Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Obviously, there are no writers on this show... which is why it doesn't work at all.

Here's what I would have done:

1) Start with 15 contestants - 50 is just crazy.

2) A dozen challenges that actually flex their filmmaking muscles (or show them to be girlymen). I would have modeled the show on THE FIVE OBSTRUCTIONS kind of...

a) Pitch their take.
b) Make a team movie.
c) Make a documentary.
d) Make a movie based on some random elements (like those 24 hour movie challenges).

Then take 5 or 6 scripts and pass them out at random and every week they all make one of those scripts as...

e) Make a silent movie (no title cards - visually told).
f) Make a comedy.
g) Make a horror movie.
h) Make a western.
i) Make a romance.
j) Make it Dogme style.

These would all be the same 5 or 6 scripts alternating - so one of the scripts might be written as a thriller, but they have to *film it* as a comedy. Using their *direction* to change the genre. And it would be fun to see the same stories pop up in different genres every week.

Plus, I'd have a stock cast - a talent pool of actors. Enough actors so that no two films each week would have the same actors... bit every week we would see the same actors tackling different roles in different genres. This repetory cast would be a reason to tune in - familiar faces in different roles. Plus, we could see how well the directors work with *actors* - if one actor is great in one director's film, then over the top or just bland in some other director's film, we can surmise that one director works well with actors and the other doesn't.

K) Final Exam: Make a movie based on the same character - but any genre or story they can think of.

The movies are 3 minutes or 2 minutes - so we have time to see them all and get some background and set up the cliffhanger vote - so that we can axe 'em at the opening of the next episode.

And have some good judges - these people are brain dead. They need someone who can *discuss directing* - and a nurturer, a Simon Cowell and a *really famous* guest judge. And a better host - this woman has problems reading cue cards!

Big problem with these films is we have apples and oranges - 4th episode: the musical was great, but it's so different than the Meet The Parents thing or the doc on the Gay comic or the toilet version of LOTR or the date thing that you can't judge them. You need to give everyone a *type* of task so that we have similarities to judge on. I think it's more realistic, too - because a director in this biz is going to be *hired* to direct some project.


Yesterday's Lunch: Mini carrot cake at Starbucks.
Movies: BLACK SHEEP - you *must* see this film! Funny and Frightening and featuring killer sheep!
Pages: Cut a quarter page in the Guy Blows Up script and added a quarter page at he end - I think it's done! Also wrote a 10 page article for Script Mag on... BLACK SHEEP. You must see this film!

- Bill


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if there aren't writers. The first episode on which viewers were allowed to vote had three names credited as "Short Writers". That credit has been gone the past few weeks while they have been showing their submission shorts (one name has been credited as a Staff Writer).

If that "Short Writers" credit shows up again Tuesday night during the airing of their newly created shorts it may mean they are receiving help with their writing.

Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree with you on some parts.

What you are suggesting are pretty much unrealistic challenges. No one in Hollywood or elsewhere is given a comedy script and told to shoot it as a thriller. Or a silent film.

Yes, while such challenges would be great in film school, they're so unrealistic that I'm afraid the audience would not be able to relate to them.

Another aspect is that today's TV is all about individualism. Especially reality TV. What the audience wants to see is the film-makers themselves and what they have to offer to the world.

Which is what we're seeing.

The show does have problems. Film-making is not a popular dream and most of the audience simply isn't interested in it. Which is why the show has low ratings.

Another aspect that I hate is that the current format means the directors have to be writers as well. Marty was an excellent, stylish director. In the right genre with the right script, he would have found his place in the film world. But his writing sucked, so he got voted off the show.

"On The Lot" will not change the world. Whoever wins will pretty soon fail. Someone who was voted off will become a more successful film-maker. And we'll all look back at the show as a huge failure.

That said, however, I think it's fun and educational. You basically get to see newbies making common newbie mistakes with commentaries from Hollywood professionals and the audience voting on them as well. That's a huge learning opportunity for any viewer interested in becoming a screenwriter or a director.

Anonymous said...

The Five Obstructions! A very under-seen docu. Even if you don't like artsy films, it's worth seeing for the sheer sadism of the project.

Eleanor said...

Check out what Dana Brunetti has to say about it.


You're looking for the post dated June 20th: On The Lot Is Shot.

Anonymous said...

Black Sheep, huh? Just for the tag lines alone it is worthy of a viewing

Get ready for the Violence of the Lambs!

Get the flock out of here!

There are 40 million sheep in New Zealand... and they're pissed off!

A new breed of comedy horror

The sheep on this farm have turned to the baaaaaad side

James Moen said...

All career based reality shows like "On the Lot" suffer from a limited audience and uncharismatic contestants.

For the show to work you would need a charismatic mentor figure. Someone to give advice and encouragement, as well as tips on how to improve. While also being funny, eccentric, and likable enough to draw in viewers not interested in becoming a director.

Watching the contestants flounder in their own mediocrity is painful. They need guidance to help them improve from week to week. Critique is great. And so is doing. But those take time to sink in before you see the improvement.

Get a real director in there to help point out options as well as problems and you'd see improvement immediately. And you'd probably see a ratings bump as well.

Anonymous said...

For "charismatic mentor figure" I nominate Robert Rodriguez or Lloyd Kaufman.

At the start of each episode, the host pulls back a sheet to reveal that episode's secret ingredient.

"They say that you should never work with children or animals. But we don't want to make it too easy on you folks... So that's why this week's requirement is..." (Pulls off sheet in a flourish) "Baby monkeys!"

Patricia said...

What's your take on the loglines in the logline competition?

Patrick J. Rodio said...

I like your ideas. Neat show though, even though it's not perfect, better than the other reality crapola.

mjr256 said...

I completely agree about The Lot. I wanted to like the show, but film making doesn't work for this format. I'd do it more like you suggest too.

Also, regarding the most recent tip you put up, would you say a negative goal doesn't work as the final battle but can work elsewhere in the story? The example I thought up was in the film A Knight's Tale, where during the 2nd act, the main character is told to intentionally lose the jousts to prove his love for the love interest, and shortly after, once he's proven it, she tells him it's okay to win again.

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