Finding A Shoot Location...

How do you find a location for shooting?

This is a tough question with MANY different ways to go about it.  

That said, here is what we have found / are finding to be successful as we go:

1. Hit up places that you know first and foremost.  Think about what you are looking for in the scene.  Put together your ideal location situation and then think about how you can recreate that same idea in places that are immediately available to you.  For instance, SJM has been working to secure a location for our “Confessional” scene.  Unable to find an actual confessional booth to shoot in, we had to get creative.  Instead, we are using a small interview room in the office that one of our creator/producers works in for his “Survival Job” while using the radiator grate cover from the bathroom of our other creator / producer as the gobo to create the correct lighting / mood for the scene.  See - gotta get creative.

2. Another tactic we have used is sending blanket FB blasts, not only from our RINGER$ Page, but from our personal pages as well asking for types of locations we are looking for.  If you don’t ask, you don’t receive.

3. Very important - pay attention to everyone you talk to or people you meet.  Think about what resources they might be able to offer the project.  Then you offer them beer - we have not forgotten you Michael!  Basically, the more you are aware of all the connections around you, the more likely you are to secure a space.  

4. And finally, even if it’s not the most optimal location setting, trust that the material you have created will be what the audience is paying attention to!

Happy scouting!

Getting Started

A lot of people wake up and go to jobs they don’t like knowing in order to get paid they have to go put in the time. The alarm goes off, they groan, and then they get up and start getting ready. Day after day. It's not a matter of motivation. At this point, it's sheer willpower. If they didn’t at least put one foot on the floor, they would stay in bed.  It’s easy for artists who are “waiting for their big break” to think they would bound out of bed every day if only they were heading to a job they love.

I thought the same thing but it’s not true!


I have found that motivation is an effect, not a cause. What we as artists love is when we get into a “flow” state. We are in rehearsal and the scene is flowing. We are in front of the camera and we lose ourselves. We sit to write a blog post and it feels as if the blog post writes itself. That’s what we artists are in love with and that's what we are talking about when we refer to our passion. People throw around the word passion easily.


“Oh it’s my passion!”

“Do what you love. Find your passion.”

“When you find your passion, it doesn’t feel like work.”


It’s easy to forget about the logistics that usually come with said passion. Before you can have a seamless rehearsal, you have to sit and learn lines. You have to fumble through awkward moments. Before having an amazing film shoot, actor’s have to be scheduled, equipment has to be bought or rented, lights have to be set.


All that said, some less passionate moments have to happen before getting to the good stuff. I have found that there are two ways to get through the less thrilling moments.


  1. Get started! Just like the employee puts both feet on the floor and pushes themselves to the office, sometimes you just have to start. Momentum will catch up.

    1. Even with writing this blog post, I knew kind of what I wanted to say but had no idea where to start, so I just started writing. After ten minutes, I was in flow and the post just came out!  

  2. Find team members whose passion lies in the things you find laborious.

    1. I love sculpting a great scene and watching magic happen on camera. It gets me excited about editing, which I find fascinating. Luckily, for most shoots, I have two great friends, Odin Redd and Brian Gustaveson who are a filmmaker and photographer respectively, who operate the cameras and help with lighting. I am then able to watch and create scenes without being hindered by apertures and light balances.


Getting started is the first step in any venture so if you have an idea, get started. RINGER$ began with Rebecca opening a bottle of Chardonnay and pitching me an idea. The next 15 months turned out to be a cycle of starts. Everything from social media updates to editing hours of footage begins with one step. Creators, step up!



Preproducion...aka Labor Pains

As we are deep in the throes of pre-production for RINGER$ Season1, I am struck by the fact that we are even doing this to begin with…let alone again.

The first go around was new and exciting.  Everyone wanted to help and spread the Good News.  All of the details came together quite easily, in fact.  As though the universe aligned simply to make The Pontius Pilot happen.  And it did and has been quite successful.  

So successful that people have been clamouring, well maybe only asking, for more episodes.  They want more content!  So Cornelius and I looked at each other and said, “okay”,  and RINGER$ Season 1 was born.  

But this time we know what to expect, well sort of, and now have 4 times the amount of footage to shoot on less than our original budget to shoot the single pilot episode.  

Things can become overwhelming quickly.  Like, really overwhelming.  And that is when we break it down, task by task, in order to get the episodes shot.  Once there is a list of everything that must be done, we figure out which task must be done before everything else can be chosen, cast or scheduled.  Then we do it. No matter how hard or daunting it may seem.  

Once the ball is rolling, things start to fall in place.  And I am preaching to the choir here but be flexible.  If one location or cast member or any of the other hundreds of things do not work out as planned, there was a reason.  And perhaps option B will be better than originally thought.  

For example, we had a scene written in Episode 2 starring one of our actresses who turns out could not attend our shoot on the date scheduled.  At first, we were thrown into a panic, “OMG, when will we shoot this scene with this location and cast again?!”.  Then we took a look at the script again and realized that what we had planned for the scene was completely wrong.  We looked again at the story we were telling and realized that another character should be having this moment.  So we replanned and rewrote the scene and could not be happier with where the story is now going!   

Or, as we learned by letting our cast play on set, take your show in a different, perhaps more interesting direction!

Sure, we all have the survival jobs, relationships, and life that happens while trying to create, write, scout locations, schedule actors (not to mention that we have a cast of about 25 people). One step at a time is the only way we know how to get the job done.

 "candid" photo of Rebecca Barko & Cornelius Bethea having a production meeting

"candid" photo of Rebecca Barko & Cornelius Bethea having a production meeting

The Other Side Of The Table

Last Monday, Survival Job Media held auditions in NYC for our new TV comedy pilot RINGER$.  And after a long but wonderful day of auditions, I finally understood what it meant to be BEHIND the table. 

However, the first step in our casting process was to send out the character breakdowns, which required looking at the pilot from a different perspective.  To verbalize the characters that have been living with in my head for all these months was a bit of a challenge, but with the help of my partner Cornelius and our casting director Lauren, we were able to articulate the breakdowns and solicit some amazing talent – in fact, over 500 submissions!

Then came the big day.  After years and years of auditioning in New York, it was an understatement to say that I was excited to finally be on the other side of the table.  Having the opportunity to see and hear our characters come alive and experience what all those casting directors, directors and producers see time and time again was an exceptional opportunity.  And boy was there a lot to learn from what the actors brought to the auditions!  So many great choices, subtext in the script we were not even aware of, and much to our delight, brilliantly performed physical comedy!

The toughest part of the day – besides staying on schedule! - was that we could not use all of the exceptionally talented actors we saw.  Then came the process of narrowing down the actors to put together the strongest ensemble cast possible.  And that is exactly what we have done and are so excited to share with you all!

Keep an eye on the WHAT? / WHO? Page on our website in the coming weeks for more information about this stellar ensemble cast!