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On The Lot – a Quick Take

(Day 34 in Kabul)

This is my story inspired by the series in the TV…

John opened another can of cold beer…

His wife was out of town for the week and his kids were at the summer camp. John was all alone in the house – he declined an invitation from his beer-drinking buddies for a late night trip to the local bar. He knows that he will in trouble with his wife if she get to know about it. Big trouble that is. So, why take the risk? He opted to have his beers at home. The late night news was on TV but surprisingly he was not paying much attention to it. There was too many things running on his mind that night and no matter how hard he tries to think something else, his mind was not at ease. What is happening to him? He catches a glimpse of a photo of a man on the TV but was not bother to look up. He took another gulp of beer and place the beer can on the table. Something was amiss here. Something was telling him to look at the TV and when he did, he saw his photo on the screen. He increased the volume and surprised to learn that he is wanted for a murder that took place couple of hours ago. Couple of hours ago? Damn, he was right here at home since morning. There must be some mistake, John whispered to himself. He better call someone about it and just when he was about to reach the phone, the phone rang. John hesitated to pick it up.What if that was the police? Could he explain himself? No one can verify his alibi – he was all alone in the house.

The phone seems ringing louder by now. John braved himself to pick it up. On the other end, there was silence and then a female voice come over and said “If you want to save yourself, you better listen to what I am going to say”. John was confused but mustered enough strength to say “Yes, I am listening”. The voice on the other end continued “Exactly in 5 minutes, a black sedan will drive up – you better run to get in. The car will not wait for long. You miss the car and you have fend off the hands of the law yourself. You get the car and you will be in safe hands”. Before John asks further, the conversation ended abruptly. 5 minutes? There was not much time – John managed to dress up and get his wallet when he heard a car pulling up in front of his house. Although his mind hesitated, his body was not – John found himself running fast towards the car. The door opened and John had barely time to get in when the car took off fast. After sitting up properly, John looked at his passenger and got a shock of his life!

The car drives off in the dark….

Welcome to the “On the Lot” – a new reality TV from Mark Burnett and Steven Spielberg on Star World. The opening looks promising – 50 odd young directors, after a quick introduction to the judges, were asked to do a movie pitch (based on a randomly picked story line). The story line that was given to the young directors are as follow (hey, here is a great idea for a blog posts):-

Logline # 1 – A slacker applies to the CIA as a joke and is accepted.

Logline # 2 – A man is watching TV and he sees his face as someone who is wanted or missing.

Logline # 3 – A mouse is abducted as a lab rat by a pharmaceutical company and has to plan his escape.

Logline # 4 – A priest meets the woman of his dreams just as he is about to be ordained.

Logline # 5 – A crate from a military base is delivered to a house in suburbia.

(Picture source:

The storyline seems simple and full of endless possibilities but when the time comes to do a good movie pitch, it is so obvious that some of the directors are really not cut out for doing a public presentation. Hey, they may be good in directing and making a movie but when they are up there facing the 3 judges, some just stun and no words comes out from their mouth. Others had good pitch like the guy who presented the a story of a young priest who was working in a jungle in South America, young lady being a pilot flying in with the supplies, flash flood and finally the scene at a church which turns out to be a wedding. That pitch was fast, innovative and straight to the point.

When the pitch session was over and done, the remaining “winning” directors were grouped into a pair of 3 and asked to do a 2.5 minute film themed “Out of Time” within 24 hours…

Tension flies up quickly with 3 directors wanting to “steer the same ship” – immediate problem seems to be the clash of a difference in styles and creativity. It is the same if 3 bloggers are trying to blog one post – writing style, idea and focus will be a big obstacle. Same thing happened “on the Lot” – major clash starts during filming and it continues to degrade during the final editing. When time comes to view the short film, some films were a big turn-down (out of topic), the rest was so-so and a few was impressive – like the short film titled “Out of Time” by directors Zach Lipovsky, Sam Friedlander, Adam Stein. The directors added a twist of special effect into that film and immediately the audience loved it. Even the seasoned judge, Brett Ratner had to ask the question “How did you do that?” and the audience are left to think the same. More participants were eliminated…and the rest move on to the next phase – to read a pre-prepared script and immediately direct the scene with a full film crew at disposal within one hour. That is going to be cool to watch.

Now, over with the good things about the show and let’s move on the bad things about the show.

The editors of the series should be fired! For one, we are unable to see all the films created by the participants, we are unable view all the pitch that was presented, we are unable to see all the background scenes for all the participants (ya, I can see them all in the website but why I want to waste my precious bandwidth for that). Most of the time, it is fast paced “pick and choose” scenes. I am left wondering how the black guy made it to the final few list – what was his pitch or how good was his short film. There is more – editing of the show sucks big time. If it is really going to take long to show all the pitches and the short films, then just cut it into part 2, 3, 4 or so on. We don’t mind sitting out for another week but don’t leave things hanging half way. Creativity cannot be edited and left for un-informed assumptions. If the participant loses,then tell us why the person lost? Oh wait, if the show is for the judges to see and the rest of us to imagine, then I have strongly say “f@ck you, editors!”. Even Steven Spielberg would have vomited blood at the way the series was edited.


It was so bad considering it is a reality show about movie making!

Ok, maybe it is still “too early” to comment – the greenhorn editors are probably going to night classes to learn about film editing and it probably will “improve” in the next weeks (I hope for the series’ sake). The series has great talents and a good basis for a good reality show but with bad editing screwing up the potentials big time, I am still wondering whether this is going to be one screwed up series from Mark Burnett.

Until the next time, see you on the lot…

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1 thought on “On The Lot – a Quick Take”

  1. Show has potential…director Luby has the best chance…special effects by others is smoke and mirrors. Let’s all see

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