Ten years ago, the only reality show on the tube was MTV's "The Real World." Groundbreaking at the time, its success has since been heavily cloned. Whether it's "The Amazing Race," "Hell's Kitchen," "Top Chef" or a spate of others--reality shows are television's version of "the old woman who lived in a shoe who had so many kids she didn't know what to do." They're everywhere!
Relative to their one-hour drama counterparts, they're cheap to produce with no fussy actors to keep happy. Translation: reality shows are here to stay. Which means for those attention-centric souls--there will be more and more opportunities to share your antics with the viewing public.
And although everyone may remember Andy Warhol's now clichÃ©: "In the future, everybody will be world famous for 15 minutes," I prefer Don Williams, Jr.'s: "Fame and riches are fleeting. Stupidity is forever." Once on tape, you are immortal, but is it really what you want metaphorically engraved on your tombstone? The rewards are few, the risks great, but if you want to see yourself plastered on the small screen--read on.
How to Make a Reality Show Submission Video
Reality show casting directors are always looking for the next star when they view reality show submission videos. To get noticed, you have to have the look, the attitude and the talent. Instead of flying somewhere to go to a casting call for the next reality show, make your own reality show submission video following these easy steps.
Follow the technical guidelines for submitting your reality show submission video. Read the submission video directions carefully. Record your audition on the correct format (DVD or VHS). Also, make sure that your video fits within the time parameters specified for the video.
Find a video recorder to use. Learn how to use it. If you don't have a video recorder, then borrow or rent one. Enlist a friend's help to record yourself if you don't think you can handle it on your own.
Set the stage for your video, making sure that there is nothing distracting or unpleasant in the background. Make sure that there will not be any background noise while you are recording your video. You want the casting director's eyes to be on you and only you when watching your video.
Get the look for your video by wearing nice clothes without any logos or busy patterns. Make sure that your hair and makeup look great by checking yourself in the mirror right before you start recording.
Be yourself while making your video. The honest and direct approach is best. Speak about yourself and why you think you would make a good reality star.
Show your talent if the reality show is talent-driven. Show some attitude if it is a social experiment-type reality show.
Submit your video by the deadline to the address listed in the video submission guidelines. Follow all rules concerning mailing and packaging.
How to Apply for a Reality Show
SO HOW DO YOU MAKE IT ON A REALITY SHOW? HERE'S THE FIRST STEPS.
1. Search for on-line surveys (introducing a new reality show) on your favorite network's website or any network's website, for that matter.
They will usually post a bulletin on the main page of the site. It will say something like "Do You Have a Phobia? Does it interfere with your life?" or "XYZ is looking for contestants to participate in an exciting new reality show..." or "Have you ever wondered 'What If?'" It will be something catchy that will attract your attention. The reason they do this is because they are trying to determine what kind of response they're going to get. Or, a production company is trying to 'pitch' the show to the network and they want to see what kind of interest they can stir up with their particular idea. They will usually display a 'response' box where you can type in your answer. Remember, if you stumble upon one like this, YOUR RESPONSE NEEDS TO ATTRACT THEIR ATTENTION. Type in a quick, to the point, description of why you are responding, or whatever they are asking for. If you're a good writer, that's a plus. Just type it in like you were talking to them on the phone, exactly like you actually talk in converstation. Don't worry about using big words to impress, just BE YOURSELF. Then click 'send'.
2. Go to an open casting call.
Chances are, you already have a favorite show and you've been sending audition tapes for every season. Let me tell you something. Now, I don't know this for sure, but considering the amount of tapes they receive, I don't see how Casting can look at every single video that's sent in. Check the website closely and see if they give information on open casting calls, which are usually held in major cities across the U.S. Sometimes, though, a local radio or television station may send out a local 'casting call' to apply for a particular show. If you have the resources and time to attend an open casting call, especially if it's advertised directly by the network itself, GO! Here's why. It will give you a chance to meet, face to face, with casting agents. They're going to be looking for your response, watching your expression, and especially checking out your personality. Oh, and of course, looks count, but it doesn't take a Dolly Parton or Tom Cruise look-alike to get on a reality show. Depending on the content of the show, they usually want everyday people, just like you and me. Weird people, shy people, outgoing people; you never know what they want. Just be yourself, answer questions directly, look them in the eye, and don't over-do it!
3. Go ahead and send in that audition tape.
Multiple tapes, if necessary. That is, if you can afford the cost. It doesn't hurt your chances a bit. Even if the casting agents don't look at all the tapes, maybe, just maybe, they will pick up your tape and watch it. I don't know if they read the applications first, or if they pop in the video first. Regardless, just send them. In addition, follow the directions on the application EXACTLY. Don't miss anything. Most reality show applications are the same format, but each has exclusive directions. So read carefully. Be direct, and get creative with that video! But remember, they aren't always looking for 'perfection', or some outlandish display. Mine was down-to-earth. I didn't even think it was that good! But I just acted like MYSELF, and they liked it! I spoke to the camcorder like I was talking to an individual about a particular subject, something I felt strongly about.
4.Search for Ads from Placement Agencies.
Personally, I don't know how well these agencies actually do with placing an individual on a reality show, but I've run across many who claim to publish your photo and information directly to casting agents looking for contestants. You'll usually find these on your major Reality Show Websites.
There's lots of these websites out there. Use your Google OR BING Search engine or go to http://hubpages.com/hub/RealityShowSelectionTips for added links.
NOTE: these placement agencies usually ask for a fee to list you Bio information, so be selective in choosing who you actually go with!
5. When you get the phone call.
Okay, now is your chance! Once you get the call, you've usually made it to the semi-finals. You've got to get it together and be enthusiastic. Don't hesitate, just answer the questions they ask. The agent will be bubbly and project an air of real interest in you that will make you feel really important. When I got the first call, I was totally unprepared, but when I realized who I was actually talking to, my adrenlin started pumping! I was really animated with my responses (it's part of my personality, maybe not yours) and she loved it. It only took her a few minutes to say "You're funny! This is what I need you to do...send me a 3 minute video tape.....blah blah blah". And that was it. If the agent requests a tape, application, or anything else, just say "sure" and get it done. The agent will try to create a sense of urgency to get it sent fast, so try not to stress too much. It's their job.
6. If you make it to the finals.
This could be your big break. Once you get to the Casting Department, you're going to be feeling pretty darned important. So stay cool, be yourself, and ask lots of questions. I drove the Casting Director's assistant crazy with all my questions. I wanted to find out exactly how they find contestants, what they are looking for, etc. She told me that they received thousands of responses to the original 'teaser survey' they put on the home page of the network's website. It was the type survey I spoke of in 1, above. She said they read thousands of submissions, so I asked her "what made you pick mine?" And she said it was the way it was written, it stood out (I guess cause I did it spontaneously). Then, the Casting Agent liked my response on the phone (enthusiasm). During the taped interviews at the Finals, I was animated, upbeat, and very descriptive when asked questions about my life. So, if you make it this far, your chances are really good.
Remember the majic words when applying for a reality show:
Enthusiasm, Originality, Spontaneity.