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Re: Seven Rules for Making a Science Documentary
On Sun, 19 Feb 2006 07:33:53 -0800 "Kent A. Stevens"
> The Calculus of Science Documentaries
> Regarding the production of science documentaries, it's all about
> making money, remember. Producers decide on matters of content
> (e.g., dinosaurs) and delivery vehicle (e.g., Nigel Marvin) as
> business/marketing issues.
> Science documentary producers try to maximize profit (ROI, or Return
> on Investment) derived from some carefully-targeted set V of viewer.
> It takes financial investment to create a program. Producers do not
> merely try to maximize |V| i.e., the size of set V. They also tune
> their product (the documentary) to target a particular demographic.
> They seek an audience that is both large AND willing to spend their
> money on the products of their sponsors.
Ergo, the thesis that viewer-sponsored television (aka,
"demographic-specific sponsorship") (aka, PBS) provides a better, more
sophisticated product than does the programming designed for
commercial-advertised networks. NOVA programs would never "have feet" on
any of the 4 big commercial networks (it wouldn't even be considered).
> I have found that most (but not all) producers
> are open and explicit that their game is to
> maximize ROI. While the sound guy
> threads the lapel microphone inside my
> shirt, I've been reminded to
> keep it simple, not use big words, and always look excited and
> dramatic. "Give the viewer no reason to go to the refrigerator" was
> a recent admonishment.
for some insight into the mind of NOVA executive producer Paula Apsell.
BTW, it will be a sad day when her mark on that sci-documentary series is
lost. NOVA will undoubtedly change after she leaves, and I fear that the
only direction that change will take will be downward.