Finishing up my day yesterday with Marc Dress, we wind up in the editing room where Dress compiles his footage. He’s staring fixedly at a monitor.
After practice finishes, Marc hustles up to the outdoor set for Redskins.com TV to shoot an interview with Chris Samuels. It’s the two-seater, open at the back to the practice fields, with Larry Michael and Samuels. Marc does literally hundreds of these, and has it down pretty much to a science.
Watching practice with Director of Production Marc Dress certainly starts out entertaining. It seems like one out of every three guys who goes by pokes at him, taps him, messes with him. “The guys are just funny. Anything with Rabach, Jansen, Yoder, Sellers — those guys are hysterical. I’ll be shooting, and they’ll come up and give me a shot to the ribs or wherever, pinch me, and I’ve gotta just be a rock, just concentrate to not lose my shot.”
From there, it’s all about generating content for the show, in this case today’s episode of Redskins Nation. Much of it is carefully planned out, parts of it are left open to be filled with up-to-the-moment information. Yet again I find myself nudged into appearing in the episode, although (thankfully) mostly as off-camera voiceover this time.
“I try to show behind the scenes as much as I can,” Marc says. “Find something that’s going on, things that are happening. If a guy’s just kinda standing still, unless Larry [Michael]’s talking about him, I move on to something else.”
An awful lot comes down to Marc’s communication with Larry. Much of what they do is taped in one continuous shot, usually of unpredictable people doing semi-predictable things, and watching them work, it’s remarkable how well they synchronize. “I sort of know what he’s thinking,” Marc says of Larry. “We’re like an old married couple.”
“But there’s still a lot of passion in the relationship,” Larry says. I shot some video of the two of them recording a segment at practice, so you can judge for yourselves.
After shooting two segments, Larry leaves to go work on something in the office. Marc says, “Normally, I’d be doing miked up until 9:30, 9:45. As soon as I’m done with miked up, I go do that press conference stuff that I did already, so I’ve got a breather. My first one in ten days, actually.”
So, of course, he uses that breather to shoot B-roll footage.
The first thing Redskins.com TV director of production Marc Dress says to me when I catch up with him this morning is “You picked a good day to follow me, because I’m not miking anyone up today so I have a little more spare time than usual.”
More spare time is not usually a recipe for good blogging material, so I’m actually pretty relieved when one of their departmental interns has to call in sick with a fever. Not that it would’ve mattered all that much. As I’ve previously mentioned, these guys are crazy busy.
“Redskins Broadcast network, during the season, we do five shows. Redskins Late Night, Redskins Gameday, Redskins Players Club, Redskins Weekly, and Redskins Nation. Redskins Nation is a daily show that runs year-round; the rest of them run during the season.”
And that’s not all. “Another one of my jobs,” Dress add, “is that I feed content to NFL Network. Any Redskins stuff you see on NFL Network comes from me.”
It’s an impressive operation. “Yeah, especially considering how many people we have. And to still win Emmys? That’s big.”
Usually, Marc’s day would start with miking up a player’s pads in the locker room, then getting set up and waiting for him to come out. “The key to that is I have to listen, follow the player on-camera, and make sure I get some clean plays – plays with good action, nothing objectionable, no signals, no cursing, stuff like that.”
But, to my previously mentioned distress, that’s not happening today. Instead, Marc uses his so-called “free time” to get a head start on setting up the podium that will be used for after-practice press conferences. (Always one from Coach Zorn and usually at least one player.)
(There’s still cake on the stage from yesterday’s Chris Samuels birthday festivities, as well as some on the mike. When Coach Zorn takes the stage for his press conference, the first thing he will observe is that it smells like cake, and I will feel, briefly, very perceptive.)
This takes a few minutes, and is usually something that Marc has to squeeze in while practice finishes up. After that, we meet up with Larry Michael, Executive Producer of Media and general on-air all-around guy, and head out to the field for practice. So much for Marc’s free time.
At morning practice today, and possibly for a bit afterward, I’ll be following Marc Dress, Director of Production for Redskins.com TV, trying to see the practice through his eyes. What that job title means from a practical standpoint is that Marc shoots lots and lots of footage of the Redskins, enough to fill five shows in-season, plus supply footage to the NFL Network.
Marc started out of college as an intern at Home Team Sports — the local cable sports precursor to Comcast SportsNet — where “I did anything and everything. I freelanced outside of HTS, did everything to learn and get ahead, to learn every aspect of the TV business, because I wanted to be on-air.”
The on-air thing never materialized, but he found an ability and an affinity for behind the camera work, and when HTS was bought by Comcast, Marc came onboard there. He’s covered countless teams, college and pro, and was brought to the Redskins by Larry Michael, with whom he worked during the HTS days.
As I said yesterday, Marc and the Redskins.com TV crew work incredibly hard, so I’m expecting to have to jog to keep up with them, and they’re in much better shape than I am. Not having to carry as much heavy equipment might help equalize things, though. We shall see.