“Wow, lucky you. I want your job,” said every second human to someone working in the entertainment industry.
If you’ve found yourself at the receiving end of this statement, you’re gonna relate to this post like no other, if you’re the other person in this conversation; you all the more need to read it till the end to understand what I mean when I say working in entertainment is not entertaining.
To make sure this post doesn’t sound like a vague reflection; let me define what I mean by a job in the entertainment sector.
Any job in the pre-post or production of a show, series, movies etc created with the purpose of entertainment, publishing, broadcasting, entertainment journalism and more (I’m sure there are many others, I hope you get the idea now) comes under the umbrella of an entertainment industry circuit.
Now let’s address the elephant in the room, why working for entertainment is not entertaining, read on…
Back in college, I was always fascinated with lifestyle journalism on TV. Anchors and hosts putting their best outfits and makeup were seen on-screen hopping around town and sometimes wandering around the world as a part of their job. I often fathomed how cool their lives must be!
But soon after, my ideal job bubble burst when I started interning with a leading news and lifestyle TV channel. I realised that it wasn’t such a great spot to be in, the anchors sometimes had to change outfits at lightning speed, while they continued to fake a smile for the camera. And of course, the interesting background was nothing but a chroma screen.(green background)
Exhausted and overdressed as they looked for an office setup; just when they would think the shoot was over and the makeup was off their faces would begin the tougher aspect: Editing. No, they didn’t self-edit their videos, but they spent a considerable amount at the editing bay ensuring the story board was in place.
I particularly built a rapport with an entertainment anchor who alongside hosted a bi-weekly midnight news segment and had been in the industry for about 8 years back then. As the 18-year-old me ran around, and sat idle on a lot of occasions; I remember what she often said, “You have an option at this age, I wouldn’t recommend this industry to anyone, take up a regular corporate job and live a normal life instead.” The emphasis on ‘normal’ always too strong!
I could see why those were her pearls of wisdom to every intern. Because though her show was entertaining and seemed like a fun segment to shoot, her job was anything but close to exciting.
My time at this TV channel also helped me understand the not so obvious. As viewers, we presume that a journalist pursuing a softer beat (i.e-lifestyle,entertainment, travel etc) would have a less heavy day or a hectic schedule than someone from the hard news sector (i.e-business, civil news, crime etc)
Well, turns out it’s the other way round. Am I suggesting that working in the hard news sector or ‘serious journalism’ as some may term it is easy? Well no! It has its own struggles and issues but the softer sector sometimes demands more effort and time because these are professionals striving hard to make viewers forget about a tiring day and entertain them.
As a matter of fact, I’ve witnessed business journalists spending lesser time at work than entertainment journalists.
Given that I studied mass media, I often had the opportunity to visit a couple of TV sets on their shoot. Two popular reality show shoots are still fresh in my memory; 1. Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa and 2. Comedy Nights With Kapil (The show that earlier aired on Colors).
Let me start with Jhalak Dikhla Jaa, the 17 -year-old me back then was surprised to learn that there was a concept of an ‘audience manager.’ He first picked the ‘best dressed’ women from the audience, seated them right in the front and instructed them to constantly applaude and smile, this went on for about 15 minutes; now that they had recorded ‘happy audience’ shots, the front row was vacated and those shots for used for the rest of show.
As for us, sitting on the three tier couches next to the contestants, who would be seen in glimpses on the show were constantly reminded, “Taaliyaan Bhajti rehni chahiye.” (The applauses must go on.) And just like that from 10 am to 3pm, went on the shoot for the first half of the show. Exhausted by the end of it, I thought to myself, “Being the audience on the show itself is exhausting, forget alone being a part of the cast and crew.”
If you ask me for the cast and crew, their call sheet must look lengthy given the number of people involved. In case you’re wondering what a call sheet is, here you go:
Since its a dance reality show, you see cameramen running around the most to get the best angles. And the hosts may look like they’re easy breezy and simply goofing around, they’re the first ones to start shooting before the contestants or judges even arrive!
The shoot hour gets extended if there’s a guest on the show. You often see them making a ‘dhamakedar entry’ (grand entry) at least that’s how they promote episodes, but turns out the entry sometimes takes a little too many retakes. After a point, the entry is neither dhamakedar nor grand to ones present on sets.
A year later, I found myself on the sets of Comedy Nights with Kapil and it was only more surprising! Why? Read on…
We arrived at Flimcity around 1.30 pm only to learn the shoot was to start at 3.30 pm, we wandered around and an odd batch of 30 students that we were dumped our bags and phones in a car because they weren’t permitted inside. The security frisked us as though we were crossing a border here, but at last, we did make it to the sets.
We sat in the row right behind Mr.Sidhu and the girls sitting exactly behind him shared that they were a part of the crew and their job was to be seated there for the rest of the show. Before the shoot was supposed to start (that day it started at 5 pm), they shared that by the time the shoot for an entire episode gets completed, it’s near dawn.
And it’s both, amusing and commendable to share with you the number of tasks the production accomplished from 3.30-5.30pm. They first inquired from the audience as to who would like to ask questions to the guests for the day. The volunteers from the audience were then ‘given’ chits with a question written on it, not to forget they strategically scattered the audience in different sections, ensuring they all weren’t accumulated in one section only.
Yet again among the volunteers were permanent members of the crew who present to pose a question or cue an interesting remark at the guest.
So far so good, the highlight of the shoot was what I call the impromptu dance audition, however, this one was for the worst. They played Jab Tu Lagavelu Lipastic and the worst best(there isn’t a better a description) were picked to pose their interest in “Wanting to dance with the guest.”
We were both amused and amazed by the pace with which finally picked up at set flight. Once the camera rolled at 5 minutes post 5.30 pm, there were little and mostly no retakes, by 10.30 pm it was a wrap for the first half of the shoot (guest interaction with a fuller audience)
That’s the insight I gathered during my set visits, I later worked as an entertainment journalist for quite some time, what were the insights from that experience? Well, that’s a story for another day 😉
P.S: A huge shoutout to everyone working in the entertainment industry, you guys are amazing. If you know someone working in this industry, learn to respect their job 🙂