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Queer Eye script might have been created for post-production and editing, not filming.

Queer Eye script might have been created for post-production and editing, not filming.
The Queer Eye script [PDF] posted Sunday by the LA Times’ new columnist Joel Stein might not be that damning after all. In fact, rather than being a script that’s used during filming to guide the participants, it might just be a summary of the show used during post-production. In other words, once the footage is shot and narrowed, it’s distilled into a written script to be used by editors and producers. This explanation is supported by an impassioned response to reality TV criticism by a blogger who identifies herself as reality TV show story editor named Heather. In an essay written over the summer, she writes,

“I shouldn’t, I don’t think, be sneered at for trying to make a living in a cutthroat industry by learning how to build a character arc from footage that was already shot, rather than filmed after I wrote dialogue. Indeed, it is just as hard as churning out an original plot -– we don’t get multiple takes, we can’t design things around our desires, we don’t know what we got or what we missed until weeks after the fact, and yet we can’t hide behind that.”

She also discusses “the story process in post-production –- after all the footage is shot,” and says that “any executive producer will gladly cop to having a team of people charged with whittling two-hundred hours off footage down to one forty-two minute episode that’s about two or three specific people.” She doesn’t exonerate all shows, though, singling out Mark Burnett for his series The Restaurant and The Casino:

“The Restaurant and The Casino are blatantly –- and in the case of the former, openly, per some Mark Burnett interviews after the fact–staged as they go along, at least to the point that characters and scenarios are set up in advance and the people are allowed to play it out as improvisation. Possibly, it goes further. And they use re-shoots to catch stuff that the cameras either missed the first time, or which needed some added punch. Mark Burnett’s unapologetic approach to that tactic taints a lot of other shows that don’t tinker with what’s unfolding in front of their cameras.”

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.


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