By Tracey Gudwin, Producer
I have made thirty-something episodes with Anthony Bourdain. Needless to say, our crew has spent a lot of time over the last four years getting lost in the world together.
Mostly my producing job is to schedule a good show and to gently encourage Tony to see the brighter sides of really horrifically BAD situations….scenes gone wrong…situations you wouldn\’t wish on your worst enemy– like the, \”Birth of the Nacho\” scene, in the Mexico show (lets just say it involved canned olives, some sort of gelatinous Cheese Whiz and eventually a nacho related injury); and on a darker note, being in the wrong place at the wrong time…episodes like Beirut…
After five seasons of ABNR I\’ve learned to TRY and avoid mistakes as such. And if there is one type of show I know I can count on, it\’s an ITALY show. I can always be sure, if we are going ANYWHERE IN ITALY, and eating ANYTHING ITALIAN, Tony is going to be excited about it.
In fact we could be holed up at an Autogrill gas station 1,000 miles from a decent hotel and Tony would still have a constant flow of golden sound bites flowing from his mouth. The entire crew could be deep in the collective throes of a zombie-like epileptic seizure and Tony would still make a damn good show out of it. He\’d make the BEST show out of it. In post he\’d say…\”Ok, guys, it\’s not the show we set out to make, but throw in a little Dario Argento music and go in close on the Tagliatelle!\”
So, when the mother ship calls and says, \”fly to VENICE\”….I\’m feeling like the luckiest producer on Earth.
For the Venice show Tony had instructed the crew to catch up on a few of the classics, like, Don\’t Look Now and The Comfort of Strangers, films which evoke an unseen side of Venice, a darker side. As a producer, it\’s always a blast to emulate the narrative or visual style of a director or artistic work. So, I thought \”great …let\’s rent that Steadicam this time! Get out those 12k lights! I need dollies, cranes, generators, trailers, CRAFT SERVICE for chrissakes! LET\’S MAKE A FILM!\” And then there is reality. The reality of making art from what we have, which isn\’t much, but is actually quite a lot.
It\’s midnight, we\’ve been shooting for 12 hours, Tony had two large meals today and now I\’ve got to inspire the crew to figure out how we can shoot a bunch of night stuff with two flashlights, a luggage cart, and a tired host. Plus, as usual, I\’ve storyboarded 15 shots and I have MAYBE 1 hour to pull this off. Cart assembled, Zach hops on with the camera, Nari, who equals half the size of the luggage cart, volunteers her Sherpa skills and Todd rigs lights to historic Palazzos with masking tape. For the next 45 minutes we race through the eerie back alleys of Venice like a student film on speed.
The footage turns out beautiful. It\’s always in back alleys, somewhere lost in the universe, where you realize how wonderful it is to collaborate with a great team.