In the seemingly never-ending scroll of credits seen after and sometimes before a television program, one title that has always stood out is that of the producer. “Producer.” It sounds like an important job, but what exactly does being a producer entail?
Basically, being a producer means overseeing all aspects of television production from pre-production to post-production. Big responsibility, right? That means being a producer requires a lot of organizational skills. One way of organizing information about a program and presenting it clearly is a program proposal.
The program proposal is a written document detailing what it is you intend to do. Although there is no strict format for a program proposal, all proposals should include the following: 1. program series or titles, 2. objective/process message, 3. target audience, 4. show format, 5. show treatment (including the angle), 6. production method, and 7. tentative budget.
Title and Objective
When thinking of a title, keep it short but memorable and interesting. Screen space is limited and audiences don’t want to do a lot of reading. If they did, they would probably pick up a book instead of a remote. As for the objective message, this too should be kept brief. The purpose of the objective is to explain what the production is to accomplish.
Target Audience and Show Format
This step may seem a tad superfluous to some, but identifying your target audience is critical. The target audience is whom you would primarily like to have watch the show you are producing. Is it for children? Is your program more looking to target adolescents or young adults? How does your target audience think, act, consume? What are the demographics and the psycho-graphics of your target audience? These are all questions to keep in mind as you go about the production process.
Show format basically states the way the show will be produced. Is it intended to be a single-run show, or is it part of a series? How long will the show run? This information is important when it comes to planning a budget or for stations to see whether or not a program will fit into the program schedule.
Number 5 on the list was a treatment, a very important process. A treatment explains to the reader in narrative form what exactly a program is about. It is the basic layout of the show in that it introduces the characters and scenes that would be included in the actual production. It is important to portray the focus of the show, otherwise know as the angle, in the writing. Leave out all specific production information such as light and camera ques. These things will be added to the script later.
Production Method and Budget
The production method states just that, how do you intend to produce this program efficiently? Will you need multiple camera, costumes, props, etc. This goes along with defining a budget. Money talks, and no one is going to want to partner with someone that hasn’t thought about the money. In the tentative budget, you must have up-to-date figures for all production services, rental costs, and labor wages in your area. Remember, money talks! Try to keep the costs low, but maintain the quality.