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Making it all come together

Sometimes, things don’t fit. But with enough hard work, you just may be able squeeze them in.

Sometimes, things don’t fit. But with enough hard work, you just may be able squeeze them in.

In the world of television, viewers see the result of a lot of hard work. It’s often forgotten — or perhaps even unknown — how much labour goes into creating the pictures that provide viewers with countless hours of entertainment week-in and week-out.

Alexandra Mastronardi, production co-ordinator for HGTV’s Top 10, is responsible for making sure things run smoothly from before filming begins to the time the champagne is popped at the wrap party. Which, as it seems, is apparently impossible.

“No matter how organized you think you are, you’re never organized enough!” she says, “Classic words from a co-ordinator.”

Her job entails that everything is carefully planned and prepared by the time filming starts. That means creating call sheets so the cast knows where and when to be on location, booking the gear and flights, securing the required permits and making sure all the right crew members are set up and ready to go.

On top of all that, she’s got to handle any problems or crises that arise, which, she assures us, are in no short supply.

Mastronardi, who works from a downtown Toronto office, recounts the most recent example of a problem that needed some serious fixing.

“The show I’m working on right now has multiple cameramen shooting in multiple cities, so as you can imagine, it’s a logistical nightmare!” she says. “Last weekend my cameraman calls me from B.C. saying they’ve just picked up their rental vehicle and the jib arm doesn’t fit in the van, and there are no larger vans available in the area.”

Living by the creed, “the show must go on” — which she calls one of the truest phrases in the business — Mastronardi hit the phones and called various rental companies to inquire about larger vans. Then, out of thin air, the original company was able to produce the van they wanted.

“There’s always a fix,” she says. “It’s never easy, but where there’s a will there’s a way. I think that’s an important attitude for a coordinator to have”

Like many jobs in entertainment, a production coordinator is usually employed strictly on a contract basis. Because of this, Mastronardi is constantly on the hunt for new contacts that can lead to jobs. She says her contracts are usually for three or four months, but has worked an eight month contract, as well as one that was for a single day. It’s essential to take advantage of that time, she says, because the more people you meet, the more jobs you get.

“Never burn bridges and keep in mind the two degrees of TV land — everyone knows everyone through someone.”

To witness the fruits of her labour, check out HGTV’s Top 10 on Tuesday evenings.

 
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