How to Shoot a Reality TV Show

By Anya Meave ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Cameras
  • Microphones
  • Lighting equipment
  • Tripods
  • Location release forms
  • Film permits
  • Film insurance
  • Model release forms
  • Shot list
  • Video editing software
Shoot reality TV shows outdoors.

Reality television shows are filled with popular names and regular people trying to get their 15 minutes of fame. Although a reality television show may seem scripted, they aren't written until the footage has been shot. Also, the editing process is a large part of what makes the final cut. Filmmakers and television fans with a good idea for a reality TV show can shoot the vision they have in mind, after all the details of the show have been worked out.

Secure the equipment to shoot the reality television show, such as broadcast cameras, wireless or boom microphones, lighting and tripods. At least two cameras are necessary to film people or locations at different angles. These items may be purchased or rented from video and audio equipment shops.

Scout locations at which to shoot the reality television show, such as a home or commercial building, then complete "Location Release" forms to obtain permission to shoot on the property. Also obtain the necessary permits and filming insurance from the state or local film commission to film in different areas of the city or town. This protects the production company from legal situations that may arise.

Organize open auditions to select the cast for the reality television show at a local restaurant, if possible. For filmmakers who do not have a dedicated cast, auditions will help select a group of people who have the best onscreen chemistry or conflicts to entertain the audience. Instruct each person to fill out "Model Release" forms once chosen, to give the production company rights to use their voice and image onscreen.

Hold production meetings to get everyone on the same page. Inform the reality television cast and crew what the purpose of the show is, such as a family reconciliation, and what format will be followed. Although reality shows aren't scripted, a format still needs to followed to create a beginning, middle and an end. Hand out important information to everyone in hard copy form as well.

Create a "Shot List" to detail the camera shots that will be taken during the production of the reality television show. This will keep the production team on track and prevent the story from going in a different direction. Once all details have been worked out, release forms and permits have been approved, and equipment has been obtained, begin filming.

Follow the shot list, and capture moments of conflict, joy and confusion that occur naturally throughout the production. Get what is called "B-roll," or extra footage, of locations and facial expressions of the talent during the shoot. "B-Roll" clips will be used during the editing process for transitions and cuts. Also obtain interview clips of what the talent felt or thought during a particular situation.

Edit the show using video editing software yourself or with the help of a professional editor. Select footage that keeps the story in order, highlights the main aspects of the show and will engage the audience. Editing a reality show is where the writing process takes place to create a story using footage compiled over a series of days, weeks or months.

About the Author

Anya Meave is a freelance writer from San Diego, Calif. She began writing in 2009 for various websites. Majoring in telemedia, she has written scripts for student projects and has been chosen to submit a spec script for the 2011 Nickelodeon Writers Fellowship. Meave has an associate degree in photography from Southwestern College.