So You Want a TV Show Filmed In Your City? Here’s Some Good Advice

Irene Wong and Colleen Kelly, two television travel show producers who spoke at PRSA today.
Irene Wong and Colleen Kelly, two television travel show producers who spoke at PRSA today.

What does it take to get your destination on television? To answer this burning question here at PRSA, I attended a seminar with three television production company veterans, and they answered the question quite succinctly.

For Irene Wong, who runs a production house that makes shows for the Cooking Channel including Unique Sweets, and Man Fire Food, the answer is a character. There has to be someone who “lights up a room, the person who everybody wants to talk to.” Does that person have to have an ego? “Talent always has a big ego,” Irene answered.

But don’t share your best TV show ideas with Irene if you meet her. In fact she goes out of her way to ask you NOT to. Because of so many issues of creative license etc, there is nothing to gain for her to hear your brilliant TV pitch. Instead, she suggests you find that character and send her a short video of them in action. The networks, she explained, will find a way to build a show around a character, and nobody can accuse them of stealing if they do it that way.

Another question was posted to Colleen Kelly and Mindy Bianca who have their own shows. One was about how much it costs to have their companies come film in your state or city. It isn’t free, answered Colleen, since she is filming a PBS show, and even her NBC affiliate show there isn’t money in their budget to shoot for free. Usually an arrangement has to be made to pay for the crew and the many other expenses.

Mindy Bianca has some other interesting observations, such as that she dresses like a member of the park staff if she’s shooting in an amusement park. That’s because she doesn’t want to stand out in a crowd pan, and also in case they need her to stand in as the ticket taker or the ride operator. She also has advice for potential location scouts–watch her show before you ever try to pitch your location! She also suggests that you get the questions of how much it will cost out of the way first and foremost. And getting copies of previous episodes to show to some of the business leaders in your area might smooth the way to open up their wallets to pay for an episode to be filmed in your city.

Remember, re-runs are forever, and shows can appear many years after they are first shot–so it’s a great investment for any destination!