Our “So you want to be…” weekly series aims to help you in the process of choosing a career. We will be speaking to a practising professional to tell us about their field of work. This week, we speak to 27-year-old Karl Furlong who is a content producer for a daily youth show, Hectic Nine-9.
Live SA: In one line tell us what a content producer does?
Karl: I manage and direct the content written and filmed by the creative team, which includes scriptwriters and insert producers.
Live SA: What’s a typical work-day like for you?
Karl: In the morning, we start preparing for the live show later that day,finding relevant stories to include in our show. We make last-minute changes to the day’s live script. We usually have two or three brainstorm meetings between 10am and 4pm. These are meetings to plan the content for upcoming days, weeks and months. I also spend the day communicating with the creative team, who need approval on scripts, guests or ideas for location shoots. I constantly work together with the producer and line manager in managing other members of the team, including the presenters. Intermittently, I do writing and compiling of various reports and content plans during the day. I sometimes leave the office to complete these as they require more focus. At 4pm, we view the live show and take notes on what went well or needs improvement.
Live SA: How did you get to where you are today?
Karl: After studying advertising, I found a junior production assistant post at a production company called Octagon CSI on a new TV show called Hectic Nine-9. I decided to take it temporarily while I searched for a copywriting post. However, I soon grew to love live TV and decided it was a better fit for me. I then progressed to a scriptwriter, studio producer, online content producer and finally, content producer.
The first few roles helped me gain a good understanding of all areas of the production.
Live SA: What university/college courses do you think are key when pursuing this career, and why?
Karl: Any course related to the creative/media/film industry would be relevant. However, not all the members on our team have degrees, but they all share the passion and drive to succeed in this industry.
Live SA: What is the biggest challenge you face in your line of work?
Karl: I never considered myself a natural leader, but in my current role I manage a team of creatives and I also need to approve their work. This responsibility is a challenge, but one which has proved a great learning curve.
Live SA: How do you overcome this?
Karl: By establishing an open working relationship with everyone on the team. It’s also important to seek support and advice from your superiors as often as you can.
Live SA: Any professional highlights?
Karl: One of my personal highlights was representing HN9 at the Marketing To Kids And Teens Conference in Gauteng in 2013. Here, I got the opportunity to present to other industry professionals who work with a young target audience on how we have succeeded in communicating with our viewers. HN9 was also twice nominated for a South African Film and Television Award, both nods to the efforts our team puts in each day.
Live SA: What do you love about what you do?
Karl: Fundamentally, we have the incredible opportunity (and responsibility) to change the mindsets of young people and to inspire them to be better. This keeps me going and is a great reminder of why we are here.
Live SA: What are some of the misconceptions young people have about your job?
Karl: People assume that TV is entirely glamorous and fun. Aspects of it are but for the most part, this is a job: we have mandates to fulfill, deadlines to meet and higher powers to answer to.
Live SA: Is the money good?
Karl: There are many enjoyable, creative and exciting junior to mid-level roles out there, but they don’t pay especially well, specifically in Cape Town. It took me a good couple of years of working myself up through the ranks before I felt comfortable to move out on my own. However, with the right attitude and commitment, it’s quite possible to progress through many roles in a short space of time.
Live SA: Where do you see yourself going in your career?
Karl: I would like to work on a TV show in another genre besides kids/teens, as I believe it will offer its own set of challenges.
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