Out of the many positions in TV pre-production, the post of researcher is one of the least applied. I do get one or two applicants every now and then, mostly from university graduates to come on board. Thing is, not many know what it takes to become a researcher for a television show. And I do look for mavericks in TV research on top of academic excellence.
Below are 7 tips in TV research:
- Do not comb everything. TV research is not a thesis. You need to pin-point your research to match the programme slant and target audience.
- Get a new angle to an old story. Easier said than done. Drop the first angle that pops up in your mind. That’s what everybody else is thinking of.
- Chart what you want to research on paper first. Don’t go crazy Googling the topic. There’s a kazillion things out there and you get lost in the net very quickly. Nothing beats pen and paper. Write down exactly what you are looking for. TV is a poor medium for details, so why search the big field when you can narrow your findings first.
- Think how much can a 23 minute TV programme contain. Then you realise you don’t have much to air. So your research better be pow-wow enough to make it on TV. If you break down a half-hour show, this is what you will get: 5 minutes of presenters links, 18 minutes of content. How much research materials can you squeeze? Not much. So if you are in doubt, leave it out.
- Don’t be afraid to change the slant of the TV programme. Sometimes researcher stumbles on a whole new angle that works better. Approach the producer and make your case.
- Roll your sleeves and do your ground work. Nothing beats talking to people who are experts in the field you are researching. You can’t be shy to meet people face-to-face. Get it done.
- Three words I live by when it comes to information I want to air on TV: Accuracy, Accuracy, Accuracy.
There are of course many other stuff too about TV research. I leave it you to find out when you get into it.
Message me if you keen to do freelance research. Happy Twenty Ten.