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Interview: Claire Richmond of findaTVexpert.com

What is findaTVexpert?

claire-with-laptop-largefindaTVexpert.com is an online database of experts who want to be considered for TV and media opportunities. It gives experts the chance to showcase their expertise to the industry and it gives members of the media fast, free and easy access to a smorgasboard of experts who want to comment on a subject or be part of a show. From architects to zoologists and everyone in between: pig farmers, marine biologists, funeral celebrants, doctors, dentists, designers, barristers, lifecoaches, hat makers, shoe makers, cocktail shakers, etc.

It also gives an industry that is hungry for ideas access to an Aladdin’s cave of talent and inspiration.  And it’s working. Members of the media are registering to search the site and experts are being found and booked for TV appearances & screentests, Radio and Print interviews, etc.

What’s your background?

I spent the last 15 years making and developing TV programmes (Changing Rooms, Don’t Get Done Get Dom, Ready Steady Cook); helping to launch & run TV channels  (LIVETV, London TV, Today on 3 Mobile) and looking for talent.

Why did you start up findaTVexpert?

Because having spent 15 years making and developing programmes – and looking for experts – I felt this was a service the industry wanted and the experts needed.   If you’re an expert and you’re busy with your day job, you don’t have time to contact over 1000 TV production companies to find out if anyone is working on a programme -or a programme idea – which requires your skills – and you can’t get an agent until you’ve done TV so a lot of talent goes to waste.

And on the programme making side of things, although there are websites that help you find production staff, celebrity agents, actors & actresses, existing experts/presenters, filming locations, audience members, etc, when it comes to experts you have to start from scratch, which is very time consuming. So findaTVexpert.com fulfills a need, saves time and money and provides a service that the industry wants and the experts need.

How long ago?

I finished my first series of BBC’s Don’t Get Done Get Dom in July 2007 and was on a barge on the Canal du Midi in France when I had my Eureka moment. So I turned down a second series of Don’t Get Done when I got back in August and got to work on the business: wrote a business plan, found a website designer, etc. I launched 9 months later on the 28th of April 2008 (I’m used to fast turnarounds!) and haven’t looked back.

What's the difference between findaTVexpert and a talent agent?

I think the main different is that talent agencies take on fewer experts and get involved in contracts, fees, negotiations etc, whereas I provide a platform for everyone who has the skills, experience and training to prove that they’re an expert in their field and don’t get involved with the contracts, fees and negotiations.  Experts pay a £100 a year (this will increase from 28 April 09) to register their details  and create a searchable profile and CV page (this is going up in year 2) and if they get a booking, they handle the negotiation.

Where are your experts located? Just UK or internationally?

Primarily in the UK although there are a few based in Europe and I’m looking to launch in the US.

Where do you find your experts?


How much does it cost to subscribe?

If you’re a member of the media (TV, Radio, Print Journalist) you can search the site for free.

All you need to do is register – this is to protect the experts and ensure that their details are only being accessed by members of the media looking for experts to comment on a subject or be part of a show (as per the terms of use). Once you’ve registered you can log in with your email and password, access the experts’ personal & professional details and call or email them directly.

What kind of experts are in demand at the moment?

It’s hard to pinpoint what’s in demand because the list is so varied depending on who you speak to. Last week, for example, I met up with two different development producers. One was looking for science angles the other was looking for experts who could discuss architecture,  and someone I had a chat with yesterday was looking for career/HR experts.

Flip through Broadcast and you’ll see that the BBC recently commissioned a programme about inheritance, ITV is lining up a show about the countryside and Living TV is doing a show about the paranormal.

And if you have a look at all the experts who have been found on findaTVexpert and booked for interviews, screentests etc, the list is even more varied: head shrinking experts, clinical & stress psychologists, classical historians, online shopping experts, diamond graders, debt doctors, property experts, stylists, etc.

But one thing’s for sure. TV execs and development producers need inspiration and experts often provide it.  Even more so now.  TV budgets are being cut but programmes still have to be made because people don’t stop watching TV during a recession. On the contrary – they watch even more TV because they spend more time at home.  So the show definitely goes on.

The challenge for the programme makers is to come up with innovative ideas that can be made cost effectively. So the more exposure they have to new experts and ideas, the better it is. That’s why I send out my weekly updates to the industry to help spark off the creative process. (Read the weekly updates here).

What qualities does a successful TV presenter need?

Once they’ve got the knowledge and expertise, they have to have that extra ‘je ne sais quoi’ that makes them stand out from the rest – and that’s  really hard to put into words because it depends on the show. It could be passion, charisma, a vibrant & infectious personality, a twinkle in your eye, an irreverent sense of humour, a new approach to something, etc.  Above all though, you have to want to be on TV, believe you’d be great on TV and have a lot of energy and patience.

What are your top tips for spotting new onscreen talent?

Keep your eyes open – and have an open mind – because there’s a lot of talent out there. Team them up with great format and a producer / director who can bring out the best in them and voila, you’ve got the next ‘big thing’.

Where do I get more information about findaTVexpert?

Log onto www.findaTVexpert.com and have a click around – see who’s on there, read the testimonials, etc. Or just give me a call.

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Get more development and pitching tips in Greenlit: Developing Factual/Reality TV Ideas From Concept to Pitch


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