Monday, October 31, 2011

Marketing a movie: it's a win-win for everyone

Having good marketing skills is the trick to avoiding an unpleasant experience at the movie theater. Then again, you still have to follow through after hyping up the movie. One of the five peculiarities that Drake outlines is that “admission might buy the social experience of cinemagoing rather than to see the particular film." In my opinion, this basically explains that some people go see a movie simply for the purpose of going out and being with people. It’s understandable. I’ve done it before. For example, I dated a girl once that made me go see "Sorority Row" with her. Yikes. That was awful. Just awful. Almost as bad as "Prom Night," which my roommate and his girlfriend were watching on Sunday morning for some reason. Anyway, Drake goes on to explain that cinemagoing can be a risky business for both the consumer and for the film financers. It’s risky for the consumer because they might see a terrible movie at the price of both the film and the social experience. It’s risky for the financer because they can’t change the ticket prices based on how good or bad the movie is.

Movie marketing helps reduce the peculiarity of this experience and the very first thing I thought of when I saw this part of the question is the midterm exam that I wrote for class a couple of weeks ago. I wrote about "Paranormal Activity 3" and in it I talked about how they marketed the film. They hyped the movie up so much through social media sites like Twitter and Facebook that they had people flocking to the theaters. The contest on Twitter was to “Tweet your scream” and the city with the most responses got special access to see the movie first. It was a great idea because it took the film to a national level. In fact, Melbourne, Australia was one of the cities that won. The strategy helped the financers and producers make big bucks because the movie only cost $5 million to make but they netted over $50 million in the first weekend because they did a tremendous job of marketing it. In addition, the film got pretty good reviews. Therefore, it’s a win-win for consumers and financers. Financers make money and consumers see a good movie while enjoying a pleasurable movie-going experience.

Ticket Prices: the equalizers of film

The price of tickets for all films is exactly the same. This is one of the things that is unusual about Hollywood films. No matter the amount of production, or marketing money put in, the price is still the same at theaters. If ticket prices were more on a scale for what films cost to make (i.e. more expensive films = more expensive tickets and vice versa) or perhaps on how much the exhibitor paid to obtain the films, popular movies would completely change. For example, if this were the case lesser known films would be more popular since they would be cheaper to see. While films that generally cost more would probably try to cut down their budgets in order to compete with lesser films. In a system where ticket prices are exactly the same price, there is a level playing field. The only decision is which films people want to see and that is created by accessibility and marketing. A film gets seen that is actually showing in theaters, that is the first step: access to a film. The second is more complicated. Because it is a level playing field, and movie making is an expensive risk, films are advertised and marketed as much as possible. There are trailers, web advertisements, billboards, interviews, posters, merchandise and more. All of these things create a buzz that must not only get people to make the choice to go see a particular film in theaters but also create revenue after the film is done. The more a marketing team is able to spread the word in as many different facets of the media as possible, the better the film will do, and therefore make it more likely to be seen in theaters. So with ticket prices being the same for all films, it just comes down to which has the buzz and is marketed better.

A good example of this process was with Disney/Pixar's Cars 2. This is a sequel, thereby creating a franchise out of the Cars series, which also makes it a more likely choice for audiences to see. Before Cars 2 came out, Toys R Us, Walmart, and the Disney Stores all had toys, clothing, and other merchandise with the film. This created a buzz for the film as audiences saw returning characters and new characters. With Disney's global mobility, the film was also able to be heavily marketed outside the United States as well. All of these marketing techniques created a success story for Cars 2 when it finally came out in theaters.

High Risks and High Costs of P&A in Cinematic Releases

Drake outlines five peculiarities of Hollywood films as cultural goods in the article “Distribution and Marketing in Contemporary Hollywood”. One of the peculiarities of blockbuster marketing that piqued my interest is the cultural value of seeing a movie in the cinema. As noted by Drake, box office sales account for only one quarter of movies revenue, with the rest of the revenue being comprised of DVD sales, international release, and licensing. Although many Americans might assume box office sales would play a much larger role in revenue generation, it is important to note that they are disproportionately valuable in terms of overall revenue generation for cinematic releases. Box office sales serve as important indicators of a films overall profit potential, heavily influence the value of a film in overseas markets, and play a large role in constructing a movies marquee value. In other words, box office sales are vitally important because of their role in determining the financial worth of a movie in after cinematic release sales, which make up three quarters of a films revenue.

Also important to note is the risk associated with a cinematic release. Given the high production costs of a blockbuster, uncertainty of a movies profitability, and the importants of block buster sales, producers and studios pay a great deal of money to advertise their releases, and garner hype for their productions. In 2005, blockbusters had an average production cost of 60 million dollars, and a P&A (pint and advertising) cost of 36 million dollars (half the cost of production). The reason for this high investment in a movies marketing and advertising lie in the understanding of P&A as a revenue stabilizing expenditure. Movies that are not advertised well enough simply do not develop the hype needed to succeed as cinematic releases.

This leads to the question, how does movie marketing help reduce the risk associated with blockbuster releases? One simple answer is that P&A increases benefits of cinematic attendance to a particular movie. Movies play an extremely important role in our culture; people quote them, talk about them, learn from them, and experience a cultural phenomena by attending them. By paying top dollar to advertise a production, producers are actively reminding viewers of the aforementioned cultural benefits associated with movie attendance. And because admission might buy a social experience rather than viewing a particular movie, it is vital to studios that viewers see their movies over others.

The Film Industry: Choice, But Not Much Choice














In our discussion of Drake’s article about distribution and marketing, one point in particular makes Hollywood a unique industry: “films are product-differentiated in more complex ways than other categories of products (64)”. This fact is very interesting, especially when considering the number of options that are available at any given time in theaters. However, part of the film industry’s success is that while it gives cinemagoers various options for genres, it does not give them much choice across these genres. Unlike television, where there are now so many specialized networks that produce shows to very specific audiences due to the rise of cable networks, moviegoers are limited to one or maybe two films that fit the genres which they want to see. Speaking from a personal standpoint, I usually only go to the theater to see a comedy movie, and I am picky about what comedy movies I want to see, so I rarely go to the theater (I haven’t been to theaters since Horrible Bosses, and I won’t be back until I go see the new Harold and Kumar).

This model sets up a unique situation for people that go to the theater; sometimes it is not an issue of seeing a particular movie, but instead it becomes an issue of what would be the best movie based on a particular genre. A great example of this occurred this past weekend; it was Halloween and amazingly the only scary movie with a wide release was Paranormal Activity 3, so if one wanted to see a scary movie this past weekend, there was one option. This creates an interesting problem for the consumer: do you go to the theater to see a movie because it is in a certain genre, or do you not go because you don’t care about the particular film. In addition to this personal problem, because going to the movie theater is a group activity, the opinions of what others want to see must also be factored in to movie selection. Going back to Drake’s point, just about every film is different than their counterparts, but because options within genre are limited in theaters, the consumer’s choice often comes down to whether or not they have the money or will to see a movie, with the quality of the film being secondary in most cases. This could be one reason why Oscar winning films are not widely viewed in theaters and why the blockbuster film is a critical business tactic for Hollywood studios.

Ticket Prices and the Risk of Film Making

Philip Drake discusses 5 peculiarities of Hollywood films that make them riskier to produce than a typical consumer good. Ticket prices at a given theater are not variable for each film, but instead they are constant and each film costs the same amount. This has a great affect on each film because no two films cost the exact same amount of money to produce. Producers put the amount of money into a film they feel they can get back from revenue, and when a theater charges the same price for a movie that cost $30 million to produce and a movie that cost $5 million to produce it leads to a great deal of risk for expensive movies. If they do not bring in revenue at the box office, the producers of and investors in the film will lose a lot of money.

Marketing is one strategy that can help ease the risk of level ticket prices. As stated earlier this is a lot more important for expensive movies, but a tactic used by all movies. First of all, marketing can show the future movie-goers what makes the movie so great; and how the millions of dollars spent producing it went to good use. For example, if a movie is shot in 3D, marketing can show the consumers how great 3D is and create a buzz for the uniqueness of the movie. Also, marketing can show audiences that may not plan on going to the movies that there is a movie in theaters they might be interested in. Advertisements do just that, and the more people that know about a certain movie, the more people it has the opportunity to appeal to, which lessens the large amount of risk inherently built into film making. In the end, the more people are talking about a certain film, the less risk there is that people will not go to see it. More viewers makes the non-variable ticket prices less of an issue.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

3 Questions for Kacey Hagler

1. What are the differences when promoting movies for different audiences? (families, teens, children, adults, etc.)

2. How is promoting documentaries different than a typical movie?

3. What are some major differences between working at Searchlight and working at Disney?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Reality Success


Reality TV has taken the global television culture by storm encouraging ordinary people with no training or television background to get involved in the production of shows and star in them. Referencing to Havens and Lotz's commercial mandate and economic conditions, the brilliant concept of reality TV meets the criteria for a successful show. The primary goal for a television show is to make profit and the best way to do that is to find an audience and gain a following. What better way to reach an audience is there than getting them involved with starring in the show and helping produce the show. Reality TV shows like MTV's Jersey Shore and FOX's American Idol incorporate the audience around the world and give them a huge role. The stars of Jersey Shore are ordinary people that are part of the entertainment cultural production in the US and therefore are willing to divulge personal information on national television as well as express themselves beyond traditional norms in order to capture the attention of producers and the viewing audience. The best parts about casting ordinary people to star in a show are the cost to cast the stars and the quality of performance. They are cheap and willing to work for low wages for fame and they are not expected to be quality actors because they don't have any training. This fits television's commercial mandate if the audience gravitates towards them. But since the actors are similar to the audience they are relatable. And since a lot of reality TV shows use conflict or alcohol to encourage conflict, people are interested.

Which brings me to my next point of interactivity. What better way to keep audience interested than to give the audience some sort of production control. Now reality shows like American Idol, have given the audience voting and responsive capabilities through telephone and online voting to live performances and through blogging. The interactivity gives the fans a sense of empowerment of the show of their choice. They invest the time to watch the show and now they have the ability to change the show to what they see fit by adding their own input. The script-less, non-big named relatable cast, and interactivity from the audience are the perfect ingredients to a successful show the meets the commercial mandate and follows the economic conditions. Networks and producers are formatting shows off one another based on contest, reality conflict, and talk shows because the trends are pointing too a strong success.

3 Questions for Magical Elves:

1. What’s the hardest part about producing a TV show?

2. Magical Elves seems to focus on producing reality tv shows so how do you pick an event that occurs in reality to base a show around?

3. How did you get into the production side of the Entertainment business?

Audience Interactivity- Is it necessary?

I chose the program “America’s Next Great Restaurant” in order to study the idea of interactivity in reality TV. The show’s format follows 21 contestants, from across the US, who think that they have the next new and innovative idea for a restaurant in the US. There are 4 “investors” that act as the judges, mentors, and the source of funding for the winning restaurant. The winner is given the opportunity to launch their idea for the next new restaurant chain. After reading the Grindstaff article, it is evident that reality shows with interactivity experience success because the audience feels involved, sometimes to the point that they are considered a producer. This includes voting, online interactivity with blogs, surveys, and chat groups, and the opportunity for audience members to voice their opinion whether in a studio or online. In the case of “America’s Next Great Restaurant” the audience is not involved in the actual voting off process but they are able to interact on the show’s page on the NBC website. On the main page for the show there is a “What Do You Think?” poll that allows the audience to voice their opinion on what they want for the next great restaurant. Digging deeper into the website there is a community section. This offers the audience a chance to enter a contest to win a meal at the winning restaurant, connect with the show on Facebook, Twitter, and message boards, and a link to the “America’s Next Great Restaurant” blog. What I found to be the most creative form of interactivity was the implementation of a challenge for the audience to participate it. The audience is given the opportunity to become a restaurant critic and they “are awarded points for participation and interaction” (NBC website). For example, if a “critic” followed the show on Twitter they would receive 50 points. These are all chances for the audience to become further connected to their show which will result in the audience feeling as if they have a voice. But have they worked?


In my opinion, the interactivity for the audience in the case of “America’s Next Great Restaurant” does not impact the actual production in any major way. Unlike shows in which the audience makes the decision, “America’s Next Great Restaurant” relies on the judges to make the ultimate decision. The decision is not in the hands of America. The audience does not have the power to affect the outcome of the show and this is something that production companies favor. The only regulation that needs to occur is on the social media sites offered by NBC. After searching through the message boards, blogs, Facebook and Twitter, it seems that the audience members who actually watched the show received it well. But I came to quickly find out that there will be no “America’s Next Great Restaurant 2”. The restaurant that was started from the first season has closed due to lack of interest. Does this have something to do with the shows minimal interactivity? I am looking forward to asking Mr. Homlish his opinions on this show



1. How did you get into this industry? It is a difficult industry to break into and therefore were you forced start from the bottom and work your way up?

2. Do you believe that audience interactivity is an important component to the success of a reality TV show? Did America's Next Great Restaurant" need more

3. How do you feel about the accusations that reality TV is not actually real and that it goes through an extensive editing process?

Question Reality

1) The rise of reality television certainly took many by surprise. But, what I am wondering now is when, if ever the market will become over saturated with this type of programming?

2) Reality TV is supposed to reflect reality. Do you find this to be true, why or why not?

3) Are there any moral imperatives for reality television producers. Is thee a code of ethics, or unwritten rules. What is game in the world of reality television, and do you believe you should be able to use more, or should have to use less?

Reality Success


Reality TV has taken the global television culture by storm encouraging ordinary people with no training or television background to get involved in the production of shows and star in them. Referencing to Havens and Lotz's commercial mandate and economic conditions, the brilliant concept of reality TV meets the criteria for a successful show. The primary goal for a television show is to make profit and the best way to do that is to find an audience and gain a following. What better way to reach an audience is there than getting them involved with starring in the show and helping produce the show. Reality TV shows like MTV's Jersey Shore and FOX's American Idol incorporate the audience around the world and give them a huge role. The stars of Jersey Shore are ordinary people that are part of the entertainment cultural production in the US and therefore are willing to divulge personal information on national television as well as express themselves beyond traditional norms in order to capture the attention of producers and the viewing audience. The best parts about casting ordinary people to star in a show are the cost to cast the stars and the quality of performance. They are cheap and willing to work for low wages for fame and they are not expected to be quality actors because they don't have any training. This fits television's commercial mandate if the audience gravitates towards them. But since the actors are similar to the audience they are relatable. And since a lot of reality TV shows use conflict or alcohol to encourage conflict, people are interested.

Which brings me to my next point of interactivity. What better way to keep audience interested than to give the audience some sort of production control. Now reality shows like American Idol, have given the audience voting and responsive capabilities through telephone and online voting to live performances and through blogging. The interactivity gives the fans a sense of empowerment of the show of their choice. They invest the time to watch the show and now they have the ability to change the show to what they see fit by adding their own input. The script-less, non-big named relatable cast, and interactivity from the audience are the perfect ingredients to a successful show the meets the commercial mandate and follows the economic conditions. Networks and producers are formatting shows off one another based on contest, reality conflict, and talk shows because the trends are pointing too a strong success.

3 Questions for Magical Elves:

1. What’s the hardest part about producing a TV show?

2. Magical Elves seems to focus on producing reality tv shows so how do you pick an event that occurs in reality to base a show around?

3. How did you get into the production side of the Entertainment business?

Creating Good Reality TV: THe fabrication of an organic process

Good reality TV needs two components to make viewers believe in the shows “actuality”. The participants on the show must seem like ‘ordinary’ people and the emotions on the show seem unscripted. Since these shows participants are not trained actors, producers worry that influencing the participant too much will untimely effect the money shot. To produce good reality TV producers construct situations were conflict will naturally arise, thus participants true emotions will show through, giving viewers the desired product of people behaving badly.

She cites Hochschild’s idea of emotional work; emotions are the medium through which people express themselves. Emotional work is one’s attempt to fit with social guidelines. When produces become involved to produce a specific emotional reaction emotional work becomes emotional labor. The producers job is to put participants in situations where their emotions will shock audiences thus drawing in viewers. By giving participants ’wood’ they can then go out an perform for the audience.

I think it is important to examine the role of producer interaction in order to produce good reality TV. The key on shows like Big Brother and Jersey Shore is to make all drama look organic. Producers seem to walk a tightrope to keep the balance between creating situations and believable drama. Producers get directions from the network executives of what the network wants the show to look like, and it is their job to deliver. On lower budgeted shows like Maury producers use the elements of shock and surprise to excite emotion. The stories on the show are very outrageous, far removed form ordinary life, which entices viewers. Producers as well as audiences are never quite sure what will happen next. While this is a headache for producers it can also lead to some amazing TV because it is so “off the cuff”. I have become a big fan of Up All Night and after reading this article I will be paying much closer attention to Christina Applegate’s character as a producer to see how she creates good TV.

1) Has the drama on a TV show become so out of hand you worried the show would seem unbelievable or disliked by viewers.

2) How did you know you wanted to become a producers? Was it a situation were the opportunity arose and you took advantage of it, or was becoming a producer the goal all along

3) Have you ever had major conflict with network executives on how they wanted uyou to change one of your shows?

The Power of Interactivity: To what extent does it rule reality TV?

Any audience wants to be as much a part of the show they are watching as possible. Because of this, shows respond by incorporating the audience to the best of its ability. This concept of interactivity is one that has become extremely prevalent in reality television. I thought one of the best examples given, was the fact that more people voted on who should win American Idol in 2000 than the presidential election. This shows the extent to which people feel compelled to involve themselves with the shows they love. Producers have catered to this idea, and given much of the power they possess, to the audiences they attract. The Grindstaff article state, “To consider everyone a potential producer is to minimize both the power and responsibility traditional production staff exercise in the reality arena (74).” While this is true, it also seems to be an adaptation of big time producers, to stay updated with the way their audiences are being drawn into their shows. People want to have the voting power of a show, people want to be have the possibility of being brought onto a show, and everyone wants to have their own say for what the show does.

Reality television has embraced this idea in several ways. With the concept of voting on a show, the audience see’s themselves as the deciding factor for who or what should win. These contests bring about a loyalty to the show, which keeps them coming back. Because of this, more and more shows are incorporating this aspect into the framework of the show itself. Another example is open casting calls. This is shown by shows like the Last Comic Standing and Step it Up and Dance. These shows travel the country to find new contestants, and bring these people onto the show to star and potentially create a future for him or her self. It allows the audience to think, “Can I be the next big thing?” With the hope of getting to participate in the show, and or to watch the success of an ordinary Joe, keeps people hopeful and involved. Interactivity then becomes the driving force behind how the production of “new” shows will be. As more and more reality television fills our screens, there will be more and more interactivity to follow. People like this, people want this, and big time networks know it! As long as there are shows to which people can potentially see themselves succeeding, or watch ordinary people like themselves make a name, networks will continue to structure show after show with this idea in mind…

3 Questions:

1) To what extent does this idea of interactivity and audience participation affect the overall outlook of a network when designing new and successful shows?

2) In terms of reality television, what do you see in the next ten years? Will there be shows that reflect the old, successful reality TV that we know as a generation, or do you see a new framework that truly has potential?

3) How did you get involved with what you do, and what advice would you give to someone looking into the media industry for a potential career?

What Makes Reality TV "Good"?

In previous class discussions we have talked about both commercial and noncommercial media and how there success is measured. We determined that commercial is based of profit and noncommercial depends upon meeting the people’s needs. But how do we determine if a show is actually “good” (that is, dramatic) or “bad”? Are dramatic shows successful at meeting people’s needs and or making profit?

On page 76, Grindstaff asks, “How, then, to guarantee good (that is, dramatic) television using ordinary people”. In her response she mentions that traditionally producers look for potential conflicts to get rise out of the viewers. The encouragement of confrontational situations is present in both talk and reality shows. Grindstaff then goes off to say that there can be major negative consequences that may occur between the “ordinary” guests. For example, conflict can allow participants to get to out of control and unable to manage along with quitting the show. Which would not typically be a positive outcome for the production itself. In addition, both reality and talk shows are considered to be successful because the producer relies on “everyday life skills of emotion management” (p.76). The average viewer is able to relate to the participants on a more “real” and intimate level.

Moving on, I defiantly believe that conflict is a major factor that will determine a reality or talk shows success. However, most reality shows must also contain attractive people, not so attractive people, partying, sex, and alcohol for it to be “good”. In today’s media sex and alcohol sell, and it is portrayed heavily in popular shows like Jersey Shore and Real World. Sex and alcohol seem to always perpetuate confrontations, so there presence is very significant. Would a show like Jersey Shore be successful without sex and alcohol? It would be interesting to watch a reality show that is substance free, and practices abstinence. Looking at other shows such as Survivor and or talent oriented shows where sex and alcohol is not present. Conflict stems from the survival of the fittest; one must do everything in their power to be the best.

In all, presence of confrontational situations do make a reality or talk show “good”. In the past few years we have whiteness both commercial and noncommercial success within dramatic productions.

Discussion Questions: Christian Homlish

1. How much power and authority do producers actually have within reality TV? Are producers looking for cast members to shape the show they have preplanned in their head? Or Do they actually allow the participants to shape the direction of the show?

2. What is the average production cost for reality shows? Who pays for what? Do the participants have to pay for anything during the time of filming?

3. What has been your favorite show that you have work on and or produced?



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ordinary Stars

With today's reality TV show stars there a new sense of intimacy between the audience and the star. These stars are supposedly the everyday person, therefore making them more relatable to the the viewer and encouraging interactivity. With this relationship established, producers and networks take advantage of this relationship and create access to the star. By having these people be unknown people who are usually looking for a way to become popular in the audience's mind, it also opens up for more outlets that that star is likely to use to reach that audience. Also with more access to the show there are also new ways to interact with the show beyond the actual content, especially through the show's website. This is a part of interactivity. For example, the show Top Chef. On the Top Chef website there are plenty ways to connect with the show beyond the content. There are blogs and recipes from their favorite contestants on the show. Also there are recaps of the show and extra features such as casting videos, merchandise, and games. These are all ways that the audience can further their interactions with the show. This show encourages interactivity further by the subject of the show. The contestants are chefs and everyone needs to learn how to cook, thereby forming a link between the professional and the viewer. Reality TV and Top Chef have to do more things to make it interactive. They have to cast people that come on that are relatable but also entertaining to encourage viewers to want to learn more about the participant. Once this relationship is made people choose a person to root for and one to root against. Reality TV depends upon viewers attaching themselves to the "ordinary" people on their show and following people along as they go through the different challenges of the show and (in this case) fight to the death to become a top chef.
1) What made the company pick these ideas for TV shows vs. others?
2) What's one project you really wanted to see get done but never made it to production? Why didn't it make it?
3) There is a lot of reality TV here, do you hope to later go into other genres or TV?

Recipe for Success with Reality Television

Producers of reality television create the good (dramatic) television by creating conflict situations. With reality shows like Survivor where there is a cash prize and people vote each other off this is not needed because the contest creates these conflict situation. The voting process forces contestants who are normally fair moral people to scheme, create alliances, and then stab those alliances in the back in order to win. In the case of Survivor, they combine the stress of voting off your peers with hunger, fatigue, and dehydration. The combination of all of those things together is reality television gold.

On the other side of it there are the shows like The Real World, which is more about relationships and drama than about competition. Here they replace hunger and fatigue with excessive amounts of alcohol, and inebriated people once again create reality television gold. In either case the shows have put a group of strangers and forced them to live in close quarters for an extensive period of time.

Personally I think that any kind of show that has these elements have a recipe for success. The amount of success is more dependant on the editors because each of these shows are going to have hours upon hours of drama and what you use becomes the question.

A new culture in media?

Grindstaff explains a media approach that takes into account all external factors that can influence a particular culture. In my opinion, her research in what she says is labeled “the production of culture school” is a strategy that pulls every aspect of the media industry together and how this full-circle industry influences the essential aspects of media culture. This strategy can productively analyze media culture because it does not place emphasis on just one section of media. It focuses on the big picture. For example, she does not solely factor in the distribution figures of a particular media text but she instead looks at how the media is shaped, what can influence cultural demands (such as race, gender) and what emotions are triggered from the media. It is important to consider these production practices because it helps the media text become more connected with its audience. In a sense, the approach that considers all aspects of media, including the audience, makes the media-to-audience relationship more intimate. In addition, this approach can lead to media with a strong foundation that is based not just on factual results but also on the power that is triggered by the emotions and reactions of its audience.

Questions:

1. What is your relationship with MTV and the reality shows that they have over there?
2. I noticed the Justin Bieber documentary; were there any other artists that you targeted for a documentary like that?
3. This seems like a cheesy question, but in today’s economy, what advice would you give to someone looking to get into the media industry? Some people just say “take whatever you can get.” Does that apply/did that apply to you?

This is not "Reality" TV

Grindstaff's response to how producers can guarantee good, dramatic, television programs when using ordinary people is that production of these shows must cause conflict. She continues to say the just producing these situations can then cause more problems in themselves due to the show becomingg too unruly or contestants quitting. Producers will force contestants or participants on talk shows directly into conflict situations attempting to play off the participants emotions, drawing the audience in. Producers put ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances like living on an island and competing for a million dollars. When a million dollars is on the line there is bound to be plenty of conflict and emotion. Grindstaff continues to say that producers put in "emotional work" in order to shape the emotions of the contestants into a direction the producer would prefer. Producers will force a show to be shown with circumstances they think the show should be shown.

After reading this aricle I could not help but relate the circumstances Grindstaff was discussing to a show I watched a lot growing up. So naturally the article made me think of Survivor. Many aspects of the article pointed only to creating conflict, which is what Survivor is all about, there is physical competitions leading to direct physical conflict as well as the mental aspect of the game. Another point the article spoke of was shooting hundreds of hours of footage and then showing only portions the producers deem as good television. This is exactly what survivor does is view every minute of the contestants lives on the island. After all of these things being added together producers get exactly what they are looking for physical and mental conflict created by simply the nature of the game. These conflicts then reveal certain emotions about each of the contestants which then draw in an audience. The show has also ran into problems discussed in the article of contestants quitting due to the stress. This all being said, I completely agree with Grindstaff's response, that producers are able to guarantee good shows by forcing contestants into a particular conflict attempting to draw out certain emotions. I can only compare her analysis with a show I have history with and Grindstaff's analysis seems to be right on cue in describing a show that has been very successful and in its twenty third season.

Fan Favorite: Project Runway's Audience Interactions


Reality television has become commonplace on original networks and cable channels. Produces have come up with everything from talk shows, dating shows, a group of Italian-American spending the summer in New Jersey, cook-offs, to finding the newest designer. The possibilities have seemed endless and yet despite the difference in context three things remain the same – competition, drama, and audience participation. “Ordinary” people interacting, living together, and competing for a prize causes nothing but drama and audience opinions.

What has this new voice given American’s? Laura Grindstaff explains that this interaction between reality television and audiences has allowed viewers at home to become potential “producers”. Having the power to vote for a contestant gives voice to the individuals sitting on the couch enjoying their television program. The fans become influential in determining the course of narratives.

Magical Elves Production Company is famous for creating reality television programs that are extremely successful and have won many Emmy’s. One of their most popular programs is Project Runway, a show that follows contestants through fourteen-week process of challenges and eliminations. Unlike some contestant shows, viewers don’t have a “voice” in which contestant is voted off each week. This season Magical Elves changed that by instating a “Who’s your favorite fan?” campaign where viewers were encouraged to tweet at their favorite designers, the contestant with the most mentions at the end of the season wins $10,000. The interaction of the audience engages the viewers and provides a sense of involvement in a venue that used to be out of their control. Audiences know that their voice will be heard and accounted for – this encourages them to watch week after week.

Regardless of on the interaction available for each show – the interaction gives the viewers the power to be “potential producers”. This ultimately creates excited and enthusiastic viewers which lead to higher ratings and ultimately greater success.

Questions for Christian Homlish:

1. When producing a reality television show do producers always look to “type cast”?

2. How much input does the producer have in what is actually said on screen? Are there ever cases where the production staff can force a contestant to say something?

3. How did you get involved in this industry? Have you always been interested?