Lights, Camera, Run! Behind the Videos of Mayor Candidates

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On June 22, New Yorkers will go to the polls to decide on the Democratic candidate who will very doubtless be the metropolis’s subsequent mayor. After a chaotic 12 months, many citizens are, understandably, simply tuning in now.

As a politics producer on The New York Times’s Video desk, I spend most of my time fascinated about how we are able to use unique visible reporting to convey further depth to key races and points. For this mission on the mayoral race, our purpose was to assist readers get to know an enormous group of contenders in a method that was clear, informative and enjoyable.

Last month, we digitally printed our ultimate product, an interactive set of movies that includes interviews with the prime eight Democratic candidates. The interviews, performed by the Metro reporters Emma Fitzsimmons and Katie Glueck, together with images completed on set, inform a print model of the mission that seems in Sunday’s newspaper.

When we began planning, we knew that the race had a quantity of distinct qualities we would have liked to consider. First, many of the candidates weren’t well-known to those that didn’t intently observe metropolis politics. This was additionally the first 12 months New York City could be utilizing ranked-choice voting — on this race which means voters can rank as much as 5 candidates on the poll. (A full rationalization of how this voting will work could be discovered right here.)

Our group included Metro editors and reporters, designers, graphics editors and video journalists. The preliminary thought for the piece was primarily based on previous Times initiatives that targeted on Democratic presidential candidates upfront of the 2020 primaries. (right here and right here). The core thought was easy: Bring in the candidates, ask all of them the similar questions and publish their solutions in an interactive format that allowed readers to “choose their own adventure” and navigate by subjects of curiosity.

We wished to offer these interviews and the mission a New York City really feel, so we chosen two totally different areas in The New York Times Building the place we might use the metropolis as a backdrop.

Emma Fitzsimmons, The Times’s City Hall bureau chief, on set for an interview with Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president.Credit…Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Our interviews have been set primarily in pure mild, which might pose sure challenges. Ideally, an overcast sky or a transparent sunny day is finest, since you need mild to hit your topic evenly. A cloud that strikes in entrance of the solar and casts a shadow in your topic’s face can break a shot. This meant intently monitoring the climate and cloud actions with Noah Throop, our cinematographer, upfront of each shoot. On unhealthy climate days, we filmed in the Times Center auditorium, which was much less inclined to mild change.

We additionally needed to navigate the challenges of filming throughout a pandemic, which means we would have liked to seek out massive open areas and arrange testing regimens and security protocols for each employees members and visitors.

Shaun Donovan, a mayoral candidate, on set. When filming in pure mild, both an overcast sky or a transparent sunny day is finest.Credit…Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Behind the scenes, we coordinated with the campaigns in an effort to catch every candidate arriving, which at occasions meant working by the Times Square subway station, attempting to scout for his or her automobiles in visitors and seeking to verify whether or not Andrew Yang and his group have been in actual fact having lunch at Schnipper’s (a burger joint in the Times constructing) earlier than his interview. The cameras have been rolling from the second we met up with candidates outdoors till the second they left the constructing.

The creator appears to be like out for Mr. Throop in the Times Square Subway station.Credit…Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

We determined to make one video per candidate, as an alternative of organizing movies by subject, to offer viewers a possibility to take a seat and hearken to a selected particular person in the event that they desired. The interviews ranged in size from 40 minutes to greater than an hour primarily based on the candidate’s talking model and brevity.

The movies on Kathryn Garcia and the different prime seven Democratic candidates have been organized in order that viewers might sit and hearken to a candidate at size. Credit…Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

My function throughout an interview as a producer is to concentrate on how every part will look and sound on video. This signifies that the array of issues I do consists of listening for good sound bites, monitoring what questions may want an extra take, fixing folks’s hair and working outdoors to ask ambulance drivers on a break to show off their flashing lights (which I needed to do quite a few occasions throughout these shoots).

In enhancing down the interviews, we tried to focus on what made a candidate distinctive and pull out key variations amongst members of the group — together with some moments of levity. But finally what we wished to offer was a useful resource the place voters might hear from every individual, comparatively unfiltered, to assist them make up their minds.

Who Wants to Be Mayor of New York City?

The race for the subsequent mayor of New York City could also be one of the most consequential elections in a technology. Here are some of the main candidates vying to run the nation’s largest metropolis.