Are You Ready To Produce A Weekly Show?

What is required of someone doing a weekly show? (This article updated March 14, 2008, Friday)

First Steps: Before you need anything else, before you think or do anything else regarding your future weekly show, you need to know that the most important asset you have, more than any camera equipment, is your commitment to do a show that is available to be aired every single week of the year. This means that your show will air during holiday times; it will air during any family crisis times, and it will continue to air even in times when you are not physically able to tape another show for a few days or weeks. You must have that type of commitment to your show and to yourself so that your show goes on, no matter what. That is your biggest asset and your biggest stepping stone that leads you to have a successful weekly show. If you have serious doubts about your ability to commit to have these shows ready, and delivered on time, to the studio, then you need to reconsider your decision and perhaps continue to do specials for a while. There will be a time when you are ready and able to do the weekly show. Do not rush into it, but do it in your own time. If you have decided that you are ready to make this deal with yourself and with your studio, then trudge onward, be prepared, be alert, and be precise and on time as you journey into the adventure of weekly show spots on your own television program guide.

Do Specials First: First bit of advice that I would give to you is that you submit a number of specials first before embarking on the journey of doing a regular weekly show. That will give you hands-on training and you will gain confidence also. Lots of people ask about equipment. They ask if you need very expensive equipment to produce a weekly television show. That is a good question and the answer is very complicated. The key to producing a weekly show is more about organizing, creativity, and also about confidence. You cannot produce a weekly show if you have no confidence to do so. So perhaps your first lesson in television production (in the case of weekly shows) would be confidence 101. You have to know that you can do it and the only way you know that you can do it is if you finally admit to yourself that you want to produce a weekly show. Once you admit that you are free to accept yourself as producer and to go on to the very next step.

The next step is organization, but even more so, thinking about organization. Think about everything you will need in order to be successful at producing a weekly show. You need a host or co-host, or talent or someone who will be on air for you. Then you need a number of producers to help you out. (You will fare better in this area if you have already helped many other producers on their own shows). You need a plan. Perhaps writing everything down will help.

Some Organizing Tools: :

  • A notepad to write your creative ideas in.
  • A notepad or address book or organizing book to hold all of your appointments and show records.
  • pens, pencils, highlighters, sticky notes
  • Some artistic signs or posters (for the walls during your show); perhaps some books or other decorative items that make it YOUR show.
  • Folders and blank papers, some stationery and envelopes.

Those are beginnings. You do not need all of these to begin; These are just suggestions. You take what you can use and leave the rest of the information right there. One of the most helpful organizing tools that I have found are scan cards . They come under the listing of executive gallery online. These are little cards, about half the size of index cards and they are placed inside a folder or binder. Each of your projects (or shows) has one card. If your show is complicated, you might have a card for each section of your show . For example, one card might list all the producers who will work for the show and the other card might list the sequence of what will happen on the show. This system is quite comfortable to handle and it is a very useful organizing tool

What About Cameras? Notice, I have not even mentioned camera equipment yet? Well, you need to be committed and organized long before you seek out a camera. So organize your timing, your show, your guests, talent, hosts and everything in between long before you even think about cameras. Usually the Public Equipment office at the community access station will have all the equipment that you will need. I will write about cameras in another article that I will publish in the future.

Then, so what is your plan? Do you plan to do a weekly show by taping a show at the studio every single week? If that is the case, you will be there almost forever, between locating other producers and finding talent. This is a large, long and hard task. It is not impossible but it is most difficult especially for beginners. Do you have a better plan than that?

Combine Studio and Field Tapings: You can possibly shoot some shows in the studio and then shoot some shows outdoors. Many producers use this system. It gets things done and they wind up with a weekly show and plenty of time to do it in. So, you can plan to shoot twice a month in the studio, and if you plan right and are lucky, you can shoot both shows inside the studio on the very same day. Reserve two spots and tape two shows. As you get more advanced, if the staff permits and you have time, you might be able to tape three shows in one day. (This all depends on your regulations at the studio. Inquire with staff or ask for the manual. Do you plan to do field shows? If you do this, you will need to take the field course at the studio (unless you plan to use all of your own equipment). So, take the course or buy your own equipment. Now, you are making progress.

Develop Skill: t is my honest belief that if you have enough training in field photography, you can do a weekly show with a small, hand-held camera that is not too expensive. Of course, better equipment is always wonderful to use and to have, but if you must use an inexpensive camera, then do it, rather then hold your show back. You have great ideas, and good creativity, now go put it to work on your weekly show. If you hone your photography skills, your steady camera skills, your keen eye and your creativity, you can produce a show with minimal equipment, if that is your goal. To learn more about having and producing a weekly community access show, read some of my other articles. I will be writing more articles on this topic in the near future.

Equipment: Though it is not the equipment that does or finishes the show, having your own equipment will help you continue to have a weekly show. (When you have your own equipment, you can film some shows in the field and some in the studio). The way this helps you continue and maintain a weekly show is that you have your equipment with you at all times. You might accidentally happen across an unadvertised event that you can film. (Always ask permission to film outdoors in private spaces. Most times you are not permitted to film shows, concerts and things like that without express prior permission). In fact, in some places and during some events, filming without permission can be a felony or some other crime. That is why you see copyright notices all over creative works, movies and television shows. Be sure, when filming no private property or when you film during any official performances -i.e. concerts, that you have proper permission to do so. I will write about obtaining permission in some later articles. You can subscribe to my articles to be sure that you do not miss any of them.

Begin with Basics: If you do not have your own equipment and you are considering purchasing some, note that you do not have to buy the most expensive equipment there is. Basic equipment is fine for a beginner producer. Seriously, use basics to start and then decide whether you need more equipment to do more shows. Do not listen to anyone that tells you that you cannot begin with basic equipment. You can! You can purchase a small video camera (that uses mini-dv tapes), a monopod (not a total necessity but a nice addition), and with one more thing you are ready to do your field shows. (I will discuss that one more thing in another later article. I recommend having your own equipment if you are a beginner at doing weekly shows. The reason for this is that you will save hours and hours of time by using your own equipment. You will not have to reserve equipment to do shows, and that alone saves you weeks of time at the end of the year.

Start With Minimal Expense: You can begin with a camera that is under $400. That is correct. You do not have to begin with a camera that costs thousands of dollars. If you have a good eye, steady hand, and a monopod, you can begin for under $400. The key to good production is not always expensive equipment, but it is more attitude, eye, respect, creativity, and dedication to the direction that you choose. The key is persistence, using good goals and organizing skills, good networking, a strong faith, and more persistence. If you can manage those, you can make it in community access television without the major expense of high-priced cameras and other equipment.

Note About Minimal Equipment: In order to get by with minimal equipment, you need to have some experience in photography or some prior training. If you are coming into television production cold, with no art, background or production experience at all, it might be harder for you with the minimal equipment. I suggest that you read up on photography at the least, even if you have not been to photography school. Check out these two series of books, the Kodak series and also any and all books by John Hedgecoe. I highly recommend John Hedgecoe books because he takes awesome photos, but also is a great teacher. His illustrations, instructions, and everything else he packages in his books are well worth the money. If you cannot afford to buy these books new, look for them at garage sales. Most libraries will have at least one John Hedgecoe book. I have not yet seen a library that does not have one, two or three of them. I believe he is the best that a beginner can learn from, and professionals too, can refresh their memory and solidify their technique by checking out John Hedgecoe.

You can take a short course at most any CUNY college or the longer course at NYI in New York City. Any photography or art class will help you improve your show, especially when using minimal equipment.