ON DIRECTING When I started working at CMT, I couldn't have imagined the career I would have. At the time, directing was something other people did with my ideas. Over time, the material got more personal. My contribution to something as simple as a :30 promo was made more meaningful not just in my approach to it but also because directing became a part of my job. I feel very fortunate to have been able to watch several great directors (Brian Eloe, Cheryl King, Jeff Nichols) before I was tasked with doing the job myself. I'm not great at it. I get nervous and sometimes I talk fast, but with these spots as examples, I'm proud of the evolution and what I've accomplished. It took a while to figure out what kind of director I would be, what I'd bring to the set, what my values would be, but by the time I left CMT in 2018 - I was ready to go.
NASHVILLE - SERIES FINALE SPOTS (2018)
CMT / Nashville Season 6 / Launch #3 :60 [INTERVIEW] After the promos for Season 6 hit the air, CMT decided to split the final season of Nashville into winter and spring seasons, which called for another, albeit it smaller scale, promo campaign. This concept, brought to the table by my Executive Producer Jeff Nichols, was based on a campaign we saw for The Alienist – it was a sleek combination of interview footage with each actor, a behind the scenes roaming camera and actual footage from the forthcoming show.
We thought this would be a great way for the actors to formally say goodbye to the fans, recall favorite memories and promote the ‘til-the-end type drama for which it’s known. The idea, ane ultimate execution, was to interview each actor for 45 minutes to an hour with the intent to have enough content to supply not only the launch promotional campaign, but several additional spots for on-air and CMT’s stock of platforms.
I worked with Nashville-based Running 4 Cover on producing the shoot, along with veteran DP Roger Pistole who lead a four-camera team including a static Telepromter camera our Op jimmied up (a la Errol Morris) so the actors were able to speak directly to the camera (or rather, to interview feed of me) to give a more intimate and direct perspective to viewers.
It was quite a bit of footage, but I sent it off to one of my favorite freelance video editors, Michiko Byers.
Writer/Producer/Director: Samantha Storey Exec. Producer: Jeff Nichols VP, Creative: Peter Mannes Sr. Director, Production: Lindsay Lapinski Sr. Manager, Promos: Sarah Walker Line Producer: Jon Brown Writer/Producer: L.B. Ballard Director, Music & Talent: Jackie Jones
Production Producer: Running 4 Cover / Jim Jagels Production Supervisor: JP Peach DP: Roger Pistole 1st AD: Dwayne Logan Camera Op: Paul Cain Camera Op: Matt Satterfield 1st AC: Kip McDonald 1st AC: Frank Howard 2nd AC/DIT: Maria Valletta Sound Mixer: Thomas Morrison
Gaffer: Doug Rice BBE: Bill Jackson Key Grip: Shelby Wertsbaugh BBG: Dustin Roberts
Art Director: Duncan Ragsdale Art Assist: Matt Melcheorri
Hair (Hayden Panettiere): Leonard Zagami MU (Hayden Panettiere): Amy Oresman Stylist (Hayden Panettiere): Susie DeSanto HMU: Amanda Dixon HMU Assist: Marz Avila Collins Stylist: Amanda Sears
Teleprompter: Mitch Walker Craft Service: Sandra Houston PA: Mason Hardin PA: Kyle Bryant
SHOT AT: DR&A in Nashville, TN
NASHVILLE - SEASON 5 SPRING PROMOS (2017)
At the end of the first part of Season 5, one of the show’s main characters Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) departed the show in an incredibly dramatic cliffhanger. It was a pivotal moment for the series both for the characters - whose storylines were now upended, and for the real-life network and actors who had the task of trying to create a compelling case for fans to return to the series after the loss of such a major character.
In this concept, I wanted to keep it simple. There was so much turmoil at the beginning of the season, I felt like the best way it was communicated was through the faces of each character as they considered their next moves. Using audio from the show footage, we shot each a character on a lazy-Susan type set-up in front of a green-screen at a couple of different focal lengths and speeds. It was definitely a strange shoot, but the end result was exactly what I was looking for.
Writer/Producer/Director: Samantha Storey Executive Producer: Jeff Nichols
DP: James King (Running4Cover) Sr. Project Manager: Sarah Walker Sr. Production Coordinator: Kahla Poczatek Associate Producer: Jessica Shepard VP, Creative: Peter Mannes Director, Production: Lindsay Lapinski Video Editor: Dan Perry Addl'l Music Editing: Jim Parker / Mark Furnell @ CMT GFX: 2c Media Add’l GFX: John Monaghan, David Bennett @ CMT Music: Rose Cousins "Not Over Yet" (Concept) Music Supervisor: Paul Logan MML: CMT
CMT ARTISTS OF THE YEAR (2016)
CMT Artists of the Year is an annual show celebrating the top 5 artists in the genre as based on an algorithm of record sales, concert attendance, radio play, etc. Winners are announced prior to the show and the actual broadcast is more a salute to their achievements than an awards show.
The concept was simple: focus on the facts. Ultimately, we produced three spots: 1) Focused on keywords we felt represented the artists and their impact on country music, 2) A laundry list that focused exclusively on the artists being honored, and 3) the original concept: the facts. The numbers, as they were at air time, of albums sold, radio spins, concert goers, etc.
I always loved the original launch for the show, directed by Cheryl King, and wanted to combine that slow-motion action by the talent with the striking gold and black graphics package designed by Sr. Designer Daniel Brown. As is my style, I wanted to keep it simple: Also, we had about 5 minutes to shoot with each artist so it had to be quick. DP Roger Pistole was again at the helm for this as I directed the talent. If you look close enough, you’ll even see my personal tambourine, the second time I’ve been able to use it in a shoot.
CMT MUSIC AWARDS PROMOS (2015)
To modify a more famous quote, there are shoots that ask questions and shoots that answer. This was a hell of a shoot and if I'd been at all concerned that there was a place for me in this industry, this shoot might've killed me if I'd let it. To look at, you likely wouldn't guess the hours of writing, of location research and scouting, of casting and the blistering temperature over the course of the two-day shoot. You wouldn't see inside the edit bay, the frame by frame analysis of each shot, the things we could have done if only there'd been more time.
A few things I will say about this shoot. It was awesome. Brian Glitt and Jim Jagels put together a fantastic crew including one of my favorite 1st ADs in Nashville, Dwayne Logan. The CMT Music Awards is always CMT’s biggest night of the year. It’s rings the same party bell each year, so it can be a challenge to make the creative look and feel different. In this concept, we focused on the fans and how they experience music in their lives. I co-directed this two-day shoot, took the lead on casting, chose locations and produced this crazy spot.
In retrospect, one of my favorite things about this shoot is the moment in time in captured of downtown Nashville. The city has been experiencing somewhat of a revitalization and many of the landmarks we shot at including Paradise Park and The Listening Room have either closed or relocated since this shoot. Party vibe remains.
This was a shoot that answered. It was tough. By the end, I was sunburned, hungry, sweaty and defeated in a few ways but the spot turned out nice.
Writer + Producer: Samantha Storey Sr. Creative Director: Scott Gerlock VP, Creative: Peter Mannes Video/Audio Editing: Ultrabland NYC DP: Michael Barnett PC: Running 4 Cover / Brian Glitt + Jim Jagels GFX: (for CMT) David Bennett, Stevie Boudreaux, John Monaghan, Mark Walczak, Shawna O'Neill