On location in two different places along the Jersey shore this week, members of the Realfaith TV talent team took part in taping segments for the faith-based teen talk show’s 10th season, set to open this fall.
A crew of teen interviewers and a camera person hit the boardwalk at Seaside Heights June 21 to conduct the “teen-on-the-street” interviews that are a feature of each episode in the 26-week season.
The following day, eight brave teens awoke in the early morning hours to be part of a sunrise taping on the beach at Stella Maris Retreat House in Elberon. Later that day, several dozen more RFTV team members joined the group for extended taping that will be used for the opening segment of each episode.
Armed with only a microphone, clipboard and warm smiles, teen interviewers Annie McMahon of St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, Medford, and Julianne Carson of St. David the King Parish, Princeton Junction, took advantage of the weekend’s brief window of good weather to gather footage under the direction of cameraperson Loretta McLaughlin. Their mission was difficult – get teen passersby to stop and answer questions about faith-related topics. It is a process that is repeated about a half dozen times through the spring and early summer in order to gather enough “teen-on-the-street” footage for the entire season.
The impromptu, somewhat untreated footage of teens answering questions on the boardwalk has been a staple of the show for many of its 10 seasons, explained Marianne Hartman, director of the diocesan Office of Radio and Television and executive producer of RFTV. In addition to the interviews, each episode also includes in-studio discussions and spotlight interviews based on the subject.
Some of the topics that have garnered national recognition for the diocesan-produced program have included “Companioning a Pregnant Teen” and “Overcoming Eating Disorders.”
“These interviews can be a lot of fun; (you) never know what they can say,” McLaughlin said. She is the senior television producer and director at the County College of Morris, Randolph, and was filling in for a colleague who usually films the interviews.
“I give them (the RFTV interviewers) a lot of credit,” she said. “The rejection factor is high.”
“It’s surprising how many people don’t want to be on television,” McMahon said, adding with a chuckle, “we’re used to it.”
Carson added that the interviewers had to work through their own hesitations and nerves when approaching complete strangers, which was a daunting task on their first shoot.
However, the combination of challenges seemed to make the interviewing experiences they did have all the more enjoyable.
“It’s really interesting to hear different people’s opinions,” Carson said. “It really makes you think about the topics in relation to your faith.”
For each teen, Carson and McMahon focused on two of their prepared topics for an on-camera interview that lasted around five minutes each. This week, the crew was charged with asking questions on the topics of text messaging, hypocrisy, holding a job and using profane language.
Even those who agreed to go on camera were still battling apprehensions. “I was kind of nervous,” Mikaela Polchak, 16, said after her interview. “I don’t usually do stuff like that.”
“I learn a lot from other people’s opinions,” McMahon said. This was her third time interviewing for this portion of the program.
According to Hartman, video and still shots were captured at Stella Maris Retreat House which will be used for the opening of each week’s show, as well as images for the website, the DVDs that are produced each year and other promotional needs. The teens were taped and photographed praying in the chapel, playing on the beach and just spending time with each other.
To learn more about RealFaith TV, visit www.realfaithtv.com.
Printed with permission from The Monitor, newspaper of the Diocese of Trenton, N.J.