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From TV Researcher to Assistant Producer

So what should you expect to be doing once you get that television researcher job? And how does that role differ from that of Assistant Producer?

Barney Newman

Barney Newman is another great production team member I’ve had the pleasure of working with.  His charm, talent and hard work has taken him from researcher to assistant producer and finally to producer. So who better to talk you through the roles and responsibilities.

Barney’s thorough approach means he has written loads of information and sound advice in his post. So much that we’ve decided to feed it out to you in instalments.

Without further ado – here’s Barney with Part One of….

Working Within Editorial TV Teams as a Researcher or Assistant Producer…

“I started this blog with the intentions of being funny, witty and entertaining and have finished it sounding like a disgruntled old media studies teacher… Anyway, here it is, I hope it brings you some sort of satisfaction.

My Researcher and AP life was a glorious eight-year long journey filled with thousands of trials and tribulations. I have very recently gained a Producer status so perfect timing to tell my story as a Researcher and an Assistant Producer in TV Production.

My TV background lies within light entertainment shows (Des and Mel, Loose Women, Richard and Judy, Angela and Friends), factual entertainment (Noel’s Christmas Presents, Changing Rooms), reality (Big Brother 8 & BBLB), entertainment programming (The Paul O’Grady Show, T4 on the Beach) and I’m currently on a great little football show called Scoreboard. Most shows work on a similar basis so hopefully the below will help if you’re looking to get in to or move up in TV.

So, what is expected of you as a Researcher/AP?

Something that pops into my head to let you know is that you really have to work hard in TV, contrary to popular belief. Many think TV is an industry of tea drinking lovies who ‘hob nob’ their way to the top, it isn’t, especially as a Researcher or AP. The hours are long, the expectancy is high and there is a shed load of work to do – but I’ve had so many memorable moments along the way too! Acting with The Rock, writing a script for Miss Piggy and making Jeff Brazier drink enough beetroot juice to turn his wee purple… just to name a few!

The basics are to manage your own time effectively and be meticulously organised (this is really noticed). To communicate well, be alert and on the ball, to write EVERYTHING down (it’s a crime to forget a task you have been given), good punctuation and grammar, energy, ideas, effort and very importantly, a can do attitude.  Support your Producer and they’ll support you!

As a Researcher: You will more than likely have passed the first test as a runner, so you’ll have learnt the basics. Being a Researcher you’re the source of information and the fresh face of the team. The role is not just about doing the research and groundwork and expecting a pat on the back. A lot of Researchers I’ve worked with don’t care about the final result or think the Producer will get all the credit so “what’s the point?” If you show passion, creativity, intuition and flare, your work gets noticed.

As an AP: The jobs specifications can be very similar to a Researcher’s, but as an AP you also have to support the Producer in everything they do.  When called upon you have to be able to stand in for the Producer, which is a great! I have been an AP on around 15 shows and was given the opportunity to step up on at least five of them. So you have to constantly strive to appear strong enough to cover should anything happen to the Producer (oops, I dropped a laxative in the Producer’s tea..?!? – joke!). Also, as an AP you also have to act as the Researcher’s mentor. I have been a shoulder to cry on and an ear to chew off many times!

Oh, and as an AP you are expected to know EVERYTHING, the show inside out, the guests and items, the stills, clips and music being used, the script, it’s all part of your job…even knowing if the director wants sweetener in their mocha, chocha wocha latte?! You are the hub of the production in a way”.

Well said, Barney, and please remember I like my cappuccino EXTRA hot! Barney’s next post is full of useful information about casting guests, writing briefs, offering ideas and plenty more.  If you don’t want to miss it then simply subscribe to the blog which you can do by email or RSS at the top right of this page.

6 comments

  • emma Shore says:

    Best AP I worked with. Fact.

  • How to Write a Television Brief & More « So You Want to Work in Television? says:

    […] Barney Newman worked his way from television  researcher to producer in entertainment and factual entertainment programming. He is ideally placed to talk about the responsibilities and duties that researchers and assistant producers are required to perform. His last post explained the difference between the two roles (you can read that here: http://wanttoworkintelevision.com/2011/04/04/from-tv-researcher-to-assistant-producer/), […]

  • A blog on being a TV Researcher and AP I wrote for an ex-boss…. | Barney Newman says:

    […] […]

  • Edward Diaz says:

    the job of a researcher on a television show has had my interested for a while now and my question is what would i need to study in college to become a researcher on a sports television show? any input would help because i am really starting not knowing anything about this.

    • Shu says:

      Hi Edward. It probably doesn’t matter what you study at college although writing skills and proving an ability to research information, analyse it and write it up would be hugely beneficial. Regarding sports you don’t necessarily need to have studied it but it is important you develop that interest as an extra curricular activity. Watch it,play it, read about it and write about it. Offer sports reports to the college newspaper if it has one or start a blog on the subject.
      Shu

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