We had the opportunity to discuss the wonderful work of Jamie LoFiego, the Technical Director behind TikTok’s latest musical, For You, Paige which is now up for Emmy® consideration. Jamie touched on his professional journey into Technical Directing as well as his time working on For You, Paige. The musical follows the widely acclaimed Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical that premiered last year and was live streamed exclusively through the platform. The unique 9 by 13 format lent itself to intimate camera angles and interesting shots. Keep reading to hear about Jamie’s approach to the vertical format as well as what’s next in his career journey.
I would love to get us started by asking about your journey into technical directing and professional influences?
Thinking back to the start of my journey is probably the same story for most of us in the production field: High school TV class. A group of teenage kids taking an ‘easy’ class creating content they thought was entertaining. When the only hall pass you needed was a camera and microphone to roam the school freely.
After high school I worked at an NBC affiliate. This was my first experience in a real production environment. I ran audio, graphics and directed the different daily newscasts. A few years later I began teaching video production at Marshall University. For five years I was able to educate college students that had an interest in the production / entertainment field.
I moved to central Florida a few years ago where I continue to direct & technical direct for the Orlando Magic and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Working with the NBA & NFL keeps me connected with many professionals in sports entertainment. Plus working with top of the line equipment is always a plus.
I am currently the Broadcast Senior Director for Media.Monks. The Monks have a large list of notable clients that I have worked with these past few years. For You Pagie was produced by many talented Monks this past April.
How did you begin working with For You, Paige, and what was that experience like for you?
For You Paige was a project that was given to me at the perfect time. With the end of the NBA calendar and months away from the start of the NFL season I was able to focus on this new style of stage and TV hybrid. I thought back to the summer of 2020 when Hamilton aired on Disney Plus. This historic stage show now thrusted into the TV streaming services gave the world the opportunity to see this theatrical play from their home living room. Now we are given the same chance to not only broadcast a stage show but create it from the ground up. How exciting!
My role was to ensure the broadcast would capture the feeling of what an audience member would experience if they were sitting in the theater. However, unlike Lin-Manuel Miranda’s show, our stage production would not have sets to compliment the story. We had to rely on the cast to move the show with only their dialog and singing. How Stressful!
How did the 9 by 16 vertical format change your approach as a technical director when it came to shooting the production?
The most challenging aspect of the 9 x16 was to focus on tighter shots and keeping the actor blocking tight so the story could be told without the use of massive sets, large props and wide establishing camera shots. From day one I knew the importance of using a steadicam and how this camera would immerse the audience into the show. After speaking with the actors I was able to inform them they would be having this camera in their faces while performing. This would add to the acting coach’s challenges when blocking the cast.
What was one key factor you and the team kept in mind while filming a large scale musical knowing it would be streamed through the TikTok platform?
One factor I stressed to the team was the massive presence TikTok is and how lucky we were to be given the opportunity to show our skills on TikTok’s platform. Being an actor you can feel the audience’s mood in the theater. We did not have an audience in our theater during For You Paige. Instead, we had an audience across the world. TikTok users typed their thoughts in real time giving other viewers the feel of what EVERYONE was experiencing. Instead of applause in the house, we had hearts and clapping hand icons across the screen.
For You, Paige is in the running for an Emmy nomination this year, what would that mean to you and the rest of the creative team?
When I say I work for the Tampa Bay Bucs people ask ‘Have you met Tom Brady?’ Why is that? I believe it is because one person stands out / speaks for an entire organization. People seem to relate to that one element that paints the picture for the entire culture of a group. That is what the Emmys represents for the production world. This one word, Emmy, is known for excellence in our line of business. What would this mean if we were nominated? It would mean we were a part of something that others deemed excellent entertainment. What an accomplishment that would be for the entire cast and crew.
What’s next in your professional journey? How can we stay connected with you and your work?
As of right now my focus is still with Media.Monks. There are multiple shows on the horizon the Monks are working on that covers sports, corporate and stage productions. I am looking forward to getting back on headset in TV control rooms across the nation to produce entertaining events.
Thank you for reading! Check out the For You, Paige musical for yourself on TikTok!