Filming real people is crucial to making unscripted entertainment. It’s also very delicate. It takes trust, respect, forethought, communication, and silly arguments with lawyers. Here are five factors you must consider when filming real people. Don’t roll one second of footage without really thinking these through.
Filming Real People While Earning Their Trust
When someone hands their life over to your cameras, they’re making themselves completely vulnerable. It’s up to you as a good, moral producer to do everything you can to capture and edit an honest and fair portrayal of their story.
This involves massive communication and honesty right from the get-go. Filming real people isn’t like filming actors. They’re not playing a role, they’re bearing their soul.
If you’re not careful, you can inadvertently confuse those you’re filming, and shock them when your project airs. You NEVER want this to happen. That’s why preparing them for what’s about to happen is so important.
What Are They Signing Up For?
Part of preparing your cast is educating them about what kind of show they are joining. A cast member will have totally different expectations for being on an episode of MTV True Life than they will on Big Brother or Survivor.
But if you’re making a brand new show, your cast might not really “get” what kind of TV they are participating in. Again, it’s up to you as a producer to communicate honestly and effectively.
Filming real people is serious business. That’s why today we discuss:
- How to refer to talent (this is one time when labels are crucial)
- Differences between docu-soap, game, documentary, dating shows, and more
- Expectations of cast, producers, and TV networks or film studios when filming real people
- Deciding whose story are you telling
- How to properly communicate with your cast
- Showing all sides of a story
- What are releases and how do they work?
- When hidden cameras aren’t really hidden
- Imaginary hazardous activities
- Real trust and the editing process
- Distilling reality without reinventing it
- Should you let your cast see the show before it airs?
For all this and more, hit that giant red PLAY button above!
Transcript Coming Soon!
Helpful and Related Links
- 6 Must-Have Traits of Reality TV Characters – this is how you know you’ve discovered someone who is great TV.
- Casting Tapes – here’s how to make them and what to put in them.
- Casting Agreements for Reality TV: What-When-Why-How? Before you can start filming real people, you need a real agreement with them that allows you to “shop” them around. This ep explains it all.
- 3 Steps: Turn a Character Into a TV Show Discovered a great real life person? Here are some concrete steps to develop a TV show around them.
- Find us on Twitter and Facebook
Let’s Make Some TV Together
Trying to break into unscripted TV, reality television, or documentary series? Want to pitch to our company? These are the steps you should take:
Read our in-depth page about how to pitch us a show. It also talks about what it’s really like to work in our business, the unscripted TV and film industry.