If you've been following the producers' blog posts over the course of this season, you know that we've touched on the importance of props and the important ways they can improve your pitch - and chance for success.
But what you probably don't know is that behind the scenes of the Dragons' Den studio, a highly-trained duo of prop professionals works tirelessly to add the finishing touches that make entrepreneurs presentation look as slick and sophisticated as possible. While the show doesn't make or provide a full prop shop like a movie set, Terry and Phillippa manage all of the last minute emergencies like props that got crushed in transit or creating additional small props to help illustrate a business to the Dragons.
Terry Hanlon and his partner in crime, Phillippa Burrows, have been with the show since Season One. Over the past five years, Terry and Phillippa have seen close to 1500 pitchers come through The Den and have witnessed just about everything -- and have even appeared in a few themselves!
When not propping up pitchers in The Den, this tag team can be found creating and managing the props on the Rick Mercer Report, which is where we caught up with them this week.
What is a typical day like for you on set?
A typical shooting day usually starts around 7 when the first round of pitchers get here. By the time we start props check at 7:30, I have a good idea of what needs to get sprayed down so it's not shinny under the lights, or what posters need to get mounted on foamcore. We basically do a triage of what needs to get done for pitches that day. Once the cameras are rolling, Phillippa is backstage with a production assistant making sure all the approved props are ready. I'm usually running around making runs to prop rental houses and to pick up more black foam core. And I'm putting together some of the props for the pitchers that take a little more time.
What are the biggest mistakes pitchers make on the show?
Pitcher sometimes forget that Dragons' Den is a TV show, not a tradeshow, and they try to bring everything they have onto the set. Things like paperwork and brochures or business plans just wont show up on camera.
And any pictures you bring on posters should always be mounted on black foam core board and shouldn't be any larger than 32 by 40 inches. Any bigger than that and they block the cameras and a big white board tends to glow on TV and can be really distracting.
The rule is usually that you have to carry everything down with you, so try not to overload the set with things you don't need. I like to think the 'if you can't sling it, you can't bring it' policy should be a good guide. Really, 'less is more' is really a good rule of thumb for Dragons' Den. Keep it simple and you life will be a lot easier.
What are some of your favourite pitches from The Den?
Well, [Associate Producer] Rich really has a flair for the unusual, so I usually duck whenever I see him coming. But, really, his pitches are always interesting. The Aurora castle pitch from season 4 is always one that comes to mind. It had a big light and smoke show, which you don't see that often.
What are you looking forward to for next season?
I told [Executive Producer] Tracie that I'm going to need two separate budgets this season: one for the regular pitches and one for all of "Rich's Pitches". They always seem to have that little extra element. But that's what makes the show so much fun.
Terry manning the helicopter crane for the upcoming 'Boston Shrimp and Lobster' pitch and Phillipa manning Promethus the Deer in the 'Deer Call Bracket' pitch from Season Four ... both of which were "Rich's Pitches"
Associate Producer Lindsey Neely has been involved with the show since Season 2. A proud holder of a B.J. (Bachelor of Journalism) from Carleton University, Lindsey began her television career in Ottawa, researching and producing political stories on Parliament Hill. After returning to her native Toronto, she quickly traded in daily news for the excitement of entrepreneurship, working for both the Gemini-nominated Fortune Hunters on CBC Newsworld and honing her producing skills on DD. These days, when not spending time in the den, Lindsey enjoys rap-battle throw downs, asparagus and Zach Galifianakis
Posted on Jan 18, 2011 10:20:21 AM