When I was “on the road” as a tv producer, I got paid to do some pretty neat stuff. I choppered over the Noosa coastline, stayed at a ski lodge, rode camels, sailed on yachts, attended AFL grand finals and worked red carpets for movie and theatre premieres. While it reads like a holiday, it’s definitely a job. You see, a vocation on location starts long before your bags are packed.
As a “field producer” I researched the story, wrote a shooting script, liaised with the network’s camera and sound operators to make sure that script was “technically” viable, worked with production managers to lock in freelance crews and, finally, prepared running sheets. Then there’s the dance of dealing with publicists, talent managers and entourages.
The field producer is somewhat of a “fixer”, as Christopher Pyne might say. When you’re having a field day, you’re the coordinator of that shoot. So if the crew can’t hear or see properly, they turn to you to negotiate a solution. Maybe the talent (on-camera interviewer/interviewee) has to get away in a hurry. Can you film all their pieces to camera (totally out of sequence) now? No worries. What if the background looks too sparse? Not a problem. You hunt down passers-by to fill that gap in the back of the shot. Surprise! The publicist has brought along the CEO for an unplanned cameo. Can do; you’ll put her in the picture.
On top of rolling with the punches, you’re constantly cutting that story in your head. In other words, everything might look great on location but if you haven’t shot a segue to get you from scene A to scene B, you’ll find yourself in a very dark place when you eventually hit that very dark edit booth.
Don’t worry, there are lots of light moments on the road too. Like that time we rode an overnight train into a country town. Come morning, when we pulled up to the platform, I got undressed in my private carriage. Let’s just say it was a rookie mistake to assume those windows were tinted!
On a serious note, I feel incredibly fortunate to have had a job that opened my world to some amazing people and places. The generosity of farmers and folk in rural areas…well, that’s a gift I’ll never forget. Those campfire cuppas and convos are something special.
Filming the story is only part of the story. I always came home with my mind more open and my heart much fuller. I reckon that’s not a bad day in the office.
How about you, do you prefer indoor or outdoor offices?
Linking up today with With Some Grace for Flog Your Blog Friday.