Basketball Wives 2 Premieres Dec. 12: Change is good


On December 12, VH1 kicks off the second season of Basketball Wives. In a departure from season one, the show will air in a new hour-long format that doubles the amount of time afforded to relate the stories of Shaunie O’Neal and her friends Evelyn Lozada, Jennifer Williams, Royce Reed and Suzie Ketcham along with those of some new folks making their debut.

From a creative standpoint, you might think hour-long episodes would simply double the number of scenes and acts you’d find in a half-hour (like our show was last year), delivering twice as much of the same old same old…

…but you’d be wrong.

Basketball Wives season two provides a rare look at how adding time to a docu-series presents an opportunity to make it exponentially more engaging instead of merely twice as long.

During the break between seasons one and two, I became a fan of Bravo’s Bethenny shows (also produced by Shed Media), and the way they could settle into a scene for two or three minutes and really let content unfold without feeling as if time was standing still. The show wasn’t overcluttered with interview, and you really got that fly-on-the-wall feeling that I think all of the best reality shows have.

The second season of Basketball Wives will, I hope, deliver that same kind of emotional wallop and fly-on-the-wall honesty that you can’t get when you’re skimming story as quickly just to fit it all into a half-hour.

Top notch field work, a cast that allows themselves to be portrayed openly and honestly with emotional sincerity, and a great post-production story and editing team really came together this season… I know I’m proud to have been part of it.

Basketball Wives premieres December 12 at 8/7c on VH1. You can check out content from the previous season and find out more about the upcoming one at basketball.vh1.com

Bristol Palin and Master P: Popularity vs Performance When the Choice is Ours


One of the chief benefits of no longer being part of the Dancing With the Stars team is that I’m free to enjoy the show and make comments along with the viewership at large from the comfort of my couch.

Audience voting usually turns me off when it comes to shows where ability can readily be gauged by qualified judges. If the judging panel at Iron Chef hates your spicy clam ice cream, I’m prepared to passively watch them dish out your fate. Dancing With The Stars, however, invites the audience to chime in on whether or not you, the viewer, were entertained by a particular couple. There’s validity to that, as factoring in a reward for stirring viewers with a quality performance seems a legitimate notion.

This season, we saw an exaggerated example of what happens when the votes become less about the performances and more about trying to make a statement via dial-in endorsements with an agenda.

The whole Bristol Palin adventure reminded me very much of the charmed DWTS run of entertainment mogul Master P back in season two. P’s fan base kept him afloat, come what may, for four long weeks despite withering scores and biting criticism from Carrie Ann, Len and Bruno. It was widely reported that Master P cumulatively logged just 20 hours or so of rehearsal over his run on the show, compared to other participants who had put in five or six times as much practicing up for the parquet.

Master P had stepped in to fill a spot his son, Romeo, had to bow out of at the last minute. In overcoming scores of 12, 16,and 14 before taking the ultimate hit with an 8 in week four, he was unquestionably saved from the brink three times by voters who just wouldn’t let the likable lunk go home. I’ll never forget his smile when he finally went home with a wave and a “Say goodbye to the bad guy.” Charming despite his lack of proficiency on the floor, I actually did feel a little bad for him when he left.

Now while I draw the comparison between P and Ms. P, there were some major differences between their successful, if logic-defying, voter-fueled runs.

Palin put in the time, pulled so-so but not laughable scores from the judges (averaging around 20 points early on), but somehow still found herself in the middle of a far larger brouhaha than P ever did. With hundreds of conservative right wing websites, personalities and bloggers championing her possible victory as a means to making a political statement, she couldn’t get out of the way of her voting engine. Her scores were neither spectacular nor awful, but her own supporters were poisoning the season by so loudly attempting to make a dancing show about something it isn’t.

Even if Bristol had won (she came in third in the finals), she would always have to deal with critics claiming the win was in some way tainted. Of course, the same thing would have happened if The Situation had won (Oh, those Mtv-watching teenagers!) or if Hasselhoff had taken it home (Oh, those Hasselhoff-as-Shatneresque-cult-icon hooligans!) or if Florence Henderson had won (oh, those post-menopausal nostalgia-freak cooking oil fanatics!) so there you go.

Sometimes a dance contest is just a dance contest. I’ve seen the mirror-ball trophy up close, and it’s nothing to get your cultural panties in a bunch over. I’m stunned that with all the things facing our nation at the moment, we all decided to concentrate our energies on debating and voting, for or against, a 20-year-old single mother trying to win a disco ball trophy.

Do I think the DWTS voting system is flawed? Not really, no. The voters may be… but that’s the risk you take when you pop those numbers onscreen.

And for the record, I have to applaud anyone with the nerve to participate on DWTS, regardless of their baggage.

Free Stuff: “Reality TV” Bumper Stickers


As you might know, my book, Reality TV: An Insider’s Guide to Television’s Hottest Market, is being published in Summer 2011 through Michael Wiese Productions, the world’s number one publisher of books on screenwriting and filmmaking.

In the meanwhile, I’m offering free high-quality 3″ x 10″ promo stickers for the book while they last… new ones each month right up until the release of the book. The content of each will be a surprise, but here’s a sample:

Just drop a line to realitytvtroy@gmail.com with your mailing address and I’ll knock one right out to you until supplies run out. Whether you’re a media student, a reality fan, or a working Reality TV professional, I’m grateful for any word of mouth (or bumper) you can lend a hand with.

How to Ruin Everything


The Interview:

1) Show up looking like you live out of your glovebox
2) Mention how you really want to write sitcoms someday, and that you thought reality would be something to bide your time with until your big break
3) Lie about using software you’re unfamiliar with
4) Lie about your credits
5) Give your real credits but paint an inaccurate picture of the scope of your responsibilities on past shows
6) Give references who don’t know you’re planning to use them as references
7) Know nothing about the company you’re applying to or any of their past projects
8 ) Finish your interviewer’s sentences
9) Ratchet up your energy level to seem impossibly animated, lively and fun
10) Let calls from unknown numbers roll to voicemail for days after your interview

The negotiation:

1) Bluff with the old “I have another offer pending at (exorbitant make-believe rate)”
2) Accept a rate you know you’ll be miserable at
3) Sign your deal memo without reviewing it carefully
4) Fail to disclose that you’re planning to go on a family vacation to Bermuda for two weeks near the beginning of production
5) Ask how many paid sick days you’ll get, just to be sure you can later take them all as beach days, returning each time with an inexplicable “flu sunburn”
6) Make special requests that would make writers of backstage concert riders for 80’s bands blush

The job:

1) Bring your dog/cat/iguana/parrot to work every day
2) Argue with everyone about how restricted you are by the format or vision already established for the show by the EPs
3) Arrive at least 20 minutes late every day and ALWAYS claim it’s due to a circumstance beyond your control, like traffic
4) Intentionally slow down near the end of your contract in hopes they’ll need you to stick around longer to complete the project
5) Badmouth everyone to everyone else, and ensure that you are the protagonist in every workplace disagreement story
6) Argue, without exception, every note given to you by the EPs and Network
7) Regularly post Facebook updates about what’s happening in the footage you reviewed that day or personal anecdotes from set
8 ) Spend the last two weeks of your job complaining that you haven’t been hired on to anything else yet and theorizing wildly that someone at the company is against you because no one’s told you about other projects coming down the pike
9) Don’t save a copy of your crew contact sheet
10) Complain about things but never offer a solution

Sex, Drugs and Reality Television: Your Favorite Reality Stars Nude!


Okay, that was a pretty low gimmick to get you to read this entry, even though teasing something you ultimately don’t deliver is exactly the topic of this week’s post.

Nothing drives me crazier than tuning into a show that’s been heavily teased (promoted ahead of time in a manner that gives you just a peek at what’s coming down the road) or sticking around to watch the ending after an early act ends with a mindbending five-second tease that implies that missing the rest of the episode would be akin to driving to Disneyland, then turning around and heading home when you’re in view of the ticket booth.

Audience trust is a big deal, and while your network folks may be in control of cutting the commercials for your shows and/or asking you to tease acts more heavily within each program just before act breaks, it’s important when composing teases that you not betray your viewers with stuff that’s waaaay out of context or instantaneously resolved once you get to the real scene.

For example: Act Two is supposed to “deep tease,” meaning hook the viewer for the rest of the episode by giving a peek at not only the next act, but acts five and six down the way. Your chosen tease is a woman saying “You’re a total fake,” coupled with another cast mate covering her mouth and saying “oh, my G-d, I hate you!” Once we get to act five, we see the first woman in-scene saying “I used to hang out with this girl until one day I had to tell her hey, you’re a total fake.” The reaction seen in the tease comes from other content where the castmate covers her mouth to sneeze, and the “oh, my G-d” and “I hate you” aren’t even connected.

Fail. Hard fail.

Another example? Teasing a huge fight all episode long at every break and having it resolved immediately with a character saying “I’m not going to take this” and walking away. You promised a fight, and you’d better deliver it or at least stretch out the rest of the scene in a manner that makes teasing all that drama pay off.

Keep tease content rooted in reality. Pump it up all you want to with dramatic music and ominous-sounding stings, but if you fool your audience once, it’s pretty unlikely they’ll come back to let you do it twice.

“And how much are you making a year?”


I recently posted a ringing endorsement of my alma mater, Full Sail University, in the comments section of a YouTube video featuring the school’s President, Garry Jones.

While I’ve been candid for years about the realities of attending any film or television program at any college or university, I often recommend Full Sail to students that I think would be well matched to it, discouraging others for whom the school of hard knocks or a different or less expensive program might be a better fit. I also like to think that the picture I paint of the struggles of would-be media professionals in this day and age is pretty accurate.

So tonight I get a little email alert that someone replied to the YouTube comment, demanding to know (in what I took as a mildly combative tone):

1) How much I make in a year.
2) What my “success” story is.
3) How much I still owe in student loans.
4) What successful projects I’ve worked on and how much money they have made me.

Crikey.

Now, those of you who read this blog know that I am all about helping people out. I offer advice here. I have a book on Reality TV coming out in 2011 that was pretty much born out of my respect for the genre and for media students and mid-career writers interested in building a career in it.

At any rate, three of the four questions I was challenged with by the poster asked me to prove my success with cold figures that are, frankly, no one’s business but mine, my agent’s, and my employer’s. And as for my “success,” I’ve always felt that my decent mitt full of recognizable credits doesn’t make me any more or less successful than someone who’s working on smaller or more obscure shows. I’ll bet there are positions that pay the same on AMERICAN IDOL as they do on BRIDEZILLAS.

My point, aside from the fact that it’s pretty brassy to ask anyone what they make as a measure of their credibility, is that fame and fortune are crappy yardsticks to hold up to people. Did I feel like a failure when I was making $450 a week ten years ago, driving an old Buick Century Custom back and forth from Los Feliz to downtown LA every morning? No. Do the Rolls-Royce Phantoms and Bentley Continentals that pass me on the road in the luxury sedan I drive now make me feel like a “less than” because more financially successful people than me exist in my industry? No. And if I was concerned about fame as a measure of success, I certainly wouldn’t be pursuing a career as a writer/producer. After all, every high school kid on earth probably knows who Kristen Stewart or Robert Pattinson are, but bring up the brilliant Dan O’Shannon or Lee Arohnson and you’ll probably get some knotted eyebrows… despite the fact that they’re enormously “successful” by the aforementioned “money” side of the crappy yardstick.

I was thrilled to be working in television at $450 a week, and I’m excited to put my pants on every day and go to work earning what I do now.

Don’t do it to yourself. Don’t cultivate resentment of people with more wiggle room in their checkbooks than you. It doesn’t stop. The guy who makes $450 a week envies the guy who makes $3500. The guy who makes $3500 a week envies the guy who makes $30,000. The guy who makes $30,000 envies the guy who’s worked thirty years to become a billionaire… even if that guy started at $450 a week.

Don’t get distracted by the fact that you aren’t working in your field yet. Or, if you’ve made it that far, don’t sweat it if you aren’t at the level you’d like to be operating on. Whoopi Goldberg was putting makeup on cadavers when she got her break. Donald Trump has been deeper in debt than any of us will likely ever be and climbed out of it.

If you want to make it, stop worrying about the measures of success and worry about putting forth effort instead of attacking the people who are only a little bit ahead of you in line.

And for crying out loud, don’t ask people to defend their happiness or personal success. Go get some of your own, because you can.

The Producer/Editor Relationship


One of the best things about the show I’m working on now is that I have a team of wonderful Editors whose work is absolutely top notch. The Story Producers on my team are terrific as well, and darn it if we don’t all get along like the freaking Waltons.

This kind of arrangement shouldn’t be taken for granted, however — Editors and Story Producers don’t always get along so swimmingly!

I can remember times early in my career where I’d slave over a stringout or paper edit for weeks only to have the whole thing discarded by an Editor who preferred to work from scratch — asking me to find this shot or that shot for them to fill in their vision and running their edits well into overtime. Conversely, I’ve known a lot of Editors whose patience has been tested by Story Producers who didn’t respect their process, hawking their every move and reducing them to button-pushers instead of respecting their talents.

Real collaboration yields the best results, but how do you do that — and who has the final say in the bays?

Well, on my current show, I have the last word with story (save for the Network and the EPs), but I only step in after my Story Producers and Editors have their own full pass at delivering the best story they can construct. I participate in the structuring of the episode from the beginning, but how those scenes play out in post is largely left to them until I see a full assembly. The only exception from that mode of operation is that I take on every third episode myself.

The best work often requires getting out of the way of story. Editors need time alone to bash through ideas, Story Producers need their time to keep reviewing, composing, and generating the rough material for the Editors to work on, and the Supervising Producer (that’s me) has his own special bucket of clams to worry about. Yet we still manage to get a show out on schedule, on time and at budget. We all respect each other and each other’s processes. No one is settling arguments by pulling the “boss” card, though I’m sometimes called upon to make judgements on how I’d prefer to see scenework play out… and I’ll never make anyone feel like a jerk about differences in subjective opinion (unlike some hotheads I know).

Story Producers and Editors who spend too much time jockeying for dominance in the bay are a huge morale-suck for the shows they work on. No matter your position on the show, keep the mood light, support your coworkers, and when in doubt, ask your SP what he or she thinks when differences of opinion arise in the edit bay.

At the end of the day, what matters in Reality TV is that you made something great (or at least as good as you could make it) and that you got paid to do it. Don’t get hung up on petty power trips.

Newbie Tip: Mentors


This entry is bigger than reality television. It covers traditionally scripted shows and films as well.

I had the great pleasure of attending an event this past Sunday that celebrated the cult favorite comedy SLEDGE HAMMER and its creator, Alan Spencer. In his closing remarks after three hours of episode viewings and guest interviews, Alan recalled a number of his mentors and friends who had so greatly affected his work and/or encouraged him along the way.

Before I go any further, let me tell you about Alan’s early years and how he met those people.

Alan’s career took flight at a very early age, and it was during the shooting of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein that he met both Brooks and star Marty Feldman when he (no, I’m not kidding) wandered on set, went right up to Mel Brooks and asked if he was “busy.” Brooks, who was directing at the time, then gave young Alan his first piece of advice: “Be inconspicuous, kid.” The years to come would bring plenty more advice, and he and Alan remain friends to this day.

Now, I’m not advocating that you wander on set of your heroes’ productions — I simply share the story above as an example of the importance of seeking out mentors. Is it any wonder that Alan sold SLEDGE HAMMER in his early twenties? Or that he was able to capably act as its showrunner despite his young age?

What made the difference? Well, besides the fact that Alan is a flat-out brilliant writer, he had the best comedy mentors on Earth to turn to when he had questions.

Lots of first-time, totally green creatives mistake the jobs they want as lone wolf gigs where any discussion of the work pollutes the writers’ vision. They just want to write their specs and send out query letters or come up with shows to pitch that very seldom make it to the level of getting a meaningful meeting.

Major mistake.

In a speech I made back in June, I said that you couldn’t throw a stick without hitting a mentor, and it’s absolutely true.

While working as a logger/transcriber for the MTV series FEAR, I learned quite a lot about the reality business in conversation with members of the story department and the executive producers, Cris Abrego and Rick Telles. Later, on THE OSBOURNES, I got to work with Greg Johnston, Sue Kolinsky, Henriette Mantel, Jeff Stilson, Melanie Graham and Shari Brooks. Sue and Henriette actually read some of my earliest tv specs before I sent them off to my lit agent, offering notes and advice that allowed me to put my best foot forward.

While you’re a lot less likely to land a Mel Brooks, Marty Feldman or Andy Kaufman to learn from as Alan did, there are plenty of hugely successful people with less recognizable names that are eager to answer a question or two now and again. This is how we learn and refine our craft… not by holing up in tiny apartments attacking keyboards alone and entering mostly insignificant screenplay contests.

Whether you’re interested in a career in reality tv or elsewhere in the creative writing or producing community, seek out the folks who’ve put a few years in the rearview mirror at the job you’re dreaming of. You’ll save years of heartbreaking trial and error and turn your false vision of how the entertainment industry works into a realistic one on which you can hang a career and be infinitely more productive.

Ask yourself — who do you want to learn from today?

Reality Pro Tip: B-Roll (B-Careful!)


Ah, B-Roll. Those beautiful but not-so-specific shots that help you establish a sense of time and place in addition to your specific establishing shots (the building your cast lives in, the restaurant the scene to follow takes place in). Cars, moving feet, dogs drinking from water bowls in front of trendy restaurants… all these seemingly meaningless individual shots are cumulatively far more important than you might think in establishing a look and feel for your show.

It’s essential that you impart the flavor of your location in b-roll. If you’re in Beverly Hills or Miami, viewers want to see flashy cars, local points of interest, and plenty of good-looking bodies milling about. If your show takes place on an oil rig in Texas, you’re definitely going to want to see rattlesnakes, local bars, and pickup trucks running down dusty roads.

When it comes to b-roll, remember: you can’t have too much of it. And just so you don’t read that in the ambiguous way SNL once warned that “You can’t put too much water in a nuclear reactor,” what I mean is, no matter how much you get, it’s not enough. If you’re in the field, remember that a single hour long episode might burn through 50, 100 or more of your great b-roll setups. Don’t assume that a few shots caught on the fly will be enough. Docusoaps burn through more of it than most other kinds of reality shows, so if you’re shooting one of those, a few full days should be set aside to capture the b-roll goods.

Vary the times of day that you capture your b-roll, too. Sunrises, sunsets, moons rising and setting, a wide variety of day and night b-roll gives editors a fighting chance in the bays. How can they set up a scene that takes place on the town at night if you’re only shooting b-roll during the day? Switch it up!

Good Stuff, Goof-Ups and Gee-Why-Can’t-I-Use-Thats

It’s easy to make mistakes both shooting b-roll and selecting shots back in post.

A few suggestions to make your life easier:

In the field, you’ll want to do lots of artsy things, including fun camera moves. A nice tilt or pan can yield some fun effects, but remember to settle at both ends of your shot. There’s nothing worse than a cool shot that lands on its target and then immediately resets two seconds later, rendering the shot unusable… my general thought is that these types of shots should land for a good ten seconds. Your editors will appreciate it!

What they won’t appreciate is the use of a lot of in-camera effects or filters. There’s virtually nothing you can do in-camera that can’t be done using effects available in Avid or Final Cut Pro during the editing process, and you’re limiting the ways in which the material can be used. What if the editor wants to color-correct your material or saturate an image that you’ve already slapped a filter on? It may look jarring when combined with other, more straightforward material on either side of it in montage. Get the images clean and let your editors sweat their final use.

Getting B-roll of crowds and people poses unique issues. If you can’t get someone to sign a release or don’t have a wide-area release on a location, don’t shoot them. If you capture a subject who refuses to sign a release, make a note to accompany the tapes back to post stating that “Guy in red sweater with yellow bow tie refused to sign release.” This saves your team in post a lot of headache when the clearance folks start kicking back notes on the cut. No editor wants to have to replace thirty or forty shots worth of b-roll in a cut over unsigned releases.

Slightly abstracted B-roll is a good hedge against this kind of thing. If you want to shoot a crowd, for example, get a few good shots of just feet or midsections boogie-ing down to the beat in the club or pounding the sidewalks. I hate to use the example, but think about how obese people are shot for health-related news stories. No heads, just unidentifiable round bodies walking along, minding their own business. You can do the same thing with people of all shapes and ages in bikinis, burkas, blazers or blue jeans, saving your editors the heartache of losing shot after shot when clearance can’t locate individual signed releases.

Editors and story people: as you’re selecting shots from what the field team has sent home, try your best to pick items that would be clearable before going wild with easily identifiable people and places. Involve your clearance team as early as possible.

Here’s a list of b-roll content your clearance team is most likely to require you to blur out or replace. Field teams, take note, as your diligence in selecting shots and documenting info relating to those shots will yield more useful material in the end!

Art

Whether you’re shooting in a restaurant, an office, or someone’s private home, keep an eye on what’s on the walls. If your subject, for example, owns a large painting that hangs over the sofa, that prominently-featured artwork must be cleared for use by the artist, artist’s estate or publisher. Ownership of the artwork is irrelevant… a buyer/collector can’t just sign away the image.

Even if you’re dealing with a mass-produced piece, you should be sure someone takes note of the artist and/or publisher in order to clear a work down the line. Failure to do so may force you to blur the image in post, which nearly always looks awful.

In the field, jot down the names of featured artists and descriptions of the works. A good clearance person back in post might be able to look up the artist and get their permission to show the work.

Extras/Background

Any individual who’s immediately identifiable in a shot they’re walking through should be asked sign a release. If you’re reviewing footage and there’s no release for the guy at the table behind your cast who can’t keep himself from staring over at the camera every few minutes, you’ll probably wind up blurring his face in post.

HINs

Hull identification numbers (or HINs) are the sequences of numbers found on the sides of boats. Since they’re used the same way as a license plate, you should consider having them blurred in post. Also be on the lookout for identification numbers appearing on sails.

Landmarks

While one might assume that certain landmarks are public domain, a number of them are protected by copyright or trademark. A couple of good examples are the Beverly Hills logo shield and, believe it or not, the famous Hollywood sign.

License Plates

Fully legible license plates on automobiles should always be blurred in post.

Logos

If your producers have done their jobs, you should never see a castmember in an obviously logoed shirt, cap, or jacket.

Logos are a grey area, as some brands are more protective of their use on-camera than others. One popular brand of mens’ shirts couldn’t care less if you see the critter embroidered on the front, while others take great exception to seeing their duds on television. Sometimes all it takes to conceal a logo is a well-placed bit of colored tape, other times you’ll have to blur them slightly in edit.

Sports team logos, unless cleared by prior arrangement, are absolutely no-go under any circumstances. Blur or avoid them.

Luxury car brands are also a big deal, so the next time you’d like to set up your wealthy character by showing off her car collection, think twice. You shouldn’t have a problem if you’ve got a room full of vehicles or b-roll of a sportscar rolling down the street with an unidentifiable driver as long as you remember to blur the license plates in post.

Phone Numbers

Phone numbers featured in advertising, store windows, billboards and so on may need to be blurred in post.

Good luck bringing home the good stuff. If your field team is wise to all of the above b-roll landmines, you might even get to use most of it!

Reality Pro Tip: Don’t Feed the Animals


I recently heard my umpteenth story about a Production Assistant in the field who’d been disciplined for posting pictures of herself hanging out with cast members of the in-progress reality show she was working on.

The production company demanded that she remove the photos and captions from her Facebook account and threatened termination across the board to any other employee who posted pictures from set. After all, their cast hadn’t been formally announced yet, and there for the world to see was the full cast partying down with Miss Fun PA.

This happens all the time, and the reprimands aren’t idle threats — people do lose their jobs over this kind of thing. What if those images found their way to a gossip site? The effort on the part of the network and production company to keep details of the show under wraps would be compromised… all because someone wants to show their pals that they’re hanging out with famous folks.

My secondary concern, right after leaking cast images before air, would have been: “Why are non-producer members of the production team getting so chummy in the first place?”

Unless you are a producer whose job involves conducting interviews or interacting with the cast on an active level, the cast is not your friend. Be sociable and try your best to get along with them on the rare occasions that you can’t avoid interaction, but concentrate on your job and don’t get chummy.

Why?

Because if your on-camera talent is making non-stop asides to the camera crew he’s been out on the town with every night or goofing around with the sound guy, you’re going to come home with a lot less usable source material.

A friend once complained about an on-set situation where some camera operators chummed it up with one of the male participants on a dating show. Here the guy was, on an amazing date with a beautiful young woman he should be getting to know… but instead, he’s having conversation with his new “buddies” in the room while the poor girl looks on. Try as he might to correct the situation, the producer on set felt that it completely compromised the source material.

Talent is there to interact with each other, not with you.

I’m not suggesting that you be rude to your talent on set. Being part of a reality show can be stressful and confusing for them, and completely isolating cast in the name of indifferent observation is just as big a mistake as getting too close. In the case of producing Docu-soaps over weeks or months it would be weird (not to mention, impractical) for you and your cast not to get to know each other a little. In those instances, just try your best to keep it professional and the subject of conversation away from show content. Last night’s big game? Discuss. Popular news item of the day? Chat away. Show content? Nope.

Now here’s a REAL problem… let’s say you have a cast member who’s getting a little freaked out about how they think they’ll appear on the show and you’re the Production Assistant they look to as a friend now because you’ve foolishly cozied up to them. I can almost guarantee that they will, at some point, start pumping your for information about other castmates. What’s being said about them when they aren’t in scene? Do you think they’re going to look foolish on television after behaving so badly the day before?

Welcome to the can of worms you opened yourself by not respecting the line between you and the talent, buddy.

In those scenarios, be courteous, helpful, and when asked a question like that, defer to the senior person on set (a Supervising Producer or EP) with a simple “I don’t really know how anything will come together, but if you’d like, I can ask Joe Executive Producer to talk to you about it.”

Be friendly to your talent, but don’t befriend them. And if you must take photos along the way, be sure it’s okay with the powers that be and don’t share them online until after your show airs.

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