Have you ever tried helping your parent learn a new technology?
Now, imagine doing so while being filmed live.
That’s what I had to do a few weeks ago when our publisher wanted my mom and me to record our first Facebook Live event.
Facebook Live is when you record and post a live video, during which viewers can post questions and comments for you to respond to in real time.
“So, someone will write the questions on cue cards for us?” my mom asked.
I patiently explained that, no, the questions would be coming too fast, so we would have to read the comments in real time.
“But then I’d need my reading glasses,” she said, getting to the heart of the matter, “and I won’t look pretty on the video.”
I told her that I would read the questions, and we decided to host the chat while we were recording our audiobook for I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool.
For those who may not know, we record our audiobooks ourselves, so you can hear what my mom calls “our authentic Philly accents.”
I understand mad and sad should rhyme, but in my mouth, they don’t.
Our publisher kindly sent a social media whiz to help us. She was equipped with only an iPad and an LED light, not the cookies and squeaky toy required to keep us focused.
We thought it would be cool to film in the recording studio, but it didn’t turn out that way. When we recorded our audiobook, we stood in front of a screen draped with a heavy Turkish rug for extra acoustic softening. So when we first set up the shot, we looked like we were coming to you live from Istanbul Public Access Television.
We arranged ourselves against a different wall, but the lighting wasn’t as good on that side. Lighting is delicate for Italian Americans like us. Our noses require diffused light, lest we become human sundials.
We really needed the Mariah Carey soft-halo lighting, but what we had to work with was a 12-inch stick light on an alligator clamp.
And we couldn’t have it in the shot, so it couldn’t be in front of us. Instead, we clipped it to a music stand off to the side. But then we looked like we were coming to you live from the path of an oncoming train.
Thankfully, our social media maven came to our rescue and MacGyvered the light in the best possible position. She gave us the countdown, and we started the live video.
For the first seven minutes, we got a handful of hellos and several questions that we happily answered.
That was the author version of Seven Minutes in Heaven because, after that, nothing.
Even crickets would’ve been preferable.
The social media equivalent of crickets is a sad little tally of a dozen likes and fewer comments.
I kept trying to low-key refresh the scroll to see if any new comments had arrived, but they hadn’t. My mom was doing the same, but she got confused on which direction to scroll and kept going back to the early ones and accidentally shut down the video window completely.
We were filming a live Facebook chat with no one to chat with.
Luckily, talking is kind of our thing. We’ve had 31 years of practice yapping to each other, maintained with a healthy diet of one to three phone calls a day.
What we filmed is basically our relationship in its purest form, interrupting each other and laughing about whatever pops into our heads.
Back home, we logged on to watch our video, mostly to judge the nose shadows, and we were shocked to see loads of questions that were asked live but that hadn’t gotten through to us.
Our feed must have frozen. We’d thought the worst thing about video-recording in a sound booth was the lighting — the real problem was the WiFi.
The good news is, the live video transmitted to viewers perfectly. You can view the recording on our Facebook pages now. But I still feel terrible if some of you thought we were ignoring your questions.
I promise, it was accidental. Believe me, we would’ve loved to have included everyone in the conversation.
That would’ve been our dream come true.
All of us, interrupting one another, together.
Look for Lisa and Francesca’s humor collection, “I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places” and their coming July 15 collection, “I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool.” Also look for Lisa’s new domestic thriller, “One Perfect Lie,” in stores now. Francesca@francescaserritella.com.