ORLANDO – If there’s one thing a really good reality television series needs, Sheena Fowler noted, it’s larger-than-life personalities.
And if there’s one thing Central Florida appears to have an abundance of, she added, it’s just that.
“Reality television is character-driven,” she said. “It is all about the character, and there are a lot of good characters in Central Florida.”
Fowler is the Metro Orlando film commissioner, who works as part of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission to convince camera crews for movies, television programs and independent features to do their location shooting in this region.
She’s also working to convince local businesses, individuals and anyone who thinks they might have an idea for the next hit reality TV show to contact her office.
“We’ve had a lot of good television, because we have a lot of good characters in television,” Fowler said.
As Fowler noted, several reality shows are produced locally, including “Fix This Yard” by Nancy Glass Productions, where hosts Amy Devers and Alan Luxmore completely renovate the yards and exteriors of needy homes and teach homeowners how to spend their money more wisely; and “Forensic Files,” about how forensic evidence is used to solve crimes.
Fowler said reality shows are appealing to television networks because they have not only proven to be a hit with audiences, but also because they’re fairly inexpensive to produce, particularly compared to scripted sitcoms and hour-long dramas.
These shows are also fast and easy to churn out, she added.
“It doesn’t take much to produce a reality show today,” she said. “I’ve seen shows captured on an IPhone.”
The Internet allows producers to post their show online through stes like YouTube before pitching the concept to a major network, she added.
“Webisodes are very popular,” Fowler said.
It helps, she added, that a growing number of cable network stations are actively looking for reality shows, including The History Channel, National Geographic, ID, Bravo, The Travel Channel and The Weather Channel, among them.
“All of the networks have to fill content,” she said. “People come from around the world to pitch ideas to the networks.”
It also helps quite a bit, Fowler added, that the Orlando area has a diverse business base – from theme parks to medical facilities to a growing service sector – that can be provide an interesting and original setting for a reality series. It also doesn’t hurt, she said, that the region has its share of eccentric people.
“Jerry Springer filmed here for years,” Fowler said.
“The Jerry Springer Show” debuted in September 1991, and in 1994, Springer and producer Richard Dominick revamped the show to make it more lowbrow, with an emphasis on salacious topics. The show became well known for confrontations among guests and audience members that led to everything from chair throwing to fist fights and people shouting profanities. The show became a big hit, reaching more than 6.7 million viewers by 1998.
It’s no coincidence that Springer recognized what a Florida audience could bring to his show, Fowler said.
“That is part of our makeup, that we have these quirk locations and quirky characters,” she said.
Those who do have an idea for a reality show based in Central Florida, Fowler said, can contact her office at 407-422-7159, Ext. 262, for assistance in preparing their concept and then marketing it to a major network.
“They can always start with us,” she said.
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