Celebrity Corner: Bart Montgomery: Promotional Wizard (Part 1)

1 11 2013

For a brief period of time from August 2008 until November of 2008 I had the tremendous opportunity to be part of a live newscast for Fox 26 Houston for a segment once a week called “Your Family Matters.” Other women within the community were also invited. While I was not on every week, because I had a unique perspective of being a mother of a child with a disability or politically because of my no-party affiliation, I was often selected for a particular topic as part of a group. I was captivated by all the elements that went into a production of a newscast. Every job is important. About the same time, I found a blog by Joseph Mallozzi who was an executive producer and writer on the series Stargate. Oftentimes he would feature a Q&A of different people working on the show. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn more of all the elements that went in to creating a popular series. Occasionally I get a chance to ask questions of people working on a show. Occasionally they graciously indulge my request for an interview. What I am learning is that their stories are far more fascinating.

One such person is Bart Montgomery. Many of us on Twitter got to know him as the man behind the promotional pieces for Fringe on Fox Broadcasting. He became a rock star to us (although the modest man he is, I imagine that he would blush that I have said that). I wanted to know more about his career and how he makes certain decisions that lead him to create the videos that lead the viewer to decide whether or not it is something they might want to view. The answers were so terrific that I had to break this up into two parts. Here is the first of two. Enjoy!

What is your official title at Fox?

Senior Writer/Producer, Fox On-Air Promo Creative.

How long have you been with Fox?

I’ve been with Fox for 16 years, first from 1990 – 1999 then from 2006 to present.

BartsEditBay

Where the magic happens!

How did you get into this particular field of work? Was it something you studied for in college, or something that you got on-the-job experience? If you didn’t study for this particular field in college, what was your major?

I studied Film and Television production at the University of Missouri-Columbia. There isn’t a university level course that I know of that deals with producing television promos. It’s kind of a specialized thing that you learn on the job. I mean, you can learn the basics of television and film production in college and that will help you in promo work but in my university experience, I never studied anything as detailed as promo or trailer production.

To tell the truth, I kind of fell into producing promos by chance. I had moved out to Los Angeles to get into the film and television business in some capacity. I didn’t know what I wanted to do yet but just wanted to get involved. Unfortunately I arrived in L.A. during a writer’s strike so there was no work to be had. Every show and film set was shut down. After a couple of weeks looking for work, a friend of mine from college who was living in Florida and knew I was looking, told me that a friend of hers in Florida had a sister who was working at a promo / trailer production company in Hollywood. She told me that I should contact her friend’s sister so I did. I met her the next day and she hired me on the spot for the high profile job of runner / tape librarian. I had a masters degree and I was running around Hollywood picking up and delivering video tapes. Exciting huh? It does prove, however, that when it comes to getting a job in Hollywood, it IS who you know.
After several months working as a “runner” I was delivering tapes to an edit session for one of the company owners, a man named Geoff Calnan, who is a legend in the promo business. I kid you not, he is a promo master and anyone reading this has seen his work. I had dropped off the videotapes that were needed for the session and Geoff turns to me and asks me what I wanted to do in the company. Without thinking I replied, “I want to do what you do, produce promos and trailers.” I remember he looked at me for a moment and said, “Okay, you’re doing the next promo for “Superboy.” “Superboy” was a syndicated show that we had the promo contract for at the time. So, that was the first show I ever produced a promo for and it launched my career. I’ve even found some of my “Superboy” promos on YouTube— Go figure.

You do/have done the previews for episodes like The Following, Sleepy Hollow, Fringe, Almost Human, Touch, and X-Files. What are some other shows?

Well, in addition to the shows you’ve listed, I can give you a short overview. I’ve produced promos for “America’s Most Wanted” “Beverly Hills 90210” “The Simpsons” “Married with Children” “Millenium” “Harsh Realm” “24” “Family Guy” “Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles” to name a few.

Is it a team effort to produce the one preview or do you work on a particular project/episode by yourself while others are working on other episodes?

Usually each producer is assigned a show to write and produce promos for. Sometimes, especially when a show is first launched on the network, several producers will be assigned to produce multiple launch promos. But, most of the time, there is a single producer for each show.

Fox is a very creative place to work. They give you a lot of freedom to try different approaches. I’m biased of course but I think Fox is the best network on television and I’m proud to work here. There, I said it.


(Space Above And Beyond within a commercial block)

Do you get to choose the music for a particular preview? If so you must have to listen to quite a variety and be very knowledgeable about current trends. Do you hear something and think, “That would be great for such-and-such show” or do you file it away for a different time in the future?

Yes, as a producer I usually select the music for the promos. There are times when someone at a higher level will have a specific music idea or there may be a new music track being offered at a reduced rate by an established band looking for exposure that we’ll use but most of the time it’s me listening to various production music libraries. I’m always listening to current popular music tracks looking for ways to use songs that that I think would be good for a show I’m working on. More often than not, I’ll find something really good that I’ll file away in my mind for possible use later. I remember listening to Pandora one morning on the way to work and hearing a song by the band Collide called “Am I Here? I just had to use it and it became the track I used for the “Fringe” Season 4 launch promos so sometimes it’s just pure luck that you find exactly what you need musically. I’ve used music from Trent Reznor to Johnny Cash and everything in between. One band I’m dying to use in a promo / trailer is Garbage, just haven’t found the right situation yet.

(Come back for Part 2 in the next day or so.  The best is yet to come!)


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4 11 2013

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