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March 2011

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PRETTY While TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras is a not a comedy, Steve Silver- man saw the potential for humor and used the beauty pageant sto- ryline as a basis for his satiric Web series, Pretty.The series follows a father and his five-year-old daughter as they prepare and compete in the mother of all kiddie pageants, Miss Star Eyes. Silverman, a published playwright whose day job is working as a producer at Fox Broadcasting, had always envisioned Pretty ( as a Web series.“I never thought of it as an independent feature or a broadcast TV show, but I’d love for it to turn into one of those things.” He acknowledges that getting this show on broadcast tele- vision might have been a challenge, especially at the pitch stage.While the story of Michael Champagne, a proud pageant dad who wants to see his young daughter win the Miss Star Eyes pageant, is fairly traditional, the idea that the daughter is played by a 42-year- old actress might be a little, well, different. “I never thought I could get that past some- body, even in script form,” he laughs. In truth, Silverman likes the freedom that comes with producing this show on his own and on the Web. “I an- swer to executives all day, and they are fantastic, but with Pretty, I don’t answer to anybody but myself. My co-producers (John Carrozza, Doug Prinzivalli, Barbara Farmer) give me great suggestions, but it all falls on my shoulders, and I kinda love it.” The second season of the show just ended, and Silver- man is up for a third season, but it all comes down to securing financing. Season one was paid for by Silverman and his partner Jim Cannella. “For the second season, we raised money online and used that as a base. If you are willing to pay for a movie, a Broadway show or for your cable, are you willing to pay 10 bucks for a show you love? That is what our viewers did for us, and I feel we delivered them a really great season with lots of surprises and great guest stars (including Knots Landing’s Joan Van Ark). If we could raise the finances, I’d love to do a third season.” This past season of Pretty was shot with a Canon XL-H1.“We wanted to capture the look of The Office or America’s Next Top Model. In fact, our main DP for 10 of our 12 episodes in both sea- sons is the DP on America’s Next Top Model— Gretchen Warthen. I hired her, because that’s the look I wanted, an almost perfect, but still kind of dirty look, and documentary style.” After shooting SD for the first season, Silverman’s editor/post production supervisor Nicole Opyr was ready to take on HD.“We would shoot on a weekend, I’d deliver her tapes and she’d put everything into the Avid Media Composer.” In terms of the look of the show, Silverman tried to match Tod- dlers and Tiaras as much as possible.“They do this thing on Toddlers and Tiaras where these people do the confessional talk.They always have them in front of a red or green velvet curtain.We went with the crappiest gold curtain we could find on purpose and we lit it so it would pick up the lights.” Alex Steen, their audio man, used a standard boom with a DAT that synced into the camera for timecode.“He burned everything to CDs, we then put everything into the Avid and we would work from the camera audio to sync up everything,” explains Silverman. “Once it was synced up and we got a rough cut and locked picture, Nicole cleaned everything up and put in the final audio. Literally 99.9 percent matched perfectly.” Even with their limited budget, Pretty does use visual effects when the story calls for it.This season, one of the characters was trying to get others to invest in haunted houses. Silverman wanted to shoot in front of one at night but that had its challenges.“It’s very difficult Vendor created this interactive spot for HomeAway, which premiered during the Super Bowl. Users can put themselves or their vacation homes into the ad. March 2011 • Post 25

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