FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS TO DR. MEL Be sure to register for her On the Lot Newsletter published once a month which provides a reality check for reality show producers and independent filmmakers.
Answers by Author Dr. Melissa Caudle
Dr. Mel Caudle is a producer and writer. She has created five reality shows, written nine screenplays, produced three feature films and is the author of The Reality of Reality TV Four Part Book Series. She is also the CEO and founder of On the Lot Productions, LLC, that produces feature and documentary films, reality shows and music videos. She is also a freelance journalist having dozens of articles published in numerous magazines across the globe. For more information visit her other websites which includes:
Who should purchase your books?
This book is for anyone that wants to create and produce their own reality show and get it green-light. It is a must have book for creators,producers and directors of realitly shows. It offers a step-by-step approach to writing a reality show business plan as well as how to develop your episode blueprint arc.
Why do I need a reality show business plan? I have the idea.
It doesn't matter if you have already shot your reality show and edited it. You still need to write the reality show business plan to get it into the hands of television executives and distributors. They won't look at your show without it. This should be your reality check for your project that you can't simply point a camera and start shooting. Those that fail to plan, plan to fail. I believe that.
How do I write a synopsis for a show that is unscripted?
Believe it or not you can. And in my book The Reality of Reality TV: Reality Show Business Plans, I take you through the process and provide you with the necessary tools to write your synopsis as well as your logline.
Why did you write the book series?
The answer is very simple. At one time I was very frustrated because I had a reality show idea and didn't know how to get the attention of network executives. Although I knew how to write a business plan for a film it wasn't the same for a reality show I quickly discovered. But no one would tell be what went into one. They only told me they were different. After struggling, I went on a mission to uncover Hollywood's deepest secret. Then several other producers came to me to help them develop their show and pitch them. They found out it was a process and asked me to write my books. So, I did. I have hopefully lowered the learning curve.
How did you get into production and creating reality shows?
I think the best way for me to answer this question is to let you read an article that appeared in Scene 225 Magazine. Here is the link to the article. http://www.225alive.com/louisiana-movie-film-industry/the-reality-of-reality-tv.html
How do I get the attention of network executives to buy my reality show?
First and foremost you have to have a well written reality show business plan that follows industry standards. Each plan must be tailored to your specific genre of your show and therefore it cannot be a boilerplate plan. A reality show business plan is different from those for screenplays that get produced as feature films. The main reason is that a reality show is unscripted whereas a film or television drama show is scripted. You still have to have a logline, synopsis and treatment for your reality show as well as address many other areas for your reality show. My book, The Reality of Reality TV: reality Show Business Plans will take you step-by-step in your journey to write a reality show business plan for your show. The book is available from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, eStore and other online retailers. You may also buy it right here on my website.
Do you do any public speaking?
Yes I do. I am available to speak at any conference or film festival. Just email be at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to put "Speaking Request" in the subject line so I will know what you want. I don't charge for my speaking fee, however, you must provide transportaiton and lodging if the speaking engagement is more than 100 miles from my home located in New Orleans, LA.
Can I buy and use your books for classroom instruction?
Of course. And let me know if you decide to. Who knows, if I'm in your town, I'd like to meet up with you.
I noticed that you have a workbook that goes with The Reality of Reality TV: Reality Show Business Plans, Why?
I held several focus groups for my book and one of the strongest feedback I received was the participants wanted a workbook that they could use along with the book. Although the book has the worksheets in it, they are in 6 X 9 inch format. They wanted them larger so they could write on them.
Can I just purchased the The Reality of Reality TV Workbook and not the book?
I wouldn't recommend that. First, the workbook doesn't provide the explanations and the worksheets won't make much sense on a stand alone basis. Don't shortchange your creativity. You have invested yourself in your reality show and you need to make certain you present your show in the best manner possible. That means you need thei information in the book in order to do that.
If I can only afford one of your books which one do you recommend?
I'd have to say The Reality of Reality TV: Reality Show Business Plans. The reason, it helps you accomplish the rest of your goal. I'd pass up on the workbook sense the worksheets are in the book. Then, the next book I'd buy is 150 Ways to Fund a Reality Show because it will help you raise the money to produce your show. But you do have to know how to create your reality show prior to going forward.
Do you have a fan club?
Not to my knowledge but if I do please let me know by emailing me at email@example.com. At this point, I think my nephew is my biggest fan. At only 14, he begged me for a copy of my book, made me autograph it, and he read it during the summer. His mother was as shocked as I. Now, he is producing his own reality show with his friends this summer. It's nice to know that I encouraged young talent and our future producers and directors.
I'd like my book autographed, how do I get you to do this?
There are a couple of ways. You can bring your copy to any book launch signing party I have that are scheduled, you can meet up with me at a conference and ask me to sign it, or send me an email asking and together we will figure out the best way. I have had several people mail me a copy of the book they bought with a pre-addressed address label and envelope included. I immediately autographed the book, and returned it safely to the owner.
What is the Executive Summary?
The Executive Summary in essence covers what has been said in your reality show business plan but in smaller portions. Although the Executive Summary is presented first in your business plan, you have to write it last. There are certain elements as to structure and topics to address in your Executive Summary. For a complete listing refer to my book The Reality of Reality TV: Reality Show Business Plans. Also, buy the workbook The Reality of Reality TV Workbook because the worksheets assist you in writing your business plan.
How do I get money to fund my reality show?
In my book, 150 Ways to Fund a Reality Show, I provide you the answers. I have used them in my fundraising campaigns and so have many of my producer friends.
Will your book address business plans?
Yes and then some. Not only do I take you step-by-step on writing a business plan for your show, I give you an example from my reality show Hoops: Life off the Court.
What topics are included in your book The Reality of Reality TV?
First, it is not a book that is going to strictly address current reality shows. That's not the purpose. This book covers all aspects of creating your reality show as well as writing your reality show business plan so you can get green-light. There are 19 chapters within the 416 pages of the book. Each chapter covers a different topic. Topics include:
Be sure to register for her On the Lot Newsletter published once a month which provides a reality check for reality show producers and independent filmmakers.
Do you provide a template for a reality show business plan?
You have to be careful with templates. You don't want to use a boilerplate because they can set you up for disaster. However, I provide you with the outline and structure of the plan as well as sample wording. When you get through with the book, you will be able to create your reality show business plan designed for your show.
Will you produce my reality show?
Wow! That's a tricky question. There is a possibility if it is really good and it's a show that I believe in. I don't accept unsolicited ideas. However, in my book, I do tell you how to submit your ideas to me.
What qualifies you to write a series of books on reality TV?
The only qualification I can think of is that I create and produce reality shows. Being a former teacher and principal it was an easy transition for me to write books on what I know. I like to share my knowledge.
What reality shows have you worked on?
Other than my own, I have worked on The Girls Next Door with Holly, Bridget and Kendra and TLC's The Little Couple. I am also the producer/director for The Baker Girls: Sealed with a Kiss, Hoops: Life off the Court, The Ace Mechanic, and Lisa's House.
I have an idea for a reality show but need help developing it. Do you offer consulting services?
Yes. I do consult with producers and creators on developing reality shows and the business plans that go with them for a nominal fee. I am available for telephone and Skype conferences. I also am available to travel as long as my expenses of traveling and consultation fees are included. If you are interested in a consultation, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What reality shows have you created?
I have created six reality shows. Some of them I am the co-creator. My reality shows include: The Baker Girls: Sealed with a Kiss; Hoops: Life off the Court, The Ace Mechanic, Post Season, Darren: Sharper Than Ever, Lisa's House and Clean Sweep.
Do you only produce reality shows?
No. I am also a feature and documentary filmmaker and I just created the television show Does a Name Make a Difference. I just finished filming the independent film Dark Blue in which I was the co-producer with New Guy Films. I am also in development on another feature film. For more information on my films, screenplays and reality shows visit my production website at www.onthelotproductions.com .
Can you help me with a business plan that isn't a reality show?
Yes. I started out writing business plans for my own screenplays. However, I quickly discovered that business plans for screenplays are different from those for reality shows so I had to adapt. It was a slow learning curve. It seemed that nobody in Hollywood could or would tell me what was in a reality show business plan. I felt like a championship boxer when I was finally able to unveil the differences.
When will your next books in the series be published?
The next book to be published is 150 Ways to Fund a Reality Show due out was published June 1, 2011 and is now available from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, all of my websites, and many more retailers around the world. After that The Realitly Show Handbook will be published toward the latter part of September 11, 2011. I had to increase the publication date forward due to the production of the film, ON THE SEVENTH DAY, I am currently filmin in New Orleans. Sign up formy newsletter to keep updated on the release dates and follow me on Twitter and Facebook. I'd love having you join me.
What kind of doctor are you?
I am not a medical doctor. I have a PhD in statistical research and administration. Prior to owning my own production company I was a high school principal and wrote several educational books. One of which sold into 38 countries. After a severe illness, I had to retire from my principalship and my lecture circuit. However, after three years into recovery, my doctors challenged me to put joy back into my life. I went into the movie business as an extra. Before I knew it, I was producing documentary films. My transition to me was logical. For more information, there is a two-page magazine article published in the July-August edition of BREAKTHRU MEDIA MAGAZINE. You can view that edition online at www.breakthrumagzine.com .
Are you the same Melissa Caudle that is also an actress?
Yes. In fact I am a SAG actress. You can find me listed on IMDB. Here is the link: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1990230/