July 2008 - Channel Crossing: Production

The Rollercoaster Ride of Direct Response Production!

By Kirk R. Gross

Once you pay the price of admission into the amusement park of direct response, it’s time to strap in, buckle up and expect your hair to become unmanageable. Basically, a 30-minute infomercial is like making a mini feature film. There are plenty of obstacles to overcome and challenges to conquer. Sometimes, the ride breaks down and everyone decides to leave and the experience becomes engrained as a negative adventure. But for the most part, with all the twists and turns, flying upside down, spinning and screaming and enduring the gut-wrenching action, there is a proud sense of accomplishment when all is said and done.

From a production point of view, the most important aspect of surviving the free fall of DR is having a solid team with which you can share the laughter and tears. If this tight-knit group can get along with each other and protect and serve the client’s best interests, then you have a pretty good shot at a successful production.

As a producer, I’m often torn between success and failure because the industry really views our work as a “what have you done for me lately” concept. So if a show fails financially, does that mean the producer and his team failed, as well? Not necessarily!

While you should always strive for total success, you will stay relatively sane if you keep your reality in check. Not every show can be a hit and not every client will love you. In baseball, if you get just three hits for every 10 at bats throughout your career, you’re in the hall of fame. In DR, if you have just one single major hit in your lifetime, you may not be rich, but you’ll always be known for your singular success. For some, that’s not enough and for others, that’s all they ever wished for. If you don’t have any industry success, then get on your knees and pray for a winning lottery ticket.

Finding just the right combination of people and talents to supervise and execute a complete production is certainly not easy. But it is possible. When you discover people who you can trust, who have your back covered and who will put in the extra effort for you during all those thrilling moments of ups and downs, do whatever you have to in order to keep them on the team. Make them laugh, thank them often and provide them whatever small tokens of appreciation you can offer.

Having the right team allows you to delegate and spread the work throughout the group and that gives you peace of mind to continue to do your best from project to project. When the ride occasionally stops, just know that no matter what happens, the dizziness, the vomiting or the ecstatic sensation of joy will all subside before the next adventure begins. Barring heart attacks or unforeseen natural disasters, you will survive to produce another day! Just make sure the carnies are experienced and know where the emergency shut-off switch is located.

Kirk R. Gross is executive creative producer of Reel Kreative Images Inc. in Orange County, Calif. He can be reached at (949) 587-9610, or via e-mail at [email protected].


No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment