Feasting on Inspiration

by in View All Posts, View Video Only, June 24th, 2009


Ancient Roman Philosopher, Marcus Tullius Cicero said “Cultivation to the mind is as necessary as food to the body.” Well, hopefully most of us definitely agree with the food part, but the mind needs inspiration as well, especially to cultivate a promo.

On her 9th anniversary at Food Network, I asked Writer/Producer, Olivia Mazyuk, to share some little known facts on where inspiration comes from for a Food Network promo, in regards to one of her most challenging spots to date, Feasting on Waves — to promote a 4-part series featuring Alton Brown’s personal journey exploring the Caribbean.

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  • For the initial brainstorming session, everyone involved took an afternoon trip to Chelsea Piers to literally watch the water move for ideas on how to begin. They watched the current, the flow of the Hudson River, observed the atmosphere – all in an attempt to find ways to evoke these themes into a graphics look.
  • The original script was written as a first-person narrative for Alton to record. Alton, being Alton, recorded something different, and we then adjusted it to a third person account. This collaborative effort is the version that went on-air.
  • The idea for the look of the spot, was inspired by the movie Stranger than Fiction starring Will Ferrell. The team wanted to express Alton’s unique point of view, so each video clip contained a graphic expressing Alton’s thoughts – similar to what was done in the box office film.
  • The original music was composed (in-house) at Food Network, and inspired by reggae songs like “Holy Mount Zion” by Alborosie and “Tranquility” by Gentleman.
  • The collaborative effort is the most inspirational; it took about 120+ hours, and about 8 people to create the 30 second promo.

Happy Wednesday!
Sommer, Creative Services

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Comments (11)

  1. Lisa says:

    I loved FOW. it was great and so where the promos :)

  2. Denise says:

    This looks like a lot of fun. I also caught the first episode of his “Feasting on Asphalt” earlier this year,and then either seem to have missed the rest or they weren’t shown. Any idea what may have happened?

  3. Lana Banana says:

    Feasting on Waves was a very enjoyable show. Alton’s inclusion of the history of food, couching it in its culture, is motivating television. I’m eager for his show next year, Foods That Changed the World.

    Sommer, it’s interesting to hear about the creative thought processes behind a spot; your description of watching the waters for inspiration is brilliant. If only you could have traveled to the Caribbean instead of the Hudson, eh? *smiles* Thank goodness you all have inventive imaginations.

    The music was composed by Neil Perry?

    Nice post. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Pearl says:

    Very enjoyable! I love Alton, so it was great reading about the creation of one of his promos.

    I really enjoy your blogs – keep up the good work.

  5. Robin Koury says:

    I’m always in awe at the number of people and time spent in creating a promo spot. 8 people 120+ hours WOW!! Visiting the Hudson was a great idea to seek inspiration. I’m a big fan of the work field trip!! I work in a creative field and nothing shuts my creativity down like a tight deadline. When working on the promos how much time is normally provided to create a promo? Great work and post Sommer!

  6. Jan Saillard says:

    Wow, what a great clip. Your creative thought process was very interesting also. I like the idea of actually going to water for inspiration of what to do. Great job!

  7. Tammy says:

    I’m always interested in how people get their creative juices flowing! If I were a lot younger, I would start my career over and do creative work like this.

    Great blog Sommer! Keep up the good work!

  8. Zen Lizzie says:

    As another philosopher of antiquity once said, “Bear in mind that you should conduct yourself in life as at a feast.” So, when a world history teacher sees a quote by Cicero and a beautiful promo, she can’t help but be mightily pleased. It’s a feast for mind and eye.

    But more than words spoken beneath the stoa, the promo was like a delicious lifting of the veil and that glimpse of surf, sun, food, and Caribbean smiles made me want to pay the ticket price and enter the big top with Alton Brown as ringmaster.

    So, bravo, well done. Of course, I am a little biased. I love Alton Brown’s shows because in the words of Epictetus yet again, “only the educated are free.” And Alton educates in the most charming way possible. Alton, you always have an open invitation to my classroom.

  9. Nigel Smith says:

    Alton, my wife and I enjoy all your shows especially the educational aspects. One detail, however, really annoys me. Why do all the Food Network hosts, yourself included, refer to Worchestershire sauce phonetically as opposed to the way that it is said: "wooster". I grew up in New Zealand to English parents, and have checked with many English people who all use the same pronounciation. I know that this may seem minor but it really gets to me; I don't overeat at the "buffeTT " and when someone asks me if I'd like an hors d'oeuvre I don't look around for prostitutes (although it might liven certain dinner parties). Please use the common pronounciation as this will give me more time to ponder why Americans never eat a main course but stop straight after the entree.

  10. Have I ever emailed anyone with a link suggestion? Sure. I’ve done all sorts of stuff through the years. But link building has the least return on investment. That’s why I prefer to create visibility instead. You can make bad content visible and get no links. You can make average content visible and get links. You can make great content visible and get LOTS of links.

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