What is a Television Researcher?
A researcher can work on various film & television productions, including news & sports shows, documentaries, factual/lifestyle/reality programs, comedies and dramas. They can help with developing program ideas, researching possible content & guests, checking facts and preparing information/brief packets for writers, producers, directors and/or hosts.
Working as a researcher in Television can often times be a great stepping stone toward working as a Production Manager, Production Coordinator, Producer or even Director.
Skills for a Researcher:
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills
- Adaptability, stamina, enthusiasm, determination & perseverance
- Able to work well under pressure & meet deadlines
- Administrative & organizational skills
- Some IT skills, MAC & PC friendly
- Able to demonstrate a genuine interest in the work.
- Basic understanding of camera, editing, & storytelling
Researchers may often times work directly with a Producer, Director or Writers to aid in carrying out the further development and creation of ideas for a television show or a development department.
They help to identify important story information, characters & locations, research ideas, formats, concepts, talent etc. In some cases they may also produce original programming ideas and documents to be considered and/or expanded upon by their producers, a broadcaster or production companies.
Average Responsibilities Include:
- Researching and gathering relevant information on any number of subjects, people or ideas
- Organizing phone calls and/or meetings with the appropriate people
- Writing and editing packages of information for the production
- Conducting interviews via phone, email, skype, or on tape
- Briefing Hosts, Producers and/or Directors
- Writing documents, rough outlines and any other content deemed necessary
The work carried out by a researcher depends on the overall needs of the Production, Producer, Writers, PM, PC or Host. Depending on the size of the production, researchers may be doing solely in office research tasks, working on set, or scouting potential future locations or characters.
- Discussing research needs with producers, directors, designers,hosts or writers
- Generating, developing and/or producing new ideas
- Creating clear and concise information packets to be used by production or departments
- Researching by any means necessary; Internet, Cold Calls, Film, TV, News Papers, Libraries
- Judging Characters or Locations for incorporation into show.
- Administrative duties; typing, answering phones etc.
- Finding interviewees and conducting initial interview
- Producing and Directing a shoot and overseeing the edit
For a specific production, the job may involve organizing, planning and researching everything that will happen during the program.
During preliminary phone interviews, they can assess all sorts of things from the suitability of potential pieces of talent to a potential location. They often check availability and help to coordinate logistics with the Production Manager and/or Production Coordinator.They also might be required to determine location requirements or assess the suitability of a particular location.
All these pieces of information are often made into a research document accessible by all who might require said information.
- Who will be interviewed? Contact info?
- Where is the location located?
- How do we get there? Closest hospital?
- What is the power situation? Fuses? Breakers? Outlets? Amperage?
- What is the sound situation? Elevators? Loud Fridges? Computers? Noises?
- What is the lighting like? Is it controllable? Tungsten? Windows?
- Will the film crew fit? Where can we set up Video Village?
- Can we bring additional gear? Lights? etc.
- What is the space like? Dimensions? Any special/must know info?
- Washroom? Place for talent to change?
- Where can craft set up? Lunch?
Often times a researcher will compile dozens of documents filled with large amounts of information for each character, location or concept. These documents will be used by the rest of the production to aid in further communication, logistics and even aid in creating the call sheet when necessary.