“It’s not a movie if it’s not a horror on the set. If you’re dealing with talent…that are passionate…they are going to be opinionated. And there are bound to be differences. And that’s when magic happens.”
Precious director and Empire creator Lee Daniels
Independent Film interview with Corey Boutilier

Quote pulled from my January 17, 2010 post. 

Following the Steve Martin advice to “Be so good they can’t ignore you” is the story of Jacob Fray.

Ramadan is over,
The new moon’s shown her face,
I’m halfway round the planet,
In a most unlikely place
Far Side of the World lyrics by Jimmy Buffett

I’ll end this 10 part look at Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown  with a couple of interviews that gives you a better glimpse of how that show is put together.

“If the show goes badly, we tell that story anyway.”
Parts Unknown host Anthony Bourdain

Every production has its trouble spots, but Parts Unknown hosts Anthony Bourdain takes comfort in knowing that the worst disasters often make for good television. Why? Because conflict holds our attention. And for Bourdain’s show that strives for authenticity, inauthenticity is the enemy. Here’s a scene from Sicily where things got comical.

And here’s a video of Bourdain explaining how things went south for an episode of No Reservations shot in Romania. A show which he said was the worst shoot of his career, but one he also considers a “comedy classic.”


“Is sound going to be a problem? Yeah. Is lighting going to be a problem? Yeah. Does that matter? No.”
Executive Producer Chris Collins while shooting footage on the streets of India




“The day a sound man shows up on this show I’m gone.”
Anthony Bourdain

This is Part 7 of a string of posts of the show Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, but technically we’re looking at a quote about Bourdain’s other show The Layover. Those shows are a great example of nimble, small crew storytelling. In other posts I’ve mentioned where Bourdain not only doesn’t like the whole shotgun mic/boom thing for audio—but he doesn’t use an audio person. What else doesn’t he like? Lights!

“Scouting a restaurant has us looking like wayward mental patients. Slowly wandering around the dining room staring at ceiling, whispering and subtly gesturing. Determining the best table to shoot presents a dilemma: maximize the depth of the restaurant, making for nice backgrounds, and we have to sit in the darkest spot. One founding principal of Layover is no lights. I don’t mind things being low key and under-lit; we’ve shot some very dark spots. I have a hard time accepting no eye-light. Need life in the eyes. As a rule, Bourdain hates lights. No time to use them on “Layover” and he likes that. I sit in his seat and my eyes wander around the room looking for a place to hide a small lamp.”
Director of Photography Zach Zamboni (Parts Unknown, The Layover)
Huffpost article

Food for thought, especially for indie filmmakers. Want a feature film example shot without lights? Here it is—The New World. (Embrace your limitations.)

Scott W. Smith



“So the first thing in building an episode is to research where we’re going. Preproduction is extremely critical. We don’t land in a country and rely on our wits and charm—we let Tony do that, we can’t. So there are a lot of logistics and things we need to think through—it’s like planning a dysfunctional family vacation….Once we have solid ideas and sort of a game plan setup what we do we enlist the services of a fixer, and that’s somebody who lives in the country [where we’re going to shoot]. They know the place and help us out with logistics, permits, and that kind of stuff.”
Executive Producer Chris  Collins  (No Reservations, Parts Unknown)

This above video is a making of episode of No Reservations. It’s super example of how a documentary TV show is be put together. DP Zach Zamboni says the same concept is applied on Parts Unknown, with the fixer being hired in as far as a year from when they shoot in the country where the fixer lives. There’s a lot of legwork happening behind the scenes to make the week or two shooting in the area go as smoothly as possible. And sometimes the fixer really earns their keep helping the crew when things don’t go smoothly.

Scott W. Smith

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