A dark and decadent bar in deepest Soho was alight with TV talent and the speakers told it how it really is! Former Commissioning Editor at Living and Sky, and current Head of Entertainment, Factual & Features at Zig Zag Productions, Claire Hollywood explained how the commissioning process works in relation to the on-screen talent. Showbiz agent, Jon Roseman, who’s past clients include Natasha Kaplinsky, Kate Garraway and Anne Diamond, was even more frank about the reality of life as a TV presenter – but provided plenty of laughs along the way with his salacious showbiz stories! I tried to get a word in edgeways….
Some of the key points the panel made:
A good show reel is crucial but make sure you have shown yourself at your very best within the first 30 seconds. Most busy TV executives won’t watch past that point unless you have really impressed them.
Don’t fall for the long fast cut montage to fabulous music – while it may look and sound good it doesn’t show your skills as a presenter. Provide content or a laugh; show your personality and your skills.
Keep the show reel short – three minutes is as much as you need but as above, make sure you’ve sold yourself in the first 30 seconds.
If your name is attached to a proposal then the person commissioning would ask for a taster tape of you presenting. They won’t rely purely on your original show reel.
Finding an agent:
There was a lot of emphasis from the floor on finding a good agent. The panel agreed that a good agent is hard to find and that you shouldn’t rely on an agent to find you work.
Make sure your agent has good contacts with producers and commissioners. This doesn’t just mean knowing their name and phone number but knowing the person well enough that they will actually take the call and listen to the agent.
Even if looking for an agent, be your own agent in the meantime: make sure you have a good biography and show reel, make a list of suitable production companies and start contacting them.
Have an idea:
Develop ideas that suit your style of presentation or your area of interest. It is easer to get an appointment to come and offer an idea than it is to simply come and sell yourself.
Contact the development teams within production companies. They often have more time to meet new talent and indeed it is part of their job to research new ideas and new faces.
Make a contact:
Make the most of any contact you can find. Remember that runners, researchers and APs are just as important. Many producers listen to other members of their team when trying to find new talent. Apart from which today’s runner could well be tomorrow successful producer.
Get into TV Production:
Getting a job on the production side is a good way to learn more about the business and make contacts. Don’t start your production job hassling the TV presenters on your show asking for tips however!
Make sure you do the job you’re employed to do very well first, then start to let people know you are interested in on-screen work. There’s nothing worse than a member of the production ignoring the day job in favour of going on about how they want to be on the screen. It is a fine line to tread. Make contacts first and put your hand up if presenting opportunities come up. If you don’t tell people what you want to do they won’t know!
There was a lot more but I confess I didn’t take notes, nor organise the podcast or film. Next time I promise to do better. In recompense I will post my Top Ten Tips for TV Presenters in a follow-up post. Subscribe now if you haven’t already to be sure you don’t miss it! If anyone would like to add points of information they found most useful then please do leave it in the comments below.
In my view a good event is only as good as the people attending and whilst the panel was great the audience was brilliant! The interaction created a fantastic buzz and it was a real pleasure to meet so many of my blog-readers and TweetMates.
Thanks to Gareth Davies and Leon Campbell from The Presenters’ Studio who offered their valuable advice and opinion, to Trish Bertam, one of UK’s top continuity presenters and voiceover artist (and voice of the Olympic closing Ceremony and Paralympics!), Natalie Lisbona, News Producer and the boss of Central Features, and all the other TV professionals who gave their time to network and offer advice.
Special mention was also made of Claire Richmond from Find A TV Expert. It was agreed that if you are an expert in TV you might have more opportunities that simply being a general reporter and having a profile on that site could well help.
Clare Hollywood also said that many producers make use of StarNow to find new talent.
Were you there that evening? If so do leave your feedback below. Loved it, hated it, want more? All feedback much appreciated!