Examiner.com features an article in which freelance writer Alison Richter interviewed David Lee Roth’s video editor, Shelly Toscano. Some of the DLR & Van Halen content is shown below. For the full interview, visit Examiner.com.
Video Editor Shelly toscano on the making of David Lee Roth’s The Roth Show
If you’ve spent any amount of time watching The Roth Show, you’ve noticed all the nuances and special features that connect sections of dialogue and enhance each segment’s topics. Photographs, comic book imagery, film clips of David Lee Roth at work, archival footage that brings to life the history and memories that he shares, online quotes from fans — all of this is the work of video editor Shelly Toscano.
A New Jersey native, Toscano developed an early childhood interest in film and an adolescent fascination with computers, passions that she would eventually combine in her editing work for television — working on series, commercials, talk shows, and for MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central — film, and eventually her own documentaries: Famous: The Buzzy Linhart Story and :not notable: The Genmay Documentary.
After years of editing work and relocation to the West Coast, Toscano was in what she calls “semi-retirement” when she got the call that David Lee Roth needed a video editor for a project that became “Scrapbook Chapter 1.” She traveled to Pasadena to meet with him, began editing footage and launched a working relationship that not only became The Roth Show, but also a series of Van Halen videos, and ultimately, traveling across the U.S. last year with Van Halen’s A Different Kind Of Truth tour.
Today, Shelly Toscano works full-time on The Roth Show, commuting to Pasadena as needed and editing from her home, which she shares with her husband and their pit bull, Redgee. Taking a rare break from work, she spoke at length about her background and experiences in video editing, making her documentaries, Redgee’s special needs, dog-sitting Russell Roth on tour, and the detailed process that goes into creating every episode of what is easily the best program on the Internet.
When were you hired for The Roth Show?
I was first hired by Dave to edit “Scrapbook Chapter 1.” He likes the whole process of doing video work. He bought a Canon 5D and he loved it, but he needed an editor. In the late 1980s I interned at K-Rock in New York City. A friend of mine from the radio station, Tim Reid, had been working with Dave in California and recommended me. A month or two later, I got a call to go to Pasadena. I showed up at his house, we shook hands and got to work. We put together that first video and we had fun doing it.
I was working for Dave maybe one week a month. I’d drive or fly down, we’d work on something, I’d come home, he’d think of something else to do, I’d get a call, we’d do it again. We also edited “Dog World” and some stuff that has found its way into episodes of The Roth Show. In September 2011, we went to New York City and did some more editing there. That’s when he did a lot of the dancing in “50 Rides On The Love Train,” at the Alvin Ailey studio. He’d been there a few times to dance and it was the perfect place for him.
I was home for a few weeks from the New York trip when Dave asked me to come down to work on the Van Halen “Tattoo” video. They secretly rehearsed for the tour at The Roxy for a few months and no one there spilled the beans, which I thought was great, because all it takes is one person and their cover would have been blown. We shot the “Tattoo” video there on October 22, 24 and 26. Everyone who could carry a Canon camera did. We had sometimes three or five cameras going and people taking photos. It was a fun shoot. While I am the editor of the music video, I wasn’t the creative source behind it. That was Dave and Al [Van Halen]. They directed and post-produced the video. I would sit at the keyboard and make the edits they wanted. They would say stuff like, “Put this here,” and “Make that part backward.” We’d all get together at Dave’s house very early in the morning and get to work.
“She’s The Woman” I edited on the tour bus. We had all this great footage from tour from different cities, from Café Wha, from rehearsal spaces. I showed Dave and Al what I put together. They liked it, but they decided to add some photographs. It was an interesting way to edit. I had sort of taken over the whole back room of Dave’s crew bus. I used the same rig I’m editing on today — a 17-inch Macbook Pro hooked up to four 12-terabytes G-raids.
So I started editing with Dave in July 2011, and seven months later I was on tour with Van Halen. Amazing.
Was this your first bus tour?
Yes, it was. There were nine of us on the bus. I found out pretty quickly that I’m not a bus girl. I guess it’s one of those things that you either love or hate. The back, where I was editing, was fumy, there was always a high-pitched whine from the generator, and sleeping on the bus was not a thing for me. The hours were crazy. After the show, we would get right on the road. Dave and Russell had their own bus and we followed behind in ours.
Russell has become quite the star. Is he as sweet as he seems on videos and in photographs?
Oh yes! I love Russ. He’s such a good boy! At one point, the guys had a corporate gig in Orlando. I was in Michigan and I didn’t need to go to that gig. They flew down, and Mark Rojas, who does a lot of shooting for Dave, and I stayed in Michigan with Russ at this inn. It wasn’t a hotel. It was an inn that I was convinced was haunted! I Googled this place, and sure enough, they’d just had a whole ghost-busting crew in there. They had hired people to investigate and they had found activity. Anyway, Russ was there and I got to spend time with him for a couple of days, take him on walks and watch the sunrise. We were right on the water. It was beautiful. The video where Dave is standing in the swamp, talking [“Public Relations”], was shot near that place.
What did your editing responsibilities involve on the Van Halen tour?
The first thing I edited for the band was the “Tattoo” video. They shot it and we started editing it the second week of November 2011. Next, we edited the acoustic videos for the deluxe edition of A Different Kind Of Truth: “Panama,” “You and Your Blues,” and “Beautiful Girls.” I think with “You Really Got Me,” they couldn’t get the licensing worked out for the deadline and it was a long weekend, so they put it on the Internet for free.
Then they did the party at Henson and they used a big screen, which is made of modules, as a backdrop. They can make this screen any size and any shape they want. At Henson, the screen was configured to be 18 feet high and it was shaped like a horseshoe, 60 feet wide on either side and the back was 47 feet wide. I put together a six- or seven-minute video that played in a loop as people were walking in. It was graphics, photos and some effected video. People seemed to like it, so I started putting background videos together for the tour screen. That’s how I wound up on a bus driving around North America.
On tour, I would continue creating background videos and giving them to the video screen folks so they could have it ready to go for that night. That way, it wouldn’t be the same for every show unless they wanted it to be. I would edit a sequence, put it on a flash drive, bring it to them and they would load it into their hard drive. Everything I edited had to be sized for that particular screen. It was not a standard aspect ratio. I’m not quite sure what size that screen actually was, but it was the largest I’d seen. In the sequences, we had some of the T-shirt graphics, lyrics and artwork from the CD, some of the footage from the “Tattoo” shoot that may or may not have made it into the video, and Dave’s Alvin Ailey dance footage. We also had a lot of photos from Robert Yager. He’s an amazing photographer that was with us for the first third of the tour. He would show up with all these cameras strapped to him and still manage to take great photo after great photo. I would take those photos, string them together and they would show up on the screen behind the band.
What surprised you the most about touring?
I was pretty amazed with the whole stage and screen setup for tour. The crew would start working early in the morning to assemble the stage, the lighting rigs, the screen — everything. I had no idea what went into that. As soon as the show is over, they wait for the fans to leave their seats and get out safely and then they are just tearing it all down.
You had never seen this?
No! I didn’t know how quickly it went up and down. They’d start very early, and by the time we — the filmers and photographer — got there, they’d be almost done. It was amazing. It’s almost like a carnival. These folks all know each other, they’re like family, they’ve done gigs together, and it’s really a well-oiled machine. It’s pretty impressive.
This is the end of our excerpt. For much more of what Shelly has to say about working with Dave and editing The Roth Show, check out the complete interview here. (From the author: There is A LOT more content. Please follow the Examiner link to read more about Van Halen, David Lee Roth and the making of “The Roth Show.” You can also subscribe to the column to receive e-mail alerts when more interviews are published. Also, your page views and support are greatly appreciated, as that is how Examiner writers are paid: per page view. Thank you.)
Below are direct links to all of Alison Richter’s Van Halen-related interviews on Examiner.com. (All were featured on VHND here).
You can watch all 13 episodes of The Roth Show on VHND, here.