Tag Archives: No Borders

Female Winner Season 2

Nice to meet you! Had just gotten ready to celebrate my first full month without a what-was-it-like-to win-Campetition interview when I received your email, so shoot, please do. What would you like to know?

My opinion of Campetition overall? That’s a new one, how nice. This is about, how to put this, about the ethics, right? Really like that question.

What I usually get? Well, there’s the girls stuff crowd. They ask about my workout schedule, how I keep my hair shiny, what makeup I recommend, for girls of my complexion and in general. They also inquire about very private stuff, e.g. my plans on the family side, how many kids I want, if there’s a groom in sight. That part is pretty unnerving. And there’s the lefties. Those ask basically one question “Please endorse cause x.” They do say please, it’s all very polite, but they are basically demanding the endorsement, not asking for my opinion.

That’s what I like, about your question. Someone caring about my opinion. Most media people I met to far hadn’t even figured out that I do come with opinions. Your approach is a novelty, and I like it.

Because Campetition is ambiguous, isn’t it? Having refugees compete against each other, for the right to live and work someplace, what kind of story does this tell about your society? Do moms want their kids on this show? It’s certainly better than Big Brother, especially for a girl. Not overtly sexist, you get to preserve a little privacy and dignity. The overall ambiance is quite nice, they take great care to treat participants ok. No kicking the wounded, the harder, the more down they are, like on The Apprentice.

From the inside, Campetition is pretty ok, very nice crew, totally safe place. They even have a lady for girls to talk to one-on-one, at any time, in case there’s stress. Where else do you get that? Certainly not where I come from, I can tell you, and I was one of the privileged ones, as you will sure have deduced from my accent. But if you look at Campetition from the outside, it’s still shocking, that this kind of show exists in a supposedly civilised world.

There, I said it, supposedly civilised. I’d rather you don’t quote that, too tough a verdict, not my way. Thank you, that’s kind, very much appreciated.

Talent Screener 3

Well…, what is it like, how best to describe it… This is really hard, you know? Would you like an honest answer, me describing as it is? Or do you prefer the official legend, as in splendid opportunities, new horizons, chance of a lifetime, and bla, and more bla,…?

The truth. Okay… That is one big word, you know?

Let’s try the facts, then. An average of 1.117 applications, per day. Not that many, considering there are some dozens of millions of refugees, if you trust sources like UNHCR. Quite a lot, if you take into consideration that to be able to apply, you need to be in a camp, officially registered, have a functional smartphone with sufficient data volume to provide the required set of three pictures and one video, and pretty good English. We are totally missing out on non-English speaking talent. Breaks my heart, because hey, that’s so not inclusive at all!

No, of course I can’t ‘read’ 1.117 applications per day. No manual processing involved at the first two stages. Central casting sets the parameters, for age, gender and region of origin – bit of a proxy for race, that one, but psst, no mentioning of this aspect, big bad dirty secret.

Stage one, the software sorts the applications according to the parameters. We typically get loads of young men, and hardly any old women, meaning the latter get a much better chance to get land a gig. Can you do me the favour to spread the word? I’d really appreciate a better selection of at least middle-aged ladies. The older, the better, actually. A granny would be cool to have, on the show, but they seem to rarely make it to the camps, for whichever reason.

Sorry, I’m digressing…

Stage two, the software does some advanced sorting, of the pictures. It’s a special algorithm, trained on audience preferences, that delivers a liveability score. You need high and low likeability scorer, for emotional involvement. Officially, the algorithm is very secret sauce and high tech. If you look at what it delivers, you see the usual: Symetric face, good teeth, nice skin and hair good, asymmetric face, bad teeth, pimples and bald spots bad. Pretty obvious, but it does save time to have the software do the sorting.

Stage three is my job: I get presented with perhaps a dozen of promising candidates and call them to check if they’re anything like their applications. More often than not, I can’t reach them, or they’re fake in one or more respects. I often go for days without proposing anyone.

Would this qualify as the truth, or would you prefer more anecdotes?

You won’t believe the kind of stuff I get to see in the videos…

Crumpy Old Creative

You found me? Wow! Congratulations, your research skills must be outstanding. Or do you happen to be romantically engaged with the masters of the streaming universe? No? Sure? Ok, I believe you.

No, I don’t! That’s not how it works.

Someone must have told you, and his, or looking at you more probably her guard must have been down, as happens in the context of sex. Or drugs. Or – no, I won’t go full cliché. Shut up, go away, leave me alone.

Yes, I would consider alcohol drugs. Yes, this statement does apply to really old whiskey. It’s still drugs.

Ok, you’re starting to make sense to the crumpy old creative. A couple of shots of whiskey can work wonders on a lady habitually running on decaf and low calorie isotonic slurp. Still surprised she mentioned me, after all these years. Quite pleasant, to be remembered. Would be even more pleasant to get my share, pecuniarily speaking, but still…

It all started with a textbook unsolicited submission.

You can’t just wake up and pitch to Netflix. You need an agent, to do it for you. His job, if you want to call this kind of address hoarding a job, is to know whom to contact, and what forms to use. The likes of Netflix, they won’t write on their website “Please contact let’s call her alice.bob@netflix.com to propose a show”, you know?

You need an agent. Or a dark web friend with access to a big bucket full of magically rerouted emails and some data mining skills. And here you are, contacting that same alice.bob@netflix.com, with exactly the right kind of header. A more diligently criminal mind than yours truly would have faked a known sender, to avoid any risk of being identified as spam, but I’m scared of police, never no go illegal.

And yes, it worked. Twenty minutes later, we were chatting via webex. Or rather, she was shouting at me. She was so upset, all wild. Called me a a raving disgrace to humankind, and more. Because even coming up with the idea for this show was supposed to be worse than all crimes against humanity ever committed. Bit harsh, bit over the top, but people in her line of work perhaps need that kind of temper, with all the entitled extroverts they have to deal with?

Anyway, she made it very, very clear that she would never, ever allow anything like this show to happen, on Netflix or wherever else I might dare pitch it. And me to promise to forget the stupid idea, and switch back to writing sci-fi. End of encounter.

And here we are, five years later, wondering what happen afterwards. Did she change her mind? How? Did someone else come up with that same idea, title and all, and reach out to a more experimentally minded strategy person? Who dunnit? Do you know?

An in-house development, too vaguely inspired by my initiative to make it worth mentioning or paying me? Honestly? See now, why I’m a crumpy old creative? Or would you like me to aggravate my humiliation by showing off the site sucker documentation of the website where I published the original scraps?

Just kidding, no plans to waste your time any further, grin.

Crumpy, as in crumpy old creative? Cross and grumpy. Got this weird habit of mutilating the English language as often as possible.

Junior Accountant

It’s a job, you know? Just a job. I do the numbers, that’s it.

Don’t care if it’s for Campetition or whatever. Numbers are numbers, the spreadsheet looks the same. We buy stuff, we pay staff, we rent places, management takes business trips, taxman gets his share, it’s basically the same routine everywhere.

No, wouldn’t feel very good working for an arms manufacturer, or big tobacco. Would prefer not to mention on social occasions. Someone has to do those numbers, too, of course, and it’s not the numbers people doing the killing, of course not. But I’d still prefer not to mention.

Whereas being involved with Campetition, that’s pretty cool, for my line of work, makes for good small talk. Pretty much everybody is watching it, and cheering for someone. Like that girl from Syria, two seasons back, don’t remember her name, but so cute. My wife got asked at her gym, if she might be available as personal trainer.

This show really is win-win all over. Fun to watch, and educational. You wouldn’t believe the progress my kids made, for geography, since they are allowed to watch. Clara, she’s first grade, but she can say Afghanistan, and locate it on her beach ball. Very educational, the country clips explaining where the contestants come from. And never too harsh, no risk of causing nightmares.

And for the contestants, it’s even more win-win. Best case they hit the jackpot and get to stay, with all rights to all benefits. Worst case they get deported back to whichever camp they came from, but as famous people with a little cash. You can bet most of them will achieve some kind of what passes for a career under their kind of circumstances. And if they don’t, there are still the nice memories and the pictures.

Embarrassed, for being involved with Campetition? Certainly not!

Sounds & Tunes Lady

Yep, I’m the lead acoustician. Yep, it takes a degree in acoustic engineering to make sh*t like Campetition sound right on all screens. Yep, I’m fed up if referred to as the sounds & tunes lady. Might chew on your balls for dinner, to teach you manners.

Course not, none of the above, no need to go all pale, just kidding. You need one big fat sense of humour not to get mad on this set.

My degree might have helped me land this job, theoretically. It does feature in my CV, somewhere near the bottom of the credentials pile. But I’d rather guess no one cared, or even noticed. Most of what I learned at poly to manufacture manually is performed by tools and libraries. My role is to keep on top of those tools, not as easy as it sounds with a rhythm of two releases per year, at minimum. And to refrain them from going for perfect and make the experience sound fake.

Stuff like Campetition flies by authenticity. An also-ran needs to sound like a loser, his steps, his voice, his breathing. And a champ needs to sound it, confident, authoritative. And just a tad self-deprecating. Otherwise they’d all hate the bragging nuisance, right?

Campetition sounds & tunes would be a no-brainer if management got itself kissed by wisdom. As in finally accepting that professionals like me need to know in advance who is destined for glory and who isn’t, to deliver top notch product.

But no, never no wisdom at management level. They insist on pretending that Campetition is like traditional sports, as opposed to show biz. So I have to guess, and take precautions for the unexpected.

Like that bloody teenager, from Syria I think she was. Must have done some ballet, or kung fu, or whatever. Tiny, tiny, and not particularly clever looking, textbook Campetition loser. Only hedged a bit on that one, and had to adjust on the double when the bloody nuisance swept through the first round. Quite a mess. Especially as lights & looks had guessed my way, too. Music had to carry a lot on this one. Not my proudest moment.

Anyway, was nice talking to you, but need to run now. Intro needs an update of the booms, to make any watching NATO veterans feel at home. You wouldn’t believe how fast some of those guys reach for the keyboard if you don’t adjust war sounds to current state-of-the-art ammunition.