I think the key phrase there is professional documentary. I think people are very wise now to the media. They have this sense that with a professional team, there's going to be helicopter backup, a huge infrastructure behind that. There's also the sense that they know there's going to be a lot of production going on, that time may be manipulated, and things may happen that take them away from the story. Why this is successful is that these are real people shooting themselves. Some of the camera work can be quite shaky. But that doesn't matter, because what we are talking about is the veracity of the experience.
What advice do you have for people to improve their chances of being picked for this series?
We get loads of tapes. We watch them all very carefully. The more successful are the ones where there is a clearly defined story set out. "We plan to go from A to B to C to D to do this." Secondly, video diaries are a crucial element to these films. Through these diaries viewers feel they get to know the [lead characters]. So when they have a bad day or it rains and they are stuck in their tent and they switch on the camera and say, "We are stuck in the tent," viewers really empathize with them. The best videos always have beautiful shots of the [particular] area. But [filmmakers] have [also] set up the camera at some point and filmed themselves going through the area. So there are wide shots of them actually doing something. Films that are based on just a [single] point of view are much more difficult for us to work with. One doesn't get a real sense of who the person is.
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