“The Longest Day” Premieres

I just realized that I haven’t blogged about my own TV show. On November 18, 2008, I gathered twenty-four top wedding photographers from North America to participate in a reality TV show called “The Longest Day.” The premise is simple: split the group into two teams, and give each team 24 hours to write, shoot, and edit TWO original short videos: one about photography, and the other is a PSA (public service announcement) for their respective charity. Team is playing for Thirst Relief and Team B is playing for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. What resulted is the first online reality TV show for and about professional photographers.

ORIGIN

I came up with the concept fall of last year as more and more photographers asked me about what I was planning for the next WPPI buzz-building video as a follow up to the one I produced last year, Diary of a Washed Up Rock Star Wedding Photographer. Many asked if they could be in the next one. As the interested parties increased, I realized it would be too difficult to write a script for that many untrained actors. So, the best bet was just to let everyone play themselves. Presto, reality TV.

SOCIAL EXPERIMENTS

In many ways, this whole endeavor was an experiment on two fronts. First, it’s a fascinating social experiment on what happens when you put 24 type A, creative professionals, all  used to calling their own shots for their respective studios, on a team to collaborate on two videos. All of the participants are well known in the pro  photography world, but there are some with more notoriety than others.

It is interesting to see how the various egos and personalities work together to get their ideas across. It was also interesting to see the varying leadership styles between the two team captains: Fast Track Photographer author, Dane Sanders, and wedding photographer matriarch Bambi Cantrell. Dane allowed his team to brainstorm ideas while Bambi pretty much came with all the ideas hashed out. There are definitely pros and cons to each approach. As the episodes pan out, we’ll see the affect of their approaches, both on the process and the final outcome.

But, this was also a social experiment in “social networking.” Even though the show is designed as entertainment, it’s also a promotional tool for WPPI, as well as the other sponsors. As such, we took advantage of social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook to keep viewers plugged in and anticipating the show. On the day of the shoot, I periodically would Twitter a question and grant a prize (a free Triple Scoop Music song download) to the first person to Twitter me back the right response. Amazingly, within seconds responses would start pouring to both my Twitter AND my Facebook account (my Facebook status is updated via Twitter). In episode 3, one of the photographers on Team A (Becker) Twitters that he needs suggestions for their team, and instantly he starts getting responses. Dane made a comment that by the end of the 24 hours, there was so much Twitter and Facebook traffic surrounding the shoot, he and many other participants saw significant increases in their Facebook friend requests and Twitter followers.

THE PLAYERS

In no particular order, the participating photographers are: Becker, Kevin Kubota, Alisha & Brook Todd, Amber Holritz, David Jay, Ann Hamilton Photographer, Bambi Cantrell, Jen and Steve Bebb, Bronson Pate, Catherine Hall, Chris and Katie Humphreys, Dane Sanders, Jasmine Star, Jessica Claire, Jim Garner, Joe Photo, Jules Bianchi, Kenny Kim, Michele Celentano, Robert Evans, and Gene Higa.

Each team was also assigned a creative consultant: one of my fellow event video producers to aid in the brainstorming, shooting, and editing. The award-winning consultants were Loyd Calomay of Red 5 Studios playing for Team A, and David Robin of David Robin Films, playing for Team B. My co-producer on the piece was Curt Apanovich of PhotographyMentor.com. Joth Riggs of Whitestone Productions filmed the photographer intros. Lastly, many thanks to our crew of PAs, shooters, editors, and set photographers: Joy Bianchi-Brown, Gustavo Fernandez, JD Delatorre, Drew Walkup, Solomon Blank, and Joe Perez.

NOW PLAYING, EPISODE 3

We’re now three episodes into the ten-episode season. The finale will play a week prior to WPPI. In that episode, we’ll see the final videos the teams developed. Voting will be done online and the winning team will be announced at the WPPI awards ceremony. The winning team’s charity will be granted $3,000. The other charity will get $2,000.

If you post the video in your blog, and link back to WPPI, you can get free admission to next year’s  WPPI (2010). You’ll need to fill out this form. Also, if you leave a comment about the show, on the episode’s post, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a free Triple Scoop Music song.

Now, enjoy the show.

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