A Dose of “Reality”
Three years ago today I started one of the most challenging journeys of my life. In a million years I would never have guessed it to be so going in!
Pond Stars was a Reality Series that premiered on National Geographic in the fall of 2014. Filming started 11 months before that. Aquascape was responsible for two things…finding the projects that they deemed they could script a story around and of course building it. Everything else in between from filming and editing to scripting and directing was handled by an outside Production company and the Exec’s from the network. I along with my team was totally out of the loop and kept in the dark until each day we began filming.
Apparently, this is how “Reality” TV works. I learned that the hard way.
For a man who turned his hobby into a profession and eats, breathes and sleeps what he does being “directed” by people who have no clue or even care about what we do was a bitter pill to swallow, to say the least.
Every morning began the same way for me excited to be going to a job site with my co-workers or in this case co “stars” and some of my best friends in the world only to leave 12 hours later mind numb realizing I spent my day on someone else’s “set”
This isn’t so much an indictment of anyone but rather a by-product of how an entire industry functions. I’ve spent my life as a consumer of media not being a producer of it. Being on the other side of the cameras lacking the ability to not only control what was being produced but even denied the ability to contribute ideas to the storyline, left me feeling neutered from my passion.
I died a thousand deaths a day on set.
I’m not a negative person but my personality changed over the 6 months of filming. As a 43-year-old man I even attempted drowning my frustrations by foolishly taking up drinking for the first time in my life. I ordered my first drink ever from a bar at an airport flying home from another grueling two-week stint of filming. This period didn’t last long as drinking was even more less like me than reading a script someone else wrote.
To this day my wife shutters when anniversaries like this pop-up. “It was like I was married to a different man during that time” she laments.
In the end, I learned a great deal not just about the “Reality” TV business but more so about myself. I’m not very good at being an “actor” and I’m much worse still at being a yes man.
I am who I am and as a lifelong entrepreneur, I’m just not wired to do something I don’t necessarily agree with.
In a world where unfortunately to many others are forced to “put on a separate face” in order to do something they don’t love just to earn a pay check I am a blessed man to wake up each day with the ability to script my own reality.
I never truly realized about how lucky that makes me until I went to work for someone else and experienced, for the first time, what it felt like not to be allowed to do what you believed was best.
For that learning I’m thankful and for anniversaries like this, I’m grateful for reminding me so.