TV Futures - Producers Produce


Emily Merritt TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online
Download PDF
Download PDF

I’ve learnt two major facts about being a producer since studying on my BSc Television and Broadcasting course: ‘the role of producer cannot be defined in a sentence’ and ‘if your team don’t see you working, you’re doing your role as producer correctly’.

When I first came to The University of Portsmouth I knew what course I wanted for skills and roles, but I had no ambition to be a producer because I didn’t think I had the skills or the confidence. But I was wrong. Starting second year, after a year of sitting in the shadows, I promised myself I would take chances and I did. I was given the role of producer for a live broadcast for the first time. This thirty minute production would be shown on the Big Screen Portsmouth in front of thousands of people and would be half the marks for one of our taught units. A lot of people were relying on me to make the right decisions and guide the team in the correct direction in order to create a piece of work which we were all proud of. Despite late night edit sessions and our interviewee falling ill the day before transmission, we managed to pull it off. This show made me realise that while the responsibility mostly falls to the producer, creating a live show is a team effort. The team is there to support the producer and the producer is there to guide the team.

Fast forward to now, we’re preparing for our final show - an outside broadcast from the New Forest Wildlife Park. Not only is this a difficult task due it being the first time we would have broadcast live from somewhere other than our main broadcast studio, but it also means working in collaboration with the park which puts a lot of pressure on us to ensure everything goes well. This could be considered to be the biggest piece of work of our degree, with the most relying on it. For me, I’d say this is even bigger than my final year dissertation. We’ll be using everything we’ve learnt over the past three years and creating the most professional piece of work to date. The best thing about it for me though: I’ve decided to take on the role of producer.

So far, the pre-production of Wildlife Watch has been pretty plain sailing! We’ve managed to secure the location with a couple of emails and a face-to-face meeting; chosen three locations to broadcast live from, which comfortably reach the gallery location; and film two VTs with plenty of time to edit and re-shoot.

However we’ve certainly had setbacks! Firstly, the outreach truck that we were hoping to use to transport the equipment before using it as our gallery, was unavailable for the two weeks we had to broadcast in. This was most probably the most stress inducing aspect of the whole thing and honestly made me question whether or not we’d have to change locations. Thankfully we found a unused classroom with power and security which, after changing our studio locations, was actually a better gallery location than the original truck. The other major thing we’ve had to deal with, and have certainly learnt from, is that animals are very difficult to film with and if they don’t want to be on camera, you’ve got zero chance of getting the footage you want! On a day that was meant to be for filming the foxes, the VT crew spent an entire day on location with not a single shot of a fox. Thankfully we’ve had enough time to re-shoot and this time the foxes were all happy to participate in our filming.

There’s a lot I’ve learnt about producing this time around and I’m sure there’s even more I’ll learn by the time we broadcast live. Firstly, the producer doesn’t do all the paperwork; this is something I wish I’d known during the first show I produced because it was very stressful! Secondly, when something doesn’t go to plan everyone looks to you to come up with a solution. Thankfully I would say I’m a self-confessed problem solver so I thrive in times like this. When others are panicking that something’s gone wrong, I tell myself and the team ‘It’s okay, there will always be a solution, we just have to figure out what it is.’; and I’d say ninety percent of the time this is true. There has yet to be a problem we’ve not been able to fix. I hope this stays true with the rest of this show! Another thing I’ve learnt is that as a producer you complete a lot of behind the scenes work; work that the majority of the team have no idea you’re doing. Whether it’s composing emails to a client, organising the VT teams or helping the director create the best atmosphere on screen, the producer is always doing something!

The final thing I’ve learnt is that a producer is truly a jack-of-all-trades. Being the producer has taught me so much more than I thought it would. In order to aid each sub team, the producer must know exactly what every role entails. I’ve had to learn how to set up the entire gallery so I know how long it will take on the day of transmission and so that if something goes wrong, I have enough knowledge of the equipment to suggest a solution. I’ve also had to know the entire process of planning, filming and editing a VT in order to support the team and create a suitable timeline for final cuts.

As well as the people skills I’ve learnt throughout this process, such as how to lead a team and how to speak to clients, I’ve also learnt a lot technically which is something I never expected. Personally I didn’t ever think I would go into a technical, hands-on role when entering the industry, I thought I would be in pre-planning or production management. However the skills I’ve learnt this time around and the experiences I’ve had are invaluable and have opened my eyes to a whole new world of broadcasting.

I hope that the rest of the production process goes as well as it has so far and that when you tune in to watch Wildlife Watch on the 8th May, you’ll see a show which is not only interesting and aesthetically pleasing, but also demonstrates the hard work the entire team has put in. I’m sure there will be bumps in the road and possibly a crisis or two, but I know that as a team we will resolve any problem that occurs and we’ll be proud of the show we create. And as for being a producer, it’s an incredible experience that I’m extremely glad I took a chance on.


Tags: iss137 | portsmouth university | student | education | training | producer | Emily Merritt
Contributing Author Emily Merritt

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Download PDF
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • Training and education within the broadcast industry

    Training and education within the broadcast industry

  • Cambridge Imaging Systems at BVE 2014

    Cambridge Imaging Systems at BVE 2014

  • SMPTE on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    SMPTE on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Telestream with Post Producer at IBC 2013

    Telestream with Post Producer at IBC 2013

  • Telestream with Wirecast version five at IBC 2013

    Telestream with Wirecast version five at IBC 2013


Related Shows
  • MAMA Youth Project, enabling opportunity in the creative and media industry

    MAMA Youth Project, enabling opportunity in the creative and media industry


Articles
A Broadcasters Guide to Microservices
Roger Persson

The word “microservices” has been creeping into the conversation about software-centric systems recently. Is it really a different approach, what does it mean, and what are the advantages?

Tags: nxt edition | microservices | modular software | Roger Persson
Contributing Author Roger Persson Click to read
Streaming Technologies Explained
Bruce Devlin - new

The word streaming can relate to different technologies from different manufacturers in different scenarios and in this short article we are going to take a little tour of what it all means. 

Tags: mr mxf | streaming | hls | dash | cmaf | mpeg | Bruce Devlin - new
Contributing Author Bruce Devlin - new Click to read
REVIEW - Hollyland MARS 400S PRO Digital Wireless Transmission System
Phil Vinter

Built by Hollyland and costing around £600 the Mars 400S is an easy-to-use wireless video transmitter/receiver system – it will be right up the alley of anyone who, like me, considers an instruction manual to be nothing more than box padding.

Read Phils Full review here, and link to the video review.

Tags: HOLLYLAND | MARS 400 | wireless | tx | rx | Phil Vinter
Contributing Author Phil Vinter Click to read
HOLLYLAND LARK 150 Review
Phil Vinter

The exponential growth of video supercharged a technological revolution that began in the early noughties with the advent of DSLR cameras.
The cinematic-style shallow depth of field image video quality from DSLRs was a revelation, but, back then audio was the big drawback. As demand has grown so the technology has improved and today’s one-man-band small rig set ups can capture pretty good sound into a DSLR style camera.

Phil Vinter reviews the latest release from HOLLYLAND and it's a thumbs up from us.

Tags: HOLLYLAND | radio mic | audio | LARK-150 | CVP | Phil Vinter
Contributing Author Phil Vinter Click to read
How to successfully buy AV and Broadcast Equipment at Auction
Dan Main

Perhaps you wouldn't expect an auctioneer to tell you this - but yes, there are risks to buying equipment at auction; just probably not the risks that you think.

So what are the real risks to buying at auction, and how can they be managed?

To watch the interview with Dan please click here

Tags: auction | tips | buying at an auction | fraud | auction risks | Dan Main
Contributing Author Dan Main Click to read