The Other Side of the Camera

Returning home after filming the DVDs was a bit strange–many of my go-to supplies would not arrive home for a week or so, and the constant pressure to practice one more time had vanished. Making the DVDs was an exhilarating experience–scary, fun, exhausting, and awkward.  So far out of my comfort zone, the horizon was a faint line in my emotional landscape.


I don’t like being in front of TV cameras. Luckily for me, North Light put one of the editors, Amy Jones, into the DVD with me, so there could be live interaction instead of droning lecture.

But it is hard to work on an art project and look natural with three giant TV cameras in front of me. I was, however, grateful for the lights, which kept the studio warm.

Phil, checking details before filming starts.

Phil, checking details before filming starts. The bookcase was carefully decorated with pieces from the book and some props to create color and height.

It’s good to be out of your comfort zone, that’s where the real creativity comes in. I had forgotten a few basics, and had to take a deep breath and ask for help. I was amazed at how reluctant I was to ask for tape or gloves. I was reminded again that asking for help gives other people a chance to be generous an to offer help.

The projects went well, and the DVDs will be offered on the North Light shop in a few weeks. (And yes, there will be a giveaway here on the blog.)

There was time for coffee; Amy Jones from North Light waits for the go-ahead to start again.

There was time for coffee; Amy Jones from North Light waits for the go-ahead to start again.

The first one demos Monsoon Papers in the latest version–made inside, without a water hose, in a small container. Just as vibrant, just as fun. Much less mess.

The second DVD covers several ways to carry loose-leaf journal pages: boxes, 3-ring binders, folders. It was fun making them all. Of course I still have regular journals, but the loose-leaf versions have so many advantages, I’ll be using them for a while.

There were several projects I didn’t have time for, which was a relief. Better to have too much than not enough. I’m creating some step by steps for those to put on my website as extras.

Some tips I learned for making DVDs:

  • Show the finished project first.
  • Start with an interesting fact instead of introducing yourself
  • Get to the project quickly, add background when the viewer knows what is happening.
  • Wear solid colors. They are less distracting and create a better background for your art.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, a DVD that lasts an hour takes 8 hours to film.
  • Don’t fret so much what you look like. It’s who you are and the DVD is about your art, not about the fact that your nose is shiny and you broke two nails going through the TSA line.
  • Have fun. Filming doesn’t last long, but relationships do.

I’m glad to be back where it’s warm. Temperatures far below freezing don’t hold the charm they did when I owned cross-country skis.

–Quinn McDonald is glad to have stretched out of the comfort zone and glad to be back in it.

25 thoughts on “The Other Side of the Camera

  1. I’m so glad to hear you sounding so happy with what you’ve done! And letting people help or be generous is so important! Many years ago I was offered some assistance and I said I was fine, and I was, but the point is, I was on the verge of depriving the person of an opportunity to be helpful. They said to me the correct response when offered something is “thank you” because you never know, accepting the help might make their day. I felt a little chastened but learnt a lesson from it. The other day in the supermarket a woman was $2 short and I handed it over . . . she wanted my address so she could pay it back! I asked her to pay if forward and do something for someone else. She thought me very strange.

    Now Quinn, this is very important. Would you please contact North Light and see if they’ll make the DVD available as a download? It costs almost as much to have a DVD sent as it does to buy it in the first place!

    • I’ll ask about digital distribution–it didn’t occur to me while I was there. I think I”m also happier that it IS done than with what I did. Thanks for paying it forward yourself. That’s so important. A visitor from England who was on the plane home had a cell phone that didn’t work here. So I let her use mine to call her transportation. She needed a bit of help to navigate directions (who *doesn’t* at PHX?) So I made sure she found the right door and place to wait. It was very hard for her to accept the help. I told her she was allowing me to do what we were put here for–help–and I was grateful for the opportunity. She thought me strange, too.

  2. Congrats!

    BTW – I think this is excellent advice for a great many situations:Don’t fret so much what you look like. It’s who you are and the DVD is about your art, not about the fact that your nose is shiny and you broke two nails going through the TSA line.

    • There is a lot of peace in accepting what it. I won’t get fake nails, and my hands are beat up from years of artwork. That’s my reality. Paul Simon once sang, “I own the tailor’s face and hands. . . I am the tailor’s face and hands,” and that’s how it was.

  3. BRAVA! Congrats on stretching the comfort zone, asking *and receiving* help when needed, and embracing your outer Star status! I look forward to seeing the fruits of your collaborative labors 😉

  4. Sounds like you had fun and it was a growing experience. Love your list of tips. Look forward to seeing the DVD’s. All the best to you.

  5. Congratulations, very cool! I didn’t know video was still distributed on physical DVDs; I don’t even have a way to play them any more.

  6. It sounds like a very brave, courageous yet rewarding journey you have just been on! Well done indeed! My book has just arrived and now I look forward to the dvd’s too! Being out of the comfort zone certainly helps us to appreciate it doesn’t it? Im leading a conference of 40+ people next Tuesday (I do this every spring and autumn) and it always takes me out of my comfort zone (I am an introvert!) but it is always also hugely rewarding.
    Thanks for all you share Quinn.

    • Introverts have the whole energy-drain when they are “on.” And (as an introvert), I really, really admire that you can lead a conference of 40+ people on Tuesday! Make sure you tell us how it went! The whole reason we can do it is because it IS rewarding in some way.

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