How To Get On A Reality TV Show
Appearing on a reality TV show can be the perfect oppotunity to gain an instant audience for any type of business oppotunity, anything from launching a DJ career to starting a new business. Then with the use of some smart online marketing and some clever use of a variety of social media platforms. In my blog post 'How to launch a career from one TV appearance'. you can discover for yourself just how easy it can be.
The hard part is getting selected to appear on a reality TV show from a large pool of wannabe reality TV stars. Unless you are lucky enough to have industry insider information on how you can ace the casting process and become a TV producers first choice for their show, or lucky enough to be reading this blog where I crack open the TV industries secrets by sharing everything I learnt from 12 years working my way up in the industry.
In order to make it through every stage of casting for a reality TV show you first need to understand how the reality TV industry operates and how it uses real people to make entertaining "reality" TV shows that have the potential to gain high viewing figures.
A Show About Reality?
Factual Entertainment shows, blue light shows, fixed rig documentaries, dramalities and observational documentaries are just some of the different TV formats that are more commonly known amongst the viewing public as reality TV. The broadcasters and production companies that commission these shows all compete with one another for the largest audience viewing figures. The success of a show is measured by the numbers of people watching. The more viewers a show gets the more success everyone involved in the show will experience. As a show becomes more successful the casting process becomes more competitive. Really great casting can be the essential foundations for a highly successful TV show. The way the reality TV industry works is a closely guarded secret due to the many grey areas the broadcasters and production companies operate in. Reality TV formats rely on the illusion that anyone taking part in one of these shows, believes that the producers are making a show about reality. When in actual fact reality is very rarely featured in any reality TV show. Reality TV takes real life people with complex stories then presents them as highly exaggerated versions of themselves with very black n white stories so the viewers can enjoy the process of easily labelling them as a fairly common cultural stereotype then enjoy watching them clash with one another in a carefully crafted chain of scenes and interviews that control the way you think and feel.
The Reality TV Agenda
It may come as a bit of a surprise to you all, and some of you will be sure that this doesn't apply to you but when you watch a reality TV show many of your emotional responses to what you are seeing are not your own. As you watch each scene your emotional response will change, develop, go on a bit of a journey if you like. The way you feel about a character or situation will change from scene to scene. This is not a random process and in actual fact you are being gently manipulated to think and feel exactly how the producer of the show intended you to feel. This chain of induced emotional responses are designed to maximise the shows entertainment value. Just like a good novel or a great film, reality TV shows require very similar components in order for them to successfully entertain you. Great characters, character development, great story content, story development, jeopardy, drama, comedy, suspense are just a few of the essentials for making a story more entertaining, no matter which medium it is presented in. So in order for the reality TV producers to be confident that their footage captures all the essentials needed for a entertaining 30 minute or 1 hour episode they will secure, plan, schedule and script everything beforehand based on casting biographies for every individual being filmed and on predictions made from interviews about their beliefs, interests, likes, hates and quirks and how these things will be expressed as they behave and interact with one another.
The Ideal Contributor
If all the above hasn't put you off and you still want to be selected for a reality TV show you will need to convince the TV producers that you are the ideal contributor for their TV show. Obviously different tv shows look for different types of contributors depending on the type of program they are making but there are some things that all the different types of reality tv show will look for when selecting the ideal contributor.
The ideal reality TV star or contributor (as they are referred to in the industry) , will require the following in order for their application form to be shortlisted by the casting team..
Great Character - Be an expressive communicator with their conversation and body language. Heaps of personality, confidence, be opinionated and outspoken about their beliefs. Sitting on the fence about things is highly frustrating for any director because it contributes very little entertaining content.
Stereotype - Casting producers are keen to package you into a stereotypical profile that’s easy for Jo public to understand. If you were to be the most colourful, most entertaining version of yourself possible which stereotype would you be? The posh cougar, the grumpy old man, the bitchy camp guy, the fake glamour girl, the bossy head mistress, the snobby Thatcherite, You may not like the stereotype that you most likely be identified as but there is very little point trying to chose any other because you will struggle to be consistent. Your stereotype has to come across as genuine and that means it has to be an exaggerated version of who you are already.
Diversity -TV guidelines require more diversity and inclusivity to be represented in their programs so if you have anything about you that can identify as a minority then you would be far more successful if you make this known or even better exaggerate it in some way. Race, sexual identity, cultural identity, religious identity, the more obvious the more it will work in your favour in the initial casting.
A Great Backstory – An individual backstory can sometimes make up half the show. The backstory is there to introduce your character, your purpose for being on the show and get the viewers to relate to who you are and invest themselves enough to care about what happens to you in the show. If you are on a makeover show the backstory will convince the viewers that you are highly deserving of some good fortune in your life due to something special you did or some hardship you overcame.
Mastering The Test Shoot / Reccee
Once you have impressed the casting team with your application they will want to speak with you over the phone. They will have a series of questions that will dig a little deeper and find out if you are everything you say you are in your application form. They will then arrange a time to do a test shoot with you, known as a recce. This often involves coming to your home to do a short interview on camera and capture some action footage of you so they can edit a short video of you that takes all the best bits from your application form. So remember to express the best parts of from your backstory and your most entertaining character traits.
You will also need to show them that you can easily forget about the camera. If they think you are unable to relax because you are self-conscious about how your are coming across on camera you will be rejected. The less self conscious you are the more natural and genuine you will come across on camera, so its an absolute must that you do everything you can to forget about the camera and enjoy yourself.
How to be the star on a reality TV show
Once you have been selected for the show they will have a casting biog written about you which will sum you up in a series of bullet points, exaggerating your characteristic, beliefs and personality traits and if you are appearing on the show with other people they will have exactly the same but all of you will be very different and some of you will have characteristic, beliefs and personality traits that are going to conflict with one another and its likely that the producers will be planning scenes where these differences will be put to battle in order to add drama to the show. Its important you play along and give them what they want. they don't need to know that you are just playing along. Give a convincing performance by playing to your stereotype. The other people on the show with you will be totally unaware of what is really happening so you are at an advantage and you will be able to produce and direct them in the same way the director does it. Just make sure you don't get found out. You need to play dumb and appear to be as unaware as the other people being filmed alongside you.
If you want to make sure that you are the star of the show you will need to make sure that you are having interesting interactions with the other characters being filmed and make sure you explain these interactions in the interviews in an entertaining way. That means revealing private thoughts about them and about how they are behaving with one another. Try to come out with funny sound bites, try to come up with funny nicknames for the others taking part. If you really want to be the star have a romance with someone or a conflict. Add drama and comedy to everything you do and encourage the others to do and say things that add comedy and drama. Don't be two faced or stir up trouble between people. Although this would make you the star you will also be the bady. You can encourage people to behave in entertaining ways without being nasty about it.. Think about how you can get a funny story going between people then watch it unfold. You can be subtle enough to not be labeled the bad guy.
As soon as your TV appearance gets broadcast you will want to use various social media platforms to engage with your new audience but there are some highly effective things you can do online before broadcast, there is even something that you can do during broadcast as well. The key thing to remember is that the more people giving you their undivided attention the more valuable and powerful you are as an online brand. The world's most valuable resource was once gold, then in the 20th century it was oil but today in our fast paced, ever changing modern world the most valuable resource by far is data. Or to be more precise consumer data. Data on how, when and where we are all spending our money and what makes us want to spend. This valuable data is then used to influence us in a way that can make companies very wealthy. If you have a large audience of people who care about what you have to say you have something these companies want a piece of. Having a large audience of people following you and reading everything you share online can be used in a variety of highly effective ways so making sure you don't miss out on making use of these opportunities is really important. You can read more about this in 'How You Launch A Career From One Reality TV Appearance'.