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Spotlight: Scott Gawlik, Director/Co-Executive Producer, Dave Attell Comedy Central Special ‘Road Work’

Director/co-executive producer Scott Gawlik embraced the small club atmosphere for Dave Attell’s Comedy Central special Road Work. Gawlik’s Crazy Cow Productions shot the one-hour show with cameras including cheap Canon PowerShot S100s and Kodak Zi8s—often with the comic himself or audience members “operating.”

Why did you want to shoot so much of it with these low-end cameras?

Scott Gawlik: Dave’s act is dirty and dingy and he wanted to capture that sort of vibe. We also shot with Canon EOS 5D Mark IIIs and had a Panasonic AG-HPX170 [recording to P2 cards] in the back of every club to run the length of his set and work as a master. But we didn’t want this to feel like a “theater” show with jibs and lights and all that crew. I’ve done those kinds of shows but it wouldn’t have been right for this.

If you’re the person in the front row of one of these places and the comic notices something about you, suddenly he just goes off on you. That’s part of the experience. We wanted to be able to capture that from the audience POV. The S100 can look pretty good under the right circumstances, but the older Kodaks just looked “messy” and low-budget, which was what we were going for.

Scott Gawlik

What was the shooting process like? How many clubs did you go to?

We shot in seven clubs over the course of a year. We wanted to be clear in the show where we were and to give the viewer the unique feel of each venue. The Hu Ke Lau in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for example. It’s a staple for comics from Boston and New York. It’s a Chinese restaurant with a Hawaiian-themed show. People are often too busy eating their chow mein to even notice the comic sometimes. But we knew it would look great for the special—and, of course, Dave delivered.

Talk about the editing process.

Jeremy Baumann of Kind Editorial in New York was the editor, but Dave and I were very involved during the six months it took. He edited in Final Cut Pro 7 [in ProRes 422 HQ, syncing all cameras to the audio from the sound board using Red Giant PluralEyes]. Each performance [even at the same club] was different. The editing was about finding the best version of each joke and the segue to the next joke and making it all feel as spontaneous as his act.

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