Post Production Tips: The Secret Sauce of Brian Skope


Post Production Tips: The Secret Sauce of Showrunner / Director, Brian Skope 

By Jessie Pickworth


When something tastes good you ask for the recipe. And when a television show works, you should ask for the same thing. Especially when the person who made it is veteran docuseries EP and Showrunner, Brian Skope. He built a solid career in documentary television, and is now Co-Founder of Whiz Bang, a production company that creates documentary/reality series for your favorite television networks as well as branded content for major consumer product corporations, esports industry leaders, and top social media influencers. 

Recently, I asked him about his post-production process and what he thinks are the keys to his success… 

Me: Brian, you have made a variety of television and digital content for everything from bearded men in the wild to competition shows to e-sport docu-follows. What is your recipe for delivering a show that the network, or your client, loves?

Brian: I have two key things that I do to set myself up for success with any show. First, to allocate resources and time to my edit to make sure I am not rushing the edit. So, if someone says I need to have a one-hour rough cut to the network in 6, 7 or even 8 weeks, I challenge myself to say “Let me give myself two extra edit weeks by reallocating resources from the field or elsewhere.” That means looking at my bottom line and saying “Do I really need an extra vehicle in the field? Do I really need that extra day of drone?” Finding a way to aggregate enough resources to give myself two extra edit weeks gives me the time to turn a good show into a great show. With it, I have the time to ask those extra questions - about each scene’s direction, about music choices, about transitions – and I’m able to take everything and upgrade it just a little bit. And the overall result is a much-upgraded show where the rough cut is greeted at the network like it’s airable. That changes the tenor of the entire notes process and the entire tone of the show.
 
Me: So, you suggest treating the rough cut like it’s a more finished product and putting a focus on post-production resources vs over-allocating in the field. What’s your second ingredient for posting a great show?
 
Brian: It’s all about mapping out the arc of the show before you begin – knowing episodically where each episode is going, so you can know scene by scene where you are going. Work out your 30,000-foot view, then break it down by episode and scene so your editor can work on a granular level and focus on getting the right footage and story elements into their part of the puzzle.
 
Me: And, how do you decide what to put in each scene?
 
Brian: When you are editing each episode, it is key to know (and share with your editor) the purpose of each scene in the context of the larger arc. If you are doing a half hour show, and you know you should have 13 scenes in your show, it is necessary to understand that each scene serves a singular purpose in forwarding the story or entertaining the audience. Oftentimes, a producer will sit down with an editor and explain that a scene was intended to accomplish a few things: to point out that Lori is sad, and that Brian is angry, and that Lincoln is disinterested. But the truth is that it is very difficult to strongly convey all of those intentions in the short amount of time of one scene. So, if you think about any scene in television, from “Breaking Bad” to “The Bachelor,” any given scene is meant to communicate one major point that forwards the story. There may be nuanced things you are meant to notice within that scene, but there is one point that should be hammered home. So, it is important to make sure your scenes are, at first very pointed and directed, and then you can layer in different thoughts as long as they don’t dilute your main point or make the scene convoluted.
 
After speaking with Brian, one thing is certain: he has a formula for approaching post that puts story as a top priority. He makes sure his editorial team has the proper time to tell it well and the proper focus to tell it right. 

If you have any tips for success in post, please share them in the comments section below. And, we will continue to pick the brains of our post house clients to bring you more secrets of success…

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