TV Insights, Observations and Obsessions from the NYTVF
Check out our Q&A series with Fest Founder Terence Gray (and others), designed to provide submitting artists and TV fans with insight to the current development landscape. If you're thinking about submitting to the NYTVF, this is for you.
NYTVF DEVELOPMENT DOWNLOAD: MSN Short-Form Storytellers Challenge Winner Guy Georgeson
In 2013, the NYTVF hosted the first MSN Short-Form Storytellers Challenge, which asked creators and producers to create a micro-episodic series with the possibility of working with Microsoft's digital platform, MSN. The winner, Guy Georgeson, is currently finishing the first 12 episodes of his winning concept "Coolest Thing I've Ever Made." We sat down with Guy to discuss his new series, his advice to creators making “micro content”, and more:
So, why don't we start by finding out more about the series. What is it about, and how did the idea for the show come about?
The series is a documentary series that profiles regular people who build extraordinary homemade things. I got the idea from when I was doing my previous series "Coolest Thing in the House", that profiles the "coolest" object in someone's house. I found, when the "coolest" object profiled was homemade, it was much more interesting and I wanted to know more so I came up with "Coolest Thing I've Ever Made."
Do you have a television background (indie or otherwise)? When did you start working in the industry, and what led you to the NYTVF and MSN?
I've been working in TV for about 12 years, mainly as an editor for shows on HGTV. Three years ago I started directing and also producing web series' on my own, along with editing full time. I had financed 24 episodes of my first web series on my own and learned a lot. However, I wanted to be able to pay my crew along with myself for the next one, so I looked at options and found out about NYTVF's initiatives, which led me to MSN's Short-Form Storytellers Challenge and a $75,000 budget.
One thing that MSN looked for was 'micro-episodic' content. What do you focus on and how do you work to tell an effective story in such a short period of time?
To be able to tell a story in such a short period of time, I try to just edit while I direct and hyper-focus on certain elements which end up helping me tell a compelling story. The show is about who these people are, what else they've built, their coolest thing, why and how they built it, and that's it. By focusing on a couple key elements, the story can be told effectively in a very short period. I also don't use any voice over or a host, which makes things much more difficult in terms of editing, but I think it allows the story to be told in a much more organic fashion. With a host, you need to set up questions, but without one you just get the answer. Quick and easy.
Are there any challenges to creating micro content? What are the benefits of having a shorter runtime?
The challenges are making the tough choices and sticking to what's really important. I had a client who wanted me to make a mini-doc that was 8 minutes for the web, and I suggested that he make it 2-3 minutes. He assumed that it would be cheaper and easier, but it's usually the opposite. It's much harder to tell a story in less time because you really have to know what you want to say.
The benefit of a shorter running time is less shooting. You can easily shoot the entire episode in one day, which in turn keeps costs down. Also, doing the fine cut is nice when it's only 2-3 minutes compared to fine cutting a 46 minute show, which can be agonizing.
What's next for the series and for you? What do we, as viewers, have to look forward to?
I'd love to develop more series' and hope to continue producing "The Coolest Thing I've Ever Made". I'm currently travelling around North America, finishing up filming on the last of my 12 episodes. There are some of the most unbelievable homemade things you've ever seen. We filmed with a taxi driver who spent his life savings building a working DeLorean hovercraft, a former paper mill worker who built a 2000lb mechanical globe planetarium in his backyard, and they just keep getting more unbelievable. Links to all the MSN Videos can be found on coolestshow.com webpage. I will be posting them as they are launched.
One trend that has come up time and again at NYTVF events is the renewed popularity of the 'Unscripted Format' - game shows and programming that have a repeatable premise. Since your show loosely falls into that category, do you have any advice for producers who are considering that genre?
I think with unscripted formats you really have to think about "format" and think like an editor. How do you replicate this 1000 times? Is it possible? Many times, I'm asked to edit something where no thought has been put into the format before it was shot, which is very difficult. It's not enough to just have an idea. You need to really know how you're going to execute it. If you can figure it out before you shoot it, it will save you a ton of money and time, and you'll be able to sell it much easier. It sounds simple, but it's shocking how many people just go out and shoot and try to figure it out later.
Check out previous downloads here:
Casting - 2/5/14 | The Network Development Process - 1/29/14 | History Development - 1/15/14 | Comedy Formats - 3/18/13 | A&E Pipeline - 4/3/13| Fox Script Contest - 4/10/13 | From Film to TV - 5/17/13 | Lifetime Unscripted - 9/4/13