Where’s The Talent? The Trouble With Reality TV Casting!
Now that we’re all wrapped on our latest show, Can You Survive A Horror Movie, the team at my production company, Savannah Media, are now fully engaged on one of the most challenging parts of the TV business – finding talent!
Here’s how it works. Imagine a haystack. Then a needle. And then you’ve got a sense of the talent hunting process!
Of course on the surface finding good talent for a TV show seems so easy. If you’re casting for a big, well-established show like Survivor or Big Brother casting is one of the most fun jobs in the industry. I love casting for my reality shows, especially when there’s a prize of actual value at stake. The auditioning process – though exhausting – is one of my favorite parts of the TV making process.
But that’s not the kind of casting I’m talking about. Instead we’re on the hunt for the kind of docu-series talent you’d find on A&E, or Tru TV or Oxygen. And that’s a whole different type of casting!
Thankfully now we’re a little more established we have people approach us about shows but invariably you still have to go out into the world and do some digging!
Often you’re looking for a business as the main focus of a show and I find these tend to split into two main categories. On the one hand you have the company who is DESPERATE to be on TV and are convinced they’re the next great reality discovery. These people are great as they’re willing to play along and open up their businesses to the cameras. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean they’re a home run. Sometimes the problem is that the business is a bit rundown and looks tatty on camera. Or the owner themselves is excited but the team around them are lacking in personality. Or the team as a whole don’t pop on camera, or are too old (yep, TV is that ageist) or lack a specialist skill or talent that makes them stand out.
On the flipside you have the business who have all the key elements but are terrified of what a reality show might involve. They assume that every show out there is going to be like Kitchen Nightmares and destroy their company. And often they ask jealous friends for their advice who invariably stir the pot and advise against taking part in a show! The result is that these companies basically want an infomercial for their company. They don’t want to show any staff dissent, any problems at work, or any real drama. Yep – sounds like a bundle of fun doesn’t it!
‘Expert’ casting is somewhat easier, though the challenge here is finding someone who stands out from the pack. For example you just know that every life coach out there has been approached by OWN, ditto every stylist and wedding expert for the likes of We and Lifetime! Often the challenge with an expert is finding the correct format for them. The laziest format of all is ‘an expert moves into your house and makes over your life!’ From what I’ve head it was all OWN was pretty much pitched for the first year of its existence!
Of course even when you find a great camera you then have to get them on tape – and sell them! There’s a real art to shooting a great sizzle reel and I’ve definitely had some mixed fortunes – I’ve shot some terrific teasers over the years – and some that are definitely not so hot! It really comes down to what your talent gives you on the day and how prepped and planned you are.
The best scenario of all is when a network actually gives you money to go out and cast talent for a show, which often happens for the biggest production companies. Then you can really devote resources to finding a talent, rather than spending your own money on an idea that ultimately may not go anywhere. I’ve known companies who’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on talent tapes that never sold. You definitely need to have deep pockets if you want to play in that world.
All worth thinking about next time you watch your favorite cake / wedding dress / hair salon show. Someone had to find that business or talent in the first place.
Think you fit the bill? So shoot us a line – and maybe you might be our next big talent…
|Print article||This entry was posted by Richard Drew on July 10, 2012 at 10:13 am, and is filed under REALITY. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
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about 3 years ago - 1 comment
Last week We announced their line up of new shows for the summer and fall seasons. Among the offerings – a docu-soap following cosmetically enhanced comedienne Joan Rivers and her daughter Melissa. Meanwhile Dancing With The Stars is basking in the glow of record ratings due to a sensationally cast season – Kate Gosselin, Pamela Anderson, Shannon Doherty – a trio made in tabloid heaven. While over on Celebrity Apprentice the delightfully daffy Cyndi Lauper is proving to be TV gold as she infuriates and alienates her team-mates with long winded stories, chronic ADD and bizarre off kilter ideas.
As someone who’s worked on numerous reality series over the years I think Cyndi is dream casting. She’s exactly who you want on a reality show – a celebrity who hasn’t been overexposed on similar series (hello Brigitte Nielsen) and so has an aura of mystery around them. We all think we know Cyndi Lauper – but now we’re realizing we don’t really know her at all.
Which led me to thinking – who else would be a dream reality show casting?
Here’s 10 celebrities I’d love to see signing up in the near future…