Film and television producers supervise and control the creation and public presentation of work for the big and small screen. They are the genies behind the scenes. Whether working in the fast-paced, dynamic environment of a TV newsroom or on the set of a romantic period movie, the producer's role is pivotal in getting the team's work to air.
Natalie Schenken, 33, is a television producer for Channel 7 News. When she's not hooked up to a continuous live news drip, she's working out in the gym, planning her next overseas holiday or chilling out with friends.
A TV producer (news) manages every aspect of putting a daily news bulletin together and on air, often updating the bulletin with breaking news as it is live.
A strong background in journalism is the biggest prerequisite for a news television producer. You have to be a news junkie and on top of things happening not just in your own backyard but also across the state, around Australia and internationally, because we cover everything. Excellent writing skills are very important – being clear, concise, accurate and balanced – and the ability to keep a cool head under pressure.
I pestered the news director. It's what you have to do – they want people who are passionate. I would ring up every month or so and ask if there were any jobs coming up. I'd update them with when I'd won an award or broken some news that went national. Anything to give me an edge.
No one day is ever the same. There's a buzz and excitement working in that live television environment that's like nothing else. I love the teamwork and telling a great story. And even though the deadline's your worst enemy, at the end of the day the news is on and you can breathe a sigh of relief.
The hours can be long; 11-hour days are not uncommon. It can be hard to switch off. I'm Twitter-obsessed and will wake up in the middle of the night to check my Twitter-feed. I follow anything where I might pick up a scoop. Sometimes you have to go, OK, now I am going to switch my phone off for two hours.
To get into television generally I'd say you need persistence. Do an internship while you are still studying your media or film & television course and just keep contacting key people in the industry for feedback and potential job opportunities. I was looking for at least six months before I got the Channel 7 role. A lot of it comes down to being in the right place at the right time and being what they're looking for. They might have a desk full of men and want a woman's voice; they might have a lot of senior people and want someone younger. You can never take it to heart if you don't get the job. You just have to keep knocking on doors. The Screen Producers Association of Australia has a great guide for getting started in the industry including mentorship and work experience opportunities.
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