TV Producer: Art and Mastery

Issue #3 • 1063

Television, as a product of the age of technology and an intellectual medium, holds a special place in the global cultural and information space due to complexity of broadcasting industry. Exciting big consumer interest, engaging people in the process of observation, empathy and analysis of reality, and shaping man’s moral, aesthetic, civic and ideological principles, it has become an integral part of contemporary lifestyle and an important element of socio-cultural life in the second half of the 20th and the early 21st century.

Always in contact with the audience, television, besides communicating information, performs art-related functions of creating and broadcasting non-documentary images and works of art born as part of a TV-making process or broadcast live or recorded; as well as of promoting universal human values and national traditions.

The process of making non-documentary programs and features engages teams comprising a number of professionals responsible for a particular area of work until it is completed and submitted to the art director.

The easiest in terms of technology and production is to present ready-made material (drama, feature film, popular music or circus show, ballet and opera, concerts of symphony, chamber and choral music, etc.), which is also the job of the teams responsible for technical supervision and directing its broadcast on TV.

Much greater effort is required to produce television reports and programs on culture and arts, as well as live theme-specific broadcasts involving presenter-anchors and a large number of guests. Producing a television play or a film based on author’s original script or literary source requires not only great physical and emotional effort, but also big input of time and resources.

Whatever the TV genre (mass communication, entertainment and leisure, or adapted fiction), the key role belongs to director as producer and manager who coordinates all units performing a particular task. His duties include producing information and documentary programs and productions based on literary works, screen adaptation, providing for the dubbing, giving guidance to set-designers, cameramen, lighting technicians, sound engineers, make-up artists, costumers and soundtrack engineers, as well as working with presenters, lead actors and extras.

New technologies – the attainment of time – have enriched television with all kinds of graphic devices, such as colour, texture, and 3D solutions, thus lending tempo, rhythm and pace to the action, and enhancing associative, symbolic, metaphorical elements. Have they facilitated the job of a TV producer who is to work with primary material, such as text, performers, mise-en-scene, and the entire range of production and performing techniques, until the ultimate goal is reached? Even if they haven’t, still they made the material more vivid, prominent, entertaining and dynamic, thus helping the viewer to get richer emotional impression, which is quite important.

How important is a spoken word for the producer’s work? Has it not lost its value in the innovative intricacies of the television aspiring for high technology? Observations show that spoken word has been and remains the primary means to structure a dialogue with the audience – the target of all creative efforts of the TV people. Word is key to all genres and forms of non-documentary broadcasting; it animates, personifies and identifies an audiovisual image.

Any equipment is just some technical gadgets that acquire artistic and semantic content through the word as a means of expression working to reveal the main idea (in musical drama genres it is word and music; in drama it is word and action; in a stand-up show it is word and body language, facial expression and tricks; in ballet it is plastic language and non-verbal expression). Producer’s job is to expose emotions, experience, character, idea and insights suggested by the text. How he achieves this is a matter of skill, as well as of engaging, besides dramatic art, all expressive devices of intoning, all the richness of human voice – its timbre, tone, articulation, pitch, breathing, pronunciation, and the ability to rightly place accents and pauses, and to structure a “score” of a living expression.

For contemporary man, non-documentary television that is virtual by definition is an everyday reality that influences his verbal, emotional, ethical and moral culture; it contributes to the evolution of his basic values and artistic taste. How this process is influenced by a TV producer who prepares the material to be aired and makes it act, talk and sound by literally breathing life into it, is obvious.

Technology enriches visual resources available to television, expands the boundaries of its expressive capacity, and does help the producer; yet it can never replace him, as every unit has its own functions to perform. It is the producer who maintains direct contact with the rest of the team. The form, ideological and semantic interpretation of the material, and, to a large extent, the final result – all depend on him.

In the current TV practice, with its extensive audience coverage and comprehensive generic span, once can observe a certain decline in the intellectual and professional quality of non-documentary programs. Preoccupied mostly with external effects and replication of programs designed for the less sophisticated user, the industry appears to be loosing interest in content- and expression-related aspects of the creative process.

We start seeing less literary classics – either national or translated, which represents a sublimation of human spiritual experience from different historical periods. Nowadays, on television one can rarely see a classical ballet, classical opera, musical, the finest specimens of Uzbek musical drama, choral or ensemble performances, or children’s musical art, provided with live and emotional commentary of experts.

It has been a long time since we saw the performance of outstanding national artists, now passed away, such as Mulla Tuichi Tashmuhamedov, Jurahon Sultanov, Mamurjon Uzakov, Usto Alim Muhiddin Kari-Yakubov, Karim Zakirov, Halima Nasyrova, and Mukarrama Turgunbayeva, or renowned conductors, instrumentalists, and performers of Uzbek theatre, cinema, and circus. Abandoning old values, television fails to offer new ones or develop experience gained over recent years. Free air time is largely filled with mass culture content (talk shows, reality shows, sitcoms of questionable quality, and the like), which level the taste and producer’s tasks.

As mass medium that makes TV images easy and comfortable to perceive, television is now guided by the consumer majority and the simplest form of communication, which is not conducive to creating contacts among entities involved in the process on a serious spiritual and intellectual level.

As everyone knows, economic viability of a TV program is determined by its rating (the size of a TV audience as a percentage of its total number, or in absolute terms). In non-documentary broadcasting, keeping ratings high depends on responsiveness, talent and professionalism of the producer and the entire team. Specifically, making TV productions based on literature requires the ability to recreate the artistic fabric of the text in the new environment in such a way that can captivate the audience by truthfulness and mastery, despite the constraints of the format and rigid production timeline.

Analysis of non-documentary TV programs prompts a reflection on the quality of training provided to young professionals at culture and art schools; this training requires new approaches based on modern methodology of TV production used worldwide. In this regard, another relevant issue is professional development of practicing directors and producers, with the view of their mastering professional techniques and methods, as well as developing modern concepts that help implement director’s idea; in the techno age, this is something that a non-documentary television cannot be imagined without.

This problem area includes a wide range of questions aimed at resolving contradictions between the non-documentary program format, the logic of commercial broadcasting, and the value of the producer’s job, which is to bring together all available resources and the whole range of traditional and innovative means of the television in order to get valuable and accomplished artistic result.

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