For this weeks PEN we talked to Beth Iley. Beth works for Temple Street Producitons as their Developer of Scripted Programming. Some of the shows that they produced are Being Erica, Recipe to Riches and Canada’s Next Top Model. Currently they are producing the hit show Orphan Black. Beth is incredible at her job and her insights and hard work have contributed to the success of Temple Street Productions. Enjoy.
If you love what you do then it won’t be work. Sure, this advice is cliché and flawed in some ways, but when your work comes home with you at night, you’ve got to care about more than just the paycheck. Baz Luhrmann famously said, “my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience”, which I think is beautifully articulated – and I don’t think I could say it any better myself. So I will begin dispensing this meandering experience here.
I’m a rookie in terms of tenure in the television industry. Having said that, in the three short years I’ve worked in it - I’ve already experienced a lot of change. Working in development means I get to collaborate with a lot of really talented writers and directors on their passion projects. Some of these we succeed in placing with broadcasters and get greenlit for audiences to see, however some never make it that far, which is always (and will continue to be) really heartbreaking.
Since I started in development at Temple Street (an indie production company based in Toronto), I’ve been fortunate enough to work on two script-to-screen success stories, both of which boldly broke the mold in their own unique ways on their respective channels. This was partly due to the creators’ visions for their projects, and partly due to our process. As producers we foster creativity and support artistic license. We don’t prescribe answers; we try and probe by asking the right questions.
Things change significantly from one development season to the next, and broadcasters constantly change their minds about what they want to air on their channels. Ultimately, some projects live and some die. That’s the nature of this industry; it shifts and evolves so quickly rapidly changing shape to fit newly prescribed ideas, platforms and technologies.
Netflix is a prime example of this phenomenon, just last month Ted Sarandos, Netlfix’s chief content officer, told the press “I have a deep respect for the fundamentals of television, the traditions of it even, but I don’t have any reverence for it”. While some seasoned professionals in the industry take this sentiment as a personal affront to what they do, and what they’ve done for some time; I think it’s important for the next generation of execs like myself to take it in stride and look for the opportunity it presents.
We’re living in the golden age of television. There’s such a large appetite for content; the marketplace is getting larger, and audiences are getting savvier. Audiences no longer need to miss out on episodes. The accessibility of on Demand programming and online streaming allows audiences to consume incredibly serialized, layered and complicated storytelling that challenges its viewers. This in and of itself has changed the nature of the game, and it makes our jobs more interesting.
The heart of it remains the same. Whether through broadcast, or emerging digital platforms – we are telling stories. They may be wrapped up in fancy, high-budget, long-arced packages, but they are still just stories.
Storytelling and nurturing creativity is my passion and it’s the reason I’ve chosen to work in this industry. Whatever your passion, let it guide you – be prepared to work hard for it, to fight for it and others will get behind it.
I’ve always been encouraged to let my passions guide me. The idea was instilled in me from a young age that if I loved what I did, then it wouldn’t be work. I never doubted the validity of this advice, but it wasn’t until I made my foray into the work world that I truly understood its importance.
Follow Beth on Twitter here: @quitewarm
Follow Temple Street Productions here: @TempleStreet
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