He wasn’t expecting to get the call to man one of nine cameras over the weekend at Bluegrass Underground, but there was no hesitation for Warren County native Patrick Davis when the offer was made.
“I went there wanting to be a production assistant and they had an open camera,” said Davis. “That’s just something you’re not going to pass up. It’s a great camera credit to have. I’ve already updated my resume.”
Davis, 25, graduated from Columbia State in December with a degree in film crew technology. He’s been working on the weekly show Music City Roots, which is the sister program to Bluegrass Underground. It’s held on Wednesday nights at Franklin Factory and is also a TV series on PBS.
Music City Roots is promoted by Todd Mayo, the creator of Bluegrass Underground, and is directed by James Burton Yockey, also the director of Bluegrass Underground. It was Yockey who recommended Davis as a person capable of running a camera at Bluegrass Underground.
With Yockey’s endorsement, Bluegrass Underground producer Todd Jarrell agreed to use Davis on Camera 7, which was the bird’s eye view of the cave and concert.
“It’s not a small responsibility to put a new guy on one of your best shots,” said Jarrell. “He did a great job and got a chance to work with guys who are really at the top of their game, guys with 30 to 40 years of experience.”
Davis described the headset chatter during filming as hectic. He said the director is constantly giving orders and telling which camera operator when it’s time to go live.
“There’s no second take. It’s get it right or get out,” said Davis. “It’s been an absolute rush. My adrenaline is going be-cause I don’t want to be that camera guy who messes something up.”
Jarrell said it may seem like the production crew just shows up and films a music performance, but it’s anything but the sort.
“It’s a television show carefully disguised as a live concert,” said Jarrell. “The director and the assistant director do weeks and weeks of homework ahead of time, listening to the bands over and over. Part of our advance for produc-tion is to get a set list, to get lyrics, and to get song files. Then they study it to know exactly when it’s time for a banjo solo. They’ll go 3-2-1 banjo and be constantly directing and redirecting cameras. It’s very fast acting and choreo-graphed between the directors and the camera people, yet you want the energy and vibe to be as much like a live show as possible.”
Davis said he was eager to soak in as much knowledge as possible and even got tips from some film veterans about ways to use the camera to gain different effects.
“These guys are real artists, the best people to learn from,” said Davis.
As for his future plans, Davis said he’s going to continue doing work for shows like Music City Roots and getting his name out there. He said he has contract work lined up for a show this Friday in Nashville and does camera work whenever he can.