I Did 198 Takes Last Night for My Video Blog – A Confession

too many takes
The beginning and the end.

I told my girlfriend a lie last night.

To be fair, this was unintentional. Had I known the actual truth (as I do now) I may have very well snapped the remaining thread of sanity holding me upright or thrown myself from a balcony screaming.

On my way home from work yesterday I put together some thoughts for a video blog. I wrote down eleven points I wanted to discuss including an upcoming trip, a holiday card I’m sending to readers, and a story about not picking up my dog’s poop (which I still don’t do even though I promised you I would).

I got home and set up the camera and laid out my notes. Usually what happens is that I have to film the segment multiple times. In the first few takes I’ll inevitably screw up the timing a joke or jumble some words or forget what the hell I was going to talk about next.

Once I get a solid full-length recording I’ll review it from start to finish with a discerning eye. Ten times out of ten I realize I waxed on too long about something that wasn’t entertaining or funny. Since my videos are only a few minutes long, I decide to re-record the entire video. This takes another two to three attempts.

Then I edit and produce. The whole project from start to finish takes about an hour to complete a two-minute segment. And if you’ve seen my videos, you’ll be surprised to learn that I can’t do it quicker.  I’m not exactly Federico Fellini, for chrissakes.

Back to last night – I started recording and kept screwing up the intro. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to thank everyone for reading my blog or wish them a happy holidays first. The words kept stumbling over themselves and I found myself doing take after take. I couldn’t get the intro right no matter what. I even rehearsed a few times after a dozen missteps. Nothing was working.

But I had committed to getting this video done. Plus, I have done enough of these vlogs in the past to know it just takes a few more attempts. I would eventually get it.

Four hours later, without a break, I got it done.

My voice was croaky and my eyes bloodshot. I couldn’t stand for more than a few seconds because I would get dizzy. For four hours I made mistake after mistake and couldn’t land the plane. My dedication, however, was unwavering. I kept going. And going.

I called Beth after I was done. She’s been on TV dozens of times and never needed more that one take for her segments, and many are filmed live in studio where mistakes are not permitted. I figured she’d get a kick out of my failures.

Had a little trouble tonight with the video – I’m pretty sure I did around seventy-five takes.

Holy shit, that’s nuts! You’re crazy.

Yes, going to pass out now.

So tonight Beth came over and, just for a goof I suggested I count up all yesterday’s takes, because that whole evening had been a blur. I probably had done more than seventy five.

Well, I started with file 18 – and then each take goes up sequentially by one. I ended up with file 216.

Yes, without exaggeration or mathematical error, I made 198 different attempts to film a two-minute video.

I couldn’t hardly believe it myself, but yet, there they were.

too many takes
The beginning and the end.

I’d like to think that I’m a hero to the undisciplined, that this is a shining example on how tenacity and perseverance can get you places. And I guess, in some small way that’s true.

But this was just plain lunacy. I remember at one point I noticed I had been unconsciously picking at a callous on the bottom of my big toe. I reached up to scratch my nose and I saw blood on my fingers. I had ripped through the callous into the actual skin. Didn’t feel it – had no idea. And I’m a guy that has never picked at himself – not even a scab.

I was out of my mind, I guess.

It’s clear I was having an off night. In fact it was the most off night I’ve ever had, creatively.

I’m not sure what to make of this psychologically. I was a rabid dog that was clamped onto a mailman’s leg unwilling to let go. And the end product wasn’t even that entertaining. Just a dumb “here’s what’s been going on” video.

So there it is folks. My craziness, front and center. I’m going to let it retreat for awhile in the corner of my psyche where it can rest. It’s earned some well-needed time off.