A vocation on location

tvfieldWhen 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.

14 Comments

  • Reply March 27, 2015

    Renee Wilson

    Oops totes awks about getting undressed on the train 🙂 Seriously though it sounds like a pretty intense job. With all of that pressure though I’m sure there were plenty of perks.

    • Reply March 27, 2015

      Tonia

      Oh Renee, trust me, I am the Queen of Totes Awks!

  • I love a day or two out of the office, but I have to admit: I’m pretty happy at my cosy desk, unlimited tea breaks and a cat on my lap! That being said, that job sounds absolutely phenomenal. Mad jells! x

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    • Reply March 27, 2015

      Tonia

      Oh Jemima, I’m with you. I really struggle in the hot weather so being in air-conditioned comfort is a luxury I love in my new life! Thanks for stopping by.

  • Reply March 27, 2015

    Carole

    Strange paradox. Television producing can be a thankless job, even when it’s a rewarding one. My favourite moment was when a bed-and-breakfast owner said, “Well, I know what he does ’cause he’s holding a camera… and I know what she does, because she’s on the telly… but what exactly do YOU do?” What indeed?
    By the way, our mutual camera-toting friend – the one who spied you through the untinted train carriage window – has dined out on that story a thousand times. Totes awks (is that right?) just comes with the territory!

    • Reply March 27, 2015

      Tonia

      Oh sweet Carole, I know exactly what you do. You’re a totes AWESOME producer. As for that train tale, tell our mate I laugh about it now too. Golly it was good running into him at the Aus Open in Jan. All too brief though. No time to talk trains, planes and automobiles unfortunately. x

  • Reply March 27, 2015

    Caroline Culleton

    Well Ms T, your life on the road was far more glam than mine, even if it was mad, ad hoc but of course totally in control! My days “on location” were long, tedious and usually freezing. Now there was this one time …..

    • Reply March 27, 2015

      Tonia

      …..I demand to know more about that “one time”. Cue Problogger conference and reminiscing about our old lives!

  • Reply March 27, 2015

    Zita

    Oh now this is a job I think I would like! Always dreamt of being on Getaway or The Great Outdoors!

    • Reply March 27, 2015

      Tonia

      Sounds like you’re already having lots of adventures these days – loved your travel diary posts. Can’t wait to see where you’re off to next!

  • Reply March 28, 2015

    Tash @ Gift Grapevine

    I think the more glamorous sounding the job, the less glamorous it actually is! I can only imagine the hours and stress involved as a TV producer. One of my early jobs was in the music industry at a major record company. All my friends thought that meeting bands, going to every concert, free CDs and the like was a dream job. It was far from glamorous (and the pay was pretty crappy too!). Some great experiences but not enough to make me want to stick around. These days, after wrangling my tornadoes, I’d be happy in an office environment surrounded by work colleagues who I can have a conversation with that isn’t about ABC4Kids. Looks like that will be happening soon as it’s goodbye work from home and back to work in an office I go. Wish me luck!

    • Reply March 28, 2015

      Tonia

      Oh yes good luck Tash. Hope your colleagues are lovely and the work’s smooth sailing. Thanks for sharing your story – no doubt you’ve got lots of cool tales to share with the grandkids some day! Thanks for popping over x

  • Indoor girl for sure … enjoy my own office and my own company (plus my cat) LOL

    • Reply March 29, 2015

      Tonia

      Ditto Janet! These days I feel right at home in a home office too (full of creature comforts and all that jazz). Have a good week.

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