Talk about an exciting career! My friend Keith Fenimore started out in marketing and PR and has landed as a writer, director, producer and TV show creator! He is currently attempting to become the ‘Most Recognized Man in America’, so check out his mug and read about his career path!
Q: What is the title of your profession?
A: I am a writer, director, producer and TV show creator.
Q: What do you do?
A: For each title I have a different set of skills that I perform.
In short, I come up with TV show ideas I think are viable and I pitch them to TV Networks I think may want to buy them. I have sold my original TV shows concepts to Networks like A&E, E!, VH-1, Reelz Channel, FOX Realty, TV Guide Channel, among others. Currently, I am on staff with Howard Stern where I hold the title of Senior Writer and Sr. Producer for his TV Network where I specialize in creating series and specials exclusively for Howard Stern.
After I create a show I need to staff the show and run the show from a creative standpoint and a utility stand point. Creatively, I set the tone for the look, the feel, the format, the casting and the tone f the show. Utility wise, I hire the staff, oversee budgets, liaison with the Network executives and oversee logistics.
This is taking the vision of what the show is on paper and putting a face to it. I work closely with my camera people and set shots, and tell the story of whatever the show is. Each show is different, be it a game show, reality show, interview show, green screen. Also the show can be taped or live, which adds an entire new set of tasks and duties. Most often I am directing a show I create and produce and I like doing that as I have the clearest vision of what I want and how I want the show to look.
Whether a shows is scripted or not, writing is a necessity. On a scripted show I develop characters, and write dialogue for the those characters as well as create overall story arcs. This is highly collaborative and often the responsibly is shared with a team of writers. My job would be to give overall guidelines and advice and then oversee the process and edit outlines and scripts. I have done over 200 host driven shows where I have written scripts for the host. Finally, even non-script reality will have beats ad situations that need to be created and written as a guideline for shooting.
No one job is more or less important than the next.
Q: Have you always worked in this field?
A: I started off in marketing and PR. I got a degree in this field from college at Old Dominion University, in Norfolk Virginia. I specialized in the entertainment field so my path from marketing and PR was paved by my major, but I switched a gear after six years to what I do now. The key to anyone’s path is to realize that there are twists and turns and forks and speed bumps. You will not expect any of them, but you must maneuver each. Keep an open mind, learn from ever job you have and find mentors who can teach you. There is a take away from everything you do, it is up to you to find the good in it.
Q: Why did you choose this profession?
A: I choose PR and Marketing because I studied it in college and wanted to put my degree to use. I was young and had little knowledge of the field, but a little knowledge is better then none at all. The impetuous reason for the switch is easiest explained by saying with PR and marketing you get a finished product and you are asked to get people to notice it. BUT you have no say in what the product is. I changed careers because I wanted to control the PRODUCT. But my marketing knowledge is proving invaluable to the success of my career. In other words, no regrets.
Q: How would you define your profession?
A: My profession is challenging and creative. There are more nuances to it than people think and it is not for the thin skinned as rejection is a daily occurrence.
Q: Did you go to college or a trade school for this profession?
A: I went to ODU for four years. Some go to film school and some don’t. I would say follow your heart and further your education if you are in a financial state to do so, if not you can’t go wrong with practical experience.
Q: How long did you go to school? Where? What was your degree in?
A: Four years. B.S. In Marketing with a Minor in PR.
Q: Do you use your degree in your job? In what way?
A: I use bits and pieces of my college experience be that my actual degree and discipline and my leadership skills from being president of my fraternity everyday.
Q: Can your degree be used as a basis for any other professions? What types?
A: Sure, a communications and marketing and PR degree can enter a person into advertising, PR, marketing, and in my case TV. So there are no rules, there are no true guidelines, you can make your degree work for you in some capacity with anything you do. Think of it in the simplest terms possible. Marketing and PR is just letting people know about something. It is creating a buzz and getting the word out. Now think in how many careers that tool could come in handy. Infinite.
Q: Does your job require continued education? What type? How much?
Q: What is a day in the life of your job? Does it change day to day? Do you work with the public?
A: No such thing as the same day twice, which is part of the reason I am cut out for it. I literally can be at the Stern Studio one day, on the set the next, in the office the next, on a plane to a location the next, it is ever changing and it keeps it fun and fresh!
Q: What do you think makes a person successful in this profession?
A: Wow, this is a tough one. I would say being creative is a big part of it, but you need so much more, because there are plenty of ideas out there. It is knowing which ideas are good and which aren’t;, it is packaging your ideas and executing your idea. It is about making contacts and keeping them and giving them a reason to want to help you and being able to put yourself in a place to help them. It is about having a thick skin and being able to handle a “no” and persevering. Being a sales person, an advocate, a champion of ones beliefs. You need to stay up on pop-culture and you need to read and watch everything. You need to know that there is a never an AHHHH, moment you can never reach the summit and relax, there is always more to do and a new frontier to conquer. It is about balance. You need to live life in order to do well at your craft. Know it is not easy and you will get far more no’s then yes’s but when you get the yes it is that much sweeter.
Q: Does your profession require travel? How much?
A: Yes, it depends. If you are producing a travel show or a reality show that is on the move, you will be on the move as well. Then again you can produce a sitcom that shoots on a stage and you will not need to travel much at all.
Q: What is the typical schedule/hours?
A: 24/7. This is not a 9 to 5 profession. If you are looking to clock in and then go home, don’t pursue a career in entertainment.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: The power of a gem of an idea for a show concept that evolves into a pitch and an actual sale and then being able to watch your show on TV is a pretty big high. But I also have learned to celebrate the smaller things as well cause if you wait for the home runs, you might be waiting a very long time.
Q: What do you dislike about your job?
A: The same things I love about it!
Q: What advice would you give to a child/student that is considering this profession?
A: Choose wisely. You all have the internet and blogs and access to professionals now, much more so then I did pre the invention of the internet. So use the tools. Get an internship on a set or a production. Work for free and see if a life in production is for you. Don’t talk DO. You have the tools at home to make a show. So think it up, cast it, shoot it and edit it. Make your own reality, don’t rely on someone to create it for you, we are all far too busy doing our own thing to make your life easier, so you have to be tenacious and have a drive and you have to make us look in your direction and killer content is the way to do that.
Remember this, there is no door that won’t be opened in Hollywood if you create content that is GOOD. Good content trumps all, so to make it happen I say MAKE IT!
Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you choose the same profession?
A: I think a variation of it , yes.
Q: Are you having fun?
A: When I stop having fun I am out. For some, a huge daunting challenge is scary, for me it is why I get up in the morning.
Q: Do you receive a pension or have a company sponsored 401k?
A: When you are staff, like I am for Howard Stern, you do get a 401k and health benefits. When you are freelance like so many people in my industry are you are on your own, unless you join a union but that discussion is for another day.