Local wins big at the New York Emmy Awards once again

03/21/2016 5:45 PM |

Daddona

On the North Fork, she can be hard to recognize when she isn’t toting around 42 pounds worth of video and photography equipment. But Randee Daddona was impossible to miss on Saturday night on stage at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square at the 59th Annual New York Emmy Awards Gala.

About three hours into the event, the freelance photographer/videographer for Newsday was summoned to the back of the room with some of her colleagues. As the night grew later and later, Newsday needed a photo for its paper coming out the next day — even a group shot of everyone who had been nominated.

And that was exactly when Ms. Daddona — who also does work with Times Review Media Group, Edible East End and other publications — heard the good news.

Out of nowhere, she heard blare from the speakers: “The Spice of Life” — the title of her 6-minute, 30-second video about Earl Fultz, the 93-year-old owner of cHarissa, a spice company that was started by him and his late wife, Gloria.

That’s when Ms. Daddona, a Southold resident for the past 11 years, became a two-time Emmy Award-winner.

“My job is to tell their story,” she said on Monday. “I wasn’t there to get recognized. I was just telling their story.”

Ms. Daddona, a 53-year-old mother of five, started telling other people’s stories through still photography. She started working with Newsday about eight years ago and over the last few years, has found herself working on more video as the media landscape has changed.

“The first one was not award-winning,” she recalled with a laugh. “But I just kept doing it, and finally I felt my own style coming through.”

Her Emmy Award-winning video last year focused on North Fork Sea Salt, another small business that started up on the North Fork as the area has become more of a foodie destination.

On Saturday night — with her husband, mom and stepfather present — she also took home a third Emmy for her role in shooting part of “Gabriel’s World,” a piece about a fourth-grade student who attends class virtually because of severe allergies. Newsday won more New York Emmys on Saturday than it ever had before, breaking its personal record of five set last year.

While last year’s piece clocked in around 2 minutes, both of her videos this year were much longer: “Gabriel’s World” spanned over 11 minutes.

It’s not necessarily a change in content strategy, noted associate managing editor Arnold Miller in Newsday’s multimedia department. Rather, “the content really dictates the length.”

“Not everything can fit into two minutes,” he said. “Sometimes you can’t establish a relationship with the character, have an up, a down and a resolution in two minutes. Or even five minutes.”

Sometimes, he said, videographers will go back “10 times over” to make sure they got the right shot at the right time — something Ms. Daddona echoed.

One interview with Earl Fultz, the subject of “Spice of Life,” lasted over three hours. And that came weeks after meeting with him time and time again. And she still keeps in touch with him.

“You have to get the person confident that you’re telling their story,” she said. “You spend time with people and they learn to trust you and really let their emotions go with it. I think that’s why this piece worked. I was telling his story. It was a love story.”

Mr. Fultz launched cHarissa with his late wife in 2013. But after she passed away, he has since continued to run the business, gaining national acclaim, including earning a $25,000 grant from Wells Fargo, a Specialty Food Association award in cooking, dipping or finishing sauce and coverage on CBS News.

“If I die tomorrow, cHarissa will go on. And Gloria’s memorial is cHarissa,” he said in “The Spice of Life.”

Ms. Daddona did the video shooting herself, though worked with video editor Jeffrey Basinger to make the final cut.

“It’s a really touching story about somebody’s passion, and those are the kinds that people often connect with,” Mr. Basinger said.

As for winning a third Emmy Award in a row next year?

“No pressure, please,” she said.

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