5 Takes

Lesson Details

Subject: Storytelling

Title: 5 Takes


In the course of my production career, we have produce more than 8,000 hours of programming for a wide range of networks from TLC to Discovery to The Travel Channel to PBS. Like anything else, there is a formula to these and a ‘secret’ to success. And here it is.


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What you're looking at is a clip from a series we did for the Travel Channel several years ago called 5 Takes. We did these all over the world it ran for four seasons, United States, Europe, South America and Asia. Thirteen shows per season, one hour per show. Normally reality shows like this take nineteen weeks per show to do. We turn these around in six days. It had an enormous advantage and the advantage was that while we did them we invite people from home to participate in the show as it was actually happening.

In other words to email their suggestions and information and contact with the people who were going around the world and offer suggestions on places they could go or where they could go or what they should do. It's a kind of melding of reality television with reality and it makes reality much more real, so to speak. Most reality shows that you look at I'm sorry to say our not so real. They’re largely faked, they take months to put together. They’re tweaked in the edit room and certainly you can't participate except perhaps some discussion group online to talk about what you see happening on the show. And what you see actually happened weeks or even months ago it's no longer happening.

With 5 Takes, we were able to change the production paradigm forever, not to mention the cost substantially. The reason we were able to do this is because we took the edits with us into the field and we shot and edited in real-time. We took the production run from nineteen weeks per show the six days per show. Which means that every time a show ran at the end of one week we’re already in production on the second week. This is a completely different production paradigm. It cuts the cost by almost 90% but it makes the thing happen in what we would call nearly real-time.

The technology is available to do this, you still have to shoot tightly, you still have to tell great stories. You still have to have interesting characters but now you can bring this stuff to the screen and to your audience at far reduce cost and much faster which makes participation at home, that famous second screen, really mean something much more than just a discussion group long after the fact is over.

© Michael Rosenblum & Lisa Lambden 2015