A Day in the Life

Series Producer

What you do: The range of the job?

The producer has the overall responsibility for making the programme happen, from selecting the production team and presenters, to guiding and motivating them throughout the whole production process. The producer along with the director and graphic designer will conceive the design for the opening titles and the internal graphics. The music will have to be selected or perhaps composed specifically for the programme. Star Portraits with Rolf Harris involves 3 different artists painting a celebrity in each programme, in different locations. Thats a lot of artists and locations to find for the series. The producer needs to delegate to the assistant producer and researchers the various tasks of artist and celebrity hunting, and then monitor their progress, assist and advise as necessary. Artists agents need to be won over and presenters and celebrities need to be kept well informed and brought into the whole process so they can have an influence on the programme where appropriate. Negotiating skills are always in use, with locations for example. Where can we film, when can we film, and who do we need to consult and how much will it cost? It is always a case of juggling your time with the numerous responsibilities, from scripts for the programme to checking the budget with the production manager, from getting contributors to fixing meetings with the commissioning editor about the shape of the series. Bringing together of the right three artists whos work and personalities will make for an interesting mix and therefore a lively programme is a key part of the editorial process. I oversee the scripting, the shoot plans and filming with the director and then keep an eye on the edit, which the director looks after on a daily basis. Then there is publicity and promotion, liaison with all the parties involved on transmission and responsibility of dealing with viewer queries after TX! The variety of the demands of the job keep it highly entertaining and rewarding.

Career path: How you start and where you can go with it?

0930 Calls start with the presenter’s agent for an update, the BBC commissioning editor to ok some new ideas we’ve had and an update with the director who’s out on a recce. 10 30 Meet with a composer who will be pitching/tendering for work on the programme. Have to describe the feel of the music we are after – without being too prescriptive so we can use his imagination as much as possible too. 1300 Lunch with the team – so we can get to know where we are all at, and create the right atmosphere for generating new ideas for the show. Director arrives directly from the recce just in time. 1400 Call up set designers for discussions, and speak to graphic design team to check they are happy with the deadlines. 1430 Production meeting – discuss the shape of the show, the planned filming schedule and take in lots of ideas from the team. 16 30 Meet Executive producer to update on progress. 1700 Chat with the production manager, who looks after the budget. Among other things is the implication of the director’s latest idea of having a camera crane on some of the locations. The cost and practical elements have to be weighed up against the creative benefits – i.e. the impressive shots it can offer – from big high-angle shots to dramatic moving shots over the whole scene. 1730 Meet assistant producer to check progress on the chasing of celebrities and suggest a persuasive approach to secure a favourite TV personality. If we get this mainstream figure – others will surely follow. Run through the details of some of the artists found and look at their work – it’s exciting to think which artists’ style will suit the personality and appearance of the people they will eventually be painting. 1800 Make a few quick calls before most people close for business. 1830 Fantastic – a call from the main celebrities agent – he’s on to do the programme – great! It’s a good feeling, the whole team gets a buzz, the programme is now taking off and we all have a boost of energy. Can’t wait to get everything moving with the next stages of all the activities tomorrow. R. Chandler – Series Producer ‘Star Portraits with Rolf Harris’.

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