How do reality show interviews work?


This might sound dumb but I really don’t get it. Sometimes it looks like the interview (most often in a separate Interview room) was really made right at the time a scene happened, but then again you see people wearing the same things in every interview that supposedly should have happened across multiple days.

In: Other

It’s all done after the fact. They’ve decided how they want to edit things to try to create a scripted narrative, and then they’ll ask the person to talk about what was happening at the point in time they’re deciding to show.

Normally they’ll do it throughout the season and afterwards. So if filming takes place over six months, the person will do an interview every 3-4 weeks while they shoot. After they finish, the producers look at the footage and decide which storylines to use. They’ll then go back and interview the people again to get any answers they might need to fill in the gaps.

I was on My Strange Addiction about a decade ago so I can give you perspective from there…

Basically they did multiple long form interviews on multiple days. We shot for a week, during that week we had a few on location interviews basically just summarizing the situation and how I felt, all very casual, (OTF or OnTheFly). The biggest were the 2 seperate nearly 3 hour interviews where they asked me the number of different questions multiple times as well as reframing some questions. 18+ hours of footage for an 11 minute segment.

Got the impression that they just wanted as much footage as they could to edit however they wanted, and were trying to specifically give me lots of room to breathe so they could go wild in the editing room. One interview was at the first of the week and the second was at the end, but I wore the same clothes and was asked many of the same questions. Continuity is important on a shoot like that, but unfortunately they had issues with their audio so I kind of sound like a robot in the final version. But they also didn’t have time to do it again so it went to print.

So to ELI5 – production cruise will tell you to keep a set of clothes and a lot of reality TV show interviews are focused on repetition and trying to get provocative comments. I really watched my wording and you can tell in the video that they stitched multiple sentences together to get me to say what they wanted me to say, it was kind of embarrassing to me because most people couldn’t tell that it was not edited.

A lot of the people they hire for stuff like this have experience with acting, or the therapists they hire have done video work before so when it comes to multiple people being interviewed for a reality show they often know what they’re doing and have been on set before. They have a Rolodex of people who know how to behave on camera.

Unrelated to MSA:
I did some production work for a reality show a long time ago about putting gay guys through boot camp (stupid show) and that involved interviews, but it was more the Bachelor/Real World kind of interviews where they setup a booth and do a round of them on shooting days. Alcohol was always served.

Now if you’re talkin about live reality shows like Wendy Williams or Jerry Springer, the interviews there are much more fast and the hosts are much more aggressive (I was on Bill Cunningham and another that didnt goto air) and oftentimes there’s producers either on earphones or with cards on the sides trying to direct the conversation a certain way. Some of the shadier shows will tell you to “GET ANGRY” or “DROP THE BOMB” etc to try and stimulate drama.

That’s all the time I have for now but if you have any other questions feel free to AMA.

Edit: speech to text corrections

There was a minor “scandal” in an early season of RuPaul’s Drag Race where one of the contestants’ interviews was cut up and the editors used comments from two different interview days. When they cut back and forth from the “action” and the interview the contestant was very clearly wearing a completely different outfit despite the comments audio supposedly being about the same moment.

From what I’ve heard, the contestants still do their interviews one episode at a time, but they are now instructed to wear the same outfit each time so the editors can use comments from whenever in any moment.

It feels weird because the interviewees all talk in the present tense (even if they’re talking about something that happened weeks ago). The producers tell them to do that.

To add onto this – I worked in reality / competition for a decade. There’s some interviews called OTF’s (on the fly) that are actually done in the moment. Usually they’re all done on specific days and times and the talent wears the same clothes so that we can use bites from different days to complete thoughts and sentences via something called frankenbites – so if you see a person start a sentence and it cuts to something in scene with a voice over and then lands back on them, there’s a good chance it was assembled from other interview bites.

I used to work in transcribing these interviews, it’s interesting. It is typically at the end of everything. They sit down and sometimes they’re asked questions to prompt responses and sometimes they just talk and monolog. Sometimes they will just give them lines to day. They will then say things over and over sometimes to get the right emotion or expression, or to make sure they use the right verb tense that will then be used in the final cut.

It’s completely made up. My uncle shot a pilot for a reality show about recovering crashed airplanes (his business).

They coached him to say things like “time is money” (untrue). They’d tell tell him to say “if we don’t finish this in the next “X” hours we lose everything” (untrue). They told him to berate his employees on camera (not his employees). It was the silliest thing ever.

The pilot never made it. His job is really cool and interesting, but he’s just to calm and relaxed for a show to work. The fact is that “safety is money” and “they get paid regardless by the insurance company” and it’s very important to “take their time”. The plane isn’t going anywhere.

Yes, it’s cool to recover a plane that crashed into a mountain at 12,000 feet with no roads. Yes it’s hard. The problem is, that it’s not exciting without making a big deal about a careful recovery. It’s all safety related so the pilot for the show didn’t work out.

Bottom line, it’s all semi-scripted and coached. The scripted stuff is shot after the job is done. The job still needs doing after all and the crew can’t get in their way while they’re picking up a crashed plane at 14,000 feet and the helicopter barely has lift.

Natalia Taylor does a pretty interesting video on YT about her experience interviewing for America’s Next Top Model that covers the “coaching” contestants receive. They would ask her a question, wait for her to answer, and then basically tell her no, feed her the answers they wanted, let her answer, and then tell her no again, and explain how they wanted her to sound when she answered.

Dude lemme tell ya reality shows are a bunch of SHIT LOL

I was in a class with my country’s (Israel) biggest reality show participants picker and he was CRAZY lolololol

Like these guys are just loopty whoop on their head and they pick the people who they think will be funny and dramatic and make them do whatever they want. The editing is ridiculous the everything is just a milking for drama in any way possible show

I was one of the artists on Just Tattoo Of Us in the UK and its basically recorded after the fact, however the questions from the producers relayed to the camera operator are all leading, or are asked as “so now talk as if you’ve just done this part” – most questions are kept short so that you don’t ever say the wrong thing and the edit will look more realistic to the “present” atmosphere.

In Steampunkt (sp?) they snatched people out for interviews DURING the challenges, which interfered with the time they had to complete their work. And they edited the interviews down to make some people look like assholes or incompetents.

I asked this question to one of my friends who works for Masterchef Italy and she told me they specifically ask competitors to talk about how they felt at the moment and to make impressions of the moment itself. A little bit of cuts here and there, and it really looks like they are interviewing them into the Black Mirror device for incapsulating souls.

Editing. Film a ton of interviews and take the interesting bits.

Also Producing. Producers will interview the people on the show and ask them to talk about how they felt in that moment. They might even show them video to refresh their memory and ask them to talk as if it was happening right now.

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