Becoming a “director’s producer”

The best television news producers will tell you that they always try to build an excellent relationship with their directors.  Producers who realize that directors are more than “button punchers and camera callers” find their shows looking better and communicating content more effectively.

But what do directors want from their producers?  Jeffrey Blount is a veteran director for NBC News.  He’s directed everything from Nightly News to Meet the Press to the Gerald Ford funeral coverage.  He spoke to a group of students and faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University on October 10 about what makes a good producer from a director’s perpective.

“Someone who’s prepared and knows where he or she wants to go,” says Blount.  He says good producers “convey their plan to the director;”  they don’t just hand over a rundown and expect the director to know what they’re thinking.

Blount says producers need to “filter and focus” while they’re in the control room, handling all the developments from a live shot going down to adding a new piece of tape in the show,  and telling directors what they need to know when they need to know it.  

“Calm and purposeful management style makes a good producer,” Blount says.  “It’s a high pressure, high stress job and they have to have a thick skin.”

My takeaways?

  • Respect your directors’ editorial abilities and rely on their technical expertise to produce better shows.
  • No screamers, please!  It can be tough in there, but yelling louder than everyone else in the control room does not make you a good producer.

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