STUDIO PRODUCER TIPS
First Things First
- Reserve a studio production date
- Come up with the "ANGLE" of
your show (i.e. If it's a talk show with youth -
what are the particular areas you want to explore?)
- Fill out an
the Media Center Producer Agreement and a Program
Create a Timeline
List deadlines for when you will:
- Line up your guests
- Send letters of confirmation
- Shoot and edit any roll-ins
- Procure any set pieces
- Write and submit publicity
- Send out thank you letters
Deciding on the Program Format
- Will it be live or taped?
- How will you structure
Some of your choices:
- Panel discussion
- "Oprah/Donahue"- audience and host that
- News-desk with anchor(s)
- One host or two?
- Will the program be divided into
- If so, will the segments require
different sets, lighting, audio?
- Will different segments
involve different guests?
- Write out the details and
submit to the director & the Media Center
NOTE: It may not be practical to do a live show if
there are set or scene changes. Live shows are most
common when you are taking phone calls.
- If there will be an audience, make sure
to tell the Media Center how many you expect.
- If there
will be audience comments, how will they be “miked?”
audience persons walk up to a mic, or do we need
a boom operator?
- How will the set look?
What do you need to get? (i.e. coffee table, pillows,
bookshelves and books, prints; sculptures; flowers;
banner; flags; posters; painted backdrop; abstract
objects; throw-rug etc.)
- Will guests sit at a table; on couches; in a semicircle
of chairs; on
Will there be Pre-produced Roll-ins?
- If so, who is going to shoot and edit them?
- If you
are using excerpts from a pre-existing video, do
you have copyright clearance to do so? (Call us with
- If you just want to insert
a 60 second break, tell the Media Center and we
can just play one of our community public service
Make a list of the following titles to be superimposed
during the show:
- Title of program
- Names and Affiliations of all your
guests (CORRECTLY SPELLED)
- Subject matter of the show
(like C-SPAN does).
This gives channel surfers a quick idea on whether
the show is about some matter of interest to them.
(i.e. "Violence in the Schools")
- Any appropriate
phone numbers or addresses
- Any appropriate statistics
- Any special thanks
NOTE: If it is a call-in show, then leave the subject
matter and the call-in number on screen for most of the show.
- The Media Center has a "library" of non-copyright
you may select from
- Tell your director on which CD
disk and which cut will be used
Communicate to your host what you want as the "feel
of the show"
- How to open the show...... how to introduce
the topic for maximum drama and "hook" value
viewers to call and give feedback
- keep the conversation
- whether to be confrontational, silly, casual,
- see host tips
Getting a Live Audience
you should get at least
10 people and the Media Center has seats for sixty
- Contact organizations or appropriate classes
at schools that might be interested and see if they
will supply an audience
- Get a phone list of people
you can call and line up
- Audience shots should avoid
Getting People to Call in
Viewers usually need incentives
to call in.
- Try lining up several calls to get the
- During the show have the host request
calls several times (see "working
- Leave the number on screen throughout
- Offer prizes for lucky callers
Getting Copyright Clearance
If you wish to use copyright
footage from a TV show or movie or copyright music,
you need to obtain clearance.
clearance if you
write to the company which holds the rights (i.e. Warner
Brothers; NBC; Tri-Star; Geffen etc.)
- Identify the exact clip you want (i.e. the
first 30 seconds of the song, "Come
Together" by the Beatles)
- Tell them exactly where
the tape will be shown and that no money will be
made from it. (i.e. for playback only on local cable
- Follow your letter with a call
In some cases, you may
use a copyright segment in your show without getting
clearance, for example, if you
that very clip. These are called “fair use” clips.
You should consult with Media Center staff to answer
questions about what constitutes “fair use.”
Get a talent release if you think someone may
- at a later date - ask you to re-edit the way they
were presented in your show, or to pay them for using
them in your show. A parent or guardian must sign for
a minor. The Media Center can give you a talent release
form from which you can make copies.
- You may ask local merchants to supply prizes for
your viewers, or set pieces (like props or flowers),
for your crew, or even cash donations in exchange
for a credit on-air.
- You may not solicit funds for
your labor as a program producer. You may not mention
any of their products, prices, sales, or hours of
operation on your
show or in your credits.
- You may however say that
this show has been supported by so and so, and you
may include them in your program credits. Please
discuss any other ways you
would wish to thank them on air with the Media Center
staff before doing
- If the underwriter wants a tax deduction they must
donate the money to the Media Center and the Media
charge an administrative fee to handle
- Draft a short press release that answers "What,
When, Where" about
your program in the first line. (See sample Press
- Come up with a "HOOK".... the
reason this is a timely topic and add that to the
body of your
- Brainstorm which organizations would have
an interest in your topic
- Send your release to such
NOTE: This often requires early notice of at least 4-to-6
weeks before your program airs to meet their
- Send your release to the Merc, the Weekly,
and the Country Almanac at least two weeks before
your "air-date." Follow
up with a call.
- Think about any places you might
E-mail your release.
- Create a flyer and drop it off
at libraries and post at places where your target
audience hangs out.
- If you are producing a program
series, then try to interest one of the papers
in doing a feature. Provide them with black and white
The Day of the
- ARRIVE EARLY ENOUGH to put up your set
and audience chairs if necessary. (the Media Center
staff will oversee lighting setup.)
- Be sure you have
submitted a complete list of correctly spelled titles
to your director by the morning of your taping.
- Help break down your set and clean
the studio after the taping.
- Remember to thank your
volunteer crew persons. They need to be appreciated!!