How to Make a TV Show

That’s the question I faced in May 2015 when I started working at Hybe. I knew for a while that a TV show is something I’d need to create but up until that point it seemed vague and remote. Kind of like your wisdom teeth: you know yours are probably coming out at some point. You’ve heard from friends and relatives in general terms what happens when you need to get them removed. But you don’t really think about the details of that process until you start feeling yours poking out from your jaw.

The idea of making a TV show terrified and excited me in equal parts.

I’ve been wanting to work with video since 2010 and now suddenly here I was! Tasked not just with a video project but with a whole TV series!

The general subject has been decided — it will be about startups but with a fresh twist. For me, that meant taking a wider view — showing what startups are all about to the “outsiders”, i.e. people who aren’t part of the startup scene right now.

I wanted to tell compelling stories of people who are doing something different; who are bold or crazy enough to think that they can shape the future and spend their days trying to do that. I wanted to share the kinds of stories that excited me to join the startup scene back in 2009.

On top of it, I wanted a balanced gender representation and for the content to be international.

I knew the feeling I wanted to give to the viewers but how to do it exactly? I had no idea.

Photo: Downtime on the temporary set.

I started from practical questions. How many episodes should we produce? Let’s go with 10 (12 sounded like a lot, 8 sounded like too little). How long should the episodes be? The choice was 30 min or 1h (which includes commercial breaks, so it’s 23 min or 45 min respectively).

We didn’t have a production team except myself at the time. Even 30 min felt like a huge spot — so we went with that. (I’d later realise that with the amount of content we had, we could have pulled off a 45 min show but I’m still happy we stuck to 30 min.)

Next question: team. I’ve never hired videographers, producers or video editors before! That whole world was a mystery to me so I had to go with friend recommendations and my gut. It worked! We now have an ace team that I’m so proud of and grateful for!

Photo: Planning TV season version 0.00001

Now to the scariest part: the content of the program. What should the episodes be about? I was always fascinated by the diversity of fields startups and entrepreneurs cover: from health and finance to fashion, design, music… And yet most people think startups are only about tech. That seemed like a great starting point.

So I put together a list of topics that I thought would make a good combination (crowdfunding, health, fashion, accelerators & investors, failure & dark side of entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, education, gaming and music). Hybe’s CEO, advisors, team and TV channel liked the proposal, so we were on!

Suddenly, the TV show turned from an abstract idea that seemed scary and painful to think of — into a proposal, a battle plan and ultimately a real thing.

There would be a million other things to figure out along the way — starting from figuring out who our audience is exactly and what value we want to bring them, to scouting stories for each episode and meticulously counting seconds to make it all fit within 22–23 min limit. I’ll try to share that process as much as I can in future posts. In the meantime, you can watch the ultimate product of long hours and hard work of many people.

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