This year’s Junior Eurovision Song Contest will take place on Saturday (21 November) in Sofia. It’s the first time that Bulgaria has hosted a Eurovision Song Contest, but BNT (Bulgarian National Television) is embracing the challenge and very much looking to the opportunities too.
Stepping into the Arena Armeec, where the contest is taking place, what strikes you most is just the sheer size of the arena and just how many people are involved to make JESC happen.
“It’s much bigger than anything I’ve done before,” commented Joana Levieva-Sawyer, Executive Producer for BNT.
“I’ve been with BNT for over twenty years and we’ve done sporting events and big events, but this is the biggest production we’ve ever done.”
The production challenges of a show like this are enormous. Not only do EBU Members have to produce a broadcast, but they are of course producing what is in effect a complex concert. This means looking after the 17 delegations, rehearsing for four days, as well as ensuring the technical output can be absolutely the best – with 13 cameras, 4 sound desks, pyrotechnics and 400 lights on the set alone.
BNT has about 80 staff directly involved in the event spread across the main arena and other venues around Sofia. These are staff members from all departments - management, camera operators, sound, communications, online and producers.
In addition the show has an international team who work hand in hand with BNT. Many of the international staff have worked on Eurovision Song Contests before and this mix of local and international talent is perhaps one of the most exciting experiences of the production.
“The show is very complex, but a great experience,“ said Executive Producer Joana Levieva-Sawyer.
“The international production team is really great. I love working with John McCullagh, the creative director. He’s just wonderful. And I’ve loved working on the content on screen. I’ve learnt a lot, all the little details, like organising, what you have to do to manage a budget - for instance what you have to drop or what you can keep to still have a great show.”
BNT has also been keen to involve other local producers to join the opportunity. These include Dream Team Films who’ve worked on the recorded Postcards. These videos have been filmed all over Bulgaria and will be broadcast between the live songs. Seven-Eight Productions have been enlisted too to create the theme music for the whole show.
“We’ve created the baby together,” Joana says. “It’s complex but works well. Hopefully it will not be the last and we will manage to do another one like this again.”