Wednesday, 27 February 2008

How to get an idea on TV

Yesterday I got to participate in a Development pitch to Daytime Television for a terrestrial channel. Our department was pitching their game show idea so they rounded up a team of people to play and took us out to The Network TV Building where for 50 minutes we animatedly engaged in this general knowledge quiz show.

The object of the meeting was for my company to show how the game would play and the structure of it. There were no fancy graphics, no bright lights and no prizes but it was entertaining none the less.

Development fascinates me. They come up with a shell of an idea. Then they pitch that shell - which is sometimes just a catchphrase - to the channel commissioners who decide whether or not they want to hear anymore.

The team then goes off and develops the idea further. They put together a pitch proposal and take it back to the commissioners. The commissioners might tweak it further saying they are interested but want it slightly different. The team then goes back to the drawing board and panders to the commissioners desires. They tweak, change, redesign and ultimately try and create The Perfect Show.

Another presentation to the commissioner later they might be given a little bit of money to develop the idea even further. This does not guarantee a commission but is for the team to start finding talent and contributors to give the commissioners a clearer idea of what the heart of the show would look like.

This dance can go on for months. Even then you are not guaranteed a commission. You might get a pilot, or better yet a pilot which will be aired. The holy grail is to get a series commissioned with another 2 series off the back of it.

In the cab ride home yesterday the Development team decided that commissioners should give out trophies so you had something to show the team when you got back.

A certificate for a well pitched idea.

A tiny cup for a development grant.

A bronze cup for a pilot show.

A silver cup for a series.

A gold cup for 2 series.

Anything is better than hearing the commissioners say "We're very interested in this idea, BUT"

Even if they haven't heard the idea they're still interested.

I think they just like seeing how high they can make Production Companies jump.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Manly Men vs TV Boys

I went down into the studios today to collect my plinths for the Development Boys. Unfortunately my visit to that oh so magical place of men was ruined by my companions.

I brought an uber gay man and the classic example of a metrosexual from Development down into The Studios this morning. From the moment we entered the lifts to descend to my heaven they started making comments.

Development Boy: Oh I can feel the dirt from here

Metrosexual: You know, I'm so glad I don't work down here. It is just so old school.

Miss M: But boys, THE MEN!

Please note how I referenced them there as "boys", those two are definitely not manly men

Development Boy: I prefer my men with clean fingernails thank you very much


I felt so out of place. Everyone was watching us. It was like they could smell the TV boys from upstairs infiltrating and tainting their wonderful place of work. Everyone was standing around the edges of the studios glaring at us, waiting for us to make a mistake. We were so not in our element.

We made our way down to the Set Builders area, my haven of men with tool belts and these two could not stop making little snide comments.

Metrosexual: I am so going to need a shower after being here

Development Boy: This place just reeks of straight men

Miss M: I KNOW! Isn't it wonderful?!

Development Boy: It isn't right for television

Next time I am so taking a fellow woman down with me.

I'm betting they'd appreciate a man kitting out in a tool belt operating heavy machinery.

I think I might have to go downstairs and apologise for bringing those two down with me.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

The Studios

I love the studios, they are so different to sitting in a Production Office. Studios smell of excitement, there is a raw energy and constant flow of action. Everyone feels as if they are running to a tight time deadline and things just happen so quickly. I don't really know how else to explain it.

I went down to the studios on Friday to get the carpenters to make me some plinths for Development and took a bit of a wander around. Each studio is like their own little world of people all running around, building sets, moving cameras and generally expelling this air activity. I love the people who have headsets and clipboards - they just look so important.

Plus there are men. There are men everywhere. Men building things. Men moving heavy objects. Men setting up large cameras. Men. Men. Men.

Production offices are starved of men. Well straight men that is. And those who are straight and working in Production tend to be those metrosexual type of men and I like manly men. I've become partial to muscles and rough looking men. And let me tell you the studios are full of them!

I think I need work on studio shows.

Either that or go visit there every day.

I think I'm starved of men.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Meet me in the bathroom in 10!

I don't know what was in the water today at my office but I managed to stumble upon 3 meetings between superiors in the some of the most strange places ever. Places where I thought they couldn't possibly actually be having a meeting but apparently they really were.

Meeting 1

So I got to the elevator lobby and discovered the Financial Director and an Executive Producer discussing some new deal they were setting up. It was weird and awkward. I needed an elevator and there were none in sight and they kept looking at me like I shouldn't be there. I felt as if I should leave but I really needed an elevator, but they kept looking at me. I kind of felt like we were about to enter a Western standoff but then thankfully the ping of the elevator was my savior and I escape that awkward situation.

Meeting 2

I already have issues going to the toilet when there are other people in the stalls - I don't know I think I get stage fright or something - but today really pushed it to the limit. I went into the toilet, entered the cubicle and was about to "do my business" when two people enter the bathroom and start discussing a development idea that they are hoping to get commissioned. Now I'm trying to pee without them realising I'm actually peeing - seriously do NOT like other people hearing me pee! And they do not seem to departing the bathroom anytime soon. Worst part is as soon as I realise that they can hear me pee I am incapable of going to the toilet. Then after being in the stall in complete silence I have to come out, wash my hands and excuse myself. How embarrassing.

Meeting 3

Sometimes I use the fire escape stairs if I only need to go down a floor or two and today was no exception. Except this time I encounter the Director of Factual and Entertainment and another colleague having a furtive conversation in the stairwell. I come in, they stop and stare at me. I walk down 3 flights of stairs and that whole time they do not talk to each other. I leave and I'm pretty certain that they continued talking. I wonder what they were discussing ... It was like a mini drug deal or something!

What is the strangest place you've ever had a meeting or encountered other people having a meeting in?

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Boredom is a killer

I'm irritated today. What is the point of coming into work when you actually aren't doing anything?

Today I have read some blogs, surfed the internet, visited colleagues on other floors and generally farting about.

They haven't assigned me to a show, I have no boss and most important of all I have no work to do what so ever.

Whilst this might sound like paradise let me tell you it isn't. There really is only so much internet surfing you can do and 9 hours of nothing is mind numbingly boring.

Oh what I wouldn't give to be at home watching Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Or out shopping. Or in a swimming pool being eaten by savage sharks. (yes it is THAT boring)

I even tried to be late this morning. I left the house at 0930am - 35 minutes later than I usually do - and still got to work only 5 minutes late. Yes I know, how strange. I have no idea how I did that. Starting to think I needn't leave till them most days. Tomorrow I might try leaving 45 minutes later than I usual. What you think?

Oh my god I'm bored.

Monday, 18 February 2008

What role would you do?


Runner - A personal slave for the entire office. One can get these poor souls to do anything from making tea to checking if electricity is indeed flowing through that wire. Runners love anyone who makes them feel included. Make friends with a Runner and you're set with tea, coffee and snacks for the rest of the show!

Junior Researcher - A sneaky title given to a Runner so that they feel they are slightly more superior. These "runners" assist the main Researcher in programme developing but will also be expected to make tea and run errands. However they tend to get a little "big for their boots" with the title and look down their nose at basic jobs. I dislike the tossers as a rule.

Researcher - Assist the AP in finding contributors. Researchers are hard working bastards who do not get enough credit as it invariably goes to the AP.

AP - There is an argument here as to whether this stands for Assistant Producer or Associate Producer. Depending on how up their own arse the AP is will depend on what they call themselves. I find just saying AP avoids insulting a delicate ego. These lovely people do everything from finding contributors, locations, liaising with contributors to writing scripts. They are the down to earth voice of the Director and are usually easier to communicate with. You want to know shooting schedules or what is actually happening - speak to the AP

Production Secretary - The support for the Co-Ordinator. However on most shows they either don't have Secretaries or have the Secretaries doing the Co-ordinators job but only getting paid their own rate. TV is all about screwing over the little person.

Production Co-Ordinator - We get to organise everything from shoot days, finding crew, pre production, post production, archive material, copyright issues to handling the money of the show. You've got to love organising and constantly know what is going on. We're the mothers and they're the children.

Production Manager - The Big Mothers. These hardworking people control the budget, agree to give team members money, maintain health and safety, make sure that compliance is met and basically control the production expenditure. This job involves staring at the budget and excel documents until your head hurts. I'm not 100% that I actually want to get to that position! Generally these are woman, I've only ever met 2 male Managers. I don't know why - is it because woman are control freaks?

Director - You get 2 types of Directors; the "Oh I'm making a deep and powerful film" Director and the "Let's get this show on the road and make the best programme ever" Director. The unitiated might not see the difference but trust me you don't ever want to come across the 1st type. They take their job way to seriously and actually think that we are offering society something more than a stupid television show that people will forget 2 minutes after watching. Seriously, get a grip.

Producer - Usually this roll is combined with the Director in Television. It means that you have the added responsibility of working with the Production Manager in controlling the budget but also want to spend obscene amounts of money making the "film" look beautiful. I think these people have a sort of Jekyll and Hyde type of personality.

Executive Producer - They waft in perhaps once a week, make sure that everything is running smoothly and according to plan and then waft out. Come the final product they bitch and moan about the cost and then comment about how beautiful the "film" is and how the public is going to be in awe of the artist creation. They then take all of the credit.

Basically people who do the above roles are - as a rule - overbearing, loud, too cool for school, up their own arse, up other people's arses and generally a pain in my arse.

Other than the Secretaries, Co-Ordinators and Managers of course!

Friday, 15 February 2008

Gameshows and Quizmasters

Yesterday was a day that reminded me how much I love working in the Television Industry. Things have been a little slow around here as I wait for my new show to start so yesterdays activities were like a breath of fresh air.

At about 12pm I got rounded up by Development and taken to one of the big meeting rooms to participate in a run through of a new game show they are developing. How cool a job is that? I want to be in Development.

I swear they spend all day reading newspapers, having brainstorming meetings, typing up proposals and doing run throughs of game shows.

So I head up there and we end up playing a quiz game. Well I am embarrassed to say that some of the greatest minds in Television are not so smart in general knowledge. We sucked. Badly. We won barely any money and did not work together very well as a team.

Quiz Master: For the final question and the chance to win this rounds cash, The Oscar winning film - Il Padrino - is Italian for what?

Contestant: Panicked expression Umm ... I don't know ... I don't know!

Executive Producer (Contestant): Oh I know this, I know this!

Contestant: I nominate (Executive Producer) to answer this for me

Executive Producer: The Postman! See guys, we finally won some money!

Quiz Master: WRONG! The correct answer is The Godfather!

I mean seriously, even I knew that.

Executive is never going to live it down.

One of the greatest minds in TV - but not so smart on the uptake.

We then had to all sit down and discuss how we found the game, any improvements that we could think of and whether we thought it would actually be liked by the general public.

What a wonderful way to spend a Thursday!

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Be my Valentine

It's Valentines Day today.

Unlike everyone else I would like to extend the wishes of this day to all of those woman (or men) out there who have been emotionally or physically abused by their partners.

That is not love and I truly hope that you use today as the day to escape from it.

Please read the blog that Nick posted up on his today as I really think that this writer has captured what love is, and what love isn't

Enola - What is Love Anyways Part 1 and Part 2

I hope all of you have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

The Amazing Executive PA Miss M

I decided that I should come back to work today - as wonderful as my extended weekend was I don't want people starting to realise that I'm not really doing any work.

However when I got in this morning I got pulled aside by one of the PA's to the Directors and asked if I could help out as her counterpart to the Director of Factual and Entertainment was off sick.


So I have a new seat and vantage point to the office, (I had to leave Steve and Frank behind since I didn't think it was fitting to my executive persona) and am doing mundane tasks like typing up memo's and compiling ratings for this week's television. It is very bizarre though - I can see my colleagues at the other end and I keep waving at them longingly - as all the bigwigs keep coming over and scaring the crap out of me.

Miss M: Singing along to the radio We all just want to be big rockstars! Does a little chair dance (You know what I'm talking about people)

Head of Production: Stares at her and smiles

Miss M: Oh crap she so saw that! Hi, don't mind me but I'm just relishing in having a radio near me

Now they think I'm really weird. How about this one?

Miss M: Stares into space (but unfortunately it is in the general direction of where the Head of New Programming is making a cup of tea)

Head of NP: Sees Miss M watching him Oh I'm sorry, did you want some tea?

Miss M: No, no! I was just staring into space!

Oh great. Now he either thinks I'm a slacker or that I'm a demanding PA who thinks he should be making me tea. Neither is good.

I think I liked it better when none of the bigwigs knew me ...

However if I'm back doing this again tomorrow I might come dressed for the part. Always nice to have an excuse to wear pencil skirt, shirt and high heels.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Reruns and Retries

Cream coloured ponies and crisp apple streudels. Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles. Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings ... Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes. Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes.

(So it was a good dream alright?)

Alarm goes off

Miss M: Seriously? You have got to be kidding me?! I only just went to sleep!

So that was the moment I realised that I didn't really have to go to work - who would want a showless co-ordinator with a snotty nose and horrid cough wandering around the building?

I didn't know who to tell I wasn't coming in though since I don't really have an official boss so I emailed 2 people on my floor and my line manager. I'm hoping that none of them mind.

Basically I'm chilling out at home watching reruns and music videos. Hey has anyone noticed how many old school boy bands are making comebacks these days? I got the whole Take That phenomenon (sort of) but I just saw Wet Wet Wet! I thought they'd died or something ... "J" from F1ve was attemping a comeback via The Show not to mention the fact that I'm hearing some rumour about New Kids on the Block reuniting?!

Who actually liked them the first time round?!

Isn't it good that I can spend my day worrying about the things that really matter?

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Work Smurk

To Line Manager
From Miss M

Hi, can I pop down and have a chat this afternoon?

To Miss M
From Line Manager

Sure - I'll be free by 4pm


Line Manager: So what's on your mind Miss M?

Miss M: Well I was just wondering when I'm going to start on my new show?

Line Manager: We're not really sure yet

Miss M: What you mean, you're not really sure?

Line Manager: Well due to the contract with the celebrity we want to work with not being finalised quite yet we can not give you an official start date

Miss M: Perplexed expression But I'm still working here?

Line Manager: Oh of course, we don't want to lose you and the show could start any day now.

Miss M: But it could also not start for another month?

Line Manager: This is true

Miss M: Really confused But you still want me coming into work even though I'm not working on an official show?

Line Manager: Yes


I'm so going to pull a couple of sickies this week!

On the plus side she also agreed to give me a pay raise once I start on the show ...

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

The Magic Eight Ball

Nothing important gets done in the office without consulting The Magic Eight Ball. It is a time honoured tradition and the only way we make decisions on pressing matters.

The Magic Eight Ball is all knowing.

Everyone from the lowly runners to the Executive Producers come over and ask The Magic Eight Ball questions so they know what decision to make and I swear that it has affected many an outcome on our shows.

Today though The Magic Eight Ball appears to not want to help us. It is answering very vaguely or it is basically refusing to give us an answer at all - instead saying the following


What a cheeky bastard. I quite wanted to know if the boy that I have a rather large crush on at the moment will ever get it together with me and my boss most certainly needed to know if she was going to have lost lots of weight at her weigh in tomorrow!

Isn't it lucky that we don't need to know any of the REALLY important stuff today?

So these are some of the following questions I have heard asked of The Magic Eight Ball over the past few months.

Should I go with company x for our filming equipment?

Will tonights show go smoothly?

Is the budget going to be large enough for (some stupidly expensive procedure that they wanted)

Am I going to get laid at the wrap party?

Will I be leaving work on time this evening?

Do I look fat in this outfit?

You know - all the important things in life!

P.S: Do you think one can trust a Magic Eight Ball to make decisions for you? Or are we all living in la la land?

Monday, 4 February 2008

3 years on ...

Tomorrow is my third year anniversary of living in London. I am unable to establish whether I am happy or sad about this. What started as a fun idea of running off to London for a while has turned into me actually putting down roots, starting a career and finding myself -3 years down the line - quite settled in this strange city.

I honestly did not expect to enjoy myself so much here, I thought that I might last 1 year or perhaps 2 if I pushed it, but did not expect to find myself building a life out here in London. These days my job is brilliant, I have some truly wonderful friends and I have found a hobby that fulfills my life in the spare time that I have.

For any of you out there who read my blog and think that working in TV seems like the perfect job let me tell you that this has been a long hard struggle to reach the place that I am at. I have worked 18 hour days, I have been paid next to nothing and I have worked contracts only lasting 2 days and then been out of work for another week desperately trying to find something else before my bank balance reached zero.

Which it did. Plenty of times.

I have become heavily in debt trying to chase this silly dream of mine but the in the long run it has all been worth it. The experiences that I have had and the unbridled joy in knowing that I am achieving my dream make every horrid aspect of this job bearable. And let me tell you - the stress has sometimes made me want to give it all up but I guess I'm addicted to the challenge.

TV is not for the fainthearted but it is unlike any job you'll ever have.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Overheard in the Office

Miss M was just sitting at her computer, minding her own business and putting a call sheet together when she noticed 3 of her senior Creative and Production staff gathered around one computer. This was the conversation that followed.

Series Director: Oh wow, I could dress my dog in that outfit!

Director: Why would you do that to your dog? No one wants to dress as the pope. Hey but look there is an adult version of a Father Christmas outfit, maybe we can get a contestant to wear that.

Line Manager: What kinky shit are you people looking at?

Series Director: What do you mean?

Line Manager: Dressing up in a Santa suit ...

Director: Stares at her blankly Umm ... what's wrong with wearing a Santa suit? People do it every year?

Line Manager: Goes bright red Oh, I thought you were looking at an adult kinky costume website

Series Director and Director start laughing hysterically

Series Director: Why on earth would we be doing that?!

Line Manager: Well .. I don't know .. Stranger things have happened in this office!

And that my dear reader is very true. But I shall leave that for another time.