Sunday, July 22, 2007

Why ON THE LOT isn't working...

I've PVR'd all the episodes of On The Lot and I just got around to watching all of them. They have been remarkably easy to turn off - which doesn't say much about that show. However, after watching all of them in a row - the show is great. What those filmmakers are doing in such short turnaround is astonishing and the guest judges! Yikes! You don't get much bigger. So - why isn't it working. Granted, it's not as accessible as a singing talent show or even a dancing talent show -- but there are enough lovers of movies in the world and not enough good tv on in the summer that this show should be doing great.

1. Well, in Canada it's on at 11. That's crazy. And they are still working out the kinks of how to make the show work. For a while the bottom two vote getting film makers sat on stage for the whole episode to find out who would get cut. The next week they had an off stage package declaring the loser of that week.

2. The host - Adrienne? Oh my lord she's awful. She's really terrible. The non stop reviewing of numbers to call and the rules of the game and the fact that America is voting --- it's all necessary but you need someone with a bit more like-ability or chit chat skill to make it easy to listen to all the time. She doesn't.

3. The judges. Carrie Fisher and Gary Marshall are the regular judges all the time and I think they were hoping Carrie would be a bit more blunt than she is -- the Simon Cowell type. Gary is a character -- he's the old grandpa with a lot of smarts but is old fashioned. But there's no conflict with the judges. The reviews are all the same "it was good." "it was a success." So bland - no conflict nothing juicy - nothing actually very real. Sometimes the guest judges lay down some pearls of wisdom but for the most part it doesn't seem like anyone is getting judged. Which leads me to

4. Everything is very competent. Unlike a singing show when someone is bad you can tell -- it's hard to tell when these shorts are bad because it's all very competent. There's a whole lot of middle of the road and as anyone who has had to judge a writing contest -- nothing is worse than a whole bunch of middle of the road. There are some real stand outs -- Will and Zach and I really liked Marty despite his meltdown. But other than that -- a whole lot of the same. And to get viewers you need conflict and highs and lows.

It's an interesting premise for people who love storytelling and movies but they need to make it an interesting premise for the rest of the world. The rest of the world without PVR.


Maureen McGowan said...

I've been trying to figure out why this show isn't working, too... And they do move it all over. I watched it at 7:00 pm last night (Sun) on some channel. Didn't it used to be during the week?

I think your theories make sense and have some of my own, too... Maybe they would've been better to make it about tiny pieces of films where every filmmaker has exactly the same task so we can compare and learn a bit about filmmaking.
Short films aren't popular, so people aren't connecting with them. Film a love scene (everyone with the same script) and we could laugh about where each guy puts the sheet between them. Film a stunt (everyone with the same stunt) and we could compare how different angles, different lenses, whatever, make a difference.
Or just stage some crazy stunt-like competitions. In hindsight, the pitching night was one of the most interesting... because you could compare them to each other. (And, like you said, because some of them were so, so terrible.)

I think Dreamworks will end up with some good young filmmakers to use from this, and it's been (I assume) an amazing opportunity for the filmmakers... But as TV? BORING. (and this is from someone who's into this stuff.)

Molly O'Keefe said...

I totally agree Maureen - every week half the group has the same task - an action film or creating an idea from the given line "when world's collide" - so not everyone is doing the same thing and being judged on the same thing. And I think the short film idea is clever once in a while but as the standard format -- it just doesn't work.

Anonymous said...

Yet another show I'm not watching..

Someday, I'll be all caught up.. just not in the next ten years

Maureen McGowan said...

OK... for what can only be totally bizarre reasons, this blog has been flagged as SPAM by blogger... so I can't post today.

What I don't understand about this... is since it's a group blog, we don't even comment as DWT on other blogs. How could anyone think it's spam? Would love to know what flags those robots.

Crazy!!! I've e-mailed to get it fixed. Hope to be able to post my Wednesday post some time this week....


Anonymous said...

Personally I think the show is bombing because Directors are Directors and Writers are Writers. It is rare to find both in the same person. And the premise is to judge directors as writers also. PGL tried that and it didn't work.

K J Gillenwater said...

I agree with two comments on here.

1) They should have been given the same task...given the same script (with just dialogue and NO scene explanation) so we could compare their 'vision.'

2) Help us to learn about filmmaking...explain shots or camera angles the directors use in order to make a scene work. Explain the terminology. Show us the different types of equipment used.

I like watching the shorts every week, but I speed through the horrible host and her annoying voice and bad hand gestures and just watch the movies and listen to the comments.

Oh, and why do they spend every week designing these cute movie posters that we never see?? Can't they use the poster as the intro to the movie rather than the black screen with the white lettering?

I think it is sad that good directors were cut because they can't write well. They are DIRECTORS not SCREENWRITERS. Very few directors are good at both.

Maureen McGowan said...


I dont' know if you'll look back here to see this... But you articulated this perfectly.

Why didn't they give them scripts and see what they'd do with them???

Maureen McGowan said...

Anonymous... you, too.

This show kind of affirms my decision (so far) to not bother trying screenwriting, even though I love movies.

The fact that they've excluded the writer from this process proves how little Hollywood values screenwriters.

K J Gillenwater said...

Good point, Maureen. That is it exactly. The director is seen as the one who creates the movie and makes it a success...but what about the writer? Notice how there is way more attention given a director when he wins an Oscar for best director, but best screenplay? Do you really ever hear about these guys? Not much. Just a few. And if it weren't for the amazing story, what would the director have to direct?

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