The second module of TFP’s 3-week “Formats A-Z 2015” course recently concluded in Seoul, with a special focus on Formats in Production.

Once again, KOCCA invited 35 producers from the major Korean networks and prodcos for 4 days of lectures and workshops with top consultants from TFP, based the the Content Korea Lab on the prestigious Hongik University Campus.

wide shotTFP CEO & Partner Michel Rodrigue reviewed the first module, which focused on ideation and development.  Michel then introduced and explained the concept of ‘Carousel’ or turn-key production, and the value it offers in bringing foreign producers to shoot in your country, as well as the benefits of tourism promotion.

simon 1Award-winning ‘Show-Runner’ Simon Lythgoe shared his proven techniques for pitching new shows to the US market, from writing a “deck” (the US equivalent of a pitch document) to writing, directing and editing “sizzle tapes” that are clear, exciting – and affordable.

Studio Director Tony Gregory returned to present his ‘life-cycle’ of a multi-camera show.   Tony mapped out each element of a production, from Story to Traffic to Approvals and more, revealing the key questions a director should consider at the start of pre-production, and how they fit together to create a well-oiled machine.

tony 1Tony returned to the topic of ‘Story’ in his second presentation, where he explored the importance of having a strong narrative running through your format, and discussed different techniques for maximising the emotional responses inherent in that narrative or story.

pia 1Pia Marquard gave a case history of “Survivor” which she bought as a paper format in 1999 as head of Entertainment at Swedish TV. Pia shared the challenges of taking a big “social experiment” from paper to production, lessons learnt, techniques created that became industry tools, and adaptation in 45 countries.

Simon Lythgoe returned to give the case history of US dance reality format “So You Think You Can Dance”, of which he has produced 3 seasons for Fox. Pitched and launched at a time when there was no dance on US TV, Simon showed how developing the stories behind the dancers, and their routines, brought a niche area to a much wider audience.

In his final session, Tony Gregory introduced delegates to the growing field of Contingency Management – how to avoid major problems on a production and be ready for when the worst does happen. He gave concrete examples, from health & safety failures to unexpected audience action to technology breakdowns.

Simon Lythgoe returned to share his “Secrets of the US Production System” – from casting producers, field producers, story producers, co-producers, associate producers, post-producers to the Show-Runner who manages them. An award-winning Show Runner himself, Simon explained from the inside how it works – and when it doesn’t!

Pia Marquard returned to examine the pros and cons of casting ordinary people in reality shows, as they evolve from real to reality stars and from people into ‘characters’. From “Duck Dynasty” to “Honey Boo Boo” and “19 and Counting”, as well as Korean series “Jjak”. In her final session, Pia looked at the challenges of scheduling in the Digital Age. As traditional linear schedules are giving way to VOD and binge-viewing, how do broadcasters create appointments to view, and how does it affect the nature of the content itself.

paul 1Senior TV executive Paul Jackson analysed several global format hits, focusing on the ‘moments’ viewers talk about and never forget.  Paul shows how these ‘moments’ are not fortuitous, but rather how producers build the ‘bottle’ ready to capture that flash of lightning they hope will strike their show, from “Got Talent” to “Breaking Bad”.

TFP CEO & Partner Michel Rodrigue reported back on the Shanghai TV Festival, where he spoke on key panels including an examination of what makes a format travel, and a review of top Asian formats, where the panel considered what elements make each show a success and what the business can learn from them.   Michel shared his insights on these and other formats from Asia in 2015.

In The Anatomy of a Failure’ Paul Jackson examined what happens when a good pitch gets into production and the realities take over. Participants watched network shows including “Utopia” and “Rising Star” and tried to work out what went right – and wrong.  There have been many attempts to set out a list of specific rules that will enable even quite inexperienced producers to make big hit shows. Over a long career Paul has taken note of  types of behaviour that seem to lead to success, and in his last session he shared examples of good working practice.

michel interviewThroughout the week Michel Rodrigue revisited the learning to explore how it applied to Korea’s media landscape.  He concluded the week by inviting three participants on stage for an interview about their own experience in production, and how what they have learned relates to Korea.

Next module in September: The Exploitation of Formats.



“Best lectures here I ever heard. I’ve taken other training here in Korea but not the same. I wish our producers were here. Will bring my producers next time.”

“There are no workshops such as this available in Korea. Very pleased it covers everything in such details.”

“The failure cases were the best and most useful. I share the same opinions. If we do not go through the failures and success we won’t learn more successes.”

“Great to know about the street smarts what happens on site, success and failures.”

“This area is very profitable for student to venture into new jobs.”

“In Korea we sometimes produce programs without insights. Contingency plans were good, learning what to do when something goes wrong.”

“Lessons learned from Paul were really touching and are engraved in my memory because it came from his experience.”

“I learned good tips that are useful in terms of promotion. So many failures in sales. When we failed we looked for other stuff, but now looking back at the products and repackaging will give us another chance.”

“I produced Gogglebox from UK, made 6 episodes, but had difficulties to make it more appropriate for Korea. This workshop gave me a better idea to sell out products abroad and helped me understand the cultural differences.”

“Good consultation from Pia. She gave us questions and no one could answer them. We were really not prepared, now realise our mistakes. Very helpful to help us think about what we need to do in the future”.

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