Reader Questions: What if You Don’t Live in LA?

Hey, hey… it’s the 100th post!  Break out the cheese log and some cold duck!

A few more questions from reader Scott J…

“Troy, I know your advice to wannabe reality TV producers is to get work on a reality show in whatever position you can get. That’s great IF you live in a city that has a reality show. But what if you don’t and cannot relocate to a city that does? What would you recommend to someone who wants to try to launch a reality show in their hometown? Aside from “Don’t do it.””

Reality shows shoot all over the country, and if you watch, you’ll often find crew listings where they can use a local hire for a day or two or maybe even a few weeks or (rarely) a couple of months.

Launching a small, heavily formatted show in your hometown is a possibility, I suppose.  When I was growing up, local stations had a lot of their own programming (especially real estate shows, talk shows and hosted monster movie feature shows), but I’m not sure what the genesis point for that kind of programming is.  In another post, I commented on how Byron Allen bought overnight time to run his self-produced evergreen shows until they had a following and could be resold in syndication, so I don’t see why you couldn’t make something of your own, buy the airtime, and then try to resell ad time within your show locally if the TV station is cool with that.  You may not get rich, but you could be on television.  If you want to follow Byron’s model, don’t do anything too topical or time-sensitive… your content would have to be just as airable three or five years later.

“Can online be a possible start-up route? Launching and distributing a low-budget reality show on YouTube. Getting local advertisers to become sponsors. Getting local community leaders, politicians, chambers of commerce, tourist bureaus, etc. to get on board to make it a go.”

I can’t tell you it wouldn’t work.  I also can’t tell you if you’d see much money doing it.  Try it and get back to me with the results.

“Or is public access TV a better choice? A “cage” show where everything happens in a single room (e.g., the public access studio). All of it filmed and then edited down to the interesting parts.”

I don’t really see the point of producing on your own dime for public access beyond simply gaining experience.   The wait lists are long, the viewership typically quite limited.

“Or is there a job that you can do for a reality show without having to live in LA? If so, what job(s) can that be? How do you land that job(s)? Can you use that job to move onto doing one of the two above options? Or does it still require you to move to LA to go further in the industry?”

If you can live in Atlanta, Denver, Orlando, New York, Miami, Knoxville or anywhere else a production company exists, you don’t have to live in LA.  Your options will be limited, and when you’re out of work, you’ll REALLY be out of work, but not everything happens here.
As to what kind of jobs you can do locally, there aren’t many remote positions you can do except as a local hire in the lucky event that a reality show comes to your town.  Most of the time, local hires are PA’s, camera ops, sound mixers and field producers, the latter three requiring you to already have an established resume of some magnitude in order to be considered.  PA is just about the only way to start cold.
I still think that your best bet for a long-term career is to “move where the food is,” as Kinison would say.  If you wanted to make cars, you used to have to live in or near Detroit.  Sure, there were other places and makers, but Detroit was the hub of production in that industry. LA’s the same thing.  It’s where we make virtually everything.  Our networking opportunities are exponentially better here than in other production cities, which yields future leads you may never see if you’re working at the only place in your city that makes the stuff.

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