Sara C. at 3:10 PM on April 1, 2014 [5 favorites]

I kind of hate suggesting it, but chin aside, that not-quite-there is sort of exactly what Spanx are for. Okay, maybe I don't totally hate it, I feel silly in them but I think they do a good job of not so much making you smaller as just making you look a bit more like you belong the size you currently are, if that makes sense. Mostly, though, my old moot court tricks: Practice in front of a webcam. Watch it back, do it again, watch it back, do it again. It weeds out a lot of stupid habits by making you conscious of them. Get the feel for your transitions, your important points, then you just sort of have to connect the dots between them. The point isn't so much memorizing it as gaining confidence that you know where you're going, then you can stress out less about how you're getting there. Similarly, I think the webcam trick is primarily useful so that you don't spend the whole time imagining that you look like an idiot; you know what your face looks like when you're speaking and you're remembering to smile and you feel a lot better and therefore you do better.
posted by Sequence at 3:13 PM on April 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sounds like a fun thing tomorrow. Get a good night's sleep so you'll look and feel rejuvenated!
posted by travelwithcats at 3:19 PM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Don't wear small patterns, stripes or anything that will make you uncomfortable. (The first two will moire or shimmer on camera, the last is just good advice for all occasions.) And if you get flustered, it's okay to ask them to stop and give you a sec.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:05 PM on April 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

If you have long hair, you can use some surgical type tape to pull up & position your face. Behind your ears it may adjust your double chin. It is the poor woman's facelift.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 5:17 PM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, this sounds like a neat adventure. A bit scary and wild but all adventures are!

I would make sure to eat something with protein beforehand - some Greek yogurt with Museli, maybe, or eggs - and wear some underwear that makes you feel totally confident and sexy. Spanx over the sexy undies if you want - that will slim down your waist a bit.

And I roll my eyes and gesticulate a lot when talking. For public speaking like this I like to make sure to breathe (I also talk fast) and to try to focus on one or two people. Perhaps think of the camera lens as the face of a good friend.

Confidence is very important so I would do something that made me feel great and relaxed and strong first - a light exercise and perhaps a hot relaxing bath if you have time.

Don't worry about the side of your face or your makeup. They'll take care of it. If they choose your "bad side" you could say something like "I feel more comfortable facing this way" rather than talking about your good and bad sides. I also think I have a "bad side" but literally no one aside from me would agree with that. We are our own worst critics.

Afterward, go celebrate, because you did something awesome! Something lots of people never get the chance to do. I'm not going to tell you to enjoy it but I think you really probably will.

Good luck!
posted by sockermom at 5:21 PM on April 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

I know somebody who goes on TV frequently. He's over 55 and has a moustache. They plaster him with makeup every time, and it looks terrible in person, but it looks fine on TV.

I know I have a tendency to roll my eyes around when I'm talking to people.

I don't find this weird, it's kind of cute.
posted by clearlydemon at 6:03 PM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Actually I'm here to say, if you think the make-up is bad, it probably is.

I know everybody says, "trust the make-up person, she's a pro, she'll understand TV make-up" and for the most part, they're probably right, but that doesn't mean they'll always be right.

I say this from experience. I let a TV studio make-up pro put my make-up when I was being interviewed on a live news program. I really didn't like the way it looked, and I felt terribly uncomfortable with the make-up. But I sucked it up and didn't say anything because I thought, TV make-up + make-up pro = I'm being silly.

Nope. The first comment I got from family members after the show wasn't about what I said, the conversation started with "you looked like a hooker" and carried on from there. And the sad part is they were right. I saw the tape afterwards, and I looked awful and over-done.

Over the years I've gained a bit of experience, and here's what I can share:

--Make sure you wear mascara, even if you don't in real life. It really makes a difference on camera.

--If you 're really concerned about your double chin, you can mention it to the make-up lady and ask her about shading and contouring it. Depending on how much time you have and what kind of mood she's in, she may or may not do it for you.

--It will feel weird, but if you can throw your chin forward a bit, it should help the chin situation (and the trick is forward not up).

--Smile. Both with your eyes and with your mouth. Not a big goofy grin, but a soft, warm-thoughts type of smile. For the eyes that means opening them up a little bit and softening them (don't glare).

--Don't think about the camera or the red light or anything like that, and do look where the director tells you. If s/he says don't look directly at the camera, then don't. A lot of news and video footage is done with the eyeline looking slightly off camera.

--Square your shoulders (it looks better on camera). If you must stand (and they're shooting from the waist up), keep your feet shoulder width apart. (That's to minimize body sway that the camera picks up but that you likely don't notice in person.)

--As mentioned above, solid colours work best with no fine or fussy patterns. Try to avoid too much white, as that can be hard to light so both your clothing and your face are properly exposed.

--A v-neck can help lengthen and counterbalance the chin. Avoid turtle necks.

--If you can breathe with your diaphragm. So when you inhale, the stomach goes out and when you exhale the stomach goes in and forces the air up and out. It makes your voice sound stronger.

But the most important thing is to relax. They picked you for a reason. They know you have something worth sharing. So have confidence in yourself and your work. Good luck.
posted by sardonyx at 6:26 PM on April 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for these great responses, guys!
posted by cartoonella at 7:19 PM on April 1, 2014

One other thing. If you can wear a jacket, that might be your best option.

A jacket should give you a collar or lapel so they can pin the mic there, and it allows them to run the mic cord underneath an article of your clothing without you having to pull your shirt up and stick the wire under there.

If you don't want to do a jacket, a sweater can also work, providing it has enough heft so the mic doesn't weigh it down.
posted by sardonyx at 8:58 PM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Wear color, blue or violets will be most flattering, but I wore orange when I was on TV and I got tons of compliments.

Solid colors, spanx, and trust the make up person. I learned very cool tips from a make up person.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:18 AM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

So how did the taping go?
posted by sardonyx at 9:23 AM on April 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sardonyx, thanks for asking! It went well actually. They laughed a lot, said I was entertaining, apparently loved me. I just really hope I get paid now. I have a scanned contract I signed with the amount they're supposedly sending. It would be wonderful if this would happen without my having to start chasing them. I really just need ONE SINGLE THING I'm trying to do right now to work out. That would be great :)
posted by cartoonella at 3:08 AM on April 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

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