Clarity, authenticity and Lynn Crawford love: it’s day 2 of NSI Lifestyle Series Producer bootcamp


NSI program manager Brandice Vivier is keeping us up to date on the NSI Lifestyle Series Producer bootcamp taking place in Toronto this week. Read about day one.

We got down to brass tacks today thanks to the force of nature that is Daniel Gelfant.

Daniel put the NSI Lifestyle Series Producer students on the spot and asked them why they are here. In this course. What’s their big leap? What’s the most challenging for them? And he didn’t allow any vague answers. What we heard was that almost everyone in the room wants to improve their creative development skills. So Daniel set about helping them do just that.

We watched an episode of his series Pitchin’ In and used that as the basis for a conversation about the show premise, core values and how every episode has to have a clear storyline with authentic motivation – the importance of articulating this as clearly and simply as possible to everyone on the show. Everything becomes subjective when the premise isn’t clear. Decisions are no longer being made based on the needs of the show because ‘What the show is’ isn’t clear. What was clear was Daniel’s love and affection for Pitchin In show host Lynn Crawford. He spoke a lot about their relationship and the importance of a series producer loving their host.

It was a whirlwind of a conversation that was completely and utterly engaging.

We continued the conversation thread about how best to support your host for the remainder of the day.

In addition to giving us their tips for nurturing talent, Connie Contardi and Jocelyn Mercer, the creators of SugarStars told us what they feel are the necessary ingredients for an entertaining lifestyle show: a great character with the ‘it’ factor who has a tangible skill that’s interesting and their world, their hub, and the dynamics between them and the people who surround them.

Their energy and obvious love for what they do was infectious.

We got some valuable and insightful advice from Jennifer Dyck – producer extraordinaire – about working with and supporting your host. Jennifer has worked with almost all the current HGTV hosts and has recently come off Canada’s Handyman Challenge. A lot of her advice sounds exceedingly simple and obvious: respect your host’s knowledge; be on set every day to greet them; and listen to their concerns. Like I said, it sounds obvious but in the hustle and bustle of a busy set these common courtesies can be forgotten.

Jennifer’s biggest piece of advice was to play to your hosts strengths and earn their trust. They need to know you have their back. Make them look good. Can you imagine having to be on camera when you’re having an off day, or you’re tired, or you have a headache? I sure can’t. It’s hard enough getting through that kind of a day without having a camera following you around. Gives you a whole new respect for hosts when you think of it in those terms.

Which leads me to our last guest of the day – Drew Scott of Property Brothers.

I don’t think we could have lucked out with a more perfect guest for our final session. Drew talked about his relationship with his series producer (Christle Leonard), the production company behind Property Brothers (Cineflix) and the networks currently airing his and his brother’s two series (W in Canada and HGTV US). He talked about the importance of authenticity when dealing with product integration (yet another theme of the week). He talked about the delicate balance he and Jonathan have to strike with the home owners (‘real people’) to ensure there are entertaining and dramatic moments in the series. And, back to the topic of managing talent, he talked about his needs as a host on set. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. He’s a bundle of energy.

We talked about a ton of things today but what sticks with me most is the need for clarity and authenticity and how this applies to all aspects of your life. Not just the television series.

As an aside – I laughed so hard I cried when watching Pitchin’ In today. What a fantastic show. Lynn Crawford rocks.