A Seattle mom that juggles two kids, a new dog, and a business partner husband all while producing multiple reality TV shows is Jenni Hogan’s “brilliant brain” on this week’s Next Big Thing podcast.
Anna Rodzinski and husband Brian run PSG Films together. The Seattle-based production company has created shows for TLC, the Discovery Channel and National Geographic, with credits including “Alaska State Troopers,” and the “Virgin Diaries.”
Brian dreamed up the production company in college and Anna cut her teeth in Seattle shops like long-running KOMO show “Northwest Afternoon.” These days, the couple lives TV production 24/7.
“When you own a production company, you’re constantly in development, that’s the business,” says Anna, who says she’s thinking up or changing ideas around the clock. “It’s exhausting, but that’s why I guess you have to love what you do.”
The pair have been married for five years, and in that time, Anna says they’ve rarely not worked together. “Our relationship is really embedded with work.”
A lot of their business ideas come about just around the house.
Conversations about show ideas happen multiple times throughout the day, she says. Someone will pop up, “I have an idea.” She says many times they don’t stick. “Ninety-nine out of 100 times we both come to the conclusion, eh it’s not that good, or eh it’s been done.”
But regardless of whether the idea is a keeper, Anna says it’s rewarding each time you come up with one. And of course, there are those ideas that are deemed worthy to act on, and that’s when the work really begins.
“The idea is one thing. The characters behind the idea are a completely other thing,” says Anna. “That’s what’s hard to find because you can have a good idea, if you don’t have the right characters, it won’t go anywhere.”
She says they have three people working full time to find the right characters for a show currently in development.
“We’ve come to the conclusion that we need to talk to every single person in this town before we come to a decision about who’s the best character.”
The original germ also requires a huge commitment from networks and film crews as the project moves forward. Anna says to produce an hour of TV for air can cost anywhere from $200,000 to $600,000. And there’s risks beyond the financial stake. Crew members working on their “Alaska State Troopers” show never know what’s coming around the next turn.
“Some of our producers wear bullet-proof vests because you never know what is going to happen and you have to be safe.”
Those wild moments are what the audience loves, and she says the crew and everyone behind it has to love it too.
“We say that to people who come to work at PSG Films. We’re like, ‘This isn’t a job, television is not a job […] It’s a lifestyle. You’ve got to want it bad because otherwise it’s just not going to be worth it,” she says. “It is a lot of sacrifice, so you definitely have to be fulfilled by it.'”
At least for Anna and Brian, they’re into the challenge. She says if life slowed down, she’d just be looking for more to work on.
Of course, Hogan had to ask what the next big thing is for PSG Films. Anna is exciting about their new show “Blood and Oil” coming out mid-June.
“It is about a family-owned oil business … the patriarch passed away and the torch was passed onto the oldest son,” says Anna. “Now he’s kind of leading the family in their search for oil and trying to keep it within the family and not lose out to big oil.”
The show will debut this summer on the Discovery Channel following “Deadliest Catch.”