The missing puzzle : birth of a format

Burum, Ivo John (2008) The missing puzzle : birth of a format. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The art of storytelling is one of the oldest forms of creative discourse. Apart from finding stories, the most important job in television is the construction of stories to have a broad audience appeal.

This first-hand review of Missing Persons Unit, hereafter referred to as MPU, a prime time program on the Nine Network in Australia with immense audience appeal, is an original work by the executive producer (development and series producer Series One, executive producer Series Two and Three) based on an overview of two-and-a-half years of production on three series.

Through a case study approach, this Masters project explores how story is constructed into a television format. The thesis comprises two parts: the creative component (weighted 50%) is demonstrated through two programs of MPU (one program for evaluation) and the academic component through a written exegesis (50%).

This case study aims to demonstrate how observational hybrid series such as MPU can be managed to quick turn-around schedules with precise skill sets that cut across a number of traditional genre styles.

With the advent of radio and then television, storytelling found a home and a series of labels called genres to help place them in a schedule for listeners and viewers to choose. Over recent years, with the advent of digital technology and the rush to collect the masses of content required to feed the growing television slate, storytelling has often been replaced by story gathering.

Today even in factual series where a clear story construct is important, third party ‘quick fix’ specialists are hired to shape raw content shot by a field team, who never put their own work together and may never come into the edit suite during a project.

This thesis explores the art of storytelling in fast turn-around television. In particular it explores the layer cake approach used in the production process of MPU, that enables producers of fast turn-around television to shepherd their own stories from field through to post-production.

While each new hybrid series will require its own particular sets of skills, the exploration of the genesis of MPU will demonstrate the building blocks required to successfully produce this type of factual series. This study is also intended as a ‘road map’ for producers who wish to develop similar series.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 29386
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Portmann, Geoffrey & Yeates, Helen
Keywords: storytelling, television, audience appeal
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Disciplines > Film & Television
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 17 Dec 2009 05:30
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:54

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