Frankly Speaking #4: Non Scripted Series (or the Evolution of "Reality")
I was inspired at a conference recently by a story told by Thom Beers, producer of the insanely popular Discovery Channel show Deadliest Catch. He spoke about his experience going out on the boat with the men he wanted to document in order to get a first hand glimpse of what they faced day in and out. He became a part of their reality and felt the palpable danger they were constantly amidst as well as the real life emotions of feeling disconnected from their families and all the other idiosyncrasies and hazards of the job. He realized at that point that he wanted to tell their stories in a pure way, not in an exploitative way.
I realized that I was also attempting to do this with many of the projects we had in development at Make It Happens Productions that were true depictions of life. I had been leery of calling them “reality” series due to the stigma reality shows have garnered over the past decade. Most of what our contemporary audience deems “reality” entertainment has to do with a cross section of culture or a genre of humanity being put under a microscope in ways that bring out the worst in human nature. Reality shows are sold to us in the vein of truth being stranger than fiction, highlighting extreme cases of our most unflattering traits such as greed, lust, narcissism etc. Reality is a term that has been basically bastardized by the celluloid masses.
What we at MIHP are really striving to do, like Beers, is to present “non-scripted” narratives of true life scenarios that verge on documentary and docu-series. This evolution of the reality genre offers real human stories wrapped in the thoughtfulness of work that has been conceptualized to begin and end with a particular message not become a chaotic wasp’s nest of out of control content.
This is why I prefer to use the word non-scripted when describing the kinds of true-life projects we work on at MIHP; or non-fiction with purpose. For example, a few years ago we sold a show to Viacom for LOGO called The Crew, which was based on a group of gay friends in Los Angeles deeply involved in the fashion and music world who wanted to be parents.
Some of our recent forays into this zone include a few things we are working on for women and their major television networks. This includes our recent entrance into the psychic medium world in which we are currently developing content about those who are able to “tap into” the other, invisible side of life. We are also working on a project in the fashion realm.
Why does non-scripted television, movies and series continue to captivate our collective minds, eyes and ears? Non-scripted series present the slow unfolding of stories, the slow revealing of characters that we feel like we can come to know and love (or hate). People like to watch other people raw and uncut. Human foible resonates with us all and makes us feel a little more normal at our cores.
We are enthusiastic about the evolution of reality into non-scripted programs with messages that matter and are looking forward to unveiling our work to you soon.