There will always be problems – especially when making television. Life is full of problems and they never stop coming so get used to it! Knowing how to approach problems and go about solving them is a key skill in television production.
Here’s how to make the most of problems in TV:
A problem is an opportunity to make yourself useful and appreciated. A problem-solver in television is quite possibly the most popular and potentially successful person you can have on a team.
A problem is not a problem – it is a challenge. And a challenge is an opportunity to hone your problem-solving skills.
NEVER HIDE A PROBLEM. This is possibly the worst thing you can do in television production, especially in live television. Hiding a problem, whether it’s because you are hoping to find a solution before anyone else discovers the issue, or because you’re afraid of getting into trouble, prevents others from making the necessary decisions.
Hiding a problem could potentially be fatal and at the very least can leading to embarrassing gaffes on air. Whatever your role on the production there is always someone more senior and experienced than you. Always refer upwards if in doubt. Identifying the problem allows others to adapt as necessary.
Remember TV is teamwork. You are not expected to know exactly what other members of the team are doing (although you should make every effort to learn) but you can sure that they need information. Make up have a schedule of guests to keep to, sound needs to know if the number of guest to be mic’d up in the next item has changed.
Always try and anticipate problems. Think scenarios through.
If you are a runner in charge of looking after a contributor on a show what are you going to do if they don’t turn up? Do you have their telephone number to hand? How will you handle them if they declare at the last minute they don’t want to do it?
If you are a researcher and a producer or presenter turns to you and asks for some information (what is the capital of Mongolia?) what are you going to do? Have you worked out how you will find information or check the accuracy of a statistic?
You are NOT going to guess. Giving the wrong information is worse than not knowing.
If you don’t know, you’ll say “I’m not sure but I’ll check immediately and get right back to you”. And do it FAST and ACCURATELY. Do you know where the nearest computer is if you need to check online? Do you know who to call to check a fact? Do you have a list of relevant contact numbers from organisations you used in your research?
If you are the work experience and someone says they need a pair of women’s size 9 Irish dancing shoes within the hour, what are you going to do? Where will you start? And I am not making these scenarios up!
Like every good Girl Guide and Scout – you need to be prepared!
Don’t let little niggles become Big Problems.
ALWAYS listen to your inner warning bells. Voice any worries or concerns, however silly or small they may seem, to someone senior. It’s the small things that you may brush aside that can often lead to bigger problems on the production itself.
Never assume a problem will simply go away. It rarely does. A Problem ignored is a problem enlarged. If you’ve booked an expert, a guest or a contributor and something doesn’t ‘feel’ right. Check it out.
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