Well, this was a pretty challenging week. Despite our best efforts to correct some of the problems we had with timeliness during the production of our first episode, we found ourselves hard up against production deadlines all throughout this week. As the old saying goes, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Despite our planning, issues kept developing which cause us problems right up to and including the morning of the show.
What I had planned to focus on this week was finishing up writing the Script. Which I did do. But it wasn’t without its problems. After submitting the first draft, I was informed that Steve Wicks, who we had planned to use as our News Presenter, was ineligible as he had not completed a Screen Test the previous week as I had instructed him. This meant I had to get in touch with a Presenter from the pool to ask them to step in. Luckily, Charlie Jackson agreed immediately. We also ran into serious slippage problems with getting drafts of the script in for the various deadlines throughout the week as I found myself constantly waiting for the News Script, which Steven had been writing separately, to be sent over.
In the end; myself, Jodie & Laura had to write more of it anyway, as once we did have it in, we were informed that it was not long enough and one of the items was unsuitable.
Amidst all this, I wound up having to take over editing the Chris Solarski insert as nobody else was available to start it on Monday when we got the rushes through from the team who filmed it. In fact, I wound up also having to source the footage of Chris’s work and film some additional cutaways myself, as there was nobody else available, with various other things going on. This meant I had less time to spend taking care of the various pieces of paperwork which fall under my purview as the Producer, an issue which eventually came to head late on Wednesday when a delay relating to staff being busy during the day meant a late review of the insert.
Essentially, by the time the insert was reviewed for broadcast approval that day, there was only Thursday left to perform any additional editing, with the mandatory rehearsal that afternoon meaning it wasn’t even all of Thursday. And with the other tasks I needed to catch up on, I was not able to dedicate the several hours of work needed to make the requested changes. As a result, Peter was encouraged by staff to come in and take over, with assistance from the Studio Manager, on Thursday.
Wit that problem (seemingly) solved, I spent Thursday making tweaks to the script and collating my paperwork ready to hand in on Friday, before attending the rehearsal as the presenter. The rehearsal went fairly smoothly, although the show was a few minutes short. I wasn’t overly surprised by this, as we had had to reduce the length of the Show Choir insert from what we originally planned for pacing reasons, and the Egg Nog insert was very short once pieced together. Not overly concerned, I added some extra discussion to the script, just to make up a bit of the shortfall, but knew we would have to make do with coming off-air around 2 minutes early.
Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, the new cut of the Chris Solarski insert had been reduced to a runtime significantly (Several minutes) less than it had been when I left it, and despite my having insisted that it could not be much (if any) shorter than it had been in my last cut because I was already concerned about runtime. I did’t hear about this reduction until the crewing team informed me that it did not match the running order, after Laura and I spent part of that morning finalising that and the Studio Script.
This caused a major problem, with the projected runtime now down to less than 25 minutes. We scrambled to make up some of the time by adding in some extra lines to the script, but there was only so much that could be done at that late stage with the script having been approved for air without these changes. Efforts to find a piece of archival material to fill with proved fruitless, and so unfortunately the show ran for just 23 minutes in the end.
I was incredibly disappointed about this. As we had been beginning to put the show together, it was looking very good. The quality of the inserts in isolation was generally quite high – significantly higher than those of our first episode. The trouble we had was, things we had planned kept going amiss and pushing things closer and closer towards the show, until we wound up in a situation where everything was being finished hard up against the deadlines, which consequently meant that we had no time to identify issues and then implement fixes. In this case, the issues boiled down almost entirely to runtime.
Had we been in a position to see all the inserts completely finished by Wednesday, I could have implemented a fix to make up the length of the show on Thursday – most likely by inviting another guest onto the show for a live interview. The lesson here is that you need to have flexibility and a time buffer to enable the resolution of issues as they come up.
In terms of actually presenting, I have mixed feelings about my performance. I certainly found it harder to do the show than usual, which I attribute to the fact that, by the time we actually went live, I had been stressing out about the show was running short for over an hour and racking my brains to try and implement a solution of some kind. It really isn’t a good situation to be in right before going on TV as a presenter. There is a reason it is considered poor form to give talent bad news right before they go live, and this week I lived that reason.
Unfortunately, it was a pretty unhappy week. On a more positive note though, that means the only way is up.