ƒ Curious Travelers Television: How Long Does it Take to Produce a One Hour Travel Program?

Monday, August 22, 2005

How Long Does it Take to Produce a One Hour Travel Program?

People often ask me how long does it take to produce a one hour travel program?

I often joke that it takes as long as the size of the budget. The truth is that it usually takes a set amount of time; unless you have several production teams in the field at once you'll be lucky if you can make more than six travel programs a year, as each one takes a good two to three months from start to finish.

Here's the usual timeline:

Week 1: Pick destination and host, contact tourism boards, research destination
Week 2: The researcher works with the writer and/or producer on a draft screenplay
Week 3: Writing on the screenplay continues, with the director's input
Week 4: Producer/Director arrive in destination: Location scouting, meeting with the local producer/fixer
Week 5: first week of production
Week 6: Second week of production
Week 7: Third week of production
Week 8: First Week of editing -rough cut assembled
Week 9 Fine Cut and Sound work
Week 10 Final Cut - Music composed, sound mixed, elements set for delivery

This timeline is based on a production such as Globe Trekker, with the production based on the assumption that at most you will shoot an hour a day, with five minutes of that video ending up in the final cut. Also that a well planned city shoot take two weeks of production; a country, three weeks.

The exceptions:

A reality type travel program such as Discovery Travel Channel "Five Takes" takes only a week TOTAL, from start to finish, with editors working on set, several cameras shooting at once and practically no script, research and location scouting. (it's amazing it's as good as it is)

A half hour essay type travel that relies on a good deal of narration and hosted by Rick Steves or Cash Peters probably takes only a week to shot and a week to edit and score - two weeks total.

An hour host written essay type program such as Anthony Bourdain's No Reservation probably takes only a week to shoot; three weeks to edit, total.

So the answer is that a travel program takes one to ten weeks, although ten weeks is often the ideal. I would bet that the really well funded travel channel such as BBC's Michael Palin expeditions take months to shoot and edit.

How long did it take for you to shoot your travel program?