The conflicts in reality TV as we seen in the most recent “old days” were created by show creators’ or casting directors’ gut instinct. They put interesting people or people with opposing characteristics on a show and “hope” for the best.
The Chicken or The Egg – Casting for Reality session at 2012 Banff World Media Festival gave me a deep and insightful insider look of the current practice in casting for reality TV. Psychological personality tests like the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2) are used to precisely create (I debate using the word “manipulate”) the reality TV casts composition to manufacture the right mix for “fireworks” to happen on screen.
The Good and The Bad
I agree that tests like MMPI-2 will help screened out extreme contestants that should NOT to be allowed on TV in order to protect themselves from potential harm (sometimes self-inflicted). In some sense, even the contestants have probably signed their lives away and give up any rights to launch any legal actions if anything go wrong (an analogy is the forms you have to sign before your parachute jump), the reality TV shows makers should be more aware and ready to provide help to the contestants when troubles arises. The speakers of the session are aware the duty of care they are responsible of, even though they may not be legally bound to. Have a watch of the follow video clip and share your thoughts.
Since we are talking about reality TV, Ricky Gervais, winner of the Sir Peter Ustinov Award for Comedy at the 2010 Banff World TV Festival, had an interesting take in the finale of Extras (highly recommended funny comedy). I was lucky to ask Ricky specifically about the finale. Here is a clip. (broken clip link fixed in 20200421)
Official The Chicken or The Egg session description from 2012 Banff.
“The Chicken or The Egg – Casting For Reality
Uncovering the characters in reality television can be a challenge as producers search for engaging and genuine subjects. In this behind-the-scenes look at the nuances of discovering incredible individuals to participate in this ever growing genre, you will hear first-hand from a producer and personality expert from some of the hottest reality shows. They will discuss the fine line between creating television that is entertaining, yet not exploitative, that presents the nitty-gritty of real-life drama.
What is the creative process in finding the characters that drive our favourite reality shows?
What are some of the challenges in putting together the perfect ensemble cast of characters?
What is the network involvement in casting for reality series?”
Official 2012 Banff bio for Jonathan Glazier.
“Jonathan Glazier – Creative Director – Entertainment Master Class and Pepper Rafferty Read the rest of this entry »