Zero People Zero: Allie Chaden
Welcome back to Zero People Zero. Meet Allie Chaden, one of ZPZ’s producers.
In this installment, Allie teleports us to different places around the world to eat her favorite food, shows us how she’s the modern day Mary Poppins (seriously, she is), and even writes a little poem for us.
NAME: Alexandra Chaden
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH ZPZ: 4 years, on-and-off
ZPZ: Tell us something about yourself that people wouldn’t know. Any hidden talents?
AC: I rarely tell the chefs we work with, but I have a culinary degree. About two months into the fifteen-month program, I realized I didn’t have the talent or drive or desire to be a top chef, like some of my peers. I also looked ridiculous in chef’s whites. Those jackets aren’t cut for girls with curves.
Turns out I far prefer eating good food than cooking it. But I did love the education, and worked my ass off to learn as much as I could. So I am a decent cook. I make a mean roast chicken and I have a way with eggs.
[Proof of her roast chicken prowess]
Sadly, I harbor no hidden talents (although I’m really good at crossing my eyes and curling my tongue).
ZPZ: What’s your job here at ZPZ?
AC: I’m a producer who works mainly on food shows. I started as a total rube – the Production Assistant on a funky interactive project about David Chang. That little project turned into mindofachef, and I’ve now worked on all three seasons. I’ve also worked on Isa Chandra Moskowitz’ Make It Vegan!, and just finished a 3-week shoot in Europe for an upcoming food & travel series (I could tell you more about that but I’d have to kill you…it hasn’t been announced yet).
Not to sound cliché, but what the hell – “There’s no typical day!” Every day looks a bit different. If I’m working on MOAC (insider acronym for Mind of a Chef – you’re welcome), I spend a lot of time calling people and convincing them to film with us. Creating that show starts with back-and-forth between our team and the chefs – we have to explore what inspires and influences them, read their books, talk to them to get what’s important to them. Then we brainstorm and create our ideal wish list of episodes and scenes. Then comes the actual producing – making that wish list a reality. Which we do through emails, calls, meetings – all the glamorous stuff.
Once creative is set, it’s logistics – booking flights, hotels, scheduling, pulling together equipment. Not to sound cliché again, but it takes a village to make these shows. We have coordinators and PAs who help with car rentals and research, an entire equipment department who is outstanding and who makes sure we’re appropriately geared up, some of the best DPs in the business, and editors and a post department that turn our hours of footage into Emmy gold.
In a past life I went to a culinary school, and chefs have always been my demi-gods. Even though some days can be incredibly challenging, I feel like the cost-benefit analysis of what I do always evens out in the end. On a recent shoot, we were in the field for three weeks straight. Three weeks, three countries, four cities, five hotels. We dealt with canceled flights, canceled hotel rooms, a broken production van, 16 hour days, exhaustion. But on the very same trip, I got to bum around Barcelona with Albert Adria, a food hero of mine, and drink hot cocoa with him at his favorite local diner, sample some of his insanely inventive and surprising tapas at Tickets, and check out his new, raw restaurant space. In Paris we had unprecedented access to a 3-Michelin-starred chef’s private gardens. Our host – and, inadvertently, the whole crew – went on a gelato tour of Florence. They pay me for that. So it’s hard to complain about the hard work that goes into making it all happen.
ZPZ: Let’s say you knew that you had one full day to live and eat your favorite foods. Give us the rundown: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
AC: If I could have any superpower, it would OBVIOUSLY be teleportation. So with that in mind, my perfect food day would probably read like this:
I’d start with a cappuccino from Tarallucci e Vino, because it’s in my neighborhood AND it’s the only place in Manhattan where I’ve found coffee to rival that of Italy’s
Then I’d get a bacon-egg-and-cheese on wheat toast, add plenty of ketchup
I’d buy a green juice – something with ginger! – from Organic Avenue to feel like I was eating healthy
For lunch I’d get a tuna melt and lime rickey from Eisenberg’s
Then an ice cream from Van Leeuwen (pistachio and strawberry)
I’d eat my mother’s chopped liver for a snack, along with some matzoh ball soup from Second Avenue Deli
For dinner I’d snap my fingers and be back in Citta delle Pieve in Umbria, Italy, and eat at this family-run trattoria called Bruno, where I recently had the best meal of my life. There was risotto with saffron and favas, handmade pappardelle with cinghiale (wild boar) ragu, braised rabbit with tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala with lightly grilled summer vegetables, spaghetti with black truffles.
Afterwards I’d sit at the bar with Claudio (Bruno’s son) and our Italian crew, and watch the World Cup on a tiny iPad while washing the last morsels of the meal down with grappa.
After that day I think I could officially die happy.
ZPZ: What are your most played songs of all time?
AC: Oh wow. This is getting intimate. My taste is constantly changing – I’m fickle. But these songs and the artists that play them should shed some insight into what I listen to
[Did Drake make the list again!?]
ZPZ: Share your favorite throwback photo(s).
[I was turning 5(?). We were still living in LA so had to have been before I was 6. I was always a VERY social child, and loved a good party even from a young age. I think I’d seen my mother enthusiastically greet guests whenever she entertained, and I was trying to be as emphatic and excited as her. So when my buddy Jeremy showed up, I went all Liza Minnelli jazz hands and stage smile on him. To be honest, it’s a face I still make today…]
[This Pre-Teen-in-Tiaras picture was from a friend’s birthday party in the late 1980s/early 1990s. We went to a salon in town and got our hair & makeup did. I had these bright red glasses since the 2nd grade, and everyone called me Sally Jessy (as in Raphael). I convinced myself that that was some sort of compliment.]
ZPZ: What are some essentials you keep with you at all time, and why?
[Some of the contents listed below could not fit in the picture]
– Aquaphor – for dry skin
– Neosporin & band aids – for unforeseen scrapes and knife wounds (working on cooking shows, these happen more than you’d think)
– Hair ties – for tying back hair and serving as emergency rubber bands
– Jacobsen Salt – because I am a salt addict and Ben Jacobsen is a genius
– Dark chocolate – because offering chocolate to people helps you make friends
– An iPhone charger, because I am constantly emailing, calling, googling, etc when working
– Gum – to keep breath fresh and to serve as emergency epoxy, a la MacGyver
– Sunglasses – to shield the bags under my eyes
– Lighter – because sometimes production is stressful and a girl needs a cigarette, okay? Don’t judge.
– Oh, and rye whiskey – because it is delicious and makes the world seem softer.
ZPZ: Write a haiku that you live by.
Why pay for something
That a smile and a sly wink
Could get you for free
Zero People Zero: Ephraim Kirkwood
Hey guys, we’re back with Zero People Zero!
This is Ephraim Kirkwood, an Assistant Editor at ZPZ. Find out what inspires him to edit, why his beard is always on point, and how he became a local celebrity in Tampa, FL (kind of)…
NAME: Ephraim Kirkwood
OCCUPATION: Assistant Editor
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH ZPZ: 4 years.
ZPZ: Share a little story about yourself…
EK: While I was interning in Tampa, Florida, I got pushed into being in a 30 second commercial spot for a free lawyer referral service. It aired throughout the city for a while and people would recognize me on the street.
Anyone that knows me knows that I’m very much a behind-the-scenes type of guy, so the whole thing was terrifying for me. Of course, when I look back on it, it’s funny. Who says unpaid internships can’t also be glamorous?
ZPZ: How did you enter the ZPZ family? What does your job entail?
EK: At the end of my senior year of college, I was looking for internships in New York and came across ZPZ. I had my interview over Skype and it went pretty well! They asked me what my favorite TV show was and I said, “16 and Pregnant” because I thought it’d be hilarious. They seemed to agree. Next thing you know, I graduated, sold my car, and bought a one-way ticket to New York.
These days, I work as an Assistant Editor, mostly for Parts Unknown. I basically work closely with the Editor and Producer of the show and make sure all the raw footage that has been brought into the edit is organized and accounted for. Depending on the editor, I’ll also edit acts and scenes for an episode myself.
ZPZ: What got you into editing? Do you find it rewarding? What inspires you?
EK: I got into production at an early age.
I was constantly shooting and editing my own projects in high school that by the time I was fifteen I knew this is what I wanted to do.
What’s rewarding about editing is that you have a visual, tangible representation for all your hard work that other people can enjoy! There is also a lot responsibility in terms of the shows we do at ZPZ: To be as true to the events as possible while being entertaining. Working with everyone to strike that balance is rewarding in and of itself. (Well said!)
As corny as it is, I get inspired by seeing what some of my co-workers come up with for the shows they work on. Working here, you surround yourself with talented/awarding winning Editors, Producers, and Graphic Artist and if you’re smart, you take advantage of that and soak up as much as you can.
ZPZ: We always see you with your headphones on. What are you listening to?
EK: Actually these headphones are ZPZ’s, I’ve just commandeered them for quite some time. I figure it can’t be stealing if I’m here almost every day. But I digress…
ZPZ: What’s your favorite sport? Do you have a favorite athlete? Talk about a your most memorable experience.
EK: I played all types of sports growing up, but the sport I follow the closest would be Boxing. Oscar De La Hoya (btw, he sings, if you didn’t know) was my favorite as a kid, but as far as active fighters I’d go with Money Mayweather.
My favorite sports experience would probably be meeting Mike Tyson in Brooklyn. I know he has a softer public image these days but he looks like he can still whoop some ass, so don’t try him!
ZPZ: We always see you with a hat on (most of the time), how many do you own? How many are in your rotation right now?
EK: I don’t have much of a collection. Most days you can catch me looking wavy in a black Yankee snapback. A black or blue Yankee fitted is a staple must!
ZPZ: Your beard is always on point. What’s your daily routine of grooming? Any good tips and recommendations you can offer those who want your look (since most of the guys at ZPZ have facial hair)?
[So much beard at ZPZ]
EK: lol Thanks for noticing. Anyone looking to step their beard game up should do like I do and head to Denny Moes. Once a week, I take the train from Bed-Stuy all the way to Harlem to see my barber, Sherlock. Besides getting a clean cut, you see some cool people pass through there like Doug E Fresh, Fat Man Scoop, and of course, yours truly.
Recently the barbershop got a lot of press for being featured on an episode of ABC’s, ‘What Would You Do?’
It’s nice to know you can contribute money to a business that’s doing its part to end socialized/systematic racism and still get an amazing haircut.
ZPZ: List your 5 favorite TV shows in the 90’s in the order where they are closest to your heart (lol).
EK: I watched a ridiculous amount of TV as a kid so this is tough. I would say:
- Family Matters
- Fresh Prince
- X-men (The Animated Series)
- Mighty Morphing Power Rangers
- All That
That’s a very respectable 80’s baby/90’s kid TV show list…
[All right, guys, the show’s over. Ephraim has a deadline!]
Zero People Zero: Adam Lupsha
Welcome back to another Zero People Zero!
Next up, we have the Head of Design at ZPZ, Adam Lupsha. Get to know his passion for graphics, his punk rock days in SF, and say hello to his little friend, Winston!
Name: Adam Lupsha
OCCUPATION: Head of ZPZ Design Department
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH ZPZ: 8 or 9 years
ZPZ: Tell us a little story about yourself?
AL: When I was 6 or 7, I saw Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Ghostbusters and the other greats of my childhood. I asked my Mom how they made everything: The spaceships, the characters, the fire, and the ghosts.
She told me “special effects”.
I didn’t know what that was or how it worked, but I knew there was a magical way to tell any kind of story you wanted to and I stuck to it. I fell in love with photography, computers, editing, sound, cinematography and compositing. Yep, I have actually always been into this kind of work and never had any other types of interests. Get ready for an exciting hobby section in this bio…
ZPZ: How did you start out at ZPZ, and what do you do now?
AL: I was a transcriber, then a PA, then I ran the equipment department. I noticed that we had stories and projects coming up that could benefit from Visual Effects and some Motion Design work. So I started working after hours, on my little 12” G4. Eventually I ended up doing it full time. ZPZ expanded and I started hiring talented artists to work on all the new shows and projects.
[The GFX Team]
These days, I oversee the execution of all of our Design and VFX work. It mostly entails taking our new shows, figuring out the look and feel with the EPs and DPs, then creating a look and design language to fit the show.
My favorite thing about this job is the occasional travel and the constant company of my staff. Really a talented and fun group of artists.
[ Check out this video…]
ZPZ: Where did you grow up? How did you end up in New York?
AL: I grew up all over. The Midwest, Hawaii, Atlanta, San Francisco and finally NYC. I was mostly into photography and punk rock (wait for his throwback photo ;) )
ZPZ: Tell us about your dog? What are some tricks he can do?
AL: My dog is a French Bulldog named Winston. His best trick is that if you feed him, he starts smelling like farts.
I squeeze him and hug him a lot, but he’s like me: He doesn’t like being smothered. He also kinda has this growl/squeal that is like a Jurassic Park Raptor situation.
[Glad to meet you too, pup]
ZPZ: What are your hobbies outside of work?
AL: Animation and Film was my hobby until I started getting paid to do it. My wife wants me to find a hobby because I usually spend my weekends waiting to come back to work. I guess as long as my hobby has nothing to do with computers, that’ll do.
I used to do a bunch of stand up and piano bar singing in my college days, but those youthful exploits are behind me.
hmmm… I do have a good collection of guitars, but I’m pretty rusty. It would be fun to start garage psychobilly band if anyone is down. Anyone? Guys? Where are you going? Okay, fine: we’ll start a trip-hop-grunge-new-wave-proto-shakira band…
Zero Punk Zero…
ZPZ: #TBT: Show us your favorite throwback photo.
AL: Here I am with some of San Francisco’s last gutter punks, circa 2000. They would hang out at the pier and if tourists took pictures of them, they’d strong-arm them out of a few bucks. I hung around them for several months, taking pictures and going to hardcore shows with them. It was a hell of a time.
[He’s the one in the middle, with the D.A.R.E shirt]
ZPZ: What’s your favorite place to travel?
AL: I don’t have a favorite, but I often end up on shoots in the southwest. Tucson, Santa Fe, and Palm Springs are beautiful.
ZPZ: Recommend 5 top places to eat and drink near work (without giving up the whereabouts of ZPZ’s hidden gem).
AL: This is hard because Midtown is largely a vortex of sad-ass, eat-at-your-desk suit food, and hotel-restaurant-cheap-euro-tourist-diarrhea-fuel. Working with Tony has surely ruined me for harsh critique. But, a lot of us have found a few culinary gems, existing on the fringes, that we love…
- New York Bakery (you thought we’d give this away?)
- Num Pang
Zero People Zero: Field Humphrey
We’re back with another Zero People Zero!
Meet ZPZ’s Post Production Assistant, Field Humphrey. A workout-aholic, the Southern gentleman gives us a little insight about his job, the best pair of Nikes (ever), and recommends his top BBQ spots…
ZPZ: Tell us a little about yourself.
FH: I am a sports fanatic. Whether it’s college football, any level of basketball, soccer, or lacrosse (« this is Field), I can’t get enough. Also, I am obsessed with food and cooking, so it’s awesome I landed at ZPZ. I played club lacrosse at Ole Miss and was also in an indie band called Mouse Will Roar - I’m still embarrassed by the name. Our myspace is still up, so check us out!!
ZPZ: What do you do at ZPZ? What are your daily tasks? Tell us a little bit about the job.
FH: I would say that I am an invaluable commodity to ZPZ. I do a whole lot of stuff for the company. Like really, really important stuff. I’m important dag nabbit!!!!! In all seriousness, once footage comes in from the field, I organize it and put it in our editing software so the Editors and Assistant Editors can work their magic. I get to do a lot of trouble-shooting as well which, as a nerd, I really enjoy. There is a team of us that does this, if you ask them, they would say the best part of the job is getting to listen to all the Dad Jokes I make.
ZPZ: What are some things you like to do outside of work?
FH: I mainly play basketball (ask him about his jumper), but recently I’ve started playing soccer (Brooklyn Ballers 4 Life), riding bikes, and have started to become a bit of a gym rat. This all means nothing because my 52 y/o father is about to run a marathon (see pic below). I will earn your respect, Dad!!!!
ZPZ: Ok, that brings us to our next question: Your shoes…The Nike Air Monarchs. What compelled you to get them?
FH: These shoes are a true testament to how frugal I can be. At the time I bought these bad boys, I was living in Memphis. One day I was in a sporting goods store, walking down the shoes aisle when time seemed to just stop. Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw a price tag that said $40 and the blinding, cleansing whiteness of the “Air Grandads.” It was a match made in heaven. Like when Harry Potter has that whole discussion about the wand choosing him or whatever. They just found me. Also, as a side note, ZPZ social media manager Danny Carnaje loves the Air Monarchs and is jealous of me for having a pair.
ZPZ: #TBT: Show us your best throwback photo.
FH: Not sure how old I am exactly, but younger than 6. This is picture is significant because it shows my love for sports and all-white sneakers started at a very young age. The South was an amazing place to grow up. I had the pleasure of living in Texas, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee before moving up to New York. The food, people, culture, and absence of winters that are dangerous to small children and the elderly, are what really stick out.
ZPZ: Name your 5 favorite BBQ spots of all time. If you don’t have the names of the restaurants, describe the location (like your gas station spot). What makes them so good?
FH: In no particular order:
-B’s BBQ (Oxford, MS) The original in the gas station. They had the two things that make a BBQ joint great: an isolated location and lots of time on their hands. Their chicken made me cry one time.
-Handy Andy’s (Oxford, MS) My favorite pulled pork, and they have tater tots.
-Home Team BBQ (Charleston, SC) They have a brisket sandwich and it helped me discover what life meant.
-Swallow at the Hollow (Roswell, GA) A nod to my hometown. Every time I went, I left uncomfortably full.
-The Strand Smokehouse (New York, New York) I’ll throw New York a bone just because I live here now. Any place that has pastrami duck and barrel whiskey is alright with me.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mouse Will Roar…
Zero People Zero: Shannon Sun-Higginson
Meet Shannon Sun-Higginson, one of our Associate Producers at ZPZ.
On this installment of #ZeroPeopleZero, Shannon tells us why she enjoys gin & tonics all year-round, spills the beans on her first celebrity crush, and gives us a tutorial on how to do a Jabba the Hutt impersonation.
NAME: Shannon Sun-Higginson
OCCUPATION: Associate Producer
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH ZPZ: Since November 2010
TWITTER: @GTFOthemovie (I also have a personal Twitter account that I never use)
INSTAGRAM: I’m still not clear on what this is.
TUMBLR: I don’t have one, but this is one of my favorites: www.reasonsmysoniscrying.com/
ZPZ: Tell us something about yourself that people wouldn’t know.
SS-H: I’ve been really into country music recently. I only ever listen to it on the radio (NASH FM baby) and Songza, so I still don’t know most of the names of artists or songs. My favorites songs are the ones about beer and pickup trucks; I find them to be terribly romantic.
ZPZ: What is your beverage of choice? How do you take it?
SS-H: Now that it’s summer I’m all about the gin and tonics. Actually who are we kidding, I’ll drink those suckers all year round. That can get boring though, so I like to spruce it up with some St. Germaine, cukes, or muddled basil.
[Technically it still has gin in it]
ZPZ: So you live in Philadelphia and commute from time to time, I’m guessing you’re the Mega Bus/Grey Houndress: What are 3 tips you recommend when traveling to and from Philadelphia or places similar using the bus as transportation?
- Bring entertainment. Reading in the car makes me sick so I’ve gotten through all five GoT [«SPOILER] audiobooks on the bus. Which is the saddest or most impressive feat ever, depending on who you ask. People who just sit there and stare into space are bored weirdos.
- Try and snag a seat with a free space next to you. I do this by getting there early and getting a window seat on the upper floor near the stairs.
- Be considerate. In general, you should only listen to music with your earphones and try to keep phone conversations to a minimum. And eat normal bus food. I once had a guy sit next to me who ate a hard boiled egg and pickles, which are basically the stinkiest foods I can think of. I also saw a girl on a 6 am bus eating sushi. She caught me judging her from across the aisle while I was nomming my bagel.
ZPZ: Tell us a little bit about your project, GTFO. What is it about? What did you do?
SS-H: I’ve been working on my independent documentary GTFO since 2012 and it’s almost done, thank the lord. It’s about women in the video game industry and was funded by Kickstarter in 2013, which was a huge relief. We’re at the very tail end of editing and I think at this point my editors are about to murder me. I’m excited about where the film’s at right now though.
You can find out more at:
ZPZ: You do a really great Jabba face. Can you give everyone a tutorial on how to do it?
SS-H: I’m not sure which of my friends originally invented Jabba Face, but it has been the source of endless hours of entertainment. I recommend sending one of these bad boys to your friends and/or lovers with no context whatsoever.
Jabba Face in GIFs
1. Open the Camera App
2. Get into selfie mode
3. Position the camera on your chest, pointing the camera toward your chin
4. Bring your chin toward your neck and snap a picture
5. Don’t be shy, show the world.
ZPZ: Who was your 16-year-old celebrity crush?
SS-H: Um, Jake Gyllenhaal x1000000. And yes I had a poster, I believe it looked something like THIS. I started liking him after I watched Donnie Darko though … not sure what that says about me.
[Going on the video game theme…]
ZPZ: #TBT, what is the best throwback picture of yourself? What’s happening?
SS-H:I used to travel a lot with my mom as a kid, and I believe this is in Thailand. This picture is from a period that she fondly refers to as “The Gollum Years.” It so perfectly sums me up – thick glasses, skinny as hell, just having demolished several plates of food, with a self-satisfied smirk plastered on my face. God I wish I still had that shirt. Boss indeed.
[Like a boss…]