jet tweets · 20:10 PM

Please don’t make this a full flight!!!  Please, please, please!!

Watching Hal

Posted by: Jet

We had scout round Hal’s place last Friday.  Planning to put in some cameras and capture his life for all to see.  Hal needs to be more than just skimming through peep culture, we want to dunk him into it a bit more.  So the man from the surveillance camera company comes in with a lovely binder and colour digital pictures and I spy the quote – it’s about $13,000!!!!  Uhh… no.

We check out the house and then Hal reveals that actually W has only been told and its a NO to her being recognizable on the camera.  Hmmm… not going to get face recognition software – so how to handle this? 

Hal shows us his basement – and voila!  We decide that we will try to immerse him in the basement and cut him off from his W.  Of course the issue on this is how to make sure he stays down there…. I wonder if those alert ankle bracelets for criminals serving time at home might be available.

Long and short the CCTV cameras would be good, but ultimately how are we going to capture the information and serve it back out to the PeepCast??  The ip cameras look like a good bet now – but again, can we handle 5 cameras?  Who has better upload speed?  All in all, we have too much information to push up a domestic service… Am now flailing around the internet trying to figure out how much we might be able to shove up the “pipe” and how to make that “pipe” as big as possible… Realise that I need to leave my cosy desk and get to a Chinatown computer shop to figure this out.   Watch this space…


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Prepping in Paris

Posted by: Sally

Sally at Work_sm2.jpg

Hello from Paris, in the 9th arrondissement, where I live when I’m not in Toronto. I’m here until the end of the month and taking advantage of the quiet time to work on the shooting script for ‘Peep Me’. It’s a long, slooowwww process let me tell you. Mainly because the peep world is so rife with interesting people/widgets/stories/scandals that it’s very difficult to find a focus! Just this morning I turned on my computer and before I knew it 3 hours had vanished down the Youtube/Facebook/web hole of doom. I read an interesting piece by Jamais Cascio on “continuous partial empathy” when social networking got a, tweet from Danah Boyd re: celebrity obsession and got an FB from producer friend in D.C. re: her new show on Al Jaz called ‘Fault Lines’. Really excellent - everybody should watch it!

And now I’m writing my blog…

And of course there are all the OTHER films you have to work on at the same time because if you don’t you’ll have nothing to do when you’re finished the one you’re making! I can’t go into too many details but one that I’m very hopeful will find some money is a co-production with France about a Cdn gold mine in Chile called Pascua Lama (which is why I was talking to my producer friend in D.C. because she had done some work for us on the first treatment…You see how this can all get out of hand.)

So back to Peep Prep. Over the next few weeks it’s all about finding the focus. A documentary is not just about delivering the facts - it’s an emotional journey as well, a reflection mediated through actual experience. Cram too many things into it and it loses it’s soul. So what’s absolutely necessary for us to tell our story?

Hal I suppose. Can’t get rid of him!

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MIP TV - Mostly Important Person TV?

Posted by: Jet

Just arrived back from France.  Much as I have tried to embrace Paris and its denizens, I don’t like being treated like an inferior nonentity.  Like most people, I like to feel wanted, respected and recognised despite my flaws (like my indifference to cheese, baguettes, wine, and handbags).  It’s probably the same sort of warmth that reality TV participants want too. 

My reason for visiting Paris: to get to Cannes for MIPDOC and MIPTV.  MIPDOC, MIPTV and its Fall cousin – MIPCOM - are markets for television, where programs from around the world get an exhibition stand and where broadcasters (also from around the world) come and shop for programs.  It usually gives you a good sense of what will be hitting the screens in Philippines soon, what might end up the next big hit in Denmark, and who the next big host will be in Latin America.  A large part of the market is devoted to factual television – lifestyle transformation television, gazing on alternative lifestyles television and “reality television”.

It’s telling that the keynote speech this year came from Endemol’s president – Ynon Kreis.  Endemol is one of the globe’s biggest format producers.  Formats are mostly reality show structures that have proven successful in one market and are sold to producers to be used to produce local versions.  Endemol’s top shows include DEAL OR NO DEAL, FEAR FACTOR, and BIG BROTHER.  The presentation was very flashy – with smoke, CGI presentation and quite blah – considering the amount of money spent on the visual presentation they still managed to have a spelling mistake – but when one is as “succesful” (SIC) as they are, you start thinking your spelling’s at fault.   

Endemol’s about to celebrate the 10th anniversary of one of its most successful creations: BIG BROTHER.  It seems poignant that in this anniversary year that its biggest celebrities/nonebrity participant: Jade Goody, passed away from cervical cancer too.  Jade’s success was completely based on her flaws – her ignorance (didn’t know where East “Angular” (Anglia) was in the UK - and she’s British), her less than svelte figure (she was nicknamed “The Pig”), her tawdry background (parents were drug addicts), and her gob that dropped politically incorrect clangers like a sieve drops waters – the most famous being the racist remarks on a Bollywood actress.   Yet Jade was loved and the Press and People loved her.  So it’s not surprising when given the choice between having privacy, being ignored and unloved verses being exposed and having attention - that she chose the latter – even up to and possibly including her deathbed.

Reality TV is about connecting with the individuals under the microscope in a social experiment.  We side with individuals because of their flaws, gang up against the bad “guys” and even not so secretly detest the good ones.  I like Reality TV because of the microcosms created by the producers.  A breeding ground for conflict, drama and discussion.  Everyone one in the experiment felt they had a voice and were listened to - and as such they became mostly important people.

Also telling in Endemol’s keynote was its new focus – a new 3D future - and before you think it’s about breaking out into the third dimension – really it’s about domination, domination and domination – and the emphasis seems to be on the ability to use its global regions to create grand spectacles rather than individual struggles.

Its new hit is “Wipeout” where teams of players (like umm.. Cheerleaders) race around an absurdly large assault course.  The course has huge red mushrooms, blue sprung platforms to bounce from, lots of water cannons, mud and maybe even a large hammer to try to knock you off a mushroom.  It looks like a Super Mario video game wrought live and large. 

In this move to the macro from the micro – would Jade have even had a chance?  Does the individual stand a chance?  And is recognition and fleeting fame even a possibility? 

I haven’t figured out yet what MIP stands for in the context of the markets in here Cannes, but I don’t think it will be for Mostly Important People anymore.

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Really Documentary

Posted by: Jet

There’s always a bit of hoo-hah on the Documentary Organisation of Canada discussion list when someone disses reality television or lifestyle television. The purists find it hard to sully themselves with the same label – and the practical know that its part of their livelihood and put bread on the table. I like to think of Reality Television as a scion of documentary and as valid as a penetrating tome on a big issue story. The documentary world is like a bio-sphere where the reality television is a little Shetland pony and the penetrating tome is a large blue whale – they may not seem related but like the pony and the whale they have the same ancestry. (Yes really – ).

Seen as the earliest “documentary” film, Nanook of the North, was an ethnology of an Eskimo and his family in Arctic Canada – we watch Nanook struggle across tundra, hunting to put food on the table using spears and clever fishing techniques to survive and building an igloo out of ice in lickety split time. For all intense purposes, the filmmaker wanted to capture the life of the Eskimo as he knew it (and he did know it in that he spent a handful of years with them) – EXCEPT, it was all faked. Well, faked in the sense that Nanook wasn’t the real name of the Eskimo, he didn’t have a family, they use guns not spear and it was all staged including building the igloo – there was an exterior igloo and a half-built bigger igloo to accommodate the camera.

So here we have what’s considered the original “doco” and it’s has all the elements of contemporary reality television – the director creates the challenges for action and drama, the main characters are “social actors” who tap their inner emotions for external display, and the family is a titillating fake with Nanook having TWO wives with children and dogs that all sleep together. All that’s needed is the chance for fame for the social actors. And in a way Nanook did get all the fame – who outside of the documentary followers remember the name of the filmmaker? Unfortunately, like this type of fame, Allariallak - the real name of the Eskimo playing Nanook - died two years later from starvation. A reminder that like reality shows -documentaries can often leave their subjects behind.

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The Politics of Peep

Posted by: Sally

I’ve been thinking about peep and politics lately. By that I mean – does Peep have the power to change our participation in small and big P politics in either a positive or negative way? First off, a friend forwarded me a link to this Huffpost article:

In it, the author talks about Israeli mash-up artist Kutiman’s ‘ThruYou’ album, which is basically a mash-up of individual YouTube music offerings. It’s actually a brilliant concept and an amazing example of how creativity morphs in the age of peep.

Timothy Karr, the author of the article, hopes this is just the beginning, and will spread to our political consciousness as well. “We no longer limit our political involvement to television ads and the polling booth. This means organizing via Facebook, “Googling” candidates to learn more, joining text-messaging lists and creating Twitter hash tags to stay ahead of our issues.”

This is undoubtedly true – to a certain extent, but how much can technology really change the barricades of race and class? I’m not sure.

At the same time, I went to see “RIP: the remix manifesto” by Brett Gaylor (and shot by Mark Ellam, our very own DOP!). It’s a doc inspired by Larry Lessig’s book “Remix” about the free-culture generation (ie, copyright laws have gone bezerk and technology has trumped the outdated corporate controlled model anyway). Again, the msg was: if allowed to operate freely the internet equals democracy and power to the people (or at least cool people with great hair and cute boxer shorts). Check out the trailer for RIP at:

Then the convenient post masters at Google Alerts popped the following article into my in-box:

Muhammad Ayish - professor of communication at the University of Sharjah - talks about how trash reality tv shows have been pushing the envelope of what’s culturally acceptable in Arab countries and encouraging active viewer participation in traditionally passive political societies.

So all of this is swirling about my head and I wonder – will peep radically change our political lives? What do you think? I’m taking votes!

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the chocolate box bloggistas

Chocolate Box Entertainment is the yummy fusion of two award winning producers – Jeannette and Sally.   more...

Sally Blake

Sally has 12 years of experience in the radio and television industry as a writer, director, editor and producer.
She cut her filmmaking teeth in the bizarre world of professional wrestling,   more...

Jeannette Loakman


Jeannette is an award-winning producer with over 12 years of experience in the television industry. Jeannette was recently nominated for a Gemini for Spam: The Documentary, a critical and ratings hit.


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