My name is Andrea Singleton, and I am a new TV producer for our show Postcards at Pioneer Public Television. TV Producer: the title still sounds foreign to me. Since I was a young girl, writing daily in my diary, I knew that I wanted to be a writer. I never thought I would have the patience and talent to make that dream happen in rural Minnesota, nor that I would use my passion for writing through television.
My previous job as an on-air personality at KMRS/KKOK helped me get my foot in the door and exposed me to the media industry. The second night on the job, having no prior experience in radio, I was thrown on the air, sink or swim. Luckily, I swam; more like a doggy-paddle at first, but by the end of my short seven-month experience there, I was swimming the freestyle like an Olympic swimmer. Getting comfortable with my own voice took a lot of time. Every time I heard myself speak, I suppressed the urge to laugh at the fourteen-year-old like voice I heard over the airwaves. Through hours of practice and hard work, I got some wonderful feedback from the community, and my confidence rose. I even had the chance to do a few live interviews at the Community Expo in Morris, an event which I thoroughly enjoyed. Shortly after, I decided to pursue another challenging career endeavor when I came across the job opening for a television producer with Pioneer Public TV. I knew this was my dream job. Experiencing first-hand the arts, history and culture in Minnesota every day and making money doing it? Count me in!
Television is a lot different than radio. Just as I was getting comfortable in understanding my job at the radio station, I am starting all over from scratch at Pioneer. There’s a lot of time-consuming, tedious work that goes into making a television show. For example in radio I used to transcribe thirty-second commercials every once in awhile, and now in television, I transcribe hour-long interviews on a regular basis. Everything that is said has to be written down in order to create and edit scripts. Plus, scripts should not solely be based on the best dialogue from the interviews. We have to create them based on footage shot with the camera at the shoot. This important part of television, as I have learned, is called b-roll or the images and scenes one sees as the dialogue is being spoken. B-roll is just as important or sometimes more important than the dialogue. What the audience sees is very important to how they interpret the show. For example, when I was applying for the job and watching episodes of Postcards, what I remembered and enjoyed most were the images such as the flour dust in the air while kneading the lefse in the episode “Scandinavian Cooking: Lefse” and the dancers feet and hands painted red in the episode “Dance with Ragamala.” From a writer’s perspective, I tend to focus more on words than images. Now I have to see not only the words on paper, but imagine how it will look as a whole picture from a TV producer’s perspective as well.
I still have so much to learn here to become a better producer. With only four episodes left of season three of Postcards to air, I look forward to being more involved in season four. Since our show is filmed like a documentary, I have to learn to phrase my questions so that the interviewee will restate the question in their answer. Learning more about how to work the cameras and the editing process our crew does would be beneficial as well. As a producer for Postcards, I need to do extensive research on the topic for the program prior to the shoot, make phone calls for interviews, schedule with the film crew, meet with the production crew weekly, transcribe, write scripts and so much more.
As a first-time TV producer, sometimes I have to stop and remind myself that I don’t have to have it all figured out right now. Producing a television show is more about enjoying the process and changing things along the way. We at Pioneer are discovering and learning about the subjects featured in our programs just as much as our audience. If you knew everything about the art, history and culture of Minnesota, you wouldn’t be watching Postcards, and we wouldn’t be producing it. As a producer at Pioneer, I look forward to a lifelong learning experience through the stories we feature on Postcards. I hope many of our viewers will support us in our endeavors to keep these stories alive for future generations.
Andrea Singleton is the newest member of the Postcards crew. She joins the staff as a producer for the show and other legacy productions. Stay tuned to the blog to learn more about Andrea!
by Andrea Singleton