Q&A Peter Bain-Hogg and Ken Connor

In a piece that first appeared in Encore, Renegade Films producers Peter Bain-Hogg and Ken Connor talk about their new subscription TV show Studio at the Memo. 

How would you describe Studio at the Memo?

Ken Connor: It’s an eclectic mix of live performances linked by Tim Rogers. It’s a showcase for artists who don’t normally get to be seen on TV.

Where did the idea come from?

Peter Bain-Hogg: We started talking to Studio about this project quite a few years ago. We had done a lot of work with them over the last few years and we started talking to them about what else they were looking for. One of the things we talked about doing was a season at the Spiegeltent. We came up with this concept of doing what you’d find in the Spiegeltent in another venue. It’s like a sampler of what you’d get in the Spiegeltent but in the one room.

What are the production challenges of turning a live event into a TV series?

KC: We seem to keep doing this to ourselves – picking locations that aren’t easy to shoot in. But the beauty of the end result is that it’s not a studio-based production, it comes from a hall in St Kilda, so that’s reflected in everything you see and hear. It’s also pretty incredible for the artists because when they walk in, they walk into this amazing space that’s been set up to showcase what they do. But there are always challenges from a lighting and sound point of view when you’re not in a controlled studio environment. We’ve just come from a screening where we were counting how many times we saw the camera come in shot, and how we would have re-lit it if we had the opportunity. So there’s always that, but I think the talent and the performances rise above the technical difficulties.

Was Tim Rogers involved from the start?

KC: Pretty much. We talked about who could be the host and Tim had done some work with Studio in the past and they liked him. And we liked him because we had done a lot of work with him when we produced RockWiz. There were a couple of other names that we put in there in case they didn’t like the idea of Tim, but as soon as Tim’s name was mentioned it was like, yep, that’s fine.

Why aren’t there more music shows like this on Australian TV?

KC: The weird thing is TV programmers keep telling us that music doesn’t rate, yet all their highest rating TV shows are music programs.

PBH: The Voice and Australia’s Got Talent, Idol, they’re basically music shows, but programmers don’t see them that way. They call them ‘competitions’, which, of course, is true.

KC: Music shows do become pretty niche. Programmers spend their whole day trying to get people to not change the channel. So if you’ve got a music show on, likelihood is someone isn’t going to like the next three and a half minutes. Some people might, but some won’t, so someone will change the channel. That’s what they don’t want to happen.

Given you have a history of creating shows like RockWiz that have musical credibility as opposed to reality shows, how do you feel about TV being dominated by these programs? 

PBH: Look, that’s the commercial reality. They’ve got to get bums on seats and eyeballs on TV, and niche music programming won’t do that. It’s not a prime time thing, and there isn’t the budget. Networks don’t allocate budgets for music programming or any programming that is outside of prime time.

KC: And that’s the beauty of Foxtel really, because they are happy to put niche programming on and it is getting an audience.

Is there any money to be made from making niche TV?

KC: It’s not a cash cow like those larger formats, that’s for sure.

Studio at the Memo airs on Foxtel channel Studio from July 16.

Encore issue 22This story first appeared in the weekly edition of Encore available for iPad and Android tablets. Visit encore.com.au for a preview of the app or click below to download.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.