Congratulations to Will Bigham!! You were my choice. I can't wait to see what you come up with for your first feature.
For those who don't know, On the Lot, sort of an American Idol for filmmakers, aired throughout the summer. Ordinarily I avoid reality shows at all costs--I think they represent the beginning of the end for American television--but this one I wanted to see. Some 18,000 filmmakers were whittled down to the top 50 that would be contestants. Each believing they deserve the big prize. But they had to prove it by making short films.
The first episode documented their attempt to pitch a film idea to the judges. The ones that impressed the judges moved to the next round. From that point, they had to produce short films that we as viewers would watch and vote on after the show. Sometimes contestants were assigned a specific genre like horror, action, or comedy. And sometimes there was only theme such as "Two worlds collide." In later weeks, contestants had access to professional crews and actors as well as their pick of locations. They were living the dream. Some films were really impressive, while others were God-awful. One of the early favorites--Danger Zone, created by one-time front-runner Zach--showed a domino effect of mishaps in a lab. It was filmed as one shot, and had some amazing effects.
Like American Idol, On the Lot had 3 judges that offered their opinions of the films. Each week, regulars Carrie Fisher and Gary Marshall were joined by a different guest judge. Among the guests were Wes Craven and Michael Bay. I loved the irony of Michael Bay pointing out a "groaner" in one film, and then explaining why it was a groaner. He really does know what it means. :lol:
But ultimately it was the viewers' votes that picked the winners. That was actually a good thing, because I felt the judges were a little out of step with the mainstream, and didn't get some of the cleverness of the filmmakers. Though, sometimes their experienced opinion was needed to make clear how bad a film really was.
I wasn't surprised that Will won. He was the most consistent throughout the competition. Every film he made was not only creative and original, but technically proficient as well. No other contestant could say that. Sure some of the other contestants were technically proficient, Jason, Adam, and Zach come to mind. Each had some great films, but others lacked originality or a coherent/complete story. Will, however, nailed it every time. In fact, one film (Nerve Endings) that the judges didn't like, but the viewers did (thank God), had a brain surgeon's assistant toying with a patient's exposed brain while the doctor was out of the room. That was one of the best films of the whole competition, but it almost cost him the contest because the judges didn't get it. They obviously don't watch dark comedies.
The final episode had Will meeting Steven Spielberg on the Dreamworks lot. That was really cool, especially since I wouldn't mind that happening to me one day. :) Will won a million dollar movie deal from Dreamworks pictures. I don't exactly know what that means once all the contracts are signed, but it sounds good.
It was a shame that On the Lot never really caught on. It had lackluster ratings throughout its run, picking up slightly at the end. I guess a reality show picking the next generation of filmmakers isn't as interesting to the general public as someone willing to eat live slugs for money. :shake: