We sat down with multi-talented Technical Director, Jamie LoFiego. LoFiego currently works with Media.Monks, a unique marketing and advertising company. He most recently brought his expertise to TikTok’s first commissioned production, For You, Paige. For You, Paige was a project that the team at Media.Monks saw as a new style of stage and TV hybrid. Now up for Emmy® consideration, the story follows a viral TikTok that highlights the value of friendship and collaboration, the production was created by a number of talented creatives from across the nation. The musical is innovative in numerous ways including that it was shot in a vertical 9 by 16 format, which made for a unique but exciting challenge for the camera team. In our interview, LoFiego discusses what it was like collaborating with his team and touches on the creative influences behind For You, Paige.

How did you and your team collaborate on filming when it came to your most recent work, For You, Paige?

For You, Paige was a project that our team saw as a 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 therictal play from their home couch. Now we are given the same chance to not only broadcast a stage show but create it from the ground up.  

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.  We knew it was going to be a huge collaboration from the production crew, the acting cast and the local venue to pull off this type of entertainment.  

What were some of the creative influences behind your work on For You, Paige and the production as a whole?

It is challenging to say who my influences are. I don't think there is one person or style I can draw a comparison to when thinking of For You Paige. I come from live TV where the directors are not as well known, only the entire production. 

I continually think of the crew that produces Inside The NBA on TNT. They do such an amazing job with entertaining and informing the audience while stacking a solid show. Other networks seem to have the 'time slot' to show NBA games while TNT really devotes and comes across as the go-to source for NBA information.     

How did you and the rest of your team balance the grandeur of live theatre with the intimacy of the vertical format?

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 the viewers the feel of what EVERYONE was experiencing while watching For You Paige. 

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 acting company 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 your favorite scene in For You, Paige and why did it stand out to you?

My favorite scene was the first musical number. Not necessarily because I really liked it or it was the best scene, it is because as soon as the first note was played we all were off and running. I think the emotion and drive everyone had was ready for that first number to get things off on the right start. It stood out to me because I knew as soon as the cast started acting, as soon as the crew started listening to my camera cues, as soon as we were live, we were back into our comfort zone of producing live entertainment. 

And finally, what is your favorite memory while working with the rest of the creatives behind For You, Paige?

My favorite memory is always before a live production. I have created this tradition that, well, scares people. As a director I know how much time we have before the red light turns on and we are live on air. A few minutes prior to the start of the show I will slam my hands down on the table / desk I am sitting behind getting everyone's attention. Then I proceed to run around the entire venue yelling out the cast & crew members names while giving everyone high fives. I think of it as a coach getting his team fired up before the start of the game. Ten minutes before For You, Paige went live I was running through dressing rooms, on stage and in the control room getting everyone excited, and scared, for what was getting ready to happen. And yes, there's footage of me captured by the Behind The Scenes crew running around like an idiot.

About For You, Paige
For You Paige was influenced by TikTok culture and features many references to TikTok trends and communities. The development and production processes were documented on TikTok by creator Daniel Mertzlufft, along with the show’s cast and crew. The musical premiered live at a theater in New York City on April 14, 2022.