Ted Kamp is a highly seasoned television producer who has worked across such genres as comedy, documentary, unscripted, late night and game show. As much as he has enjoyed working with such luminaries as Mike Rowe, Dave Coulier, Larry The Cable Guy, Carson Daly, Wil Wheaton and (especially) Charles Nelson Reilly, he now wishes to use his talents to help heal the suffering of our most traumatized people.
What were you working on prior to the shutdown, and how has that been affected?
I was developing a few different TV shows that likely would have started production in February or March. Everything, including the green lights on actually doing these shows, was fully shut down by the shutdown.
How has your industry adapted to the changes?
This is still TBD. Some production has been easy to shift to more fully digital versions, like the late-night shows. But everything I am involved with will need to invent new protocols for production and post-production. That will all be happening in the near future, and I am sure we will do a plot of planning and a lot of making it up as we go along. I am starting on a new show on Monday and working from home for the first seven weeks. This will be pure hell, as my family will not respect my workspace needs.
How has quarantine affected TV and streaming?
Normal TV production has stopped cold, and will be a challenge to ramp back up. Post-production, however (the process of taking shot material and crafting it into television), has been moving into a digital direction for years, so it was not hard for companies to keep editing shows on a normal schedule. Some networks have experimented with new COVID-friendly shows that can be shot safely, but not as many as I had expected. The TV business has a lot of content ready well ahead of airdates, so networks could still premiere shows and sometimes benefit from bigger audiences who were stuck at home and hungry for the latest chat-worthy show (see Tiger King). TV also has the benefit of massive and still-popular catalogs of reruns that people watch over and over again. I have personally witnessed this by overhearing every episode of New Girl at least 9 times.
Do you think there will be any lasting effects on your industry from this experience?
Syndication rights to New Girl and other shows will still be valuable. And Friends. God, do people love to watch Friends. Other than that, I don't know. This industry never really knows where it's going. Someone always breaks the mold and succeeds with something new, and then everyone follows. But it is harder and harder to break the mold on a big platform because they are mostly run by idiots.
What’s been keeping you inspired during this time?
A friend and I started a documentary project around the connection between childhood trauma and incarceration at the beginning of 2020. We were making a lot of progress before the shutdown. We did manage to put together a short reel showing the concept, and that has blown up beyond my wildest dreams. We have now attracted a lot of volunteers to help with Compassion Prison Project, the non-profit my friend founded to play a part in prison reform .
The time I have spent in maximum security prisons with men serving long sentences has given me the most inspirational moments this year. Classic 2020.
“TV and film have an astounding influence on culture and politics, to an extent most will never realize."
Is there anything this experience has revealed about yourself or your industry that will impact the ways you work in the future?
It is hard to know what the future holds for the industry. Doing the documentary and volunteer work in the prisons has certainly pushed me to use my skills for something positive and helpful. I think TV and film have an astounding influence on culture and politics, to an extent most will never realize. I will always do what I can to use this power for good. I have no idea if I will succeed.