On The Lot is essentially American Idol for directors.
The concept of this show is right up my alley. I want nothing more to quit my job and become more of a content producer than consumer. So, this show vicariously feeds that pipe dream. I wonder if hopeful singers feel the same thing when they watch American Idol. (Not that I want to be a director, mind you, but still.)
So, I am really enjoying the show so far.
However, flawless it is not. The first episode, which clocked in at two hours, might have put a few people off because they had so many contestants/directors and you didn't get much a feel for their style or talent at that point, yet people were getting cut.
The episodes got better, though, by cutting down the number of filmmakers competing per episode. This allows for more focus on the directors and their work. Much easier to get into and appreciate.
I'm torn, however, on if the format of the contest itself is right. It's American Idol style, which means that the viewing public votes for their favorites at the end of each episode. I wonder if the mission of the show might be better served by something more along the lines of America's Next Top Model or Project Runway, where the judges decide who stays and goes. However, that brings me to the next problem: the judges.
Carrie Fisher is a bizarre lady and while she has had a successful career in film, her biggest behind-the-camera success was as the writer of Postcards from the Edge. Seventeen years ago. She is, however, a script doctor (i.e. one of those folks a studio might bring in to punch up or tighten a screenplay.) I don't know that she's the best person to be critiquing these budding directors. She doesn't seem to get what they're trying to do, half the time. That might be because she's nutty, though.
The other judge who's there week to week is Gary Marshall. His career behind the camera makes for a pretty impressive resume, as most people know. He knows what it takes to sell a movie. Of course, he's also 72, so it sometimes feels like he might be a little out of touch with a youger market. Of course, what do I know? The man's still directing movies and I'm blabbering on a blog.
The third judge's seat is filled by guest judges. So far, we've seen the likes of Brett Ratner and Michael Bay. There are several others, but I felt like singling these two out. Brett Ratner is the man that many people blame for ruining the X-men movie franchise. And Michael Bay? While you're snapping at contestants to develop "style", without ever explaining what you mean, you should remember that you're the guy that directed Bad Boys II and Pearl Harbor. Just sayin'.
The show would need better judges (except for maybe Gary Marshall) if they were the ones voting. What's amusing is that the live audience will actively BOO the judges with they disagree.
One of the things the show got right is their website. You can see all of the contestant's movies there, vote there (during a set time window) and they've cultivated an odd community of aspiring filmmakers.
I have some comments on some of the contestants, but this post has rambled on long enough. Maybe I'll write another in a few days. The bottom line is that they are what makes the show good. The rest is just dressing.