U of T’s own television station is beginning production of a reality series starring eight UTM students.
The premise combines Big Brother and Survivor: eight students will be locked in a house for 12 hours and cut off from phones, television, and Internet, and every few hours they will have to complete mental and physical challenges that reward the winner with immunity during the next vote-off to expel contestants from the house.
A test run of the show was filmed two years ago by director Ana Sani and film student Nathan Marniak. The test show, called Sudden Death Lockdown, involved challenges such as playing Jenga while wearing thick gloves and completing a puzzle while tied to another contestant.
“I can’t disclose what challenges we will be having this year, but they will be much harder and more intricate than those of the test run,” wrote Sani in an email interview. “One of my favourites [in the test run] was the measuring game, in which we had students estimate the number of objects, sizes, and weights of different items.”
The 12-hour duration was a challenging decision to make, and
Sani revealed that multiple arguments took place before it was settled. They wanted the time to be manageable, since the contestants and producers are all students. “We realize we can’t expect students to commit to long periods of extracurricular activities,” said Sani.
According to Sani, the producers settled on 12 hours because “it allows us to get all the footage we need in a small time span and creates a lot of tension for the contestants. Because they only have 12 hours, they’re forced to form relationships within a small amount of time.”
On Sudden Death Lockdown, the alliances contestants formed within the first 30 minutes were broken within the first four hours.
The show currently has a planned staff of 15–20 students, including cameramen, production assistants, technical assistants, and producers. This does not include the eight contestants, for whom the auditions closed last Friday. At least 50 students tried out for the show.
Sani said that she isn’t seeking a specific type of contestant, but wants a wide variety among the auditioners.
More detailed information about the show, including the filming dates and final title, will be listed on uttv.ca as production proceeds.
Since its creation three years ago, UTTV has grown to over 1,200 members, making it one of the largest clubs on campus.