Inside Look at TV production as a trade

California Living Series Creator Aprilanne HurleyInside Look TV Managing Partner and California Living series creator Aprilanne Hurley shares the inside look at how to produce high quality content for television.

Considering Inside Look TV was producing public service announcements, commercials and television specials and putting this content on the internet before YouTube was invented, it’s safe to say, the following “rules to produce by” will provide you will a great start:

#1.  Know your target audience.

Identify what message you want to communicate with your television production and be sure there is a specific audience looking for TV content on the broadcast televvision platform.  If you have a passion for a cause or an area of personal interest that you want to communicate to the mass market – research groups of the same mind-set that will embrace your “cause” and help promote your work.  The old saying “if a tree falls in the forrest and nobody is there – does it make a sound? applies all too well here.  A 2-hour special on “everything to know about social media” may be better suited to run on – yes, you guessed it – the web, since that is where social media is happening.  While there is a new trend wherein producers are incorporating social media with television with forms of “cross-platform promotion,” it is still just a sparkle in TV’s eye right now.  As a producer, you need to first nail down WHAT you will be communicating on TV and to WHO – which brings us back to Rule # 2 – Know your target audience, and crystalize your message to speak and appeal to your audience.

#2.  Invest your time in Pre-Production.

Pre-Production is where you plan your budget, create your script(s), identify talent, filming locations, etc.  There is a huge difference in costs between shooting a quick 2 minutes web video (on your smartphone) and  producing a professional 30 minute television show to air on broadcast television. – or entire seasons of 30 minute television shows like Inside Look TV’s California Living magazine style show currently airing on ION Television.  The time you spend planning what you will shoot and how, will save you time and money in the production and post production phases.  While “reality TV” can be less expensive to shoot than a professional television broadcast because it usually involves what I call “1 take to make,” reality TV style content is limited to what you capture.  The “news style” point and shoot video production option places the emphasis on the content – in particular the person on camera.  A perfect example of this is the ECU’s (extreme close-ups used in news magazine shows like 60 Minutes.

#3.  Seek to deliver the best production values possible.

Your story idea may be Oscar worthy, but if your production does not have top quality audio and video elements, the overall quality of your TV production will suffer.  If you are looking to invest in your own production equipment, weigh all of your options before hand.  Renting audio/video equipment can be a good way to go for short term producitons, and will save you from investing in equipment that may be outdated in a few years or even months.

Hiring an independant producer and/or production crew is also a good option.  To make the most of any investment you are going to make, be sure you do all of the ground work in pre-production to save yourself from the need for re-shoots because you didn’t get an important shot during the first shoot.  Also, editing costs can be huge when looking at producing a 30 minute show.  The rule of thumb is to budget for 1 hour of editing for every minute of content.  with editors charging upwards of $100.00 dollars an hour, it’s critical to be as organized as possible in the post-production phase to save time and money.  It’s important to note that producing 30 second commercials and shorts can rack up even more time in the editing phase since every second truly has a defined purpose in delivering the message.  Bottom line – In the Pre-Prodcution process, plan in your editing costs, by first identifying how you will manage the editing process.  The time you spend researching your options and investigate what equipment may be worth investing in to do the editing yourself early on in the production process can literally save you thousands of dollars in post-production.

About the Author:

Aprilanne Hurley is the Managing Partner of Inside Look TV, LLC, author, series creator of California Living – California’s original lifestyle magazine show now in its 8th season airing on broadcast television, featuring California’s trends in food, travel and healthy living.  Hurley’s live appearances on ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX for her book The Party Girl Diet, focus on helping viewers make healthy lifestyle choices, with demonstrations on easy ways to make nutrition and exercise fun, and an important part of viewers everyday lives.