I'm fascinated by how a concept journeys from spark to idea to sketch to pitch to treatment to production, shoot and final execution. It's always been fascinating to me not only with my own concepts but also to look at others. I wanted to make a space to show the process here, to show how one concept evolved from first thoughts to final product.

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My Executive Producer Jeff Nichols and I collaborated on this idea, that he'd been mulling on for a time. He'd seen a few behind-the-scenes like clips from the TBS series, The Alienist and thought we could do something similar as a complement to the elaborate red carpet, Hollywood-like shoot we'd done months before for the launch of the first part of the last season of Nashville.

Here, you'll see screenshots of those Alienist pieces and our first thoughts on how we'd scale it for CMT. The photos of Joseph Gordon Levitt, for instance, were taken from the NY Times' Screen Test series. I loved the starkness of that series, and lightened up, I found these straight-on photos of actors in a lighter but similar space. I loved the idea of stripping away all the trappings of television and fame and having the actors talk straight to the camera in character. We went back and forth on ideas that incorporated the same focus on the actors with different background textures or lights, then with certain props to see how it added or took away from the seriousness of the spot.


In Round 2, you can already start to see how we're starting to refine the existing concept. At this point, we've received some preliminary feedback from higher-ups indicating they as much as they liked the starkness and monotoned look of our proposed spots, they were going to be on air at the same time as another tentpole event, the CMT Music Awards, the just-approved graphics package of which, included major black and white elements. Can't have competing looks.

I pulled a lot of referenes from Instagram. Quite a few of the photos here came from the feed of local photographers Cameron Powell and Daniel Miegs and featured background textures by local painter Telicia Lee. I started really falling in love with the look. By this point, our talent management needed to start booking talent for this shoot. As it would be the very last shoot for the actors before the show ended, we had to get the actors before they finished shooting and if we went with the interview idea, which had been approved, then we need 10-12 cast members for 45 minutes, minimum.

What you're seeing here is our first shot at wardrobe. Where this differs from a normal soup-to-nuts concept is that these are genuine wardrobe suggestions. We'd decided the actors would be speaking as themselves, not in character, so we needed to set the tone, make sure everyone wasn't planning to wear the same thing as well as stay away from colors and patterns that don't work on camera.

While set design isn't part of our usual plan, Jeff thought using Errol Morris' Interrotron set-up would work perfectly for this project, so we wanted to make sure that concept didn't get lost in the production notes that would inevitably begin flying around once the project deadline got closer.

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