EXCLUSIVE: In 2012, Adam Rifkin (Detroit Rock City, Look) made Reality Show, a Showtime mockumentary series produced by Sony International Television about a reality TV producer (Rifkin) and the unwitting family starring in his latest ratings-grabber. While editing it for broadcast he saw the potential in recutting the eight-episode run down to a 90-minute movie with a dramatically darker tone and viewing experience. And with no studio brass telling him not to, that’s what he did. The result is Reality Show: The Film, an opening night selection of SXSW.
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There have been a few precedents in terms of TV-to-feature transformations. Ingmar Bergman’s Oscar-winning Fanny And Alexander is the most famous, although David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive and Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip also began as filmed television series. “The movie is much darker and much different”, Rifkin told Deadline. “You watch the family more and see what the director does to them in a much more condensed time, which cuts to a different end goal [than the show]“.
Showtime buried Reality Show in a late-night Thursday slot when it aired and Sony distributed a 10-episode version internationally, covering domestic and overseas TV rights. But Rifkin says both companies supported him re-editing the project. More importantly, neither Showtime nor Sony have a specific rights claim over the film version of Reality Show. “I’ll be open for business after the screening”, said Rifkin. The series and film are produced by Jared Hoffman, Michael Petok and Chris Pollack for multi-platform studio and talent management company Generate. Generate and Rifkin are hoping to snag a specialty theatrical release out of SXSW.
Watch two exclusive clips from Reality Show: The Film: