A challenge producer in reality TV, is part of the editorial team. They are responsible for coming up with challenge ideas and then making them happen.
Every production is different and a challenge producer’s role can vary depending on the show but usually they will be responsible for the following tasks:
- Creative development of challenges/games
- Pitching ideas to the Executive Producer
- Liaising with venues and recce’ing locations to make sure they are suitable for a shoot
- Sourcing props and materials required for the challenge
- Working closely with the art department that build the challenges
- Testing challenges and making adjustments until the challenge is right
- Writing a challenge brief
- Briefing the contestants on the rules of the challenge
- Overseeing the challenge and adjudicating during the shoot
- Creative Thinking: As a challenge producer, your team is responsible with coming up with challenges for an entire series of a show. Sometimes, you’ll be working on shows that are many seasons in and already have featured hundreds of challenges over the years. EPs are always looking for new ideas or interesting takes on challenges that have been executed before, so you need to be creative, innovative and able to think outside the box.
- Organisation: So much planning goes into the challenges that appear seamless when you see them on TV. As a challenge producer, you need to be on top of all aspects of the challenge from locations, sourcing props, build schedules and tests, so being organised is a huge part of the job.
- Strong Communication: You need to be able to clearly explain your concept to other members of production as well as the contestants so that everyone is on the same page.
- Ability To Stay Calm Under Pressure: Challenge producing is not for the faint hearted – behind every challenge you see on TV is a team of challenge producers who have had to test it beforehand – whether it’s a terrifying trial on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here or a ridiculous game on Big Brother. When the challenge is on – there is often a lot on the line and the challenge team need to maintain their composure at all times to ensure the rules are being followed so the game is fair and safe.
How Do I Become A Challenge Producer?
In most cases, it takes years of television experience to work up to the role of Challenge Producer – it’s not a role that you can start in straight out of university.
There are a lot of different paths to progression, but here is an example of roles a person might do on the way to being a Challenge Producer and why…
Production Runner: This is the entry level to television where you learn the ropes of being on set. The challenge team will sometimes need extra help testing out challenges and as a runner you might be lucky enough to be able to help out and get hands on experience in the challenge department.
Production Assistant: Although not in the editorial department, this is a role for someone who is ready to take on more responsibility on a production and is a great way to build relationships and gain a greater understanding of the inner workings of TV.
Challenge Associate Producer: If you’ve worked hard on set and made a good impression on the challenge team, series producer and EP, you may find yourself being offered a role as a challenge AP. In this role, you will work with the producers to support them on challenges.
If you think you have what it takes for a career in TV? Check out my post 5 Awesome Entry-Level Jobs In TV You Never Knew Existed in TV.
If you want to hear stories about what it’s like to be a challenge producer in TV, check out this episode of the Beyond Reality Podcast, where I chat to producer, Grant Phillips.
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