In Chicago, I produce films, television, commercials, advertiser-supported free compilation CDs and DVDs, and other items of political and artistic interest. Thank you for tuning in, and be sure to check out my website

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

AMERICAN IDOL meets Eminem's 8-MILE: Investor needed for new reality T.V. show

An excerpt from a letter to a possible investor:

Like I present in short film selection #6 on my December-issue Cherry Bomb Free DVD, I am seeking an investor for two reality television programs. The first program is a cross between American Idol and 8-Mile, and the second is a cross between The Dating Game and 8-Mile.

I am currently producing a half-hour television pilot for the second concept. It will be made in Chicago and completed this spring. To describe it very quickly, four battle MCs will compete for a beautiful girl. She will be cordoned to the side of the stage unable to see the contestants. She will instruct MCs either to battle or freestyle, and over the course of the show eliminate the weaker MCs, who will then round the separation curtain and meet the girl. There will be a male host on stage, and a female host in the crowd/audience to get snippets of feedback. Also, on the side will be a DJ and a beat-boxer spitting rhythms, and in the final edit, subtitles will assist viewers in understanding what the MC’s are saying.

As for the program that is a cross between American Idol and 8-Mile, consider this to be a treatment, and not a decision support package for any potential investor or network. Also, please keep in mind that the distribution of the program is not dependant on broadcast or cable television. As you are aware, I am pioneering the concept of the advertiser-supported short film and music video free dvd. If a major network doesn’t sponsor this, I am still excited at the prospect of releasing the program on a series of free dvds that would be inserted into free weeklies like the Chicago Reader, L.A. Weekly, and Village Voice in major cities across the United States.

There is much to discuss on this alternative distribution method. Currently, for the sake of Cherry Bomb’s expansion, I am researching the costs and logistics of having 1.5 million dvds distributed through these free weeklies in eleven major U.S. cities. The advertisers would be national corporations, and they would benefit not only from the likelihood that the discs would be retained in people’s permanent dvd collections, but also, their commercials would dovetail with the internet. For example, if someone watches the free dvd from their online computer, they would be able to press hyperlinks to websites offering promotions useful for market data collection. This proposal I am writing will be finished once the free weeklies test the physical insertion of the discs into their papers.

Finally, before I elaborate on the scope of the first program, please note the changes from the short film presentation I placed on the December issue Cherry Bomb. These changes simplify the project, lower its costs, and make it more feasible from the standpoint of being funded through a single investor, and not through a major television network. If this is the case, I would adopt a “Field of Dreams” attitude believing that the advertisers “will come” after it is produced. But either way, this is a good starting point.

Eight MC battle tournaments would be held in 8 major US cities: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, and Washington DC. Promoting these events would be handled through street teams and traditional advertising in each of these cities. At least four cameras with a sound technician would be needed for each of these tournaments, plus, a camera crew would be assigned to film the winner of each city in his/her home environment. The finalist from each city would move to Chicago for two weeks where they would reside at our city’s youth hostel located downtown.

Over the next two weeks the eight finalists would divide their time between recording at a deluxe Chicago studio and battling at a premier venue, like the Metro. Also, while in the recording studio, guest producers in Chicago would be invited to mentor the talent.

For the portion of the competition filmed in Chicago, every MC would battle every other MC, making for a total of twenty-eight battles (see below). Divided over four evenings, that would be seven battles per night. The evenings would be hosted by a local MC celebrity and would be judged by three respected Chicago MCs who are capable of being impartial. The winner of the contest would be that MC with the highest winning record. The best record an MC could have is “7 & 0.”

Battle schedules would be flexible so as to save the best battles for last, and if necessary, extra rounds would be an option to break any ties. Undetermined cash prizes would be awarded on a tiered basis, and hopefully, there would be enough momentum from this project to award each finalist a recording contract beyond the contest and recording studio sessions.

This would be the battle breakdown:

1-2 2-3 3-4 4-5 5-6 6-7 7-8
1-3 2-4 3-5 4-6 5-7 6-8
1-4 2-5 3-6 4-7 5-8
1-5 2-6 3-7 4-8
1-6 2-7 3-8
1-7 2-8

Four camera crews would be needed for these four evenings at the Metro, plus, a crew of at least two cameras would be needed to record the studio sessions, of which there would be at least seven, held over the course of the two weeks. The cameras I have in mind are Panasonic SD’s. I used these for the MC tournament I filmed over the summer. They capture with the full effect of 35 mm film. Also, the studio I have in mind is Paragon Recording studio located on Fulton St. It is a deluxe studio in a cinematic setting. The proprietor has helped me with past productions and I believe he would be helpful in this enterprise.

I am foreseeing the need to have edited 12 episodes each suitable for two hours of television programming. The first eight episodes would be each of the city battles, and the remaining four episodes would cover the four events held in Chicago. A major concern for the networks would be the cursing and raw imagery employed by the MCs. For this, distribution most likely would have to be through something like HBO, BET, or MTV. Also, of course, there is the option of Free DVD distribution where no FCC decency regulations apply (at least not yet).

The most exciting thing about this project is that it would be definitive. We would present the art-form of MC freestyle battling in its entirety where millions of people would not only get ‘schooled’ on the craft of verbal jousting, but they would also collect insights on the socio-economic injustices that helped create the phenomenon. In this, the aftermarket dvds and music cds from the recording sessions would have a worldwide appeal. Box sets and all sorts of merchandise would accompany the marketing of this endeavor, and as a further possibility, highlights from the final four evenings of battle could become a feature film. Finally, select charities would receive a portion of the proceeds. I always feel it is important to create an atmosphere of magnanimity.

So yes, please let me know what you think about pushing this further. Again, on my end, I wish to make this happen. I would be happy to produce it in cooperation with a major network, or, with a single major investor. My intuition is telling me I could bring these 12 hours of footage to market (plus the related studio recording sessions) for an amount not exceeding $600,000. I actually believe I could make it for much less as I always solicit help from people who are motivated for different reasons other than money. Nevertheless, $600,000 would be a more-than-safe amount from which to draw expenses, and in this, I would pay a 100% return on that portion of the $600,000 I ended-up using. But still, of course, this is an intuitive amount. I still need to develop the decision support package that would itemize expenditures.

Finally, I want to add that I am grateful and very humbled at your taking interest in my concept. I do not know why it has taken me, a skinny white boy from Toledo Ohio to formulate this idea since its mass appeal seems so obvious, but then again, sometimes it’s the simplest idea that gets overlooked.

Best, Rich Seng

Rich Seng
1573 N. Milwaukee Ave. #408
Chicago, IL 60622


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of youth hostels, anyone know what happened to Backpack Earth? I was getting ready to book my entire trip and the site is half down it looks way different. Anyone?

9:50 PM


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