“On The Lot”

There have been dancing contests, singing contests, and various other assorted talent contests gracing our TV screens over the past few years.  Now, finally, there is a contest for filmmakers.  It’s about time!

On the Lot is a new FOX reality show “brought to you by reality show mastermind, Mark Burnett, and legendary producer and director, Steven Spielberg.”  It works similiar to the way American Idol works.  Out of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of applicants who submit their short films online, only 16 will be chosen for the show. 

Over the course of a season, they will produce new short films every single week in different genres such as comedy, horror, mystery, drama, etc.  That’s one week to go from script development, to pre-production, to shooting, to post-production.  Whew!  Makes me tired just thinking about it.  Viewers at home will get to vote for their favorites and the contestant with the least votes goes home. The filmmaker left standing gets a $1 million development deal with DreamWorks.

On The Lot will air next spring on FOX, but the search for the 16 finalists has already begun.  Hundreds of short films have already been uploaded to the official On The Lot website located at http://www.thelot.com/

When I’m able steal a few minutes away from other obligations, I love to go to the site and check out the submissions.  Quite a community has developed there already.  Once you sign up on the website, you can rate the films you watch using a star system and leave comments about the films if you wish.  Similiar to MySpace, you can blog, post photos, have a friends list, and a favorite films list, among other features. 

Just like American Idol, people of various talents and abilities are trying out for this contest, from absolute beginners to those who have been making films for many years.  Watching the films and reading the comments is a learning experience in of itself.  Some of the more experienced filmmakers offer constructive criticism in their comments, which can help one develop an eye for what works and what doesn’t in a film.  Whenever I watch one of the films, I find myself analyzing what I think is right and wrong with the film and then I go read the comments and see if I caught what others caught.  Of course, taste is very subjective, so I skip over comments that are personal opinion and pay attention to the comments that deal more with the technical and artistic aspects of filmmaking.

When I first found out about On The Lot, I knew that it would be a must see show for me, but it has become even more now because a friend of mine has entered the contest.

John Meredith is a beginning filmmaker whom I met in a filmmaking class last year.  He wrote, produced, directed, and starred in the film he submitted entitled Boy Trouble.  The film also features his darling daughter and a neighbor girl.  I’ve got to hand it to him, he’s much braver than I am.  He made this film with absolutely no crew!

Many in the online filmmaking community have taken the time to help John out by offering some great constructive criticism.  Whether he is chosen as one of the contestants of the show or not, I know that with his love for filmmaking and his determination, he’ll continue to grow and develop as a filmmaker.

Check out John’s film at http://films.thelot.com/films/1559.

Addendum:  John just read this post and gave me the low-down on the actress (whom I described as a neighbor girl above) in his film.  Her name is Tasha Trujillo. Tasha was second runner-up to Miss California in 2004, is currently host of the nationally broadcast TV show Latin Eyesis a San Francisco 49er cheerleader, a former San Jose Sabercat Cheerleader, and was Miss San Francisco Bay Area in 2004.  She is 25 years old.