Producing : Making it as a Documentary Producer at a local PBS station by Jill A. Hargrave

Jill A. Hargrave

Making it as a Documentary Producer at a local PBS station

Karen asked me to post my experience of producing documentaries for a local PBS station. I joined NJN Public Television back in 1988. I had worked with the Executive Director of the NJN Doc Unit back in 1979 for WCBS's "Eye On New York," before documentaries went into decline because "60 Minutes" and magazine format became the vogue and the powers that be at the time didn't think documentarians could also be segment producers. Wrong! But that's another story. I headed West to CA and my friend got a staff position at NJN News, New Jersey's PBS station. In CA, I was script supervisor to a daytime show, "Fantasy," but didn't major in journalism to work in entertainment so I got a job as a corporate video producer for AST Research. I headed back east to NYC in 1986 where I worked as a newswriter for ABC-NewsOne. My friend called me and offered me a staff position at NJN and I jumped at the chance (we had kept in touch over the years. It's called Networking). After three years at NJN, a mini-recession hit and I was layed off in 1993, but for years, I continued to work for NJN as an independent producer. The one thing it taught me was that I had to wear all the hats. I had to fundraise, research a topic, conduct interviews with my camera crew on location, transcribe the tapes (sometimes an intern would help with this tedious job), write the script, edit the program (first on linear and then on Avid), and finally go into post and have a post-production editor put on the bells and whistles and make it ready for air. Anyone looking to produce for PBS as a freelancer needs to know how to find the funds first through grants. PBS will provide the airwaves if they accept your documentary, but they don't pay for it so you need corporate and/or family foundations, government grants and individuals to provide the funds for you to produce it. Hence, the before and after tag line "This program is made possible by..."

Tasha Lewis

Thank you for sharing! Here are some resources for documentaries., ,, , ,, and .

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