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March 2014

ATX Festival, By Way of Houston

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CALLING ALL TV NERDS!!!

This year, I plan on attending the 2014 ATX Festival! For those of you who haven’t heard, The ATX Festival is a television festival in Austin, Texas that focuses on celebrating all that TV has accomplished over the years, where it is now and where it’s headed. From what I hear, the weekend long event in June consist of panels with writers, producers and cast members, show screenings and business panels. 

I’am a self proclaimed TV nerd and this year, I’m ready to shout it from the rooftops! Unfortunately, The ATX Festival is still months away. So in the mean time, lets meet up for a series of ATX Festival prequels, so to speak. If you are currently living in the Houston area and would like to discuss television with like-minded people, while sipping an “adult beverage”……. then you and I should be friends! 

For those of you who don’t believe in my current TV addictions, I present to you my CURRENT addictions list:

  • Scandal
  • Sons of Anarchy (ONLY 1 SEASON LEFT!!!)
  • Vampire Diaries
  • Chicago Fire
  • Chicago PD
  • Law & Order: SVU
  • The Originals
  • Intelligence
  • Sleepy Hollow 
  • House of Cards  (Only through half of season 1)
  • The Following 
  • Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (Not a sitcom, but they’re doing great things)
  • Friday Night Lights (Because this belongs on any Texans list)

And this list just includes the things I CURRENTLY watch. The list of shows that I want to get into (Justified, Orange is the New Black, Game of Thrones, etc) would be much longer.  

Sooooooo……If you’re interested in starting an ATX Festival Prequel, email me at rookierundown@gmail.com or tweet me @jnchang to get this thing started! Also don’t forget to follow my blog to receive updates on all things Rookie Rundown. 

See you in Austin!

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A Day in the Life: TV Producer

Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to shadow the wonderful production staff at the daytime talk show, Great Day Houston. For non-Houstonians, Great Day Houston is hosted by Deborah Duncan and airs LIVE Mon-Fri at 9am on KHOU 11.

I asked to be a member of the Great Day Houston staff for a day simply because I was curious. The idea of working in television made its way into my head and I just wasn’t able to shake it. The only way to know whether or not a career in television was for me, was to give it the good-ole college try. Luckily, I had a contact within the newsroom at KHOU who helped me set up my day as a volunteer.

Throughout the day, I tried to keep a mental diary of my experience. Below is a brief timeline of my day as a volunteer with Great Day Houston.

7:00AM-Early Morning Start

My day as a volunteer started at 7AM. For non-morning people, I know you understand the pain of having to be a functioning human being that early in the morning. Nonetheless, shaking off the grogginess was pretty easy. Things started moving extremely fast by 7:30AM, when the staff held their daily pre-show meeting with the production and camera crew to go over the logistics for the show. Everyone is given a “Run of Show”, which entails everything from where the guests will be standing, to what graphics will go up on your television screen. The ROS is extremely detailed, which is completely necessary due to the number of moving parts for a LIVE show.

8:00AM-Guest & Audience Arrival

By 8AM, the guests for the show began to arrive. Each producer produces their own segment. As each guest arrive, the producer who booked the guest will meet with them briefly to discuss how the next two hours will go. If necessary, the producer will also help with any set-up or staging needs. Great Day Houston producer, Erin Kocurek informed me that in a typical week, a Producer will produce roughly 4-5 segments, while an Associate Producer will do 2-3.

9:00AM-LIVE Show

9AM-10AM was the fastest hour of my life! LIVE television is definitely for adrenaline junkies! I totally expected there to be an epic countdown leading up to show time.  I expected an ominous voice over the intercom, intense music and dimming of lights to signal the start of the show. All I got was the Floor Manager shouting “30 SECONDS!” before I hurriedly made my way to my seat in the audience..

For the first 30 minutes of the show, I sat among the audience. I watched the producers and crew work hastily to reset the floor for segment changes in between commercial breaks. A two-minute commercial break feels completely different when you’re on the other end of the TV set. I will never look at a commercial the same ever again.

For the last 30 minutes of the show, I got to sit in the control room, where all of the magic happens. There is a lot of communication going on in here. Between casual conversation, headsets, multiple microphones and an in-studio band that day, I could barely keep up with what was going on. I’m a multi-tasker at heart, but this control room put me to shame.

10:00AM- Post-Show Meeting

After a quick photo break, the staff conducted their daily post-show meeting. Here, they discussed how they feel the show went,  and offer any suggestions on how things could be done better in the future.

After the post-show meeting, I had a few minutes to sit with each Producer and Associate Producer to chat and ask them a few questions. From these conversations, I took away one key aspect of life in television. As Floor Manager, Neyla Cantu is responsible for making sure that the show operates as it should. Making sure that every guest and every prop is in its correct location and that all segments are on-time. I asked Neyla, “As Floor Manager, what is the hardest thing to get used to about your position? She said, as Floor manager she had to think five steps ahead of everyone, not just one step ahead. LIVE television operates at a fast-paced level and you need to think ahead of everyone else. Neyla emphasized that between 8:59am-10:01am, she cannot relax. Otherwise, things will slip through the cracks.

1:00PM- Weekly Pitch Meeting

After I chatted with the staff individually, everyone reconvened in the conference room for their weekly pitch meeting. This meeting is where each Producer pitches their ideas for future shows.  Essentially, a Producer will come up with an idea of the type of segment that they want to produce, run it by everyone in the pitch meeting and then find someone with that specific talent or expertise to execute that idea. With no prior knowledge of the TV world, I assumed that people came in droves to be on the show and it was simply the role of the Producer to put them on when it made sense to have them. I was clearly misguided on that one. I realized through this meeting that it’s important for each show to be cohesive. That each show needs to have a theme and each segment should weave into the next.

3:00PM- Farewell

The pitch meeting ended shortly after 2:30PM. and the staff typically leaves at 3PM. Thus, I bid my farewell to the staff and thanked them profusely for allowing me to be part of their crew for the day. I must admit that waking up at 5AM was not easy. However, getting off at 3PM certainly has its perks.

I hope you enjoyed reading through my mental diary. Don’t forget to check out some of the great photos I managed to snap in between the whirlwind. If you have any further questions about my day as a volunteer at KHOU, feel free to contact me at rookierundown@gmail.com or tweet me @jnchang.

Sincerely,

-Rookie Specialist

Square One

The idea of starting over gets a bad rap. Most people attach the idea of starting over with negative thoughts. Despite popular belief, starting over can be a good thing.

A few weeks ago, through casual conversion, I became painfully aware that my boss of six months was a whole year younger than me AND already attained a promotion. After I freaked out silently in my cubicle for a moment, I had a revelation. Up until that very day, every decision I had ever made brought me closer to the career I wanted. At the time, my role within the organization was as a freelancer/intern. Despite the lowly job title, I was given a lot of responsibility and was learning so much about website development, email marketing, content strategies, etc. Everything that I learned has helped me build this blog and will help me in the future when I take my talents elsewhere (South Beach, maybe?).

In the past, success could be achieved in a liner fashion. Work for one company for 20+ years. Start at the bottom, pay your dues and work your way up through the ranks. Not Anymore. Every organization, from Fortune 500 companies to mom-n-pop shops across the country has zero guarantees that they’ll be around five years from now. Thus, the proverbial ladder of success, which requires a 20 year minimum, does no one any good.

Every failure is a lesson learned. Some of us have learned more lessons over the years than others, but hey, at least you’re learning, right? Instead, view success as one of those dome jungle gyms you used to have in the school playground. Sometimes you have to go back a rung, in order to go forward. Remember, how there was always more than one way to get to the top?

Sometimes you have to back a rung in life. Sometimes you’ll have to be an intern again or give up the first office in the hall to get closer to the corner office. When you chose a career that is truly your passion, starting over will not be looked at as time wasted. Starting over is another opportunity to learn.  When you’re passionate about something, all you really want to do is learn more about it. If the idea of starting over is painful to think about, maybe it’s because the career you thought you enjoyed, is actually just a job in disguise.

Don’t let the fear of starting over stop you in your tracks. If you’re not moving forward, you’re going to get trampled over. I don’t define my success by my job title. Someday, I hope to get lost in my work and perfectly okay with watching the sun set from my desk.

WordPress vs. Tumblr

Thanks to this new invention called “The Internet”, I finally discovered tumblr. I wanted to pose a question to all of my fellow bloggers out there who have ever contemplated switching from wordpress to tumblr.

As of now, the short-term reality is that the majority of my post will be text based (articles, travel summaries, etc). However, long-term, I would like to incorporate more photos and videos as I become more comfortable utilizing certain tools. I don’t offer any products, nor do I have the “upgraded” version of wordpress that will allow me to upload videos directly to my site.

From the info that I’ve given you, would you suggest switching from wordpress to tumblr, staying put in wordpress or keeping both as a vessel for my wonderful content.

I appreciate your comments, tweets (@jnchang) and/or emails (rookierundown@gmail.com).

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