Producer FAQ




What is the difference between a producer and a crew person?
Who is eligible to use the Media Center facilities?
How do I find others to work on programs with?
What are the most appropriate classes to take?
How do I reserve equipment and facilities?
How do I find a crew or others of like interest?
What is the volunteer option?
What paperwork do I have to complete?
What could lose me my access privileges?
What are my liabilities?
How do I schedule a program?
How do I publicize my show?
Can I distribute or sell my programs made at the Media Center?
Who watches The Media Center? How many?
Can we get money for our programs? Underwriters?
What about getting money for our time?
How can I help the Media Center survive and be effective?
Does the Media Center have a production staff to cover a story I suggest?

 

What is the difference between a producer and a crew person?
A Producer is one who makes the decisions about what a program looks like, who will be interviewed, who will be on the crew, how to publicize, etc.

A Crew Person is one who operates video equipment on behalf of a Producer and a specific program. All Crew Persons who operate Media Center equipment are expected to have completed an appropriate production class BEFORE participating on the crew.

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Who is eligible to use the Media Center facilities?
You must live or work at least 20 hrs p/wk within the Media Center service area to produce a program using the Media Center facilities. You may produce a program for an agency within our service area or in many cases for an agency that serves our area – even if you don’t live or work in the service area.

Anyone, regardless of where you live or work, may take classes at the Media Center

Anyone may also be a Crew Person after receiving certified training.

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How do I find others to work on programs with?
When you come to the Media Center with an idea – something you want to present over our channels, you are a Producer. When you come to the Media Center because you want to learn about video production, or you want to help others get their presentations out over the air, then you are a Crew Person.

It takes both Producers and Crew Persons to make the Media Center a reality.

If you have gone through a studio class at the Media Center and you want to volunteer on productions, we strongly encourage you to do one or more of the following:

    1. Be sure to note on your “class evaluation” form that you are available to volunteer and willing to get calls from producers
    2. Find out from the Media Center staff if there are ongoing studio crews you can join. Then call up the appropriate producer.
    3. Join the Midpen Media Center Yahoo Group found here: Yahoo Group

If you have gone through field production or editing classes and you want to volunteer on productions, try to do one or more of the following:

    1. Look on the bulletin board for notices from Producers who are looking for videographers and editors to help them.
    2. Look through our lists of other field production graduates and their interests to see if you find a match or someone you know.
    3. Offer your help to others on the list or in your class in exchange for help with your project.

If you have an idea for a program that you want to produce, then take some of the following steps:

    1. Fill out a Program Proposal and schedule a meeting with the Media Center staff.
    2. See if you can find friends of yours to take the Media Center classes and become crew.
    3. Ask the Media Center staff for leads on who might be a good match.
    4. Come volunteer for other Media Center shows to network with others who might share the same interests. (Many great ideas never see the light of day because the job is too big for one person.)

For additional information on Volunteer opportunities, please check out the Volunteering Section of our site.

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What are the most appropriate classes to take?
There are two common paths to choose from.

If you intend to gather your guests together for a discussion or performance, then the studio may offer you the most advantages in terms of multiple, high-end cameras, lighting and sound. Take the Basic Studio class.

If you intend to do a documentary or teletheatre type video – shooting interviews and visuals in the field to be edited subsequently, then take the Basic Field Production class followed by an Editing class.

If you intend to videotape a performance or a forum in the community, take the Basic Field Production class.

Find out more about what’s offered on our Classes page.

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How do I reserve equipment and facilities?
You must be a Current Producer with paperwork on file to reserve equipment.

To reserve a field production equipment package (camera etc.), call our Equipment Monitor at

650-494-8686 x13. His hours are from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday but you can leave a message anytime. If you leave a message, don’t expect the equipment is available until you receive a confirmation call back.

To reserve editing time, dub rack time, or a single studio production slot:

call our Office Manager at 650-494-8686 x10.

To reserve a monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly studio slot you must:

      1. Notify our Office Manager at 650-494-8686 x10 that you want to be part of the next round of studio scheduling.
        Studio Request forms are sent out three times a year. The studio is scheduled out in three trimesters for producers who want ongoing time slots.
      2. Call our Executive Director at 650-494-8686 x17 to set up an initial meeting if you have not produced a show here before.

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How do I find a crew or others of like interest?

    1. You can recruit from our list of the Media Center studio grads. The cost of using the studio with your own recruits is $75. Usually the producer brings food for the volunteer crew to eat in our “Gold Room” before or after the production. You can also arrange for a studio production workshop if you have at least seven friends who are willing to become the crew for your program.
    2. The Media Center has lists of field production (“Zoom In”) and editing workshop graduates that you can use to find volunteers to help in producing your program. Contact Becky@midpenmedia.org.
    3. The Media Center maintains a listserv where producers and crew can connect with each other. Contact Becky@midpenmedia.org to join the listserv.
    4. Attend future Media Center producer mixers.

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What is the volunteer option?
We have fees for classes and equipment use. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. If the fee is a financial hardship, producers may apply for a partial or complete scholarship.

Check out our Volunteer Options.

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What paperwork do I have to complete?
You must sign a Producer Agreement Form and fill out a Program Proposal form before you can begin to use the Media Center equipment to produce a program.

When you finish your program you must fill out a Program Playback Form in order to have it played on the cable channels and web streams.

If you are bringing in footage that was produced elsewhere, for playback on the Media Center, you must submit a program playback form.

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What could lose me my access privileges?
Access privileges may be lost if a producer is under the influence of drugs or alcohol; disruptive or abusive on the Media Center premises; acts carelessly with the Media Center equipment; or carries a gun on the Media Center premises unless doing so in an official capacity as an officer of the law.

Regarding equipment reservations and facility use, there are several things that will result in a warning: failure to show up to pick up equipment or to use the edit suite, returning equipment late, or showing up late to use the studio. If it happens a second time, the producer will lose his/her access privileges for a specified amount of time.

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What are my liabilities?
The person who signs out equipment will be charged for any piece that is not returned. We usually assume any breakage is a result of wear and tear unless abuse is obvious (i.e. camera is full of sand grains), in which case repair or replacement charges will be directed to the borrower.

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How do I schedule a program?
The Media Center schedule is done two weeks prior to the new month. If you should complete your program at the beginning of the month but didn’t make arrangements to have it aired, it won’t air until the next month (unless there are TBA’s in the current month.) The Media Center does not like to schedule programs that have not been completed. If your program is timely and you’re confident that it will be done before the air time, then we can make an exception. You must contact the Director of Programming in order to receive this exception.

All programs must be turned in with a Program Playback Form, including a short description of your program. This description will be used for the Media Center monthly schedule and the local newspaper’s TV listings. Please keep your description to no more than three to four sentences. Once you’ve turned in your playback request form, you’ll receive your airdates and times.

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How do I publicize my show?
Send a press release to the local newspapers. Your press release should include the basic information: who, what, where, and when. If appropriate, you should include a photo. We have contact information for the local newspapers.

If your program is connected to an organization (i.e. American Red Cross, Dog Lovers of America, etc.) or might be of interest to a particular group, have your program information included in their newsletter, their website, and e-mail notices.

Use your own social media pages and post on Facebook pages of organizations whose members would be interested.

Create an eye-catching flyer about your program and post them wherever it is legal. Leave them at grocery stores, libraries, churches, schools, local bulletin boards, book stores, etc.

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Can I distribute or sell my programs made at the Media Center?
You may distribute your program or your raw footage anywhere as long as you do not sell the material. You may charge people the cost you incurred for copying and sending the program. Should you wish to sell your program for a profit, please speak to the Executive Director and you can enter into a separate contract with the Media Center.

The Media Center has the right to play your show whenever it wishes or to send it over to other Access channels. You may remove your master file from the Media Center premises if you pay for a copy to be made on the same format. The Media Center will also make any copies you need (at the normal cost) or you may authorize the Media Center to make copies for your guests (at the normal cost).

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Who watches the Media Center? How many?
There are between 25,000-30,000 households with cable in our service area. Surveys in other communities indicate about a 1% share of viewers at any given time. However, we do not pay for Nielsen or Arbitron ratings that would provide more specifics.

A program like the Grace Lutheran Church Service has a different intended audience than “Parent Talk.” Community TV is most effective for Producers who have a targeted audience that they can notify before the program is cablecast. So much depends upon your publicity efforts.

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Can we get money for our programs? Underwriters??
Yes, you can get underwriting for your production costs. These costs include your equipment usage, your set, publicity materials, and possibly other things that you have to spend money on. Some producers get in-kind donations like flowers, or the use of a piano, or furniture for their shows.

You can thank your underwriters verbally and in your credits. You can even show their logo or a video shot of their business from the outside. You must not mention any product prices, product descriptions, upcoming sales, etc. Do not give out their phone number, but you may mention their address. Do not let an underwriter credit go longer than 10 seconds.

Always be very very clear to prospective underwriters that you are not an employee of the Media Center or Channels 27,28, 30, or 75 and that you are a citizen-producer, producing your programs on a voluntary basis.

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What about getting money for our time?
You cannot look for money to cover your own time as a producer, or the time of people who do camera or editing for you. You can only receive funds for your production time if:

    1. You have received a grant from a government agency or a private foundation.
    2. You are a staffperson (not a contractor) of a non-profit agency for which you are producing a tape during your work hours or
    3. You have become a Media Center contractor and the Media Center is producing a show for which you’ve been selected as producer, editor, or crew.

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How can I help the Media Center survive and be effective?
Come take our classes and volunteer!  The volunteers are what makes the studio possible.  Also, tell your friends and family about the Media Center.  We are here to serve the local community, and the more people who are involved, the better we can represent our community.

Does the Media Center have a production staff to cover a story I suggest?
The Midpen Media Center has a Pro Services Division that can provide you with an estimate should you wish to hire us to produce something for you. Here is the Pro Services web site.

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