How to get on TV – an interview with Hulya Erdal

How to get on TV – an interview with Hulya Erdal

Hulya ErdalMany of my clients ask me how to get onto TV.  Sometimes it’s luck, sometimes it’s perseverance and sometimes it’s just looking around for opportunities. I interviewed private chef Hulya Erdal of Made By The Chef who has appeared on   Iron Chef UK on Channel 4, The F Word on Channel 4, BBC One London News, to find out how she did it…and how she found her TV experiences.

Hulya, what prompted you to want to go on these shows?

As part of my business, being a chef, I thought it was important to work on raising my profile and gaining some exposure. With so many TV chefs about, it’s clearly one of the avenues to get my business and my skills recognised.

How did each one happen? Did you have to apply, or were you approached?

 The first TV I did was to be on BBC One London News, appearing as an expert, reviewing Taste of London at Regents Park. I guess it was a little bit of luck as I have a very close friend that works as a reporter for BBC London. Although, I would say that this is why it pays to network and make some very useful friends!  With regard to The F Word, that was more of a laugh really, I applied via the show as Gordon was looking for a new Fanny Craddock style TV Chef! I got to have dinner and be a guest on the F Word. 

The most recent was Iron Chef UK and it was aired on Channel 4 in December 2011. I saw this as a huge opportunity as it was a bonafide, fast paced competition and would give me a chance to really showcase my culinary repertoire! I contact the producers and they got back to me right away. 

Did you have to do a screentest. If so, can you tell us about it?

For Iron Chef UK,  I had to first be interviewed on Camera and then audition by cooking with others. This was held in London at the Barbican and it was a brilliant day as I got to meet so many other chefs. It was a great opportunity to network and I actually made some great contacts. The screentest was a little scary as you have to try and be as natural as possible without showing your nerves! It was lovely though as the producer was very sweet and just wanted to have a chat.

And what about an interview, tell us how that was?

It was a little nerve wracking at first but actually really fun. It’s mostly to see how you react on camera and also what your personality is like. Generally, the production staff want to make you feel as comfortable as possible and know what you’re not some kind of loony!

Do you have any tips for looking camera friendly...?

Try to be as natural as possible and not nervous. Imagine you are just hanging out and chatting with friends. But also, be aware that this is your moment to shine, it could make or break how someone feels about letting you on a national TV show. Look presentable, groomed, you know, nice hair and clothes, and don’t be too loud or quiet. Smile but don’t laugh too much!

Did you dress differently or have any form of makeover at all?

I didn’t wear any very loud colours, I stuck with a simple coloured shirt. I also made sure to wear make up as the camera can be very unflattering! On the actual show itself, we were regularly made up by the make up artist and had costumes, in my case Chef outfits.

What’s the process for applying to one of these programmes?

Many will put posts out on their own websites as well as various media websites. I found out about mine through a casting website. With the F Word, it was a competition I entered so it was advertised in a current F Word programme. You can also network and I’d say that Social media such as Twitter, or facebook can be very useful for posts from companies that you might be interested in.

What about the filming, tell us about that…

There was a real positive vibe for each show that was shot. I had to do 4 shows, each edited down to 1 hour long but filming each one probably took an average of 3 hours.  It was tiring and really intense but fun. The hours were long and without many breaks! That’s showbusiness! Most of the other people appearing on the show all knew it was for their benefit and most people were on the ball and energetic. We were very well treated and there was lots of help from runners etc. It’s important to know that when you film a TV show, there is always a tiny rehearsal and what is known as spotting, which means they check lighting, sound etc. while getting you to do something silly like pretend to move about, talk, cook, move your hands etc. 

And do you have any say about the final edit?

None whatsoever. You sign a disclaimer so the show has the rights to use what they please.  Also, I found it quite difficult getting hold of a copy and also use of logos etc. I managed to get them in the end so you must persevere!

Any advice for anyone wanting to do a similar thing? 

Go for it! Don’t hesitate but be prepared to do lots of work and your own PR.  When you appear on a show, you don’t automatically get access to some special PR or marketing guru selling you in to the papers. You have to put the leg work in yourself. I’ve found TV a mixed bag but always worth doing. It might be tough and not necessarily immediate fame but it does mean you can mention it on all your marketing and PR material and it does gain you some kudos.

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