I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Sai Abishek, the executive producer of India’s A&E Networks TV 18. Mr. Abishek has worked in the industry for many years and I wanted to know about his perspective of working in the entertainment industry.
1) What is the most rewarding part of your job as an executive producer for A&E Networks TV 18 and why?
The most rewarding part of my job is seeing various thought processes and ideas translate and fructify into something that is solid and tangible. There is a pleasure in nurturing and seeing something grow from an embryonic stage to its full potential. Success or failure, the journey is a reward in itself.
2) What is the hardest part of your job and why?
The hardest part is definitely making sure everything is running as it should be and keeping all the nuts and bolts well oiled. Though this sounds routine, it has to be the most crucial part of the job as I need to be prepared for any eventualities and emergencies at a moment’s notice. So it goes a long way in making sure your shop is in top condition at all times and prepared for turbulence.
3) Being an assistant producer can be hard work yet is often times a great way to break into the business. What were some of the lessons that you learned when you worked as an assistant producer with CNBC TV 18?
Learn quick, observe and absorb everything, volunteer for anything that comes your way, make no room for mistakes, deliver each time, build relationships and most importantly keep your wrist watch at home!
4) Do you think it is important for people who work to understand journalism? Why?
No matter what you do for a living, it is very important to not work in silos. Understanding journalism improves the overall understanding of the world we live in and therefore we make better choices as individuals. Like in daily life, you will always be thrown into situations which will be beyond your control. The choice you make will depend on the sum total of your life experiences and the understanding of it.
5) In 2009, you transitioned from being an assistant producer to journalism. What did you learn from your experience as a journalist that has helped you in your current career?
In my brief stint in journalism, the most important lesson I learnt is time management. Often times, life is chaotic, the work is never ending and the deadlines were the day before. Schedule your day, prioritize your tasks and be ready for everything to come crashing down!
6) If you could give someone advice about breaking into the business as a producer what would you tell them?
Read books & newspapers, watch films constantly, listen to music, travel as much as you can and pursue a hobby of any sort. This has nothing and everything to do with being a producer. There are important experiences there.
Go to work at the top of your game, always challenge yourself, be aware and never take your work for granted. You are among the chosen few, so show all you’ve got!
7) When considering a project for A&E Networks what do you look for?
Originality, freshness of the concept and brand identity. I constantly look for ways to engage with & expand our rapidly growing audiences. Be it through shows, characters or just a break out concept. In a time of chaos with hundreds of television channels and copy cat ideas being tossed around, it is not very difficult to spot & pursue the exceptional.
8) Being in the business what would you say that you had to sacrifice?
I’m tempted to say, “a social life”. But that isn’t completely true. According to many, I did not make enough money, did not have enough personal time, did not get enough sleep and did not get enough holidays. But those are not the reasons why I joined the business anyway. If you love what you do, there’s nothing really to sacrifice. Stop comparing and live your life. There is a virtue in that.
9) What’s next for you?
After the successful launch of HistoryTV18 in 2011, I’m looking towards yet another launch of a brand new property in the network. Exciting times ahead this year!