Reality Show Casting Secrets
Reality Show Casting Secrets
Mark Cronin (Founder & Producer) gives expert video advice on: What do producers look for when casting reality game shows?; Do reality show cast members get paid? and more...
How do reality shows cast their host?
In the case of the host, you're looking for someone who can control the game, who is exciting, can say funny things in between. Someone who is likeable, it's the most important thing, and that the audience likes them. That is how you cast a host. In your audition, see many, many hosts and decide on one.
What do reality TV producers look for when casting a show?
When you're casting a reality show, like a contest show, or a reality in a house, or a social experiment-type show, casting is usually a balancing act of trying to find different kinds of personailities. You're usually looking for personalities that will in some ways conflict with each other. You always want to find that old odd couple, the neatnick vs. the slob, the vegetarian vs. the meat eater, the born again christian vs the devil worshipper. If you can find a wide range of points of view, and pack them together in a small place, you'll have interesting turmoil, conflict, and resolution. Everything we look for in storytelling, is what we look for in a cast.
What do producers look for when casting reality game shows?
When you're casting for the contestants, you're looking for instantly excited people, people who get amped up, who get sad when they lose and happy when they win, and show it on their face. You're looking for very alive, vivacious people in your cast who emote their feelings. Some gameshows are looking for very smart people, like Jeopardy, some game shows are looking for just out of their mind, jump around people like Deal or No Deal - it depends when you're casting contestants.
How much information do reality show producers give their cast?
This depends on the show. Some shows have been very, very, deceptive, and have even given false descriptions of the show that you think you're being cast for, and then it turns out it's something else. That doesn't happen as much anymore, and people are much more savvy about it. There may have been some legal cases, but it doesn't happen as much anymore, that people are cast under false pretenses. It is possible, though, that they won't tell you very much. And it is usually because they're trying to protect the surprise factor, which is a big part of the entertainment. If you knew everything about the show going in, it's less entertaining to watch you discover what's going on. A big part of reality television is surprising the cast with the next challenge, or a plot twist of some sort. For example, the tribes are going to merge, but nobody knows when. The less the cast knows in general, the better for the producers and for the audience.
How do reality show producers keep a series unpredictable?
Often, if you're going for a second season of a show, you can be quite sure you know pretty well what the show is. We always try to throw in some kind of twists and turns, even in second, third and fourth seasons of shows. But in general if you've seen it on TV and it was successful, they're trying to do the same show to feed the same audience, so it's not going to change drastically.
What are the biggest mistakes people make when auditioning for reality shows?
The worst crime when auditioning to be on a reality show is to be boring, to be flat, to be unenergetic, to be unopinionated, and to conceal your true feelings. All we are really looking for, usually, is someone who is open and vocal about how they feel, what they think, who they like, who they don't like, what they like to do, what makes them great, or why they're not so great. You need somebody who verbalizes and emotes who they are and what they think - that's the best thing. The worst crime is to go into an audition and hide yourself in any way and say "Oh I dont want to tell you that" or "Oh, you're not going to get me to say that about them" or anything like that - then it's no fun. In that case, you're just no fun for TV.
Can being cast on a reality show lead to stardom in other areas?
Being cast on a reality show is a possible stepping stone. It really is up to you how you use fame; it's entirely possible that if you get on a popular reality show, you will become a famous person. Many American Idol finalists have parlayed fame into recording contracts and film roles. What you do with that fame, is completely up to you. It will open doors and present opportunities; you will meet people in the entertainment business. You will have the chance to have people come to you and want to represent you, or want you for their ad or a cameo in a movie, or maybe a recording contract. Reality show stars who have extended their 15 minutes of fame include Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Evan Marriott and Omarosa. It's not easy, but at least it's a leg up on everybody else who's not famous. But, it is in no way a guarantee of great, amazing fame and fortune. You could be a very famous popular reality television show character and never get any financial benefit from it if you don't use it in some way, if you don't figure out how to use that fame to your best advantage. I've seen many, many people become very famous and not actually be able to capitalize on it, and I've also seen many people get famous and do something with it.
Do reality show cast members get paid?
People get paid to do reality shows, but nobody - no contestant - is doing it, probably, for the money. It's usually only a hundred or two hundred for the day. You may be taking a chance at winning a big prize, which might be a draw for you to do it. And you will be paid for every day that you do it, but it's not very much. It's just kind of to make up for the fact that you probably left your job, or whatever.