Week 8 - Money - 29th Oct - 1st Nov / by Darren Williams

We started this week with another trip to Broadcasting House home to the BBC Natural History Unit. The last time we had been at the BBC NHU we were a little overwhelmed and like rabbits in headlight as it was our first week on the course. That day was more of an introduction to the industry and life at the NHU, whereas today we where going to receive a master class in production management and how to make the money work. 

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Today was all about the key player in making wildlife productions...MONEY! We had previously learnt about where the money comes from to create wildlife films at the BBC, so today were were to learn how that money translated into the actual making production itself. The budgeting of a program falls to the production manager. Having been allocated a budget for a show or series, it is their job to get the absolute best value out of this money to allow the show producer to fill his/her editorial desires. For this to be done successfully it involves a close and honest working relationship between the production manager and the producer. So until the production gets the green light, hours, days and months of planning and discussions will take place to establish what the production manager can do to help achieve the editorial aspirations of the producer. We were shown examples of production schedules and budgets from Frozen Planet and the forthcoming Polar Bear Family and Me. It was a really great experience for our team to get a real life example of how the money is managed and how a production on the scale of Frozen Planet is managed. I personally think it was a truly vital experience for many members of our course. Mainly because very few of them have any business experience dealing with budgets and management. I believe it will hugely benefit a producer to understand this vital aspect of production and subsequently they will find working with the production management team far more cohesive. 

Better planning + honest close working relationships = INCREDIBLE PRODUCTION! See bellow for a fine example!

That afternoon we were all heading to the canteen for coffee and cake, and an introduction to our BBC mentors. Each member of the course has been assigned two mentors from the BBC NHU. The roles of our mentors are to help guide and advise to us as we progress through the course in particular having some input on our final projects. So it wont be until early next year until we really take advantage of this fantastic mentor relationship. 

Back to the class room on thursday to pitch our animation/wildlife collaboration story boards. We had been assigned a project 5 weeks earlier which was based on creating a short animation with an environmental theme. The main aims of the project were to learn how to collaborate with individuals from another creative discipline and use their skills along with our own to communicate a topic which is often quite difficult through live action alone. As the afternoon panned out, we realised that this was an incredible demonstration of how many different and diverse idea's can be produced from a small collection of minds. Due to the nature of animation being extremely time consuming, it is now in the hands of the animators themselves to decide whether to take these projects though to production. Having witnessed the quality of the collaborations and the storyboard idea's, it would be a real shame not to see them taken all the way!