From YouTube user: BKIndependentTV
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New York native Robin Richie is a musical theater enthusiast, choreographer, writer, illustrator and 14-year producer of Imagine That! with Robin Richie. Every week her show features a variety of accomplished guests, including Grammy Award winners, Tony Award nominees, and emerging artists. We sat down with Robin to discuss the show, her background, and how her love for Brooklyn brought her to the BCAT TV Network.
In a nut shell, what is Imagine That! With Robin Richie about?
We provide a platform for artists to shine, and keep the importance of the arts at the forefront for our viewers. We truly have a love for what we do.
What were you doing before this?
I’ve been involved in the performing arts since childhood and a lot of what I do today actually began then. Years ago, my friend and Associate Producer, Apryll Abraham, and I used to work for the United States Coast Guard as civilian employees, and produced many marvelous shows on Governor’s Island. That’s actually where we cut our teeth, so to speak. She handled more of the business aspects, and I was involved in the creative process.
How did the show come to be?
Fifteen years ago, I was producing and hosting an event at the Crossroads Theater in New Jersey. A manager of one of the actors came up to me afterwards and asked if I had ever considered a talk show, and it all took off from there. It started off as a variety show with just some talented individuals that I had collaborated with. The pilot episode was a comedic sketch, where I played a bogus fortune teller named Madam Escargot who was giving a reading to her competitor without her knowing it.
How is the show produced?
There are a lot of components that go into producing a cable television show. There are producers, production assistants, talent liaisons, and more – all crucial to the success of the show. A lot of our guests happen to be friends I’ve gotten to know through the music industry. Even with a limited budget, we are blessed to be able to continue to provide quality programming. It’s a collective effort.
What are your favorite things about the show?
I love interacting with the audience and dancing whenever we have on musical performers. It’s become my signature and you’ll often see me dancing with one of the camera guys or the floor manager. We had the New Jersey Tap Ensemble on once. They showed me a little soft shoe and then, of course, I wanted something more complicated. It was a lot of fun.
What brought the show to The BCAT TV Network?
We are proud to be celebrating 14 consecutive seasons on the air, and this season is our premier on the BCAT TV Network. I’m a native New Yorker and lived in Brooklyn for many years. There’s a certain pulse here unlike any other place in the world. Brooklyn is artistically rich and culturally diverse, and I think it was imperative to bring the show here. It was only natural to want to be a part of BRIC and the wonderful programming they offer at the BCAT TV Network. We are tremendously excited to be part of it.
What inspires you to produce?
I’m always inspired and humbled by the fact that we have worked with multi-Grammy Award winners, Tony Award nominees, and a wide variety of emerging talents that have gone on to become enormously successful.
Who are your biggest influences?
I would be remiss if I didn’t say Oprah Winfrey. Her philanthropic efforts move me to no end. When you’re given a platform such as television or radio, it’s imperative that you project a positive light. Oprah does this, and I admire it. I believe that if you’re going to emulate someone, let it be the best. But you always want to remain an individual. It’s not our desire to be a carbon copy of anyone, but just to be the very best that we can be.
Every week without fail, you can find Florette Vassall at one of our editing stations, creating her program EVVY Cultural Exchange. Her background in education, fashion modeling, acting and as one of the first African-American ticket agents and supervisors for PAN AM airlines (read about her adventures with PAN AM in this new book), lends to fantastic storytelling from one of our longtime contributing producer.
EVVY Cultural Exchange
Time Warner 35 | Cablevision 68 | RCN 83 |Verizon 43
Tell us how a history of EVVY Cultural Exchange: EVVY Cultural Interchange was formed in 1983 after the EVVY Fashion Awards (established in 1974). One of my friends had a supper club that was struggling financially, so she asked me to put a fashion show on. So I got some designers to help me put this fashion show on and we all made money, they didn’t have to struggle with their business anymore. So we decided to do it again and that time was successful, too. I had decided that I would honor some of the designers that had helped me become successful.
And it’s also a television show that you produce. That’s right!
How would you describe EVVY Cultural Exchange to audiences not familiar with your program? It’s multicultural entertainment. It’s original. Aside from interviews with different composers, artists, writers and musicians, we have entertainment like excerpts from jazz and symphonic concerts. We also focus on families with a focus on children and recognizing grandparents. And of course, fashion… we show fashion shows and introduce our viewers to fashion designers.
You’re a longtime producer at our community media center. What sparked your interest in learning television production? I am a product of my Dad. With my mother it was fashion and social graces, with my Dad it was all technology (he was an air traffic controller in WWII) and he built his own camera. Whatever he did, I did. So when it came to technology, it was not a problem with me. Making my show, it’s another way of being creative for me, telling a story. I like editing, selecting my shots and figuring out ‘does it go here’ or ‘does it go there.’ And I have all of these programs that I can say that I did and will hopefully be a part of my legacy.
I like doing this (producing programs) and that I have a long exercise in patience.
It’s a common conception that people of your generation don’t feel comfortable using the type of technologies available here. What would you say to someone who is hesitant to try to use computers, or editing equipment? There are doors open to them. There are classes you can take. I got my computer from AARP. I would encourage anyone who has a fear or a tepidness to indulge in working with computers, to first overcome that fear, and secondly it can be a lot of fun. It’s just taking that step of doing something else and finding that you like it. If my grandchildren can do it, why can’t people in my category do it? Just do it!
How did you get involved in creating television productions for public access television? One of the producers at MNN asked me to be a guest on his show New Venutres. I showed some of the clips from my fashion shows and the EVVY Awards. He called me and asked if I’d like to be one of the producers for his show. I had all of the photography experience and all of this video so I jumped on the bandwagon. Another producer working on the show told me that Brooklyn had a community television network just like MNN. I got a catalog about the classes in Brooklyn and signed up. I love having a card that says “Certified Producer” and love being a part of it. I might drive everybody crazy— but I’m still here.
What do you like most about being a BCAT TV Network community producer? I like having my show on BCAT TV Network because it’s my time, it’s my program. Everything is on my own time, I don’t have to take direction from anybody else. I’m in charge. If I want to say it this way I can say it. If I want to tell a particular story, I can do it. If I want to show a jazz program or a fashion show I can do it without someone saying, “You did fashion last week!” I like figuring out what the people would like to see. I’m not limited. Being able to use your own voice to throw out your own ideas—that’s the part I like the best, that it’s free speech.
If you’re a regular visitor to our community media center, then you’re familiar with Bernice “Boom Boom” Brooks. If she’s not creating her own program, she’s a volunteer crew member for several other studio tv productions created by other community producer— or she’s teaching newcomers the ropes on how to use our studio control room, studio cameras, mic, lights… if it’s in our studio, Bernice can tell you how to use it to your advantage.
On top of all that, Boom Boom is a celebrated professional drummer, bringing her excellently-timed rhythms to music clubs, events and shows throughout the borough.
The Bernice Brooks Show
Thursdays, @2:30pm & 10:30pm
Time Warner 35 | Cablevision 68 | RCN 83 | Verizon 43
Why don’t you introduce yourself? I am Bernice Brooks, they call me Boom Boom, from playing drums. The kids I teach call me Ms. Boom Boom.
How’d you get started playing the drums? I started late in life, when I was 18 years old. Some kids start at 7, 8 years old, but I came from a religious family (I consider myself more spiritual now than religious) and I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be playing the drums. I started on clarinet— I was full of hot air, but I couldn’t blow it through that instrument. Then I saw a gentleman playing that song ‘Don’t Mess with Beale,’ a song with a real simple beat and I thought , “Ah, OK!”
How would you describe The Bernice Brooks Show? The Bernice Brooks Show is original, it’s creative and it’s educational. All the guests that I bring on the show, they explain why they started in music… go into the parts of the instrument—parts of the violin, why does a piano have 88 keys—and also talk about their technique.
I’m lucky in that I get to play all sorts of music, being versatile in the style of music has helped me (as a producer). I’m not just a Jazz drummer, I don’t just do R&B, I get to do a variety– and I love variety. That’s why on my show, there’s all types variety in music. I love the Latin side of, the Caribbean side—and that’s just one great part about Brooklyn, it’s filled with so many types of music.
What inspires you to create ‘The Bernice Brooks’ show? There’s so much talent out here. So much unsung talent out here and that’s what I go for. I could get big names in here because they understand marketing and PR… but the ones that are at home, doing gigs around town that’s who I like, that’s who I want.
And you have to do something, play an instrument. I don’t have anything against rappers, but if you’re going to be on my show, you have to play an instrument. It shows that you have put time into learning something, knowing that a particular technique or a particular exercise helps them play a particular piece.
How does your music background help you as a producer? In a band, you all have to play as one. In a crew, you have to be as one, think as one, know where you are in the timing of the production—timing is important to me as a drummer. In bands, I have been a side person for a while. On my show, I am the leader, the host. In a band, you can have a trio, a quintet, a 7 or 8 person bands. The same with crews: you’ve got 7 or 8 people working to make it happen. It’s like a dance.
My whole brain is about time and rhythm, I hear rhythms all the time; pulling into train stations, walking down the street, I hear boom-cha,boom-cha, boom-cha. When I shoot here in the studio, I try to put it on the beat of the music. I cut from one camera to the next on the beat. I’m blending it all together, the music, the shots. It’s like a DJ, blending all that music together.
What has your experience been like using the community media center? I think this facility is amazing. People come from around the world and they can’t believe that we’ve got something like this to work with. I respect it and I appreciate it every day.
What do you appreciate most about public access television? Well, of course, the free speech aspect of it. It’s also an opportunity to put on the arts from your point of view. Art comes from within yourself and [Producing shows] is an art form. I love that I can do both my art forms- my music and my show- at once. The honor of having a medium or a platform to express what you do, I think that’s very important. It’s a privilege that I do not take for granted. It’s a privilege and an honor to express yourself.
Filed under: BCAT TV Network, Brooklyn Free Speech TV | Tagged: BCAT TV Network, Bernice Brooks, Boom Boom, BRIC Community Media Center, Brooklyn Free Speech Tv, classes, community access television, free, public access television, Studio, television, The Bernice Brooks Show | 1 Comment »
Lynda Peterson is a familiar face in our media center. If she’s not in the studio with her crew creating From Grapes to Glass, she’s busily editing her program on one of our editing stations, or taking a well deserved break to chat with other community producers and our staff.
A long-time producer who has created dozens and dozens of programs aired on BCAT TV Network, Lynda is a staple in the producing community at our media center– lending a hand when she can and providing the tips and techniques she’s learned along the way.
Read on to find out what makes Lynda so passionate about wine, resulting in her program From Grapes to Glass.
From Grapes to Glass
Time Warner 35 | Cablevision 68 | RCN 83 | Verizon 43
How would you describe your show to someone who’s never seen FROM GRAPES TO GLASS?
It’s an experiential journey into the world of wine, as told through interviews with wine experts and through our reactions to wines we taste. Wine is more than just the numbers on the bottle and the label: — it touches so many aspects of the world around us socially, economically, travel, even in our history, religion, and literature. There’s a life journey that can be had through wine and we help people discover that world.
Why do you make FROM GRAPES TO GLASS?
From this one glass of liquid, I’m on a never-ending discovery of the world. I want to understand it and am engrossed in learning about it. I’ll find out a bottle of wine was auctioned for $11,000 and then I’m online researching it to find out why. That will lead to my exploring different texts, historical backgrounds and learning about Ben Franklin being a large influence of wine in our American culture.Sooner or later, I’m researching the scientific process of fermentation for a particular brand. My passion has made me become fully committed. I left my full time job as a Financial Analyst at Calvin Klein so I could focus on— “From Grapes to Glass” and my expansion into organizing wine tastings, taking the program to the web and finding sponsors for larger distribution.I’m also writing a short film about wine (it’s called “Wine Noir” and is about this elusive bottle of wine, ghosts and what not).
Tell me a little bit about the production process of creating your program.
I’m just constantly looking at things, getting ideas and using my Wine Team (who is this?) as a sounding board for ideas. We script everything: the only part of the program that’s not scripted are the answers in our interviews with wine experts and our reactions during wine tastings. The tastings are completely raw—you say honestly what you think.
According to our records, you completed your first certification course in November 2004. How long have you been submitting programs to the BCAT TV Network?
Wow. The first couple of years were spent working on other shows, making some specials, then jumping in and starting with a monthly program and now a weekly show.
How has having access to our facilities and channels helped you?
I think it’s incredible that we can come in use the studio, use the editing facility, use the equipment—and it’s all free AND allowing me to do something I’m passionate about?! I think that’s one of the most amazing things on the planet, really.
By extension, producing this show allows others; crew and talent to explore and realize their individual goals and dreams. Everyone comes to the table with a different level of expertise and it is an opportunity for everyone to grow and hone their skills set.
At the end of it all, I have an actual product. It’s a product that I can see when I turn my television on– I see the results. I can create my DVDs, I can upload to YouTube, it’s becoming more solid and it prompts me to do photo shoots, to create a media press kits, to develop sales pitches so I can continue the creative movement of developing my passion. If I didn’t have this available to me… my intuition tells me that if I didn’t go along this path, it wouldn’t have happened this way.
How has the community at our media center supported you in the process?
I find everyone that works at BRIC has been amazing towards me. Everyone I’ve come in contact with lends me a hand, asking, “What do you need? How can we make it work?” I feel there’s a genuine interest in me and what I’m doing from everyone; from the security guard up front to (Director, Community Media and Executive Producer, BCAT TV Network) Greg Sutton.
I have been asked to direct other shows or people want to trail me to see how I run my production or how I edit a segment; what I do to make it work. It is incredibly humbling and amazing that my peers feel I have something I can teach them. In return, I have gained such valuable knowledge from my fellow producers, who are always willing to share what they know.
It is also a very social community at the media center. Over the years, I have met so many people; employees and producers that have become a integral part of my world. It’s a great environment.
What do you like most about community access television?
I like the idea that it gives people a voice and an outlet to create something that’s inside of their head that they want the world to see… I might not agree that it’s relevant, but that doesn’t matter: it’s that people want and get to do it. I think that’s pretty cool.
Filed under: BCAT Media Center, BCAT TV Network, Brooklyn Free Speech TV | Tagged: BCAT TV Network, best cheap wine., From Grapes to Glass, Lynda Peterson, travel, wine, wine tastings | Leave a comment »
It’s hard not to notice when BJ Rubin has a shoot in our studio. In the green room, there’s an interesting collection of unidentifiable, still-cased instruments with a human being or three nearby, waiting tape their appearance; amplifiers are wheeled from hallway to studio and back to hallway; the green screen is put to good use, making it appear as if the musical acts and interviews are taking place in outer space, just in front of the birth of a star.
There’s a general vibe of excitement and joy from those involved in the shoot, with Rubin in the center as he happily rushes between the control room, the green room and studio– sometimes in a blazer and tie, and usually bespectacled. He was kind enough to take some time out of his schedule to give us some insight into the world revolving around The BJ Rubin Show.
THE BJ RUBIN SHOW
1st Thursday of Every Month, 2:00pm
Cablevision 68 | Time Warner 35 | RCN 83 | Verizon 43
How would you describe your show to someone who has never seen THE BJ RUBIN SHOW?
It’s a surreal comedy show about music, art, and culture. It features artists, musicians, and intellectuals from Brooklyn and beyond.
Why do you make THE BJ RUBIN SHOW?
Surely one measure of success is having your own theme song.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and the crew that make it all happen.
I moved to Brooklyn in 1999 after graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in film. Formerly an associate producer at The Daily Show, I now produce The BJ Rubin Show, publish Modern Man Manual (a magazine for modern men and women), edit Pukekos (a blog for music enthusiasts), and operate Dick Move (a record label for serious collectors).
My crew consists of David Buddin, an American composer and leader of The American Liberty League; Lauren Martin, a painter; Kevin Shea, a jazz drummer; Weasel Walter, a musician and operator of the ugEXPLODE record label; Jason LaFarge, the audio engineer at Seizures Palace recording studio; and Bernice “Boom Boom” Brooks, a local celebrity due to her long running The Bernice Brooks Show on BCAT TV Network.
You certainly do bring in a great variety of bands to perform on your program. Who have you had on so far?
I started with the house band, The American Liberty League. From Brooklyn, I’ve had Sexy Thoughts, Talibam!, She Keeps Bees, Old Rugged Sauce, Starring, Vaz and Odysseus. Touring acts stop by the studio as well, including Wet Hair from Iowa City and Arrington de Dionyso’s Malaikat Dan Singa from Olympia, WA. I’ve been playing in bands and putting on gigs since I was a teenager, and met all the characters from the show through my travels since then.
I’ve got down that you were certified in studio in October 2010. How long have you been submitting programs to the BCAT TV Network?
I graduated from the Studio Production Class in October of 2010, taught by Bernice “Boom Boom” Brooks. The pilot episode of my show aired December 28, 2010.
How has access to our facilities and channels helped you?
The cable access studio is an amazing resource, without which I obviously would not be able to make the show.
What do you like most about community access television?
There is real power in the medium of television, and cable access puts that power in the hands of the people.