Week In and Week Out: Learning to Produce a TV Show

Today’s post is written by one of our seasoned intern producers, Tim Martin, giving us his insight on what he has learned from producing his first televisions show.

I am a college dropout. More specifically, I am a film school dropout. When I graduated high school, I enrolled for a brief time in film courses at a local college. I hated every second of it. I hated sitting in classrooms looking at pictures of angles and lighting and framing. I hated writing scripts that would never see the light of day. I wanted to go do it. I wanted to create.

The Center for Creative Media affords artists the opportunity for pure creation. The hands-on approach means that you learn by doing. For me, that means that at 21 years of age, and only one year of experience, I am the producer of a weekly television show that airs all across the world. With more than 1.4 million people a year viewing the show, my work is the largest viewed project currently produced here.

Being the producer of a television show is by far the hardest, and most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. Each episode takes a week to make and in that week I will work with around ten different people, each with a different job to make sure the show is delivered to the networks on time.

To manage my time, I stick to a weekly schedule that must be followed to the letter. On Monday, I take an outline of the show I have written the previous Saturday as well as the show content put together by an assistant editor (also done on Saturday), and give it to my editor. He then spends the day making sure the show flows to my outline. While he is doing that, I write a script for the cold open of the show. The cold open is basically the hook, it grabs the attention of anyone flipping through the channels and gives teases as to what will happen on the episode. On Tuesday, my editor spends the day with my cold open script and crafts the opening to the show. This is a great opportunity for him to experiment and use his creativity, injecting his own visual signature into the piece. He will choose the flow of the music I’ve provided, add sound effects, transitions, and effects to make the opening a work of art. On Wednesday, he adds in graphics and credits, polishes details, and submits a final show. On Thursday we close caption the show and print it on to tape, to be shipped out by Friday. On Saturday, we start all over again.

The entire process requires a massive amount of organization. With so many people doing so many things at once, overlooking even the smallest detail can result in hours, or even days, of lost time. With real deadlines with real clients looming in the distance, it is quite a learning experience. Early on I realized that I wasn’t going to be successful here flying by the seat of my pants. There was absolutely no room for coasting.

The main goal of CCM is to create an environment that best prepares you to launch a career in production. This is a training ground and a safe place to learn. In my short time here, I have learned so much. Since becoming the producer of this show, I have become more organized, able to manage my life, and the daily schedules of those working for me.

When I first arrived at CMM, I never thought that I could effectively manage more than one step of a project at a time. My brain doesn’t naturally multi-task well and my people skills aren’t always the best. Turns out my biggest lesson has been how to better communicate with my peers who are assigned to my team, and to staff above me.

It’s been my experience that only CCM could create an environment like this. Nowhere else could I have so quickly learned to produce a television show that’s given to actual clients. It’s such a blessing to know that the work I do here, right now, is not only reaching people for Christ, but is also preparing me for a career in the professional world when I graduate. God has called me to use the medium of film to impact my generation for Him. CCM gives me the tools necessary to complete that mission.

-Written by: Tim Martin, Class of August 2015

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