Thursday, May 10, 2012

How I Would Fix One In A Million

Like everyone else, I was disappointed when One In  Million NYC was cut short. It was obvious from the get go that things would be different from the epic 2010 series that  gave us Forest Edwards and got John Fitzgerald on Zero. A lot of people have already written about what went wrong this year, so I won't get into that. I am a huge fan of reality TV. I watch Survivor, Top Chef, and others religiously and occasionally go so far as to seek out international versions of my favorites. With my extensive knowledge of reality competition series I offer up my ideas on how to fix OIAM because I would hate for it to die before it reached it’s full potential.

America’s Next Top Model is probably the most successful reality TV franchise, with versions in 49 different countries or regions. The American version has gone way down hill but Australia and New Zealand still hold it down. Since OIAM is essentially America’s Next Top Skater, the Top Model formula can easily be ported to OIAM. Each episode of Top Model entails a Teach, Challenge, Photo Shoot and a Judging. OIAM seemed to want to take this route, but didn’t understand that these pieces have a purpose. That is to educate the contestants and help them advance their careers as well as show their desire and ability to learn and grow. An important note is that Challenges never send contestants home. Judges send contestants home. This would prevent someone like Matt Militano from being eliminated in the High Ollie Challenge despite being one of the best skaters in OIAM.

The Challenges would need to be meaningful. Pro skaters don’t deliver pizzas on their boards, but they do have to do demos on shitty set ups or get creative on boring spots. Each episode a guest pro or industry person could give the guys a lesson in some aspect of the industry then the contestants would have to put that new knowledge to the test. The winner would win a prize, immunity from elimination, or an advantage in the elimination. 

In Top Model and most other reality competition shows, there are two challenges per episode. One for reward, and one for elimination. For OIAM, a day of skating would be the weekly elimination challenge because skating is really what matters. One week they might go to rail spots or manual spots or a gnarly bowl. I think OIAM 2010 did really well with this. Just take the guys out to skate and see how they do. Bring along a photographer to get photos because getting photos is an important part of a skater’s job. These photos can be revealed at the judging along with the day’s footage and used online as a companion piece to the show.
Each episode I would have the judges critique each skater. This gives the skaters an idea of what they are doing right and wrong and how they stack up against the competition. I would show the judges deliberating about who gets sent home and who is the top performer of the day. This gives the audience an idea of what the judges are thinking and who their favorites are. They did some of this in OIAM 2010 when the judges had meetings with each skater, but not really in OIAM NYC

I would add a mentor to the process. This would be a filmer, photographer, or team manager, someone with industry experience who can steer them in the right direction and also report back to the judges about what is happening on a daily basis. A filmer would be great because they are out there with the skaters anyway and often times they act as a coach or cheer leader when a skater needs some encouragement to get a trick. 

Alex Klein said OIAM NYC was a “parody of American TV Culture”, but he didn’t seem to know his source material very well. Whomever is in charge needs to take it seriously the kids all want to do well, the audience want a good show, and there is real money on the line, and a real need to make a final product. It’s business just like professional skateboarding. Hiring someone with reality TV experience would go a long way in taking OIAM to the next level. A skater would still need to be in charge to ensure whack shit didn't happen but someone who knows how to create an interesting series needs to be involved. I would move the competition back out west. NYC seems like a good idea, but the weather is unpredictable, and a rainy day or two can cost the production big time. Give the guys a break. Skating all day every day is tiring especially in a 24 /7 competition with cameras ever present. Even the biggest skate rat needs a day off to recover. Take them on a field trip to a skateboard factory or just take them to the mall or the beach. You don’t necessarily have to film the day off but I think it would go a long way in keeping people motivated and happy.

I hope OIAM comes back. If done right it could be an entertaining show to skaters and non-skaters and still feature plenty of skating. Some of you may groan at the idea of taking OIAM seriously or bringing it to a mass audience. For you I say, OIAM doesn’t matter, the industry doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that skating is fun and no matter if skating is on TV or not, that will never change. 

Let me know what you think in the comments and if you want to rewatch, here are the links to OIAM 2010 and OIAM NYC.

1 comment:

Jason Jenkins said...

Fully agreed. The idea of bring OIAM to a larger demographic is a great idea, but the platform and execution of the show was just terrible. The show definitely needs a seasoned show runner to create the mold of the show.