Reality TV: Realscreen Summit

I spent three days last week immersed in reality television, having been asked to speak at the outstanding Realscreen Summit in Washington DC. My panel done, I stayed for two more chock-full days and soaked it up.  My next postings will cover some impressions and some how-tos for reality TV beginners and all other creative pros.

Show producers and prodcos, from wannabes to the creators of mega-hits Jersey Shore, Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, Honey Boo Boo, Real Housewives (now there’s a franchise!) and the rest, were there in droves. There too – and this was the point – were the buyers from Bravo and Discover, from Nat Geo, TLC, Science, History and on and on. And – newish to this sector – there were the agents from CAA and ICM and WME. Some of the most senior recruiters from the biggest media corporations were prowling and partying/networking with the crowd. 

This event is a bazaar – fronted by some most informative and substantive panels. Meetings are scheduled in every corner. Business is being done. The bigger players have their own suites, the vast Delegates Lounge was clamorous with fired-up presenters leaning forward on white leather couches and every bar table was propped with an Ipad asizzle. To escape the hubbub some took their meetings to a specially erected (and heated) marquee outside the hotel. 

If you were agent-less you were texting frantically to get your meeting going: “I’m waving from the middle of the lounge” to identify yourself to your next potential pitch recipient. If a producer had a ten-percenter on her team, then she was walked calmly from meet to meet and so could focus on the pitch and the relationship and not be stressing over scheduling and the maze-like geography of the hotel. 

The air was burning with ideas and buzz and hope and disappointment and regrouping. This was 2,200 people buying and selling “factual TV”.

Sizzle sizzle sizzle!