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Writer's Block: Reality TV Your Way

If you could make your own reality show, what would it be about and who would be on it?


Okay. First, I don't get into most of the reality shows since they're about dysfunction. It's like gossip, not a lot of fun for me. So I would combine the concept of "reality show" with the concept of "art instruction" and do this big hoopla -- hold an art competition for artists to get INTO the show, then select a really gorgeous scenic area and give the artists thirteen intense weeks of living in the cool place to paint -- and jam. Following their works, their tips and collaborations, the Big Art Jam would include art instruction and each episode would also feature a short lesson from one of the participating artists.

Artists hanging out together, jamming, learning from each other and creating a body of work for a group show that would culminate the project would be this massive art event. It would probably launch careers. So you have thirteen artists to profile, each of whom gets to be Teach for one of the episodes, and the cool things that happened during the week go into the show. Each artist gets chosen for a specialty -- accurate rendering, good values, abstraction, composition, something important in art. Each artist also has to try the other artists' specialties and genres, so you get the nature artist doing an abstract and the abstract artist trying to do a portrait and the animal artist trying to paint flowers. Everyone is an expert and a beginner. That helps the viewers feel good about their beginner efforts because this awesome professional artist is ALSO boggled by trying to get someone's nose not to look like a potato.

The book with the lessons in it gets published after the show (with HEFTY royalties to the artists and authors. Since not all artists can write the option would be there for artists to work with writers to compose their print lessons) and the episodes would be available afterward on DVD with expanded versions of the lessons. So it has lasting value.

The experience for the viewer would be of getting to participate in it with them. Viewer art could be selected and discussed by the Big Art Jam and problems solved, on air critique by that week's Teach, prizes for the best viewer art sent in. All this would be a few minutes out of the episode, not very big but important in terms of taking the immersive focus of the giant workshop and turning it interactive. The website for the show would be vitally important for viewer contact and interaction. A blog, an online gallery including places for viewers to post images of their versions of the previous episodes' lessons, that would all help build the phenomenon. If it took off, repeat the following year with a new location, new competition and new artists.

It'd take a lot of money to do but it would be great fun for all concerned. More so than finding out what normative family just found out their kid was pregnant or gay.

I don't know if it would have as great a viewership, but doing one on novelwriting with the same immersive atmosphere like a Clarion workshop would be a lot of fun. It might reach a narrower market -- or not, because events like NaNoWriMo have made novelwriting accessible to the hobbyist and ordinary people as well as to the insanely dedicated few. I'm among the insanely dedicated few. The thing with a Writing Workshop version of this reality show concept is that it'd need actors and costumes, because it would have to bounce between the real lives of the writers in the workshop and little excerpts of their works in progress. It could be hilarious to have actors in costumes actually doing bits of people's stories in progress when they are editing them, and the dialogues don't work -- sort of a blooper reel approach of "what is the FUNNIEST typo or goof or editing mistake you ever made?" asked of each writer, so that gets featured, and also the most memorable bits of dialogue and stuff, which gives teasers of thirteen different writers' works in progress and gives the writers themselves thirteen weeks to write a novel in.

I think with digital special effects even science fiction and fantasy writers could be excerpted reasonably well, given the usual television budget. But it's the same sort of thing. My first thought on teaching things was teaching art -- and it's a bit more of a guaranteed draw to do the art workshop one. But a writing workshop one could be a hoot too and give people some idea of what goes on behind the scenes both at writing workshops and when authors are creating their favorite books. Heh, and the authors find out what it's like having fiction converted to video form!

It's not that artists and writers don't have personal conflicts, it's more that there's a lot of content in either of these concepts OTHER than Sordid Gossip and Shock At Someone's Behavior. It's not about people being cruel to each other either, not like competitive things like Survivor, but about showing what happens when creative people get together in a focused intense group and do great things together. It's happened in all the good writing or art groups I've been in, and it's a particular camaraderie that brings out the best in people -- and doing it as a reality show would help bring the arts more into mainstream consciousness.

I think that "family infighting" has to be the bored activity of choice for a great many of the mainstream, while spending all that time figuring out how to torture your characters or paint your rosebushes could be a whole lot more fun.
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Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
athenagrey
Aug. 3rd, 2008 04:47 pm (UTC)
Oooh, I want to be IN this show.
robertsloan2
Aug. 3rd, 2008 08:02 pm (UTC)
Yep. I wish someone would take the concept and run with it. I think it would be fun to be involved at any level with it. Unlike most of the reality shows, the point of this one is having a lot of fun -- and if it's done right, viewers would be as involved or almost as involved as the folks on the show.
primal_shout
Aug. 3rd, 2008 05:48 pm (UTC)
This just made me think, it would be wonderful if for this year's nanowrimo we could set up mini one-off videos every few days or maybe once a week, where people talk about how their writing is going, and maybe swap off to the next person to act out a scene, just using items around the house. Similar to the music exchange... maybe set up something on youtube... Hmm, it's a half brewed idea still...
As for the art reality show, that would be something I would watch, for sure!
equani_tsula
Aug. 3rd, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC)
hmm
I like that idea. I think the big reason I finished one year was the support and help and discussion with my friends who were also participating. Since then I've slowly but surely started to feel like I'll never do it again without them (I've moved 800 miles away). So...maybe video...Hmmm
robertsloan2
Aug. 3rd, 2008 08:04 pm (UTC)
Oooooh that sounds like it would be a hit -- and it sounds sooo doable. YouTube is very accessible. Dangit, I still don't have a webcam or I'd do one of the videos for Nanowrimo. Eh, maybe I can pester kkitten42 to find the digital video camera in the garage that she said I could use for my art instruction videos, and use that to do YouTube ones.

YouTube is free and the author-created version of the great writing jam would be a YouTube phenomenon. And incidentally maybe help some of us who plan to do indie productions with the resulting novels to publicize them. Read my next entry. There's an LJ cut in it because I went to length about what I'm doing.
equani_tsula
Aug. 3rd, 2008 07:48 pm (UTC)
wow
You know - I hate those reality shows. But I'd by golly watch both of these faithfully and buy the DVD/book/etc.
robertsloan2
Aug. 3rd, 2008 08:05 pm (UTC)
Re: wow
Purrrr thanks! I think the concept would work. But I think only the Sci-Fi channel would dare to do it, or maybe a PBS or documentary channel. It's not your typical muckraking fare.
equani_tsula
Aug. 3rd, 2008 11:37 pm (UTC)
Re: wow
Yah - I'd go for PBS I think. Or maybe some specialized cable channel like oh...there's one just for women I think (I don't have TV right now). I think Scifi would do it, but might want to spin it towards their own market, as in towards fantasy/scifi art (not that you couldn't do alien nature drawings, mechanicals, fantasy flowers...hhhh)
robertsloan2
Aug. 4th, 2008 04:15 am (UTC)
Re: wow
It would be great on sci fi dealing with SFF art. There aren't enough books/dvds etc. on doing fantasy and science fiction illustration. Easy to find landscapes, seascapes, animals, portraits and still life books. Not so easy finding GOOD ones on illustration and drawing the unreal realistically. There are a few but not as many as I'd like, and often the results aren't as realistic as I'd like.
equani_tsula
Aug. 4th, 2008 04:52 pm (UTC)
point
I do have one book on drawing fantasy art, and the first in a series on drawing manga (not quite the same really) so that would be a great untapped niche market...so maybe you ought to do a few of your HowTos on the subject :D
(Anonymous)
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:05 am (UTC)
Re: point
I'm not good enough or knowledgeable enough on manga to think of doing a manga How To. Fantasy illustration... I am starting, just starting to get there. I need a certain level of expertise before I can be confident about doing a how to article, the example I do has to be professional quality. My fantasy illustration is still spotty and there are important elements of illustration that I still haven't attempted in any previous artworks.

I'm about to get bathed in fire on that one because I have to do my cover art. It has to compete with what real illustrators would put on my book. I have some ideas, and if it comes out well I may be capable of doing the article based on that piece! That's a good idea for articles for the site though, that relate to the book and are worth coming in to read.
caelista
Aug. 6th, 2008 12:36 am (UTC)
I'd watch that show! You should pitch this idea to someone. ;-)
robertsloan2
Aug. 6th, 2008 12:41 am (UTC)
Yeah, I should. But I have no idea where to take it and don't know anyone in the television business. Eh, maybe when I'm more published and more famous I'll start meeting those people.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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Robert A. Sloan, author of Raven Dance
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