So, you want to be famous? We have more reality TV shows available now than ever before, but of course the competition to get on television is tough - everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame. In the past, I worked in TV. I still have colleagues in the business, and some of them work on the 'Big Brother' series.
Could you handle fame? Will it really bring you riches and adoration? Have you thought about the hate-mail and the jealousy and the press calling your family and ex-partners to get stories about you? You have to have a thick skin to cope with it.
A few reality celebs go on to have really successful careers in the media. Few people can remember who won the Big Brother 7 series, but one of the housemates who was evicted - twice - has gone on to become a star in her own right. Nikki Grahame is a full time celebrity, and works as a presenter, DJ, reporter, campaigner, and successful author. Her funny voice and annoying pet hates on the BB7 programme may have got her voted out of the house, but these characteristics went on to help her become a star. She openly talked of her battle with anorexia and wrote a book about her lifelong struggle with the condition.
Why is this relevant to your dreams of being a reality star? Because it's all about personality. You have to be different. You have to stand out. There has to be something endearing or really annoying about you. Don't think about making it up - the producers will know and ditch you at round one. If you can handle the truth, ask your mates and family to tell you honestly what they love and hate about you. You need to know - and if you can't cope with their answers, a reality show where strangers will tell you what they think about you, may not be for you.You have to be over 18 to audition and producers will require proof of your age.
Whatever reality show you'd like to audition for, the chances are you will need to make an audition tape. Use your friends' feedback about your personality to build your video theme. As cruel as it sounds, the programme makers are often looking for people with problems or issues. Successful 'Big Brother' candidates in the past have included housemates who've had Tourettes Syndrome, compulsive obsessive disorders, people looking for love - or just sex - and a transexual. Into that mix they'll throw some seemingly 'ordinary' people to see how they cope with the stronger personalities. The show makers want variety and potential conflict for their programmes. Would you fit in? If so, start prepping your audition tape, and study the programme you want to be on.
Here are some basic rules and top tips about making your reality show tv audition tape.
1. Plan the video. Make a storyboard (drawings and notes) with a sequence of shots that you plan to use. Keep it simple.
2. Don't let the tape be too long - three minutes max.
3. Don't do one long shot that moves all over the place. Do separate shots that follow on from each other to save you having to edit. Shoot, cut. Shoot, cut, etc.
4. Remember to focus on you. The producers want to see you and your personality. Think carefully about what you're going to wear. Don't get your friends on camera.
5. Talk about yourself on camera with honesty. Tell a story that shows off your character or skills or passion.
6. If you're shooting indoors, don't have the camera facing the window or a light - or you will be in silhouette. Ideally, shoot in the daytime, outdoors in the sunshine or inside somewhere well lit with natural light.
7. Make sure all other sounds around you are turned off (i.e. TV, radio, phone etc)
8. You must be the main subject in the frame. Don't stand far from the camera in the distance.
9. Don't edit the video with sound or visual effects. The producers are not interested in special effects and it will detract from them seeing and hearing you.
10. Practise and practise. Do lots of versions and select the best version to send in that shows off your personality and who you really are. Don't forget to put your name and contact on the tape!
You can apply to go to audition days for programmes, as well as sending in a tape. But a tape is something the producers can watch again if they think they like you. Once you've attracted their attention with your video, you'll go through a series of screen and psychological tests to see if you can handle the pressure that is 'celebrity'. If you're made of strong stuff, you could just use the opportunity like Nikki Grahame did, and keep the fame game going.
For more information about applying to 'Big Brother', go to the programme's audition website. Auditions for the 2013 show will start at the beginning of next year, so you have plenty of time to plan your audition tape and use the summer to get some great video content together.