Brandice Vivier reflects on day one of running our new NSI Lifestyle Series Producer course


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

Today [Monday, October 15] was the first day of the first NSI Lifestyle Series Producer training week and I must confess I’m a bit of a closet groupie this week. I’m a huge consumer of lifestyle television and this week I get to meet the people who make the shows I love. NSI Totally Television, one of the other programs I run, trains participants in the development of scripted television series. This program is such a departure from that. Being a part of the lifestyle course is a blast.

When designing the curriculum with Al Magee, day one was designed to explore the question ‘What is a series producer?’ We brought in a panel of network executives, a panel of executive producers and a panel of working series producers to help us answer that question. We got some pretty amazing answers. And I learnt a ton.

Tanya Linton, Leslie Merklinger, Ken MacDonald and Maria Farano gave us some pretty great insights into where lifestyle programming is headed and what the trends are. We talked about what they look for in a great series producer (collaboration, strong leadership and management skills, and excellent communication skills), the relationship between a network executive and a series producer, and of course, addressing network notes.

The executive panel session with Kit Redmond (RTR), Phil Hutchins (Primevista), Kim Bondi (Cineflix) and Bernard Periatambee (Frantic Films) was the most effusive of the day. They stressed the need to pick your battles, trust your gut, fight for your show and always have a plan B … and C.

Ann Francis, Katie Ruttan Daigle and Jennifer Scott, all experienced series producers, were extremely candid, honest and forthcoming about some of their greatest challenges and successes over the course of their careers. They spoke about the pitfalls of micro managing, not dealing with issues immediately, being reactive instead of pro-active and, of course, the dangers of not communicating effectively – with the broadcaster, the executive producer, the editors, the directors, the host/talent etc. We also spoke quite a bit about leadership and the importance of empowering your team to do the best job they can. Truly inspiring women.

I have one final thought to share before I sign off: I’m new to the lifestyle programming world and don’t have very many contacts (although my lifestyle rolodex is getting bigger now). I worried about how easy/hard it would be to book panelists/speakers for the sessions. I needn’t have worried. The industry has welcomed this program with open arms. If we ever had any doubts that this program was meeting a ‘market need’ for more series producers, the response I’ve received from the industry has put all those doubts to rest. The seven participants training to be series producers in this program are going to be watched by a lot of eager eyes!

And now it’s time for me to get some shut eye. Tomorrow is going to be another jam-packed day.

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