What makes you sad about reality television

Scripted Reality: A young TV actress tells the story

Scripted Reality is staged reality

Scripted Reality is the name of the TV format that has found its way into German households for several years. The actors are filmed with shaky cameras or interviewed about the tricky situations they were in. This is how a documentary character is to be developed. But the stories are written down, staged, the people in front of the camera are amateur actors who act according to a script.

Scripted reality, staged reality, a contradiction. Also finds Felix Wesseler from the production company Filmpool, who therefore prefers the term scripted entertainment. It was Filmpool who developed the TV format in the 90s and is now the market leader in the field.

Eleven such formats are produced by 600 employees, including "Familien im Brennpunkt", "Niederig & Kuhnt", "Berlin - Tag & Nacht" and "XDiaries". Well thought-out stories run better than real documentaries, says Felix Wesseler.

Filmpool noticed this with the judge Barbara Salesch, who only started in 1999 with real cases and defendants. The show only had real success when it switched to amateur actors and made-up cases. The hour of birth of a new format.

With amateur actors and blasphemies to success

"The formats tell the stories in a more authentic and exciting way", Felix Wesseler is certain. The stories are close to life: "The audience can find themselves again." In addition, they are tailored to the protagonists.

In general, the amateur actors are the secret of success: "They are more authentic than professional actors and use their own language. No author can do it like that. "Wesseler does not accept that the actors do not have the same acting qualities as professionals:" There are many very good actors, one must not forget that. Often only the bad ones are remembered. " It is they who are talked about and blasphemed - and blaspheming is one of the guarantees of success.

You can also become famous as a performer

As more and more of these formats are on the air, the need for performers is enormous. Filmpool has over 150,000 actors in its file - and is still on the lookout: Every day there are castings in Berlin, once a week in Cologne and because that is not enough, people are looking for new supplies across Germany. In a casting like this, the main thing is to see what kind of guy it is, how well can he empathize with a situation, what is the language like: "You can tell very quickly whether someone is authentic or fake."

The castings are rushed: "Berlin - Day & Night shows that you can also become famous as an amateur actor ", so Wesseler. Who can come to the casting? Everyone: "We need everyone. The banker, the punk, the grandma, the high school graduate, the pub owner." All age groups, all professions, all social backgrounds.

Dreams come true, right?

Jil-Kira went to such a casting. The 18-year-old has always wanted to try something like this: "Acting is such a childhood dream of mine." The casting was in Bochum, in a circle of chairs with others she had to slip into different situations. Sometimes being funny, sometimes sad, arguing and then joking around again.

Shortly thereafter, she received the offer to play the role of Tonja on the RTL 2 program X-Diaries. "I was really happy!" Because for the shoot it was not going to a studio, but to Mallorca for two months. She has never been away from home for so long. But since she had just graduated from secondary school, she had the time.

"I was a little ashamed at first"

Tiring but exciting filming followed. Rotate at 40 degrees all day: "I would never have thought that it would take such a lot of effort to shoot the scenes in the film." The actors became a small family, she says.

When the first episode ran, she watched it with her whole family: "I was a little ashamed when I saw myself there." But that passed quickly, now she is proud of it. "Mega many ask me about it!" Her parents and sister are also asked about it, in the shoe store where she is currently working, she is repeatedly asked about her role. "In addition, there are a lot of friend requests via Facebook, I don't even know what to do with it."

So far there have been no negative comments. Some already ask her how the other actors are like, whether they are like the Paschke family in real life, who make a, let's say, somewhat shabby impression on television - she always says: "Nonsense, these are just the roles they play."

Many do not know that everything is invented

Critics often complain that the actors are shown. Wesseler sees it differently: Finally, the actors slipped into a different role, unlike in casting shows like DSDS. Jil-Kira does not feel like he was being led: "We are not ourselves in the programs."

Felix Wesseler knows the criticism that the scripted reality broadcasts fool the audience into a reality that doesn't really exist. But he is convinced: "The viewers know very well that the show is not real." That would have been the result of two surveys that Filmpool commissioned. "You should take the viewer seriously and trust them to tell reality and fiction apart."

Other studies have shown the opposite: The Society for the Promotion of International Youth and Educational Television found that almost half of viewers between the ages of six and 18 believe that real cases are being re-enacted in "Families in focus". Only 22 percent said they knew that the stories were made up.

The television researcher Maya Götz fears that the young people will get one like that "distorted image of people and milieus" conveyed. Jil-Kira sees it differently. She could definitely imagine doing something like that again, and is still in the file.