11.16.2020 | Making Magic! The Video Review Process – Part 1

A Process

This weekend Tania and I were talking about filming our weekly video reviews, and how it is quite a process. It requires many pieces to fall into place so that we can ultimately have a video review, a written review and web page ready to go every Wednesday! Join me while I take you through the process, which is a lot of fun – and actually begins several weeks before the filming starts…

Making A List

About once a month the process begins – with me sitting and staring at the computer screen, making a herb shopping list. I scroll through the online menus of a few of my favorite dispensaries down in Desert Hot Springs/Palm Springs area to check out the herb selection. Because we have no dispensaries up here in the hi-desert, I have to make about a seventy mile round trip to get brand-name, widely-available herb to review.

It’s a bit of a trek, so I try and buy all the herb we’re going to review during the next month at once… maybe visiting several different places during one trip. More than once I’ve made a list of the herb I was interested in, only to get to the dispensary and find that the product was sold out before I arrived. Now I call ahead before I get in the car and roll!

Several hours of research goes into each time I put together a shopping list. What strains would interest our viewers? What do I want to try that I’ve never tried before? What about one of my favorite strains to share? Does the brand have a good website I can direct people to? What is the price? How available is this brand?

For example – I picked the herb we reviewed this weekend for several reasons, the main one being that it was a Chem Dawg strain. I love Chem Dawg, and love to try different varieties of this strain. So this was definitely a review where I wanted to share about one of my favorite herbs.

The second reason I chose this brand was because of the graphics. I am a graphic artist, and graphics that are well-done definitely catch my eye! Good graphics make me think a company is paying a little more attention to detail. Unfortunately, it sometimes means the company cares more about marketing than the product. So I can’t judge an herb just by it’s packaging.

The third reason I chose this herb was their website. It informed me that this farm is an organic farm, and reading through their website I was impressed by their ethos. Finally, the fourth reason was the price. I do like to review top-shelf cannabis, but I don’t often have that kind of budget. Currently the top-shelf herb in Desert Hot Springs and Palm Springs runs around $60-$70 dollars an eighth. I like to shoot for the next level, the $35-$55 dollar range. This week’s herb was $42 with a $9.25% sales tax – just right!

Filming Day

Preparation for filming starts several hours before the camera rolls. Because there are so many strains of cannabis, I can’t possibly remember all the details about each particular herb. So I research, heavily. I read as many sources as I can, and often this will trigger memories of past smoking experiences I’ve had with that strain.

While the facts I’ve read and my past experiences are marinating together in my brain, we transform our cabin into the Red Bench Reviews studio. First we clean off the Red Bench, which is at the center of our world here. Stuff accumulates on the bench during the week and it has to be cleared off and wiped down.

Tania usually buzzes around the room at this point making everything perfect. Her eye is already on filming and she’s looking at all the little details of what will show up in the camera. While she’s buzzing around I’m in the kitchen cleaning my bong. I need my bong to be as sparkling clean as the day I got it – all I want to taste when I review a new herb is the herb itself!

Then I set up our light box and photograph the packaging. After that it’s time for me to change into whatever I’m planning on wearing… and meanwhile I’m practicing what I’m going to say during the opening segment.

“Welcome back to the Red Bench, it’s time for another Red Bench Review…” I repeat to myself while walking around our cabin, often using strange voices and accents. I stretch my mouth out. I make odd sounds. Basically I’m exercising my vocal cords, getting ready to project my voice and enunciate properly for the next hour, which is usually how long it takes to film the complete review…

To do a good review I need the flavors in my mouth to be as close to neutral as possible so while we’re cleaning up I try to drink a bunch of water. I want to clear my palette so I’m tasting the herb, not the coffee I just had, or whatever snack I’ve just eaten. I also need my head to be clear from the effects of any herb I may have already smoked that day – and then I’m ready to jump into the review!


That’s where we’ll pause our tale for today, and we’ll continue tomorrow in Part 2…

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November 16, 2020 12:07 pm

Wow, it’s so interesting to see what your filming/review process is like Jon. You put so much more into your vids than I do with my pepper reviews. Basically I just choose a pepper/sauce, and post the first take. I’ve never done much editing due to time restrictions. Your videos always look very professional. Keep up the great work!