ƒ Curious Travelers Television: How we got started - "The Best of Buenos Aires" - continued

Saturday, August 20, 2005

How we got started - "The Best of Buenos Aires" - continued

The second type of Travel program that the Travel Channel produces are hosted programs. At the time - back in 2002 when I attended the Real Screen Summit for the first time, the Travel Channel had several of these types of programs, the most well known being "Great Hotels" with Samantha Brown, produced by Pine Ridge Production out of Florida. The general consensusin the industry is that hosted programs get better ratings then non-hosted programs. The host develops a following over time and the audience continually watches the show because of the host. With a host program the destination is not the primary reason for watching the program. A host can visit a boring destination and the audience will still watch the show, because they like watching the host above all. With non hosted travel programs usually the destination is the main reason the viewer stays tuned.

Of course the big IF is that sufficient people most be interested in the host for the program to do well with the ratings. Great hosts are hard to find. Trust me on this, I’ve been casting a hosted travel program for three months now, auditioned hundreds of hosts and it’s not easy to find a really great one.:hence,; a hosted program is more problematic than a list or anthology travel program. Another problem from an economic point of view for the network is that if a host show does find attract an audience they can command a higher salary if the program is renewed. Of course the reality of travel programs is that there aren’t that many broadcast outlets for travel programs, so the added cost to a production is not as great as say the cost of a movie star or cast member on a network television series.

To come back to the topic of this post “How we got started - "The Best of Buenos Aires" I decided to produce an anthology type travel program for acquisition by the Travel Channel and selected the anthology series “Worlds Best” for my first production.

I also researched the various tourist destinations and notices that there was no programs about Buenos Aires. In 2001 Buenos Aires and Argentina was going through political turmoil. The peso was tied to the dollar one-to-one. Consequently Buenos Aires was one of the most expensive cities in the world. Tourists were paying about the same price for a hotel room or dinner in a good restaurant as New York City!

Then the situation changed dramatically. The currency was devalued to three pesos for a dollar and suddenly a world class city such as Buenos Aires cost almost as much for a tourist as cities as some of the most inexpensive cities in the world. For example a steak dinner in a high end restaurant with wine now cost around fifteen dollars when before it cost nearly fifty dollars. The price of a room in a first class hotel was under two hundred dollars. At the same time the Euro appreciated against the dollar by thirty percent. The result was that tourism vastly increased in Buenos Aires. American tourists in particular did the math. They could spend three weeks in Buenos Aires for what it would cost them for a one week stay in say Paris. Armed with this information I flew down to Buenos Aires, hired a local cameraman and sound-man that I contacted on the internet and spent three weeks shooting a Ten Best program anthology program specifically for the Travel Channel.

When I returned to New York I started the editing, which took three weeks. I found a royalty free recording of tango music for the soundtrack. For the voice over narration - a requirement for these type of travel programs - I found a site on the web voice 1-2-3 that was exactly what I wanted. For no cost to the producer using the site he or she can email a one minute sample script of the required voice over and listen online to submissions from voice over artists from literally all over the world. The next step was to contact the individual voice over artists, quote a price, for which they accepted or rejected. I found the quotes for the voice over narration ranged from two hundred dollars to a high of over two thousand dollars, a wide range to say the least.

I decided on a voice over from a fellow in Los Angeles. At a slight risk I sent him a cash advance via paypal. The next day I was on the phone with him and we worked together on the narration. He did a fine job and FTP’d me mp3 files of his recordings for me to lay under the picture.

My first Travel Channel production, produced totally on spec, was completed and submitted in the required VHS format and also a DVD was sent out for acquisition to the Travel Channel.

Now I waited for a reply.

To be continued....