122 episodes

*Named "New and Noteworthy" across all podcasts, as well as TV & Film, Arts, and Education. Subscribe now.



Ready to create, pitch, and sell reality TV shows or documentary series and specials? From creating pitch tapes to meeting with TV networks, developing your ideas to discovering reality TV stars, this podcast features tips on working in unscripted film and television that you won't find anywhere else. Get top-industry secrets and even pitch your shows to Award-Winning Documentary Filmmakers and Unscripted Television Producers Joke Fincioen and Biagio Messina.



Recently, the duo have helped new producers bring projects to television on MTV, BIOGRAPHY CHANNEL, A&E, and CNN/HLN. Your show could be next. Subscribe now.



ABOUT JOKE AND BIAGIO: With over a decade of experience in unscripted film and television, this married couple has made TV shows, specials, and pilots for A&E, The CW, Biography Channel, NBC, CBS, Discovery, CNN, HLN, E!, IFC, Logo, Oxygen, Style Network, VH1 and MTV.



Their feature length documentary DYING TO DO LETTERMAN played in theaters across America, was invited by the International Documentary Association to qualify for Academy Award® consideration, and named “New and Noteworthy” on iTunes alongside The Dark Knight Rises, Brave, and Beasts of the Southern Wild.



Subscribers to this podcast will learn the secrets of the Unscripted TV and Film worlds, and how to apply them toward career success. Subscribe today.

Producing Unscripted: Make Reality TV Shows and Documentary Series with Joke and Biagio Joke and Biagio | Reality TV Producers, Award Winning Filmmakers, Documentarians

    • TV & Film

*Named "New and Noteworthy" across all podcasts, as well as TV & Film, Arts, and Education. Subscribe now.



Ready to create, pitch, and sell reality TV shows or documentary series and specials? From creating pitch tapes to meeting with TV networks, developing your ideas to discovering reality TV stars, this podcast features tips on working in unscripted film and television that you won't find anywhere else. Get top-industry secrets and even pitch your shows to Award-Winning Documentary Filmmakers and Unscripted Television Producers Joke Fincioen and Biagio Messina.



Recently, the duo have helped new producers bring projects to television on MTV, BIOGRAPHY CHANNEL, A&E, and CNN/HLN. Your show could be next. Subscribe now.



ABOUT JOKE AND BIAGIO: With over a decade of experience in unscripted film and television, this married couple has made TV shows, specials, and pilots for A&E, The CW, Biography Channel, NBC, CBS, Discovery, CNN, HLN, E!, IFC, Logo, Oxygen, Style Network, VH1 and MTV.



Their feature length documentary DYING TO DO LETTERMAN played in theaters across America, was invited by the International Documentary Association to qualify for Academy Award® consideration, and named “New and Noteworthy” on iTunes alongside The Dark Knight Rises, Brave, and Beasts of the Southern Wild.



Subscribers to this podcast will learn the secrets of the Unscripted TV and Film worlds, and how to apply them toward career success. Subscribe today.

    2020 Perspective for Filmmakers, Producers, and Creatives

    2020 Perspective for Filmmakers, Producers, and Creatives

    Holy cow, it’s 2020! As we enter our seventh year (!) of the Producing Unscripted podcast, we’re so grateful to all of you who’ve supported us on this journey. With a New Year comes new podcast episodes, beginning with today’s. We’re discussing the big picture of working in the entertainment industry in 2020. Our goal is to help you get to a place where you can balance your life with your work…and figure out how to stay happy all the while. (No, not easy!) We also share our own struggles, explain why we’re taking a new look at what it means to work in this business, offer what we think is your most important key to happiness in this industry, and share the theme that will shape the podcasts we bring you this year. 















































    Happy Belated New Year!







    As long time listeners have probably realized, this is our first podcast ep since October 2019. We’ve missed you! We’re happy to tell you that our absence is due to our current TV production (can’t say what, but it will air later this year.) So making TV has pretty much swallowed us whole these past few months. Now that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, we’ll be back to podcasting regularly.







    An Emotional Start to the Year







    In today’s episode we briefly mention the big “hits” we took to start the year out. We lost two peers within 30 days of each other, both our age, and both dying far too young. The loss affected us (it’s still affecting us). It’s a huge reminder no matter what your business is, nothing can replace your loved ones. Like we’ve said before, it’s just TV.







    Dealing with Other Producers and Filmmakers







    The back-half of today’s episode discusses the two types of producers/filmmakers you’re likely to run into. At some point, you’ll fall into one of these two categories. We have an opinion about which is better, and share which camp is right for us. It might be right for you, too.







    Chasing Dreams Should Make You Happy







    We want you to know we wish you success in all your endeavors. Even more so, we wish you happiness. Life is too short to let the rigors of the entertainment industry wreck you. Instead, let’s all work towards making our business a better place to be. Ready to enjoy the chase more than you do now? Hit that giant PLAY button at the top of the screen…and Happy New Year!







    Helpful and Related Links







    Showbiz and Your Mental Well-Being: It’s Just TV…







    The entertainment industry has a way of knocking you down time and time again. But you know what? We’re all just telling stories. It’s not brain surgery. Here are some thoughts on taking care of your mental health and remembering what’s truly important.







    Success & Happiness in the Entertainment Industry with Daniel Strange







    Dan Strange is a commercial director and unscripted TV producer and editor. He discusses finding true success and happiness in this industry. It’s a no-holds-barred discussion of day-to-day working life in the entertainment industry. It’s also chock-full of useful tips. Plus, the ep includes an AMAZING Richard Marx story you won’t want to miss…







    Production Hangovers: How To Survive, Recharge, & Move On







    Production can wreck you! At the end of a grueling calendar you will be fried.

    • 15 min
    Our Top 3 Scariest Moments on Set

    Our Top 3 Scariest Moments on Set

    It’s Halloween, so pull out your sage, salt, and white candles! Today we’re talking about something truly spooky…our top 3 scariest moments on set! If you’ve been around production of any kind, you know things pretty much never go as planned. And sometimes, those “fun developments” can scare the pants off of you. Here are three very different kinds of “scary” that struck our sets like a witch’s evil spell. How did we survive? Listen now…if you dare!







































    Production Can Be a Nightmare







    There are very few endeavors that have as many moving parts as producing a TV or film project. Working with a crew of 20 or 200? Either way, you’re trying to manage very different personalities, share a creative vision, keep on schedule, and above all, avoid disaster.







    But sometimes, no matter what you do, you end up in a living nightmare. One day you’ll laugh about it (maybe.) As we’ve learned over the years running Joke Productions together, there’s no telling what evil may lurk just around the corner!







    Just some of the “spooky” we’re sharing today:







    * Demon dogs in the workplace* Using your crew as a blockade in the middle of downtown L.A.* Trying to stay calm while hanging up on network executives* Freaking out when lawyers tell you to ignore your basic human instincts* How to create a homemade sauna that probably won’t kill you* And…what to do if a practicing witch claims you’ve been paralyzed by a ghost (happened to Biagio!)







    So perform a little spell of protection, toss that salt over your shoulder, and listen now! Happy Halloween!







    Helpful and Related Links







    One spooky fact? Breaking into Hollywood takes some of this…







    What could be scarier than… actively developing and pitching paranormal shows?







    Thinking about working in this business? Here’s 5 scary things about producing TV shows.







    Want to survive the living nightmare when it strikes your set? Here’s 7 weird tips to survive production and save your sanity.







    Our very scary time making the pilot Sister Witches with Joey and Natalie.







    Follow us on Twitter – @JokeAndBiagio – we try to respond to all tweets, though it can take a few days (or weeks!) if we’re in production.







    Let’s Make Some TV Together!







    Are you ready to take on the horror flick that is working in unscripted TV and film? Brave enough to face off with intimidating network execs? Not too scared to team up with us? Here’s what you need to do next:

    • 19 min
    Getting Engaged to Netflix

    Getting Engaged to Netflix

    Get out the Tim Tams and the Vegemite…cause we’re going down under! Well, actually, the “down under” came to visit us, so we could give you an episode all about working with Netflix. We’re talking with PJ Madam and Tim Noonan (who speak with amazing Australian accents!) They deep dive into the making of their current Netflix series Extreme Engagement, which they created, produce, and star in. How did they sell it? What was it like working with Netflix? What advice do they have for both new and experienced producers? What’s it like to put your relationship up for the world to see…while living in remote villages with indigenous tribes? (Whaaaat????!!!) Plus, we swap some stories about being a couple working together in the industry. Get ready for a jam-packed episode filled with fun, advice, Netflix insights… and an unusual amount of active yeast!























    The Netflix Dream?







    Let’s call it like it is: a lot of people would trip over themselves to produce and star in their own Netflix show. That is a dream that came true for Tim Noonan and PJ Madam. They’re making Extreme Engagement for the behemoth streamer.







    In the series, they put their relationship through extreme love rituals…in remote villages…with indigenous tribes! Netflix airs the unscripted experiment around the globe, and Tim and PJ are now known world-wide.







    Tim and PJ unpack a lot, from the struggles of developing new projects to the pressures of suddenly being in the eye of every Netflix subscriber on earth. Some of what we discuss today:







    * The development process at Netflix, and what it’s like getting notes from the streaming giant* The surprising length of the pitch tape that sold the Netflix series* Creating content with no commercials on streaming platforms vs multiple act breaks on network and cable television* Filming in remote villages where cameras rarely visit…if ever* Being vulnerable on camera, even when you feel like it makes you look bad* Receiving world-wide praise…and criticism* The problems with “fake it till you make it”* Working closely with someone you know well – whether in romance or friendship* Tim’s take on the difference between shows that make it and shows that don’t* Pressures of doing “free work” when developing a new series* Huge financial risks when running a production company* Why we switched from theater to television* The hardest three months of Joke’s life (by far!)* The strangest thing we’ve ever tasted* And…why do we keep hitting ourselves in the head with a hammer?







    It’s Netflix Plus!







    If, like most filmmakers and artists, the idea of having your own show on Netflix is appealing, this episode is for you. Get the inside scoop on the process Tim and PJ went through, and pick up tons of tips from their spot-on advice. They’re very open about everything, talk straight, and share some brutally honest stories. Hit that giant “PLAY” button at the top of the page to listen now – maybe your Netflix series will be next.







    Helpful and Related Links







    Make sure when you develop shows you don’t go broke! And be sure you develop wisely.







    The stresses of making a film or TV show can be a huge burden (as Tim and PJ point out!) Check out these weird tips about surviving production, and this episode about taking care of your mental health.

    • 1 hr 2 min
    Making Truly Independent TV with Filmmaker Brian Speciale

    Making Truly Independent TV with Filmmaker Brian Speciale

    It sounds like a myth, or some kind of Hollywood urban legend, but some people actually put their own shows on television by buying airtime and selling ads themselves. They make truly independent TV. How does it work? How much do you have to pay for he airtime? Is it easy to get sponsors for your indie TV show? And of course, is it worth it? Producer Brian Speciale shares his insider information on the process…plus, some great tips for producers.







    Let’s Be Honest: The TV Business is Hard

    Whether you’re a brand new producer/filmmaker or an experienced pro, by now you know just hard it is to break into unscripted television.

    When you’re just starting out, you need more than ideas, you have to have put together attractive pitch packages with a real person, place, or thing attached. Then what? You either need to attend pitch fests, cold call TV networks (good luck), or (hopefully!) team up with a production company like our own Joke Productions.

    It’s not easy to get started.

    When you do get interest from a production company, you now become one of hundreds – may thousands – of potential shows networks are considering. Even if you get lucky and a network orders a pilot, the odds are still against you that you’ll make it to air.

    This means that being successful by taking the traditional “break into showbiz” route requires persistence, luck, and playing the Hollywood numbers game.

    Personally, it’s a journey we’ve loved, even though it’s been and continues to be challenging. But is there another way to get your show on TV?

    Going Totally Indie: Like Brian Speciale

    Last month we introduced you to Brian Speciale, and he shared his amazing Shark Tank story. (He won…and his company is on track to do 70 MILLION dollars in revenue this year, selling a product called the COMFY.)

    Brian is someone we first met through this podcast and submission portal. He’s done it all, from shooting, to editing, to producing and sound mixing. And he found another way to put his show on TV: Buying airtime from networks, and selling ads himself.



    Brian’s independent TV show, HOT SHOTS.

    On the up side, he didn’t have to worry about endless pitches to network execs who may or may not get the show, he had total creative freedom, and he was author of his series in every way.

    Sounds great, right? But…what are the downsides?

    Indie TV Means It’s All On You

    Everything is on your shoulders. First, you have to pay up front for the airtime (Brian says once it was $143,000 up front before he had a single sponsor.) Then you have to sell advertising yourself. If you don’t sell the ads, you don’t get your money back, and might even face financial disaster.

    Oh, and you still have to produce an engaging television show to broadcast standards along the way…and you have to pay for that, too. So you sell ads not just to pay for the airtime, but to pay for your actual production, which will likely be five to six figures an episode.

    But, as Brian says, it IS possible to make incredible money this way. So how’s it all work?

    From Brian you’ll learn about:



    * The plusses and minuses of making independent television

    • 19 min
    Make 70 Million Dollars on Shark Tank: Producer Brian Speciale Tells All

    Make 70 Million Dollars on Shark Tank: Producer Brian Speciale Tells All

    Brian Speciale isn’t just special because of his name. Not only is he a great producer, but he used his producing skills to flip the script, get himself cast on a little show called Shark Tank, and score a huge deal. In fact, he’s on track to do $70,000,000 (yes, seventy-million dollars!) in sales this year. But today’s episode is much more than one man’s incredible story. It’s an inspirational look at using the producing or filmmaking skills you already have to think outside the box, find opportunities, and create success. Plus, you’ll go behind the scenes on the set of Shark Tank and learn what it’s like pitching under such pressure. Who knows? You might just go on to find your own fortune after listening to Brian…







    Brian Speciale: What A Producer Should Be

    Let’s be clear: meeting people like Brian Speciale is why we started this podcast and submission portal. We we’re introduced to him when he submitted a pitch with amazing video and great paper. He’d shot, produced, edited, sound mixed, you name it. He wasn’t just pitching ideas (you know how we feel about “ideas” – right?) He was pitching a real package based around unique access and huge characters.

    And we almost sold it. Almost. (In fact, we’re still actively trying to set it up, it’s a great project!)

    We’re continuing to team with Brian on several of his other pitches, and have our fingers crossed that one of them will go soon.

    Now, between producing his own TV show (more on that next month) and creating excellent pitches, Brian had an idea — and it would change his life.

    Shark Tank: What?????

    In 2017, Brian Speciale and his brother came up with an idea now known as the Comfy. It’s an oversized sweatshirt made of super-soft blanket material. Perfect to snuggle into on chilly evenings. (Biagio would have loved one of these back in Cleveland!)

    They’d never tried to create a product before, but felt this might be big. The brothers started the process of prototyping, something neither of them had done before.

    Brian then decided they had to go on Shark Tank, and aim for the Christmas episode. They found an open audition…and honestly, you’re just gonna have to listen to the podcast to hear the rest of the unbelievable but true story! We will say it involved hard work, passion, some fun filmmaking, and maybe a little Christmas jingle…

    Use The Skills You Have to Find Success Anywhere

    Brian also discusses how his skills as a television producer helped him transition to Shark Tank contestant and now, entrepreneur.

    From Brian you’ll learn about:



    * The grueling process of competing on Shark Tank

    * Overcoming rejection

    * Adapting skills you already have to the business world

    * How filmmaking skills helped Brian at every stage of his journey

    * How to stand out during casting sessions for unscripted television

    * And, if you’re lucky…Brian just might sing you a tune!



    Hit the giant PLAY button up top to hear it now. We hope you’re the next listener who finds their unique path to riches!

    Helpful and Related Links

    Want one of Brian’s COMFY’s? Get one here! (And no, that’s not an affiliate link, we just love Brian!)

    Brian teamed up with our company Joke Productions through this blog and podcast, Producing Unscripted. Check out this article from Real Screen to see where we cam...

    • 27 min
    Create Great Titles for Your Projects: Tons of Tips…

    Create Great Titles for Your Projects: Tons of Tips…

    Great titles…Survivor. Big Brother. The Curse of Oak Island. Say Yes to the Dress. Unmasking a Killer. These shows have catchy titles to help viewers… and network execs…understand what the show is all about. Today’s episode of Producing Unscripted is a deep-dive into choosing titles that help you, rather than hurt you, when developing your films, shows, or videos. We’ve got lots of practical advice and tips on thinking about, creating, and presenting titles that get attention. You’ll learn how to create titles for different kinds of buyers. We reveal the process we use to research and learn about appropriate titles for our own projects, so you can do the same. We give you four goals for every title you ever create. And finally, we share ten…count them ten…common title templates you can use to jumpstart your brainstorming process. While most of the examples we use are from unscripted television (no surprise if you’ve been around this site) these same concepts apply to creating titles for your film, novel, YouTube video…you name it. Listen now, and give yourself a giant head start when creating titles for your projects.







    Create Great Titles: The Big Picture

    To give you a simple roadmap, here are four goals to aim for with any title you create:



    * Clearly convey what kind of project you’re pitching

    * Inspire curiosity

    * Attract buyers (and eventually viewers)

    * Do it all concisely



    When someone hears or reads your title, you want them to instantly get a vibe for what you’re developing. If you’re pitching Deadliest Catch, we can guess it’s action-packed and laced with danger. It’s clearly meant for male-skewing networks along the lines of the History or Discovery network.

    On the other hand, if you’re pitching Say Yes to The Dress, we’re guessing it’s for female-skewing networks like Lifetime or WE.

    Make sure your title matches up with your vision of the project.

    Researching Titles

    Now that you have an idea of what you’re shooting for with your title creation sessions, it’s crucial to do your research. While not hard, many people skip this part, and it shows. You won’t make that mistake!

    Know Where To Look

    So how’s it work? You visit the websites of the TV networks you hope to pitch. Or, if you’re writing a screenplay, find successful titles in the genre you’re working in. That’s how you draw informed inspiration.

    Personally, we do this research every time we prep our pitches for TV networks.

    For instance, let’s have a look at some of the current titles on Lifetime:



    * Dance Moms

    * Married at First Sight

    * Marrying Millions

    * Cheerleader Generation

    * American Princess



    You get a sense that all those titles belong on that network. They all skew female, dealing with subjects like marriage, relationships, motherhood and style.

    Now, let’s take a look at what History Channel has going on:



    * The Curse of Oak Island

    * Mountain Men

    * Forged in Fire

    * The Curse of Civil War Gold



    Instantly, you can tell these are very different shows from those airing on Lifetime.

    Not Just for Unscripted TV

    To use a film example, let’s say you’re a screenwriter creating a title for a horror script. So visit the Blumhouse IMDB page and look at some of the movies they’ve put out in recent years:



    * Paranormal Activity

    * Insidious

    * The Purge

    * Happy Death Day

    • 20 min

Customer Reviews

DrCharlesParker ,

Strong, Get-It-Done-Now, Helpful - Start Here

First of all, we writers do love words. Words package the product, and without the right words it won’t get sent, much less delivered. It takes a team and these guys become team members - without a contract. Listen up, connect with their membership structure - and package your stuff up for your own next travels.

Sam Tau ,

Thankyou 🙏🏽

It has taken me just over 3 months, but today I just completed listening to every single podcast from the beginning in 2013 to 2020 & I applaud you both alongside all the guests you had on & Joke, yes people are listening 💚

I just wanted to say thankyou & that I appreciate this exceptional guidance & that you are both really GOOD & super star human beings. I look forward to applying all I have learnt through you both & I hope to meet you one day to potentially collaborate. Meet you through your portal.

Sam

Pjricher ,

Holy Smoke! A virtual fountain of valuable information!

Wow. I'm hooked on these podcasts. With Joke & Biagio I finally feel like I have companions AND a path to follow. I'm consuming the information and can't wait to take the action steps that will lead me to, if nothing else, a personal (and hopefully professional) odyssey into the world of unscripted television. I can't tell you the sense of peace I already feel. Thank you so much!

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