Lots to cover as last night's episode of Fox's ON THE LOT was a two hour extravaganza that proves a lot of the tried and true we try to preach here at good old DISContent. I look at these folks and I see the same sort of people who email me here or meet me somewhere like the Scriptwriter's Showcase - people hungry to make their first film and get it distributed. And while there is a lot of pablum to wade through because it's reality television, there is one great quality about the program:
You get to learn from their mistakes. In - freaking - valuable.
So what did we learn from Monday night?
1. HAVE A STORY.
2. HAVE A CONCEPT AND COMMIT TO IT FULLY.
Jess had problems in this area because it seemed she didn't know exactly what her concept was or what it required of her.
3. DON'T DO A TRAILER. TELL A STORY INSTEAD.
Marty Martin was pitching, plain and simple. His movie's title was bad too.
4. BE UNIQUE YET UNIVERSAL.
Will did that in his homage to Harold Lloyd. Adam Stein took the idea, "There's someone for everyone," and Zach Lipovsky did a one take homage to Rube Goldberg and The Three Stooges. Andrew Hunt took a DUI situation and gave it one twist. Their stories were unique yet universal. Easily accessible, but with a new hook to bring us in...
5. BUILD YOUR CHARACTERS AND MAKE SURE THEY REFLECT WHAT YOU'RE TRYING TO SAY.
Mateen had characters that seemed diametrically opposed from what he was trying to portray.
6. GIVE YOUR ACTORS SOMETHING TO DO.
David, while having an interesting little movie, sold himself short by not directing his actors better and utilizing their talents.
7. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.
Jason should have known better than to make fun of a "special needs person." What would have been funny about it is if he had switched it around somehow where the slow guy got the girl and someone yelled at him, "Getta Rhoom."
8. FIND YOUR NICHE.
Claudia, while being an outrageous personality, is a filmmaker who isn't suited for comedy. Her film had a great look though, as if shot with reversal stock and pushed a bit. Hilary tried for a pee joke and didn't commit to it.
I think there are many more lessons to be learned from people's failures and triumphs, and I'm absolutely sure that I'm only scratching the surface. In terms of learning the lessons though, I would like to see this all put in a dialectic at some point so that the contestants can deconstruct their films, their methodologies, and philosophies. There's nothing like getting up in front of your peers and superiors and defending your film's pov. It helps you formulate your own aesthetic when it comes to making movies.
EDIT to add: I didn't get a chance to watch the followup show last night, but will catch it online sometime today. I understand that the results were interesting.