Well that was fun …
It has been a mad 3 weeks of 14 hour work days and only 2 half days off, you would often still find us working at 1am.
That’s the fun of working in TV production, it is a very varied job. 3 weeks ago BBC Wales opened its metaphorical doors for their latest commissioning round. This basically means that production companies up and down Wales (and beyond) have 3 weeks to fully develop documentary/film ideas and hand them in by today.
Now, in an ideal world, a production company would have a small army of people, constantly working in the background, developing ideas to pitch to channels (not just BBC), so that when commissioning rounds come along you have a smorgasbord of fully developed programmes to put forward; the reality however is sadly a lot different.
So this is the low-down of what we have been doing these past few weeks (and please keep in mind that there are only two of us full timers and we are currently still filming and putting together a 3 part series for the BBC).
*NOTE: At the end of every sentence please insert “Make a coffee…”
Firstly, you have your gathering of brains; you pull in all the favours you can, friends and family to get them all in one place at one time. You then chat, trawl the newspapers, look online and listen to rumours, in the hope of coming up with ideas and stories you think are worth telling.
Next, once you have weaned out all the bad ideas, you are left with some half decent ones (hopefully). With these you then have to develop them. This involves a lot of research, A LOT OF RESEARCH. Your job title becomes ‘journalist’. You have to find stories within your chosen topics, after countless searches online and a stupid amounts of emails, you quickly discover the inevitable… the only way to truly do this, is to pick up the phone and make friends with random people, get to know them, fish for stories and angles, get the gossip, beg. After about the 3rd call it becomes second nature, but trust me, you will do everything to avoid this task, it’s a little daunting at first. You keep doing this till you find all the contributors and stories you need to drive the narrative of the film and they are (in principle) happy to share on camera. You also have to ensure you have access to the places you want to show in the documentary.
If you can, it would support your film, if you can make a 2 minute teaser film, showing the sort of characters, the access you have, the story and style of your proposed film. This is amazingly time consuming.
If your film calls for a presenter, you need to research the best presenter for your idea and contact them through their agents. Trust me, this is a lot of fun…
Then, after all that is done, you have to collate all of your notes and concisely put them together to create a treatment with word count limitations, and finally hand it in.
Honestly, it’s like being back in education, writing essays.
All you can do now is wait… (do something relaxing to calm down and catch up on your sleep)
The most difficult part is that, after all the time, effort and money you have put into developing these film ideas, you may end up with none of them being picked. You have lost 3 weeks of sleep, got 3 new worry lines on your forehead and you are out of pocket money wise.
You have to remember that there are hundreds of production companies doing the same, all with hundreds of ideas themselves. If you are selected for the next stage, you are doing bloody good.
The next stage is an interview with the panel at the BBC, if they short-list your idea, they invite you in to pitch it to them, and discover more information for them to make an informed decision. After that is more waiting, till you finally hear from them …
So I guess, wish us luck as we have put in a fair few ideas.
We owe an awful lot to two people who voluntarily worked tirelessly with us, believing in Tatu (and hoping that they get employment if we are selected for commission). Many thanks to Gary Mulock and Jeanette Ward, we are forever grateful.
Company Director – Tatu Pictures Ltd