Working the Scene

Now you may be assuming that as the Story Producer, it really isn’t your job to be on set and working on the scene. Well guess what? It is. Sometimes the story doesn’t just happen, and there’s no magic formula for making it happen, so you need to be on set to push it along and make sure you have material that an audience will WANT to watch.

Stirring up Some Drama

While the reality being filmed may be broadcast on television, it’s still very real life and has its lulls. There’s no way to spice up someone eating dinner, so take those downtime moments and try to spark some conversation. If you can’t come up with something yourself, ask your field producers for input.

Even if the conversation  isn’t started naturally, this won’t show through on the final tape, and you’ll have more material to work with, instead of footage of nothing. If you can’t spark conversation here are some more suggestions to liven up the drama:

  • Ask a cast member to reach out to a cast mate who may be withdrawing from the group
  • Ask the cast members to discuss who they feel is winning, who’s getting the most attention, who’s causing problems and who they think is going to lose
  • Suggest activities that’ll have the cast members interact; try poker or going swimming!

While it’s fine to ask your cast members to help you drive the story once in a while, try not to do this too often, or they’ll grow to resent this type of behavior.

Etiquette While on Set

Even though there are fewer rules in the world of reality television than there are in scripted television, there will nevertheless be expectations of you as a professional, especially during the production phase. Make sure you don’t overlook these, lest you risk bad blood.

The Cast is Not Your Friend

Seriously, don’t try to become their best friend. You’re on set to do a job, and your job is to ensure that the cast delivers content that makes for quality television. Becoming friends with them is not the way to do this.

First of all, your friendship with cast members will destroy your role as a disinterested party when the cast is too busy trying to talk to you as a friend, while you’re trying to get footage for the show. Being too friendly with them in public, especially on social networking sites, is especially dangerous because networks NEED to maintain the “reality” feel to their show, and having the audience see the cast out for drinks with the writer of  the story isn’t the ideal way to do this.

Speaking of social networking, don’t follow the cast on Twitter, don’t give them your email and definitely do not add them on Facebook. It will provide them with direct access to you, which they can then use to ask you about the story and how they’re being portrayed; information that you cannot disclose to them.

There’s almost no way that being friends with the cast will be good for you, so be professional and courteous but keep your distance.