Live TV News Production Evaluation

In evaluating the Live TV News show of Unit 10, I have to be honest and say that the main thing that this project has done is to confirm for me that Live TV News probably isn’t the right area for me to aim for in my career. I have felt for some time that the area of TV/Film that makes the best use of my strengths is Fiction Film/TV, for example feature films such as the Mission Impossible, Star Wars and Marvel films, or TV series such as His Dark Materials, Umbrella Academy and Dr Who. I know probably many people would like to work on this type of film, and I will need to work up to it, but I really feel that Fiction Film/TV is the right area for me to be headed in. I will try to explain why, below.

When we decided who was going to have which role, everyone in my group automatically assumed that I would be the Producer. This is because they all know that my eventual career aim is to work up to being a Director in Fiction Film/TV, and I think we all initially assumed that a Producer in a Live TV News show would be a similar role to that of a Director on a Film or TV set. I also erroneously made that assumption. However, upon doing some research into this type of Producer role, I can see a lot of differences between the two roles, and many that are in areas which are very relevant to my strengths. There are some similarities, for example they are both putting together a final product where an understanding and knowledge of how an audience reacts to various different storytelling approaches is important. So, they need to know who their audience is, and the best way to keep that audience entertained and loyal. They both have to be able to put together a “package”, either a film or a news show, that flows. They both have to be aware of their visual brand and be consistent to it. For example, an audience would find it odd if a scene from Star Wars was suddenly set in London, and a News Producer has to be consistent to the visual branding of their Channel and News show.

But now onto some key differences, that are relevant to me and my future career. I have commented elsewhere about Stanley Kubrick’s retakes, with a Guinness Book of Records total of 148 retakes for one scene with dialogue, in the Shining (1980). I am a perfectionist, and although I know that I need to balance my perfectionism with the time and money available, I feel that my eye for detail, and desire to get a shot just right, is a strength that is better suited to Fiction Film/TV than to TV News. Obviously, a News Producer is also going to want to get everything right too, and looking the best that they can, but they don’t have the luxury of many retakes to get everything exactly as they want. Not having that luxury is something that I think, from having made this TV News Show, I would find frustrating and not making the best use of my skills.

Having said that, I found this a very interesting project. We (Me, Adam, Ellie, Jack, Harley and Charlie G) pretty quickly decided on a satire of a TV News Show, which suits our skillset. We assigned roles, and as Producer I worked to keep everything going. I kept track of what each person was doing, and organised several production meetings so we could all update each other on progress. I also created a number of documents at various times to summarise where we were and what we needed to do.

Ellie started putting together our Running Schedule, and I completed it. It was tricky to put it together with all the exact timings since, due to Covid-19, we were only allowed to get together to film the pre-recorded segments the week of the actual production. We were still having to edit the night before we were recording the actual show. I made the decision to split the editing of the pre-recorded segments up for efficiency, which was definitely the right call since one person couldn’t have got through it all in time. It did mean that I was messaging everyone late at night to get their finished timings for the Running Schedule. But we got there.

The actual recording of the show went well. Adam and I had some training on the Tricaster. It was a shame that we had been out of College all term due to the Covid-19 Lockdown, and this was out first week back, since it meant that this week was the first chance we had to try out the Tricaster. If we had been in College all term then Adam and I could have become more proficient at it, and at running a TV show. I feel that under the circumstances we all did an extremely good job and have a finished product that we are very proud of. I edited the final version together, and we had great feedback. Adam did great graphics.

I think that maybe it could be said that we were a bit over ambitious given that, due to Covid-19, we had not been able to practise everything as much as we would have liked. We had many different parts, including all the graphics, pre-recorded “live” segments, and a segment that was pre-recorded for the actual live presenter to interact with. This was complicated from the point of view needing to be very familiar with exactly where all the buttons of the Tricaster were, and some of the graphics had to added in post-production. I think that under the circumstances, we did well, learnt a lot, and pulled together really well as a team. Simon (tutor), who sat in the TV gallery with Adam and I during recording, commented that we all really worked well together, and obviously really trusted each other. I hadn’t thought before about the trust element, but I realised that yes, we do all trust each other, so this project has also reinforced for me the power of good teamwork.