Real stories of CJ E&M producers!
Interviews with tvN producers
Jung Moo-won and Shin Chan-yang
▲ Nice to meet you! tvN producers Jung Moo-won (left) and Shin Chan-yang (right)
As broadcast contents are increasingly gaining in popularity these days, the brand power of the producers creating them also gets higher. The role of a producer is always one of the most desired among college students. Until now, we have seen producers only through TV dramas or documentaries. What kinds of stories would producers tell if they could talk candidly about their own jobs? Have a look at some of the true stories of real producers we met at the Culture Creative Convergence Center in Sangam-dong, Seoul.
We deeply value all human relationships and the power of creating a story
▲ "Nice to meet you! I'm Jung Moo-won, a producer here at tvN."
Hello, everyone! I'm Jung Moo-won and I have been working here at tvN since I first entered CJ Group through open recruitment in 2014. I'm now producing a comedy show, Comedy Big League, after putting some time in with reality shows such as Three Meals a Day: Fishing Village.
In fact, I majored in political diplomacy at college, which may seem to have little to do with being a producer of entertainment TV shows. Though I first became involved in broadcasting by helping out at the local station within my college, I wasn’t sure of whether I would be able to do it full time. Still, the reason why I applied for a position with CJ Group and focused on the broadcasting industry more specifically is because I found tvN to be particularly attractive.
By the time that I applied for the position, the TV drama Misaeng had started to be produced on tvN, becoming incredibly popular. At that time, producer Kim Won-seok, who directed the drama, said in an interview that he chose the cable television broadcaster over other public television broadcasters because it could offer him an ideal environment for producing. As I read the article, I realized that tvN would encourage me to freely, creatively tell the stories I want in the way I want.
Applicants for the job of tvN producer have to go through an unusual test known as the “Audition for Producer”, where each of us is asked to deliver a three-minute presentation about ourselves. I compared myself to a camera because I liked taking pictures. For the audition, I spent a great deal of time thinking about how I could express myself in the most effective way, while preparing to tell my story frankly and truly. This experience has remained ingrained in my memory.
▲ "I was able to learn many things after going through no small amount of struggles when I first started my career as a producer!"
My life as a production assistant has finally begun! If you wonder what the job of a newly-hired producer involves, think about that recent TV drama that chronicled the daily lives of drama producers in a broadcasting company. The TV drama showed a handsome male producer and his love affair with a top star, but that’s not the case for me.
Currently, I'm moving ahead, doing all the essential things necessary in broadcasting such as building relationships with my coworkers, producing the previews of TV shows and calculating production costs.
People think that if you spend most of the day in a cramped editing suite, you may tend to get overly stressed. But I'm enjoying my job without succumbing from the stress because I feel that I have the right temperament and personality.
I'd be a liar if I said that I faced little difficulty when doing my work. I thought that I would be able to handle it all, but I hadn’t realized just how physically demanding it would be. When I was involved in reality shows, I had no chance to go home for eating, sleeping or even washing. I think being a producer is a job which basically requires one to be in shape and have a certain amount of mental resolve, even though the production environment can differ depending on the kind of show that you may be involved in.
▲ The production crew and cast members of Comedy Big League show great teamwork
Even amid my busy lifestyle, I always make sure to turn on my “radar” towards the people around me. As my job is to make people laugh, I like to pay attention to all interesting kinds of contents and seek out what’s new and trending. Now, what I’m interested in most are contents related to comedy. Whenever I come across something new, I consider about how I can combine it with comedy and how I can convert it into a form of parody.
The same is true of the production crew and cast members of Comedy Big League. We have a very close working relationship. All of us are involved in almost every aspect, such as from coming up with ideas to preparing props and costumes. As a result, we feel a strong sense of belonging and attachment to the show. Every time any idea pops into someone’s head, it’s shared and collectively developed by everyone.
▲ "I want to find a way to include today's experiences as an interviewee into my future broadcast contents."
Words for future producers!
"Many people say that creativity and originality are the most important qualities that are needed to become a successful producer. Of course, they are important, but I realized that there are more important things while working for tvN. Although those who are willing to work in a broadcast company should essentially have a creative point of view, more important still is the power of creating a story and the relationship between people.
I think what a producer basically does whether it’s editing or producing is, ultimately, creating a story. They should be a storyteller to construct characters, create an incident, and make viewers burst into laughter. So, if you dream of becoming a producer, I recommend first training to be a storyteller.
The maxim ‘everything depends on how you hire people’ has never been more apt than on a broadcasting site. This is because broadcasting involves producing shows about the relationships between people and showing them to other people. Those who do best in this business tend to take human relationships seriously: they try to see things from the viewpoints of their colleagues and consider what viewers may think about the program."
I always crank up my engine to try to get to the next level
▲ "Hello, everyone! I'm tvN producer Shin Chan-yang, a newbie for Three Meals a Day: Fishing Village."
Hello, nice to meet you! I'm tvN producer Shin Chan-yang and I joined CJ Group through open recruitment in 2014. I have been involved in reality shows such as Three Meals a Day: Fishing Village, and Youth Over Flowers Africa. I feel a bit shy to tell my story as an interviewee, as I have always been an interviewer.
Reflecting on my childhood, I preferred watching edited stories on TV to reality because they covered only the interesting parts of life and showed them in a dramatic fashion. I wanted to become such a storyteller, so tvN was a good choice for where to start my career. Shows by cable TV broadcasters have shared different stories to those featured on public TV broadcasters. The “a bit different element” suits me well. This is why I applied for the position of tvN producer.
▲ "I want to make a TV show that effectively conveys sincerity."
Often, people would expect a producer to be full of fun, but I never considered myself that way. So, when I interviewed for the job, I tried to project myself in the way that I am, rather than trying to look overly cheerful or all jovial.
I wasn’t sure what I should do for the “Audition for Producer”, because I had little good sense and few talents to show; no dancing, no singing, no other personal appeal. After considering that over and over, I ended up reading one of my project proposals in front of the judges. One of the judges chided me for not showing “my real self”. I hesitated about what to do next, even when I felt backed into a corner.
After passing the interview, I met the judge again when I was attending a work-related dinner. As I said, "I was convinced that I wouldn’t pass the audition," he smiled at me, answering that he thought highly of me, so he pushed me harder to see how I would react. My calm response made him think I was fine.
In contrast with my memory of the day when I felt that I spoke hesitantly and behaved awkwardly, he viewed my response as being “calm”. So, I deeply appreciated hearing that. Nevertheless, I came to think about what if I had behaved in an adverse way and left a negative impression. I definitely had luck on my side, yet I think my authenticity has helped me.
▲ Newbie producers of Three Meals a Day: Fishing Village working with pleasure
As Jung mentioned, broadcasting work requires strong physical and mental strength. As for the ongoing production of Three Meals a Day: Fishing Village that I am currently involved with, it takes about five days to shoot a single episode, except for the time it takes for planning, preproduction and on-site inspection. A total of 40 cameras – including 23 to 25 stationary handycam camcorders, 5D cameras used by VJs for in-depth shooting, and time lapses – capture the daily lives of cast members for 24 hours on a continuous basis. The newbie producers need to go on set in advance in order to prepare for the shoot, but then stay on set till later than anyone in order to finish everything.
During this period, a hundred 32GB memory cards are used each day, on average. Sync work is done every night to make sure that a total of 500 memory cards are presented in chronological order. This is then followed by a backup using a standard storage device. After the sync work, previewers and writers review the images, and then production assistants complete editing and subtitle the work. The newbie producers then make a preview for the episode.
The edited videos which we make in the editing suite for the subsequent three to four days are checked by the entire production crew. We discuss what should be excluded or added. CG is then added to the finally edited segment in the comprehensive editorial room, before being shown to viewers.
▲ “My time to refresh is an empowering source of my mental health and creativity.”
When I'm busy like this, I have to use all of my physical strength. That’s why I’ve really come to appreciate the value of good health. Some producers make sure to spend even a short amount of time each day doing exercise or taking nutritional supplements and herbal tonics. I'm also trying to stay on track with my dietary life to keep in shape.
Mental health is no less important than physical health. During rest time, I often go off on a trip by myself to where I can do some deep self-reflection and have new experiences. I look for what attracts people's attention, watching TV shows on other channels and reading online articles and posts. This time to refresh is an empowering source of mental health and creativity for me.
Words for future producers!
"As my superiors and the broader media industry often say, tvN is a young and dynamic organization. What I feel by having worked here for two years is that I need to make sure that I keep an open mind in order to work together with various types of people. It’s important for a producer to build healthy human relationships, while also maintaining a healthy physical and mental constitution.
In addition, there’s really no need to worry about such questions as “what if I lack creativity?”, or “what if others think that my ideas are no fun?” Those who do what they like to do can’t allow themselves to be let down by anyone. It's enough to just do your work with pleasure. As good opportunities come to those who work with passion, make sure that you always have “your engine cranked up” so as to not miss any chances."
▲Their candid stories are loaded with passion!
These are true stories of Shin Chan-yang and Jung Moo-won who have been working at tvN as producers for the past two years. They are truly passionate producers who are willing to put in 24 hours of work to show viewers living and breathing stories with youthful enthusiasm on their side. These two are well deserving of praise for their remarkable passion!