Friday, December 18, 2009

The Day that Zoomed By

I woke up on time this morning at 6:30. I took my time getting ready, all the while listening to the CD I bought of The Priests. Overall, the start of morning was quiet and peaceful. As I left for work, I was pleased to find that the weather was pleasant as well. It was cold, but not a painfully cold. The slightest bit of a flurry also fell as I walked to the corner, just in time to meet a spacious railcar. As I found a seat to sit in, I quietly thanked God for letting my morning go so smoothly.

The office we also quiet when I made it in. I made myself a cup of tea and sat at my desk to begin working on my script for Zoom. The first step is to check the sites for stories. We use sites like the Vatican, ZENIT, Catholic News Service, and The Catholic Register to name a few. Usually if I'm helping write stories for Zoom, I'm able to find a few right away. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find anything this morning. Panic threatened to creep in, but I kept calm and checked all the sites again.

Everyday, they have the Zoom done in English and French, which means two hosts. I spoke to the French host and we both exchanged comments on what we had found. Both of us had come up with little, which wasn't as bad as I had thought. Zoom airs before a show called Catholic Focus, which takes up a 30 minute time slot. But, CF is never a full 30 minutes, it ranges from 23-27 minutes usually. The extra time is used for Zoom, which is why its length varies from day to day. Today's episode of CF was 27 minutes, which meant we had 3 minutes for our show.

After some help from one of the producers I was able to find three stories to cover: an address the nuncio for the UN gave at the Climate summit in Denmark, the Vatican's Christmas tree, and a promo for two specials that would be aired on S+L over the weekend.

Things got a little stressful when all of the producers were called into a meeting in the middle of my script writing - I had no one there to answer my questions or help me get my script in order. It really forced me to focus and get it done for myself - which probably was a blessing in disguise.

The morning flew by - I had been so busy trying to find stories and gather B-Roll (anything you want to add to your show, like clips from the Vatican or pictures of whoever you're talking about), that I didn't even realize it was already 11:30. I printed off my script and passed it off to a producer to read once they were out of their meeting and headed off to the bathroom to touch-up make-up and my hair.

I think this is when I panicked. In the solitude that was this small, two stalled bathroom, it hit me that this show would be broadcasted in hundreds of thousands of homes and streamed online. Now, of course, it doesn't mean that many people would see it - but the people I cared about, my friends, family, people from school and back in Louisiana - they would all see it. What if I sucked? What if S+L didn't like it, and I never would be able to do it again?

I think this was right about the time that I looked myself in the mirror and told myself to stop being a girl.

I left the bathroom with my nerves somewhat in check and was told we needed to begin filming immediately, and I was going first. My nerves came back. I hadn't practiced my script at all and I didn't feel ready to start. Regardless, they were ready now and faced with an editing deadline and I had to go.

I got my mic on and stood behind the table with my script in hand. I was told to hold the papers in my hands, look down at them as I switched stories, and try to look natural as I read the teleprompter. I have to admit the nerves got the better part of me. I don't think I was as nervous about people seeing this in a few hours as I was about wasting the peoples' time who were in the room with me with filming if I kept messing up, or if they thought I wasn't do a good job. I don't know why; they would never think that.

Any way, we got through it, and I can't remember much of it - just that I was nervous. I ate lunch after we filmed and found that I was too stressed out to eat very much of it - I was anxious to see the edited version of the show. I didn't have much to work on today, so I surfed the S+L site reading people's blogs. After an hour or so passed, the editor came to get me - the show was finished.

When word got out that the edited version was ready, Father Rosica, my supervisor, and some of my coworkers gathered around the small editing room to watch as well. I hovered in the doorway, scared to watch the finished product in front of so many important people. But, it was too late and before I knew it, I heard myself greeting all of Canada.

"Hello and welcome to Zoom!"

The viewing process was awkward. I looked nervous in the video. I had thought I had been expressive and warm when we had recorded the introduction, but my efforts didn't come across as blatantly as I had expected. It wasn't awful, but you could just tell I was a little uncomfortable.

Thankfully, no one else commented on this fact. Father Rosica offered great commentary with my coworkers. They thought I looked poised and put together, they thought I spoke at a good pace with good annunciation, and that over all it looked good.

I relaxed with the start of the second story on camera - that was easy to tell. They seemed to like my hook to the beginning and the smile I added with it. I was grateful for the B-roll on this story, it helped the whole thing look more natural. The final story or promo was alright as well - and again I liked the B-roll. With my closing statement, Father Rosica turned to face me and the office and shouted "That's a wrap; our Texas star is born!" I couldn't help but laugh.

When the video was posted online, I text messaged my immediately family and Ben to let them know they could watch the episode. A few minutes later I got a text from Ben saying his whole office had gathered around his computer to watch it and they all like it - I thought that was sweet. I also got a phone call from my mother saying her office just had watched, and ironically, a woman from ABC 13 was there (I think she's the wife of one of the doctors) and she was impressed as well.

It was over and feedback was good. I mentally gave myself a pat on the back.

We got to leave work early today for our Christmas party. We were having mass at 4:45 with Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto and then a dinner afterward. I caught a ride with one of my coworkers to St. Basil's Chapel (small world) around 4:30. The chapel we were having mass in was directly underneath their main church, so it was a more intimate setting. I sat back and took in the room - we had about 100 people there: employees, their families, our board of directors and donators. As I was people watching, one of my coworkers came up to ask me to do the reading. I wasn't really prepared for another stressful tasks, but I couldn't tell him no.

Mass began and the Archbishop came in with Father Rosica. When it came time for the first reading, I prayed to God that he wouldn't let me mess up - I was after all standing a few feet from the bishop and Father Rosica, and the last thing I wanted to do was make S+L look bad. I got through the reading, thankfully, and was able to resume my seat and enjoy the rest of mass stress-free.

After mass, we walked to the end of the hall for a catered dinner. I found some of my friends from work and we set off to find a table. Father Rosica met up with us in the middle of the room to say hello to my coworkers' significant others. Being the last one in line, and without my significant other, I told Father Rosica hello and planned to continue walking. However, he intended differently. He went to shake my hand, and then started to direct me to a table - the Archbishops table. "Ok, sit here," he requested and pushed out the seat directly next to the Bishop Collins. I tried to say no, that it was ok, someone else should take the seat, but the next thing I knew I was pushing elbows with the Bishop and introducing myself.

Also at the table was one of the executives of St. Joseph Media (they own Salt and Light and a lot of other TV channels and publications) and then a couple who I'm assuming is S+L's biggest donators. And finally, one of my coworkers, who's daughter I've made friends with while here, and of course Father Rosica. I think it is safe to say I was at the cool table.

Before we began eating, Father Rosica addressed everyone there and thanked them for coming. Part of his greeting was to announce the latest news of S+L, of which I was a part of.

"And tonight we have with us the first intern from The University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas, Michelle Gautreau, who I'm proud to say made her news debut on Salt and Light tonight with Zoom. We're happy to have her here and are pleased with the work we're doing." Everyone began to clap and scan the room to see who he was talking about - 1oo pairs of eyes found a slightly embarrassed, red-faced girl smiling in the middle of the room who waved nervously back.

After a prayer from the Archbishop, we were ready to begin dinner. Our table got to fix our plates first - a nice perk with being BFFs with the bishop. The food was really good - turkey with all sorts of veggies, mashed potatoes, salad and bread. After I ate, I realized how tired I was - I guess the day had finally caught up with me. I was able to talk some more with the bishop and the people at the table before everyone started to head off around 7:00. Two of the Sisters were able to attend the party as well, so I caught a ride back home with them.

I was glad to get back to the convent and into my pajamas. The first order of business was to rewatch my Zoom - I laughed pretty much the whole time, but I was still proud of my efforts. I was able to Skype with some of my family as well - Josh, Beckie and Joanie were in The Woodlands with my parents and their friends Zeke and Ashley, so I was able to tell them about the day's events.

It's weird to think this concludes my third week of work here in Toronto. Before I had left, everyone told me the whole thing would zoom by in no time, and although I had agreed at the time, it's only hitting me now that it has. I've had some hard moments without my family, and I've missed Ben and the puppy dogs pretty much every minute I've been here, but it all gets put on the back burner when you're busy.

I'll be getting back into Houston on Tuesday night, weather providing. I'll be in Houston/The Woodlands until January 3rd. I'll be back in Toronto from the 3rd until the 16th, when I'll go back to Houston just in time for the second semester of my senior year to begin.

If you haven't seen my Zoom yet, feel free to check it out at - the video should be accessible on the front page on the right hand side. I believe I'm also doing Zoom on Monday, so I'll let everyone know if that goes through as well.

Wishing everyone a good night back home,


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