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"Sunday Noght Live!" Network TV Variety Show Special


I was the Director of Photography on exec-producer Joan Marshall's (AKA Joan Ashby) Network TV Variety show, "Sunday Night Live" (to benefit the Free Arts Clinic). Director Hal Ashby had personally recommended me for the DP position.

Sunday Night Live's director, Joseph Sargent, and I worked very well together (we both speak Italian). He's an easy director to work with because he loves his craft and knows exactly what he wants. His only counsel was "don't make it look TV" (and I didn't).

This was a huge star-studded show, and even included a rare on-stage appearance by Barbra Streisand.

Because all of the talent on this show were very seasoned professionals, they had no problems following stage directions or hitting their marks, which really made my job that much easier.

I was also the Steadicam Operator on this show, flying a fairly heavy three tube portable tethered cam. I had a couple of assistants to handle the cabling for me, but it was still a challenge. I believe this was one of the first shows to ever use a Steadicam on stage.

All the Steadicam shots were "clean" except for a couple of slight bumps.

The audience was composed of Hollywood's A+ list at the time, but still, several producers and directors asked me about that "special hardware" I was using.

Writer/Producer/Director Garry Marshall, sought me out as he was leaving, and we talked a bit about my personal experiences using the Steadicam with broadcast video cameras.

Compact Video, who was the company responsible for the location video taping and equipment, later came up to me and said the footage was the cleanest and "most beautiful" location video they had ever taped. They also offered me a staff DP job.

This show was a very huge undertaking for me at this point in my career, but I was ecstatically pleased with the results, as was everyone else connected with the show.



Free Arts Clinic benefit TV special

Free Arts Clinic




 

Director/DP Enzo Giobbe (at the 12 o'clock position) with cast & crew on taping day - "These Precious Days" Network TV pilot

That's a wrap!
("These Precious Days" Network TV series pilot, Director/DP — 1982)



A classic case of the video engineer's proc-amp vs. the eyes of the DP

Luckily, in this case, the eyes of the DP (mine) prevailed. The overall look of "These Precious Days" was not the usual "flat" TV style lighting of the time, but one that had depth and modeling, much like the best TV shows of today.

At the time, the usual lighting ratio for a network sitcom was around 2:1. I used a video engineer displeasing 3.5:1 (day/int.) and 4.5:1 (night/int.) which still kept the contrast level and scene luminescence well within the range that the broadcast equipment of the day was able to comfortably handle, while giving greater modeling to the actors and more depth to the small sets without adding any contradictory source shadows.

If I had wanted it to look like the "typical" TV series of the day, I could've just phoned the stop in and saved myself all the hassle.

Behind every DP's eyes is a brain with years and years of experience in determining the contrast levels and luminescence of a scene — something no electrical/mechanical device will ever be able to replace.





I ended up directing this network TV pilot episode after the (credited) director was stricken with a very deliberating stomach ailment, and was unable to helm this pilot episode.

The network never knew that he was not present on the set the entire week of taping or cast reads.

My contract was only as the DP, so I never asked for, nor wanted, the director credit - as it would not have been fair to the credited director to make that request (plus. I was not a member of the DGA).

The above photo, taken by my son Vince after we wrapped, includes almost all the cast (some of the cast had already wrapped out), and all the above and below the line personnel working the show on actual taping day.

 

Enzo Giobbé, DP(E) & Chris Senter (TD)

Yes, I do electrons too! Working video as the
Director / DP, or DP (E) as it was then called.
(my infamous "Enzo Light" used as a catchlight fill.
Art Director/actor Chris Senter is doing the TD duties)

 

Dick Wright & my son, Vince

Producer Richard Wright and my son Vince (camera op)
("These Precious Days" Network TV series pilot — 1982)

 

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