When we were initially introduced to our group theme, we all looked puzzled. Spontaneity sounded too vague and we weren’t quite sure what to do with it. However, our editorial sessions proved helpful as the tutors had structured them in a way that allowed us to brainstorm ideas. We soon found ourselves bouncing off ideas that had to do with food – so we decided our show would be based around this theme.
Here is one of the videos from our brainstorming sessions:
When we started thinking about how to incorporate the ‘spontaneity’ bits, here is what I found – I thought we could use it as a theme setter, but the group wasn’t sure, so we didn’t use it in the end. Still, I believe it’s a nice video that has music, food and a spontaneous element to it:
Some of our ideas for content included:
- ‘pick a prop, tell a story’ – something that would involve an immediate, spontaneous reaction
- having a child as a presenter / guest – because children are unpredictable
- ‘the random minute’ – an unscripted part in the show where the presenters / guests would improvise something
- magic tricks – maybe invite someone in the studio to do magic?
In the end, we didn’t go with any of these. Here is what we had instead:
- VTs with babies and food – it wasn’t something I totally agreed with, as it didn’t fit with the rest of the show too well, but most people in the group seemed to like this direction, so I settled with what they wanted.
- Tasting food – it worked well.
- Food art – it could have worked much better, but was a cool idea nevertheless.
- Interview with a banana person – we didn’t have the chance to rehearse that before the day of recording, because our actress was busy. Still, it was a fresh thing to do – something no one expected.
- Food facts – presented in a bit too random way for my personal taste, but good to have.
- Freestyle food rap – definitely something worth doing again!
The whole show has a very girly look, so I suppose our ‘target audience’ is unemployed or stay-at-home mums in the 18-35 age group.
Even though our script was done just one week before the final run-through, we already had a running order before Easter, so we were sorting out times and we knew the basic structure of the show from early on. The details were sorted out step by step, and even the changes were predictable as they still fitted into the basic idea – so even with people missing some meetings, we made some progress every time we met.
However, not having a proper script on time resulted in less proper rehearsals, which resulted in people being less confident with the technical aspects of the production – we were sorting problems ‘on the fly’, as opposed to planning them from early on. This was obvious both in our rehearsal recording and in the final run-through.
Here is the rehearsal we were able to record one week before the final day:
As you can see, the presenters were a bit unsure which camera to look at and what comes next – but it was our first proper run-through with the new script – plus, we did it in exactly 10 minutes, so I can’t complain too much – I’ll just list a couple of observations:
- distorted sound on the VTs – because the sound desk had been changed, I hadn’t yet figured out how to set it up properly, so the VTs ended up with awful sound. One of the channels was peaking – and the other too low. When exporting the video, I preferred to stick to the quiet channel, so as to not harm viewers’ ears. Of course, I sorted this problem for the later rehearsals and the final run-through.
- we didn’t have the set yet – and almost no props. On a later rehearsal however, we only had one presenter – Aeron – so he was trying to fill in for 5 people – it was very brave of him to do that, but we only did it once, because it caused lots of confusion for him.
- talking to the wrong cameras – also improved in later rehearsals.
- we can hear the director cueing cameras – this was the strangest mystery in the studio, which stayed with us also on the actual recording. I still haven’t figured out what went wrong there and how this sound ended up in our footage.
- the contestants didn’t actually taste the food – that’s because this rehearsal was the last one after two previous ones – so they already knew all the foods. On the day of the recording, we had more variety so they always had something new to taste in different takes.
- presenters got messed up with the running order and forget about one of the games. It was tough for them reading just what was on the autocue – and if we’d had a proper rehearsal with set and everything, they’d have more clues around the studio to remember where we’re at.
- out-of-sync sound when cutting between VTs and studio – it was quite hectic in the gallery, and I messed up this bit.
- focusing while the camera is live – resolved in the live session.
- freestyle rap – a bit uncertain at times; it’s always hard to do a spontaneous rap, so I think it’s justified here. It went much better in the previous rehearsal, and well enough in the final recording.
- weak ending – the ‘If it’s got bits in it’ line was much better in the live recording.
Here is the live recording itself. Even from the preview, it’s obvious how much was improved:
- We had the show’s logo in the background – which made it consistent with the opening titles, and generally kept the theme together.
- VTs had hiccups – but at least we had them! The first one hour of our time slot we had all the technical faults you can think of, so we were thankful to have any VTs at all.
- The presenters weren’t sure about the VTs – that stayed as a problem until the end – the VTs worked in their own separate way – they all had to do with babies – and weren’t fitted well into the programme.
- Interview with the banana – wasn’t very convincing, but it all paid off at the end with her disappointed face 😀
- We didn’t have graphics – we didn’t focus on having them, as the Graphics PC in the gallery kept failing and we couln’t even start it most of the time. We also didn’t put enough effort into sorting out the end credits. They do need proper attention, but since it was just one of the lots of things we did at the last minute, we just went with this.
Feedback we received
The formal feedback for our show pointed out some weaknesses in the whole programme, such as:
Your interpretation of the theme spontaneity has ended up more random than impulsive. This isn’t necessarily wrong but the show needed a much clearer set up and more signposting throughout – I don’t think a first time viewer would really have a clue what was going on!
It also turned out the set was confusingly unrelated to the show’s content – but I’m not very good with set design, so I can’t really figure out what we could improve – my only observation was it was too pink and ‘girly’ for my taste – but I think it kinda worked, especially compared with the other groups’ sets.
We received the lowest grade. Given all the circumstances, we did pull a show together and it looked good, but the grade is fair in terms of the actual content and the technical presentation. It was clear the show wasn’t well rehearsed – and we all knew that. I think that our programme went in a wrong direction from early on, so we had to try and keep it together somehow. But the lack of someone to overlook the general outlook and impression of the show was a big drawback for us. There was no one really in charge of content – so everyone could simply put in any idea, just to have something – because only half the group was proactive and we desperately needed people to do anything. This reflected the strength of our show – it was fun for us, but confusing for anyone that didn’t have to do with the production. So since a TV production should be made for the viewer, and not only for the producers, I think there is a lot that can be improved in our programme.
In reflection, although I did enjoy the technical (and even organisational) part of producing a TV programme, I am still not convinced I’d want to have anything to do with television from now on. It’s just not my thing – it is too institutionalised and formatted for my personal taste, and I know I am not good with the type of creative restrictions that are part of the production process. I definitely benefitted and learned a lot from this project – especially when it comes to working in a large group of people and putting all this stuff together – but I think I’d focus in a media field I feel more inspired to work.