An encounter with the Acorn Gallery’s Raney Rogers can be overwhelming, and perhaps, for some, even a bit intimidating.
Creatively mercurial, wry, honest and exceedingly polite — she is a Baptist minister’s daughter — one minute she is laughing out loud, and seconds later dabbing at a tear when hearing of another’s pain.
But that’s not what the television executives with PBS saw when they watched her first attempt at creating an art instruction show.
“It was a sleeper,” she said while sitting in her West Jefferson studio, surrounded by her creations, as she explained her quest to create a television show that teaches people how to paint.
However, the second effort got the attention of PBS in a big way, with an offer to air 13 shows.
The process began over a year ago, when Rogers decided to “branch out,” as she called it, as an artist.
“I guess you’d call it Divine intervention, but I told myself, ‘Raney, you’re going to have a TV show and you’re going to reach many people with it,’” she said when describing the inspiration for the first show.
To accomplish the goal of creating and producing an art instruction show, she had built a relationship with Joe and Amy Fan. Amy had worked as Rogers’ assistant on other projects and Amy’s husband Joe was an accomplished videographer.
They got down to work and called the creative endeavor the “Art and Soul Network.”
“Joe had all the equipment and knew how to go about (shooting a video),” said Rogers, who added that Joe was “very meticulous” in his approach to filming.
While he was shooting the opening scenes for the first show, Rogers was making the preparations needed to be an on-air art instructor.
When the day came to do the actual filming, Rogers enlisted the help of her sister, Linda Adamson, who is also an English professor.
“She helped keep me focused…make it educational, she said,” said Rogers of her sister’s contribution to the first show.
After filming the opening sequences, and then shooting the “instruction” portion, the raw footage was taken by Joe Fan and edited to create the first “Art and Soul” show.
The 30-minute show ran about 40 times on a cable outlet in Boone, and Rogers was contemplating what to do next.
With a “what the heck,” Rogers decided to submit it to PBS to see if they might be interested in that type of show.
After a week or so, she received a letter from PBS.
“They really liked the opening,” she said, again laughing, acknowledging her instruction portion of the show had not been received as she might have hoped.
“And yes…it was a sleeper,” chuckling as she again described her “instruction” portion of the show.
“We like you,” Rogers was told when she spoke to one of the executives about the show. “We’re just not sure you let yourself shine…be yourself. Don’t listen to other people,” Rogers said the executive told her.
The PBS executive explained that while the show is primarily about art instruction, it really is entertainment and should be approached from that perspective.
With that focus, Rogers “went back to the drawing board and rethought everything.”
The first item was the show’s name. It is now Painting with Raney.
Then, while attending a women’s conference in Pinehurst, she made a connection with Denise Baddour, who was on the management team that developed The Discovery Channel.
Baddour suggested that while in Pinehurst, Rogers give the instruction portion of the show another shot. And Rogers did.
Videographer Cassie Butler Timpy was at the conference, and Rogers enlisted her help.
The next day, in the kitchen of a home in Pinehurst, Rogers was filmed, using a sheet-draped ladder as an easel, the instruction portion of the 30-minute show with Baddour as a student.
“I made it like an art party. We poured a little champagne, started the camera and I started the instruction,” said Rogers.
The outcome was exactly what she wanted.
“I was told by Baddour it was authentic with lots of sizzle,” said Rogers.
Then she learned the 30-minute instruction she had filmed needed to be edited into a 10-minute “sizzle reel,” an insider term for television shows that are looking for network or cable buyers. No more than 10 minutes, it offers a glimpse into what the focus of the show will be.
She had the film edited down to 10 minutes and then “got cold feet.”
She was little unsure as to whether or not she wanted to set herself up for another letdown. She turned to her father and Baptist minister Norman Gossett.
“I showed it to him and he said, “I liked it,’” said Rogers, who added her father was often reluctant to offer positive feedback.
Emboldened by her father’s positive reaction, Rogers took the leap and sent the sizzle reel back to PBS on July 3.
On July 6, she received a call from the PBS executive.
“They loved,” said Rogers. She said the PBS board had a chance to watch the sizzle reel and they “loved the energy, the instruction and the entertainment.”
At that point, Rogers said they wanted 13 episodes of the show. If she already had 13 shows in the can, they told her, they would take care of the marketing.
That created one, pretty big, challenge for Rogers. The shows typically cost about $10,000 each to produce in a professional studio. Rogers needs to raise at least $130,000 to fulfill what she sees as the next step in her artistic career.
These days, while that figure almost seems insurmountable, there are “crowdfunding” sources on the Internet like Kickstarter and indiegogo.
Rogers is currently developing the materials needed to start a crowdfunding campaign using indiegogo.
For more information and for how to help, look for Painting with Raney or Raney Rogers on www.indiegogo.com in the next week or so.
Rogers has also created a YouTube channel called “Painting with Raney” with a presentation piece for the upcoming fundraiser. To watch, visit www.youtube.com and search for Raney Rogers.