Producing Shows at Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Without access to the Midpen Media studio during shelter in place, our intrepid producers have continued making valuable, informative, and educational media content from their homes. The “Sports Sitdown” cast of commentators made their NFL draft picks in a four-square split-screen layout. The Peninsula Peace and Justice Center produced a special virtual climate rally show released in April that showcases the art, music, and messages of youth fighting global warming. Longtime studio show “Talking With Henrietta” has also made the transition to producing shows remotely with episodes focusing on the 2020 census and physical and emotional well-being during the pandemic. Host and producer Henrietta Burroughs talked with us about what it’s like transitioning from producing in the studio to making TV at home.

Why is it important for you to continue producing “Talking With Henrietta” during this time?

My show gives viewers useful information and now with the coronavirus affecting all of us in one way or another, having accurate information is more important than ever. My talk show is designed to focus on the issues that affect us and to feature guests who can define the issues and break them down into manageable parts. I like to leave viewers with tools they can use and steps they can take to effectively address the issues confronting them. To me, this means enabling the show’s viewers to use the information they’ve learned to make informed decisions that can better their lives. The issues around us don’t stop happening, so why should the show stop?

How is producing a virtual show most different from filming in the studio?

For me, everything presents an opportunity for learning. In the studio, I basically concern myself with very specific aspects of the show like the script, the guests, the flow of the discussion, and the design and look of the set. The studio crew is concerned with the technical aspects of the show. With a virtual show and the shelter in place orders, I’m responsible for everything. Doing a show in the studio is in some ways easier, because the responsibility for the show is a shared one.

What challenges did you overcome in preparing to shoot the show at home? 

I had to learn about the proper equipment that I needed and how to set it up. For example, it was necessary to learn about studio lighting and bring the principles of studio lighting into my home setup. The same holds true for recording good quality audio. Since I like to learn, the whole process has been challenging, but fun.

How do you feel about the finished product?

I’m relatively pleased with the finished product, considering that I started out knowing very little about producing a show at home and online. The more I do it, the better the virtual show will be. Like anything else, it’s been a process. I’m enjoying the journey and feel appreciative of the opportunity that I have to produce a show that gives something meaningful to the viewers.

I also appreciate the fact that I get to work with a top-notch editor, Toni Gooch, who puts all of the separate show elements (the opening, the show discussion, the titles, the music, my on-camera close, and the credits) that I send her together into a recognizable Talking with Henrietta show!