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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Method in his madness

In his new show Ze Frank talks about how putting the production of the media in the hands of the great unwashed may challenge design conventions.

But he also says that as more people learn about editing (through iMovie etc) they notice editing more in the media they watch. It used to be a hidden craft. Most people just thought film making was filming stuff happen anyway - no real editing occurred. Now people know it. They look out for it. What editing has occurred in Big Brother to skew the story? "Hey, they've edited that to change the emphasis" and so on. That's what ZeFrank says anyway.

I'd go further. I'd say people are tired of the whole thing. They don't want anymore TV lies. They don't want situations that are contrived and false. 'oh look - here conviently is an expert of the subject'. Blogs (and MySpace et al) have shown us the real people can be cool anyway. Just tell us how it is. If someone didn't turn up - say it. If something went wrong - show us. In this age you need to be honest to build trust with an audience. Be proud of your editing. Tell us what was cut and why. People can take it / understand it these days.

My hope: Less TV lies. More TV honesty.

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OnMeJack said...

I’ve reread this and still not entirely sure what you mean by more TV honesty.

Like a TV Commentary, press the red button and get a commentary after the show go to www.etc and see the making of the show…?

Tim Clague said...

Good question Steve. What I'm saying is that their used to be a relationship between media makers and the audience that went something like:

Media Man: Just cut that bit out and make the guy on screen seem stupid
Editor: Are you sure?
Media Man: Yeah sure, Joe Public will never know
Joe Public: Whatever.

Now its more like...

Media Man: Just cut that bit out and make the guy on screen seem stupid
Editor: Are you really sure?
Media Man: Yeah sure, Joe Public will never know
Joe Public: What!!! Why did they cut that bit out? Hey, media dude - why did you do that?
Media Man: (no answer as he has no email or blog)

You just can't 'fool' people anymore. They can spot edits and tricks. Most audience members know more about CGI effects than I do! The answer - be honest - and get a reputation for not tricking people.

OnMeJack said...

Ive got myself all excited now about TV Programmes having a 'Follow the White Rabbit' Option, where your TiVo will stop it, whilst u see some making of features.

So its as much about cynicsm, for example i quite liked Extras, but found the Andy Milman character to change from being a British Comedy character, a bit of a loser and an American character, with sharp gag comebacks depending on the scene.

So is it that honesty of this is who the character IS and this is what they WOULD do, rather then this is what we need them to do at this point?

Tim Clague said...

That's a good point - but another point.

My original post was more about factual programmes rather than dramatic programmes.

But I agree that our goal for scriptwriting should always be to make it seem real and honest to the viewer - rather than contrived.

In a similar way I believe a lot of audiences are now wise to the 3 act structure and know what will happen on screen before they see it. This is due to consistent use - even over use - of the same structure.

Something new - like Donnie Darko or Eternal Sunshine - can be both exciting for those starved of new ideas and scary for those that have grown used and comfortable in the rigid structure world.

OnMeJack said...

Apologies for going off message.
Going back I see what you mean now and understand how honesty in Drama is a whole other discussion

deepstructure said...

sorry, i have to disagree. i live in los angeles, and if there's a savvy audience in any city it's probably here - but the amount of people who have no idea what's going on meta-wise in either dramatic or factual media vastly out-numbers those that do.

besides, it's a moving target. as kevin kelly points out about the complexity of plotlines on modern dramatic tv, sure we've gotten smarter about reading plots, but they've gotten smarter about presenting them. as we learn the language, it changes.

so as we learn the tricks, they don't work as well, so the tricks are changed.

and that will always happen, because there's a fundamental that you're not taking into account with this:

people don't want to know.

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