E:60 pushes for access to celebrity athletes off the field and away from the spotlight. Sometimes the personal door is jammed tight. Other times it creaks slightly ajar. And then, on occasion, it swings open to unfiltered light and sound.
Such was the case with Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice in “Like Mother Like Son”. Producer Frank Saraceno asked Rice if he could shoot him at his barbershop, in his hometown of New Rochelle, N.Y., because Rice had worked at a barbershop as a kid. Rice agreed, and invited Saraceno and reporter Rachel Nichols to join him, on his bye week.
They met at “Flavaz” just before noon and Saraceno sized up the layout. The shop was large enough, he determined.
“The only real concern were the mirrors which of course are everywhere in a barber shop,” said Saraceno. “I told my two-man crew to shoot like they weren’t there so they wouldn’t be concerned about being seen in the shots.
Regulars - tipped to Rice’s visit - crowded the shop. This put to rest another concern - that the scene would lack energy and atmosphere.
To encourage relaxed banter, Saraceno urged Rice and the others to forget that a camera crew was in their midst.
“It took a few tries but once they finally got going, the conversation started to become very natural and free flowing,” Saraceno said. “By the time Rachel stepped in to ask Ray questions the room was primed.”
The scene yielded one particular gem - Rice’s anecdote about his first encounter in pads with Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.
Nonetheless, in the first cut, Saraceno downplayed the barbershop. The first cut began at the public housing project where Rice grew up.
But after a staff screening, coordinating producer Michael Baltierra urged that the barber shop lead the piece, to highlight Rice’s outgoing personality and his close relationship with Lewis - who spoke of it in a separate interview.
“In retrospect it was a brilliant decision which helped give the piece a great kick-start and pacing,” Saraceno said.
Posted by Steve Marantz on November 4, 2011