The INSIDER team in Los Angeles recently held an AMA.
Senior Producers Sydney Kramer, Caroline Aghajanian, and Producer Joe Avella answered questions about video producing for INSIDER.
Topics include finding great stories, what a shoot is like, favourite parts of the job, and the biggest challenges.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Caroline: Do we have, like, an intro, like a doodoo do do do do tsch.
Joe: Doodoo do do do do do tsch. Something like that. We’ll get graphics on it.
Caroline: It’s “The No Name Show,” dodo do do do.
Joe: “INSIDER Insider” I think we can call it. “Inside INSIDER”! Don’t look too annoyed.
Sydney: These are all terrible ideas.
Joe: I’m Joe Avella with INSIDER, and today we are doing kind of a video, AMA, podcast, videocast with my two best friend-slash-coworkers, Caroline Ajanian?
Caroline: That was close.
Joe: And Sydney Kramer.
Joe: Kinda threw out some questions sort of like an AMA, what people really want to know about the job, about us, put them on Instagram, and I went through them, and we’re gonna kinda hit some of the most-asked questions today. A lot of questions that we got was something to the extent of like our day-to-day or how we end up picking stories. So I guess, like, in general, how would you explain to someone how you end up making a video, like pitching it and it getting actually produced or whatever.
Caroline: I just, like, searched, like, Instagram is a big tool to, like, help me find, like, cool places, places that people want to go and see… Oh, hello!
Joe: Oh, I forgot to introduce Junior Canine Producer Paul Walker the dog, joining us today.
Caroline: Camera’s there, Paul. There you go.
Sydney: Awww. I feel like he felt ignored. He never jumps up on the table like this.
Caroline: Well, I think there’s some questions for Paul later on.
Joe: We’ll get to those.
Sydney: I’m just looking for something that, you know, when I’m scrolling through Instagram or Facebook or YouTube or whatever, like, makes me want to stop.
Joe: Yeah, it’s harder because also, like, it’s not just the visuals of it. It’s that, like, story behind it, you know?
Caroline: Yeah, like, we wanna see the people behind it, and, like, even on Instagram though, you find a lot of like gimmicky things that people just made, you know, to go viral or to go on Instagram and, like, to get that quick attention, but like, I don’t know, those stuff like fade, and there’s not like big meat behind it, you know?
Sydney: Sometimes there literally is big meat behind it.
Caroline: I know, I know, that’s true
Joe: There you go.
Caroline: But if they created that big meat because they had a family of 50 that they wanted to serve, and that was, like, easy, then that’s like fun, you know? I wanna know about your family, you know? But, like, if you just, like, put a bunch of patties together…
Sydney: Caroline wants to know about your family. All about them. DM Caroline and tell her all about your family.
Caroline: I would like to meet everyone. How cool would it be to meet a lot of peoples’ families? Like, that would be really fun.
Joe: I don’t know. I’ve got mine. That’s enough. I find meeting new people exhausting.
Caroline: Well, good thing we have to see it everyday!
Sydney: How many siblings do you have? Where are you from?
Joe: Two. Oh, me? What, whatever, who cares?
Sydney: I’m kidding, that’s one of the questions you ask people when you meet them, and you have to pretend you’re interested.
Joe: Two siblings, next question.
Caroline: But also even just like going out and walking around you can, like, find a shop or a restaurant, and you think that’s cool, and then you, like, dig in a little deeper, and you find a story. We all went to go do Hollywood makeup schools, and the stunt school was really fun. Any, like, special effects transformations are really fun, so it’s nice. We get to learn. If you see us filming at a restaurant, come up to us and be like, “Hey I want to take a bite on camera.” We love to get those people.
Joe: Uh, hang on one second. But like if I’m shooting something and talking, don’t, like, get right in my face, I mean, like, you know, pick a moment.
Caroline: Yeah, but I feel like I’d always, like whenever I’m at a restaurant…
Sydney: Also, we’ll come up to you. How about that ?
Joe: People are just like, “Hey is this for INSIDER? Can I be in the thi…” It’s like, bro.
Sydney: Yeah, chill. Caroline’s too nice.
Joe: Yeah. I keep making this mistake, I feel like you’ve yelled at me a few times about this, is that I’ll go to shoots really hungry.
Sydney: Can’t do it.
Joe: Every time I’m like, “Oh yeah, we’re doing that taco thing at 2. I’ll just skip lunch,” and by the time I get there, I’m just like, “Give me those tacos.”
Sydney: Joe. Hey, Joe. I was gonna see if he’s eating anymore. I thought you weren’t supposed to eat more tacos.
Joe: All gone. I’m not listening to you. I’m eating them. And I was like shoving them in my mouth. You’re like, “Hey, let’s just slow down, I gotta get this shot.” I’m like “gurhurhhh, what?” Like, so I probably should grab a snack before I go.
Sydney: Yeah, especially because I feel like at this point, you know, there’s no want for good food, so the idea that I’m gonna skip lunch and then just like go hog wild like on a shoot, just is not appealing to me at all, you know? I would rather, like, eat food, be satiated, and, like, feel OK while I’m working and then, like, “Oh, let me try a taco.”
Joe: Favourite part of the job, you go first.
Caroline: Meeting different people every day.
Joe: Mmmm, definitely not mine.
Sydney: Me neither. That’s like, maybe my least favourite part of the job.
Sydney: Seeing how we can change a business, you know, like especially smaller businesses or food trucks or food stands in places that are kind of, you know, trying to make ends meet and then having a video come out and having their business blow up and, like, do really well and, you know, sell out of food and need to hire more people and seeing that is, I think, definitely the best part.
Joe: Yeah. We got that email from the guys from the garlic restaurant, The Stinking Rose.
Joe: They said they’re doing really well because of the video.
Sydney: They said their business was up like 10%.
Joe: Yo, shout-out to The Stinking Rose. I like that place. The food is really good.
Caroline: They have been around for forever.
Joe: Yeah, yeah.
Caroline: Old businesses, new businesses.
Sydney: What’s your favourite part of the job?
Joe: Uh, I don’t know, being on camera.
Sydney: Seeing my face talk words out myself.
Joe: Just uh, just seeing my face getting 60 million views to watch me eat fast food, num num num.
Joe: No, I just, I like producing videos. I like making stuff, kinda why we’re doing this. I don’t know if “rewarding” is the word I wanna use, but it really, like, I mean, if people can’t tell, I’m a lot older than the both of you, and I had like a…
Sydney: You’re not that much older than me. You’re much older than Caroline.
Joe: I had a previous 10 years of working like any terrible, like, entry-level job not related to anything for this and just like waking up every day and just being like, like 6 a.m., just being like, “This is gonna suck for, like, years.” So the fact I get to wake up and be like, “Oh, I get to go to a cool place, meet interesting people, shoot something, and the people are going to see it,” like all those things, like, that is awesome.
Sydney: Yeah, I mean, I was a research assistant at hedge funds and mutual funds for like five or six years, so this is definitely much better than that. I think this is your first job, right?
Caroline: My first, like, real job, but I’ve had a lot of internships.
Joe: Uh, Sydney, you’re the food king of Instagram. By the way, check her out on @crepesofwrath, Instagram. We’ve gotten to eat a lot of, like, really good stuff, you know, but every once in a while there’s something that’s kind of like a little rough.
Joe: Can you think of anything recently… I can think of something that we ate when I first got here that almost killed us. But can you think of anything, that’s like, and, of course, we’re having fun here, but anything that you’ve just eaten, and you’ve just been like, ugh. So crazy, so big, so decadent, something that’s just like, “Oh, man.”
Sydney: Yeah, I mean, some of the food fair stuff’s been pretty rough, like, I’m not gonna lie, you know? We were in the Midwest for a while. We went to one place, I don’t think that we’re ever gonna actually do the video, upon reviewing the footage. The kitchen, I mean, I’m not gonna name the name of the restaurant.
Sydney: But the kitchen was gross, and, like, the food was gross. It was so bad in fact that when we were shooting, we just shot people that were already eating there because I just couldn’t bring myself to, like, eat the food after being in the kitchen and seeing, like, how things were handled.
Sydney: Like, it was just dirty. But, I mean, I will say for the most part, like, the food that we go to shoot tastes good and is good because we’re not going to shoot something that looks disgusting.
Joe: Yeah, of course.
Sydney: Um, but this place looked like it might be a fun story, and it was not fun or delicious. But I think Caroline has more stories about trying new food because I feel like I like, and I think you do too.
Joe: We’re both adventurous eaters.
Sydney: Yeah, we like, like, different food. Caroline, I think, has tried a lot of new food since being on INSIDER.
Caroline: I, definitely, I mean, the first thing that comes to mind is any of our spicy food shoots because, like, I don’t know, we don’t even fake those reactions because I feel like Joe and I have done a few of them, like, a bunch of people on the team, like, especially… OK, so Joe and I did a spicy ramen challenge, and I was like, it was a cold day, I was like, yeah, ramen’s gonna be good, and Joe was hungry, and so we were like, we’re gonna really go in.
Joe: Yeah, like a genius, I didn’t eat that day.
Sydney: Oh, my God, no food in your stomach, eating the spiciest ramen in Los Angeles.
Joe: And, like, coffee is my blood, so I have no stomach lining anyway. I’ve been drinking coffee nonstop since I was like 12. So already, my stomach is just, can’t handle anything.
Caroline: Yeah, so that spicy ramen shoot, we went, and we were, like, really going in, and, like, Joe especially was, like, determined to finish that challenge. Wait, oh, my gosh, you’re practically done. You got this, you’re like halfway there.
Joe: I’m starting to shake. Anything for my fans.
Caroline: That was a bad idea.
Joe: It was the dumbest idea ever. We wanted the video to be like, “We tried the spicy cha…” First of all, we didn’t come close. We didn’t ever come close to finishing it.
Caroline: No, you came really close actually. You, like, Joe ate all the noodles, but he didn’t, like,
Joe: I was trying to drink the broth.
Caroline: He had to drink the broth.
Joe: It was like drinking lava, oh, my god.
Caroline: Yeah, I was just like, pretty much, like I couldn’t do it.
Joe: It was so bad. But I had just moved here. Like, I had only been here for like a couple weeks, and I’d moved here from New York, and my stuff hadn’t arrived yet, and also my wife was out of town.
Sydney: And my wife hadn’t arrived yet.
Joe: And my stuff… So she was travelling for work, and none of my stuff, so basically, imagine an apartment with nothing in it except like the pile of clothes that I’m sleeping on, right. So also, I have an empty medicine cabinet, so I get home, and I’m like, “Oh, my stomach’s killing me.” Then I had to like crawl to Albertson, and I bought like a ton of Tums, you know, Zantac, something that you drink, and, it was on a Friday, spent the whole weekend just, like, laying on my bare hardwood floor like this, like, ahaha, like just waves of pain hitting me. Anything for INSIDER baby, company man, what’s up?
Sydney: I don’t do spicy food challenges. I have self respect.
Caroline: That is good, but it is really fun, like, I am always, even after that, I think I did like two or three more spicy food stuff, and I was like, I know it’s going to hurt, but I’m, it’s fine, it’s fun. It’s the driving that you have to do after ’cause you’re like stuck in LA traffic.
Joe: Oh, the car ride back.
Caroline: And your stomach is like ughh.
Joe: What’s the thing that you hold on right here? And kind of like, holding it up, and something that’s suspended and like…
Sydney: The dry cleaner handle?
Joe: Yeah, whatever, so I’m holding it because, like, the bumping of the car is just too much, so I’m like, I’m using my core to not, like, to keep myself, ugh.
Caroline: That was a nightmare.
Joe: Fun video though! So I’ll hit you with some quick ones real quick. What do you think is the toughest part of this job? Me, I know what it is: pitches. Hardest time finding things. For me, it’s like a constant stress of, like, pitching. That’s for me, what about you guys?
Caroline: I guess, most stressful part is if I really, really am interested in doing a video on someplace, and I have to, like, take a lot of convincing. Like, people are very sceptical. It’s like, no, but it’s going to be great, but they find out that it’s great, like, after the video goes up, after we show up, and it’s great. So I guess like, the convincing the sceptics that it’s a good thing, you know?
Sydney: I would say, just like time management, honestly, because there are so many things to shoot, and there’s so many videos we’re working on, and I feel like I’m constantly just like juggling, like, script writing and producing and, like, shooting and editing, and I can never, like, quite get that balance even though I really try to.
Joe: It’s hard. I have not travelled outside of the country for this job, but both of you have?
Caroline: My most exciting shoot was “Swimming Hole Safari” in Jamaica, in Port Antonio, when I jumped into the Rabbit Hole. Scariest shoot and probably the funnest.
Sydney: Tokyo, obviously, Tokyo’s the best.
Joe: When are we starting BI Tokyo, and when are they sending you and I there to start?
Sydney: Dude, I mean, I’m there. The first time I went to Tokyo years ago, the first thing I did was like look up, like, apartments.
Joe: Yup, my wife and I went there for our honeymoon, and since then, we’re like, it’s just understood that we will eventually live there.
Joe: At some point, we will just migrate over to Tokyo.
Caroline: I’ve never been to Armenia. I really want to go, so hopefully I get to plan a trip with my family.
Joe: That would be really cool.
Caroline: But if it’s for family or with work, I’m definitely down to shoot videos so, Armenia, I’m coming.
Sydney: That’s right. That will be great.
Caroline: Soon, one day.
Joe: Any country you haven’t gotten to yet for work that you’d want to go?
Sydney: I mean, for work, I don’t know, I’ll be honest, like, I like travelling for work but, uh.
Joe: You’d rather travel for leisure?
Joe: I don’t want to talk about personal lives. We’re on INSIDER, so if you got to go, if you got to pick a place you get to go to for a couple weeks to shoot videos.
Joe: Forget about the logistics of it, just like…
Sydney: Probably, like, Hong Kong, I mean, we’ve talked about Hong Kong. I’ve never been. It seems awesome.
Joe: Yeah, it looks awesome.
Sydney: Lots of really cool food. I’ve been to Shanghai, but I think Shanghai would be a cool place to go for work as well.
Caroline: I love travelling for work so wherever, I’m down.
Joe: It is really fun.
Caroline: Yeah. Also, like, whenever we travel for work, like, we’re doing things that we would maybe as tourists. We’re filming things, like, in food places and travel stuff that we’d want to do when we’re there, so I feel like I’m enjoying my time working. I love…
Sydney: I feel guilty travelling for work because I feel like I’m like…
Joe: No way, not me.
Sydney: You don’t feel, like, guilty not having your wife there with you? I feel guilty if I’m like…
Joe: Trust me, between the two of us, she’s thrilled I’m leaving for work. Are you kidding me?
Sydney: No, I feel guilty if I’m like going somewhere cool and I don’t get to share it with Kramer, like, I want him to be there. It’s not as fun.
Joe: But you don’t feel good sharing it with your coworkers?
Sydney: No, no.
Joe: All right, that’s been the first episode of “Whatever This Show Is Called.” If you guys have any questions that we didn’t get to… By the way, you guys asked questions on Instagram, both their personal accounts and our INSIDER ones. I don’t know. Roughly 10,000 questions. We’ll probably do this again later with other questions, maybe talk about more about videos. I don’t know. What do you guys wanna know? If you could let us know in the comments, that would be great, and thanks for watching, goodbye.