How do you craft a video conversation among four out of 10 extremely opinionated women, all of whom live in different area codes? That’s the challenge Rob Morhaim faces every week as the executive producer of DECA’s Momversation, which distills the mommy blogger phenomenon into a thrice-weekly, 5-minute-long series.
But after more than 100 episodes, Morhaim has it down to a science. First off is the topic, which might come from any number of sources: Morhaim will brainstorm on his own, drawing from current events as well as the blogs of the Momversation moms (including Heather Armstrong of Dooce and Dana Loesch of Mamalogues, but often the bloggers will come to him with ideas. For example, one episode featured a discussion about keeping guns in the house because one of the bloggers did and was interested to hear what the other women thought about that.
Then Morhaim determines which four of the 10 on-staff bloggers will appear in the episode, casting based on the potential for discussion within the topic. One will take the lead-off spot, recording a video introducing themselves and laying out the topic and its context. They then post that video to a private Blip.tv account, to which the other moms have access.
The other women will then watch that first video and respond to it. While the first person to respond is doing so just to the starter, the other women down the line can see and respond to all the videos that come before them. Each woman can do upwards of two videos per person, and receive a talent fee for their efforts.
Then comes the editing, which Morhaim and an editor do together. This week’s episode, The Warning Signs of Moms Who Drink Too Much, is a pretty frank discussion of the subject, with one mother flatly admitting to having a problem while others defend their choice to drink as their “treat.” The package is tightly edited, allowing for fun moments with each blogger as well as real discussion of their thoughts on the topic. My only major complaint is that the background music (at least on this episode) is too close to something you’d hear at a too-cool-for-school gallery opening — there’s a disconnect between it and the content that’s a bit jarring.
While DECA distributes the episodes itself through an official site, all the participating bloggers can also post the videos on their own blogs. And the format is so successful for DECA that it’s replicated it for other genres of blogging, most recently the food series Good Bite.
But the way in which Morhaim (who is a parent himself) considers it to be a major success is how it’s become a showcase for the women featured. “We try to give it much of the look of a real conversation as possible,” Morhaim said. “But it’s much better than live conversation, because things women will say to a camera on their own, in their homes — we wouldn’t get anything like this otherwise. The intimacies we get are amazing. These women don’t play to the camera at all; they’re just talking.”