Post a Job Join The Guild
Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   Register
Produced By October/November 2015
Blog Home All Blogs
Search all posts for:   


View all (10) posts »

Prepping for Prep: Network Pre-Production Isn't So Scary, Provided You Have The Right Guide

Posted By Peter A. Hoffman, Thursday, October 22, 2015

I began my career in show business as a production assistant working on small, independent films … locking up a dusty, rattlesnake-infested road at the Disney ranch, running payroll around Burbank or just helping the ADs on set. I transitioned to dramatic one-hour television with a job on Baywatch, which provided me with the opportunities to learn the ins and outs of the budgetary process, scheduling, business affairs and day-to-day operations of showrunning. I continued to work my way up on other shows as a co-producer and finally got promoted to full producer on SAF3, a 20-episode syndicated television drama series.

I still had gaps in my knowledge about producing a network/studio-based drama series versus my independent past. More specifically, I needed to know everything I could about pre-production. As a relatively new a PGA member, I read in the newsletter about the PGA mentoring program, so I signed up.

The Mentoring Committee arranged a mentorship for me that became a shadowing opportunity with Harry Bring, co-executive producer on Criminal Minds. We exchanged a couple of emails followed by a phone call to set parameters. How much time did I have? What were my interests? What did I want to learn? I then prepared for our first meeting by doing a little research about the show, and about Harry’s background, writing down as many questions that came to mind.

I was allowed to observe the prep of one episode over a six-day consecutive period at the Criminal Minds soundstage/office complex. Harry and his assistant Stephie Birkitt were welcoming from the very start. At our first face-to-face meeting, Harry asked me, "What can I do for you?”

Well, this is what he did for me: I was able to sit in on a variety of discussions, from concept and art department meetings to video playback & postproduction sessions, to visual effects and stunt/special effects meetings, to budget and production meetings. I also was in the scout bus for both location scouting and technical scouting. I was given copies of the script and schedules, just as if I were prepping for the show. This particular prep period proved to have more than its share of production obstacles. I would not have not it any other way, as it allowed me to see first-hand how various challenges were met with effective solutions. This mentorship reinforced my belief that, in a high-pressure situation, a steady hand, mutual respect and above all a sense of humor beats yelling and screaming any day of the week.

I can only say: Thank you, Harry! You have been a true mentor to me. I look forward to continuing our relationship and passing on the knowledge you shared with me to fellow PGA producers.

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
Permalink | Comments (0)