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A day on set: Through the eyes of a Television Production student

We get a glimpse into the life of a Television Production student, on set for a live show at Maidestone Television Studios.

07 Jun 2019

A day on set: Through the eyes of a Television Production student

We get a glimpse into the life of a Television Production student, on set for a live show at Maidestone Television Studios.

As part of the second year on the Television Production course, our task for the live unit is to work together to deliver a live studio production. As studio director, my main responsibility is to organise and lead the crew, so that when our space-themed children’s game show, Mission Control, goes live, everyone knows what they need to to do make the show amazing.

6.45am

I’ve only just woken up, and I can already feel the adrenaline. The best part about making live TV is the excitement! I begin running around, grabbing everything I need for the day — mainly paperwork. I’ve found that being fast and organised are key to being a good live director.

9.00am

Set-up time for rehearsals this morning before we go live this afternoon. I go round to everybody, solving problems or concerns. The team are vital to a studio production because many different departments are needed to make a show a success.

9.20am

First full run-through of the show is this morning. We’ve been rehearsing for a month now, so we’ve been through the show twenty (maybe thirty!) times, even though the set was only put up yesterday. Before that, we’ve been using cardboard boxes, chairs and masking tape as a set.

The director sits in the gallery for the show — that’s me — calling the shots, cueing in music and graphics, and watching the monitors to ensure the show runs smoothly.

I’m helped by the rest of our gallery team — our producer, who’s in charge of content; our script supervisor, who keeps the show running to time; and our vision mixer, who listens for my cues and puts everything on air.

12.00pm

Lunch. We’ve been through the whole show twice this morning. The adrenaline buzz is the highest it’s been all day, but so are the nerves.

Our presenter can’t believe how calm I’ve been throughout this whole process. Neither can I! I’m looking forward to transmission so much I’d like to go live an hour early. By this point I’m also feeling a little numb…

1.30pm

Our producer and I welcome the four contestants. At only ten years old, this is the first time they’ve ever been to a real TV studio. Seeing the looks on their faces as they enter the set is worth all the preparation.

2.15pm

The audience arrives. Some of us from the gallery go out to the floor to feel the buzz. We’re ready to go live!

2.30pm

The show beings. A kind of tunnel vision kicks in for me. Nothing matters as long as the shots tell the story and show the incredible work of the crew. I look at the script maybe three times. Live TV is so unpredictable that if I look away from the monitors, I could miss something vital.

3.10pm

Everyone takes the studio floor. We’re all hugging each other, high-fiving each other. We did it! We delivered a smooth show, despite it not going exactly to plan. As we pose for the group photo, we can see how much this unit has brought us all together, and also changed us. I’ve gone from being very shy to enjoying talking to everyone. The sense if accomplishment is off the charts.

5.00pm

We head to the pub for a well-deserved drink — everyone is still buzzing. The running joke is “give them the medals!”

11.45pm

Still buzzing. Even though I would rather be sleeping. I watch an episode of Friends, more aware of how it’s filmed now after directing multiple cameras — something I never thought I’d do.

I say that after a lot of the units because we get to try so much. This uni has made me realise I definitely can be a director if I keep working. I later reveal to our vision mixer that the numbness I was feeling was nerves. Being a good live director isn’t just about being fast and good at paperwork, but also keeping calm and level-headed to help the crew to deliver the best show possible — which we did! It’s a good thing we gave them those medals…

–Lauren Burnell