After some recent successes flipping reality shows, MPEG is embroiled in a difficult strike action against Bravo's "Shah's of Sunset." Radio silence from the prodco powers that be for two weeks until today's press release that Bravo is taking total control of the production and it's likely the striking editors will not be returning to the show, whatever the outcome. This seems like an aggressive move by NBC/Universal to stop the turning tide of unionizing reality shows in the wake of NY City Council hearings on the allegedly poor working conditions that many in the genre face.
Will this move crush union organizers? Or will it merely bolster them to take this action to the next level?
New York City Council’s Civil Service & Labor Committee today heard testimony about "stolen" wages and lack of benefits in reality television production. For those of us in the industry, none of this is exactly news. The WGA has been aggressive in recent years trying to flip reality shows and drive up their membership by finally including nonfiction story producers into their organization. However, some people may remember the big WGA strike of 2007-2008, wherein they promised that reality and animation writers would be eligible for union benefits. Many reality TV producers stepped up to help protest and support the WGA, only to be dropped from their proposal after the first round of negotiations. What do you think? Should reality television change it's wage practices? Would you rather work union or non-union?
Yesterday I attended the 7th Annual Prime Cuts
panel, put on by American Cinema Editors and the Academy of Television Arts and
Sciences. The panel is made up of
currently Emmy-nominated editors discussing their craft with moderator Shawn
Ryan (creator of The Shield).
Among the panelists this year was Lisa P. Trulli, who is nominated for
editing the hit reality series “Project Runway.” Her answer to this first question was the highlight of the
entire panel for me.
SR: Let’s move
on to our next nominee, Lisa, who is nominated for Project Runway. Reading your pre-interview stuff, you
said something that I really appreciated, because a lot of times when I talk to
editors who work in the reality and competition space, they tend to have
aspirations to do movies or scripted; you talk about how much you love the
genre. Talk about why you love
editing the genre.
LISA: Well, yeah, sometimes reality gets a little bad rap,
but as an editor, it’s the most amazing place to work. You have complete control. And I literally have had shows where
they put me in a room and say, “Six weeks later, you need to come up with a
show.” And it’s really fun. It’s a great way to craft stories and
develop characters, and it’s a very broad approach. Like, I’m listening to these beautiful, nuanced things that
the feature world has—I don’t have that.
I don’t have a beautiful, crafted, composed shot. These guys are running, gunning, moving
and we’re lucky if we get anything on film. We’re racing all the time, so we cannot depend on a
beautiful visual to tell our story.
We have to use every trick in the book and I really love doing that.
Hey everybody! This site has actually been getting some decent traffic even though I haven't posted in quite some time. I hope that means you are finding useful information and I hope to make some new informative posts in the future.
One reason I haven't been as active on this site is because I've been keeping very busy with work. In addition to editing several episodes of the hit MTV series "Catfish: The TV Show," I have begun working on my very first feature! It's a lifelong dream for me to work on a feature, so this is very exciting. It's an independent documentary about an international collective of queer derby skaters known as "The Vagine Regime." Check out our first trailer:
If you like it, please help spread the word about our little film!
Production music libraries are a popular source of music for television for several reasons. The chief advantage is that they are designed to be easy to license. The production company pays a flat fee to use music from a particular production library, and for that fee they are allowed to use all of that music in perpetuity, anywhere around the world that the show may be broadcast, on any platform or format even if it hasn't been invented yet. If you know anything about the nightmare of licensing music under these situations, you begin to see why using a production library is a good, no-hassle way to get music for your production.
Additionally, production music libraries are much cheaper than licensing commercial music or hiring a composer to write original music for your production. This is particularly true if your company is making several shows and can cut an overall deal with one production library.
There are many libraries available for you to investigate before deciding which one is right for your project.
My personal favorite is the Extreme Music library. This is a vast, vast library with every style and combination of styles you can imagine. I love that it has a large collection of classical music, as I tend to use it whenever I can (it's good for comedy, action, drama, everything if you know what you're looking for...) I love that they are constantly adding new stuff. The website is very easy to navigate and search for different tracks by feel or description or instrument or keyword or whatever! I've never had to struggle to find something in this library, and I always get exactly what I'm looking for after a little searching. I would use the Director's Cut series to score a film, should I ever get the chance.
The library I've worked with the most as an editor is called iSpy. This library has a lot more of what you would think of as typical reality music and I find is particularly suited for comedy and action, though it is used in all types of shows.
There are plenty of libraries out there, and here are some I have occasionally come across in my professional life:
The downside to using a production library is that none of the tracks will be truly unique to your show, and there is a risk that viewers will begin to recognize or even tire of the music. I find this is generally a small risk, and one well worth taking.