The Television Office: Stay or Go? 

click to enlarge Man with tie

What’s your job title and what does the gig entail?
Producer/director. I cast, produce, shoot, coordinate, and post documentary-style television shows, most recently MTV’s True Life.

Ten years ago, is this something you imagined you might be doing?
Back then, I was a film and psychology double major in college, so I had some inkling that I was fascinated by interesting people and the idea of documenting them, but I couldn’t imagine that it would take me all over the country and bring me so intimately entwined in peoples’ lives.

Do you still harbor other aspirations?
I hope to direct my own feature-length documentary film someday, but I do have to pay the bills.

How has working in an office environment changed you?
I only work in a typical “office” during the casting phase of a show; after that, I am mostly in the field shooting the stories for the next three to four months, then editing after that. The office environment of a production company appears to be casual, but expectations are very high and responsibilities are vast — it can be a very busy and creative place where things happen really fast, which I love. But I am also addicted to the pace of learning that comes along with being in the field.

Will your job still exist in ten years?
Yes. People will continue to be fascinated by other people, and relentlessly crave something new to grasp, watch and follow, but the medium through which we access these things will continue to change, as it already has.

Is your office more The Office or Mad Men?
It’s more Mad Men as far as the fast pace, the constant demand for creativity and the quest for new ideas, but the strong female field producers who exist now would not have been allowed to flourish in the early 1960s.

What’s the best part of office life? And the worst?
It’s nice to have a place to go that is familiar, but routine can get boring — there’s nothing like the excitement and pulse of being in the field.

Finally, what are three things someone coming into your field should know on their first day?
1. Be proactive, anticipate the needs of those around you before they do.
2. Be positive, we work long days on intensive topics, and if you’re excited about it, it makes it easier for everyone.
3. Be humble, we all had to start by doing coffee runs.


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