The film chronicles the rise and fall of, what turned out to be, the biggest debacle in the history of television. It takes the viewer back to the fictitious show’s inception, through it's highs and lows while on the air, and ultimately, to its self-destruction. As told by the people who were responsible for the show’s existence, both in front of the camera and behind, we get a hilarious look at how everything that seemed so right turned so very wrong.
The ideals behind the show were constant from the start…keep it simple. The contestants wouldn’t be put up in plush accommodations. The eight houseguests would be put up in an ordinary, suburban house. There would be no voting off of contestants to complicate things. The only way someone would be eliminated would be if they left on their own accord. What would keep them in the house, besides the electronic collars that they wore? At the end of the two-year competition, whatever houseguests remained would split the $8 million prize between them.
It sounded simple. What could go wrong?
Once the house was picked and rules set out, all that was left to do was find the contestants, dubbed “the cast America will live with.” First there was Corey, the all-American guy from Cleveland. Then there was Chris, the flamboyant dancer from New York. After that there was Kristin (the Asian PR coordinator from San Francisco), Sara (the 37 yr. old virgin from Virginia), and the “mother” of the house, Laquanda Shaniqua Adams. After that came the little spitfire from Philadelphia named Rita and J.M., the half African American, half Jewish tough guy from Detroit. Rounding out the octet was Aimee Day, who became an instant celebrity the moment he appeared on the television screen. These eight people, unknowingly, and most likely unwantingly, ended up changing the face of television forever.
Through interviews with the show’s creators, the film will tell how the show was brought to life, from the idea of one man, to the cornerstone of a network. A filmmaker, Simon Perr, brought a young, fledging network a new kind of reality television show. This was to be the show to end all shows. It would strip away the glamour and excess that had grown typical in the genre and bring it back to its roots. The plan was simple, almost too simple. Placed in the hands of three of the networks most promising leaders – Hugh Collins (network Vice President), Sam Crawford (Executive in Charge of Reality Programming), and Karen Montgomery (Executive in Charge of Development) – this new network now had a beacon to lead it into the 21st century.
Through modern day interviews with the parties involved, coupled with archival footage from the show itself, we’re able to revisit the events that happened during the time of the shows existence, both on screen and off. We hear first hand how the show made it’s way from idea to reality (excusing the pun) and what the thinking was behind many of its rules and stipulations. We revisit the houseguests as they were when they lived in the house, showing you footage, to this day, never seen by the public before. By talking with those who lived in the house and learn first hand what it was like living in the house then and the effect it has had on them these many years since.This…is their story.
Who made the film?Public Interest is the first feature length film project to come out of the young, independent production company, Nomad Productions. The script was written with a biting edge that utilizes the rawness of the material to satirize the exploded genre of reality television; taking aim at all involved in the reality television world, from those who put these programs on, to those who appear on them, and ultimately to those of us who sit at home and watch them.
The story for Public Interest started out as a short film that was going to be shot in the summer of 2001. Originally, the story was written as a twenty page short project that chronicled the behind the scenes antics of putting “the ultimate reality show ever made” on television. As the ideas kept coming up and the characters got deeper and richer, it was clear that the time format had to be expanded. Over time, the story has grown to cover, from start to finish, what was intended to be the end all of all reality television show. The story is written as a retrospective "documentary" and comically follows how that did occur, with an ending that no one could have anticipated.
Having a strong script is just the starting block for any good production. You need to know where to go from there. The script was written with a low budget minded aesthetic, which aided in the telling of the story, as opposed to detracting from it. There are a minimal number of locations and actors. The story is told through interview footage, shot on 24P., with “archival” footage from the show mixed in. The footage of the show was shot on digital video, making it resemble actual television footage.
The timing is right for a film that attacks the absurdity and excess of reality television. Public Interest is that story.