Ken Fuchs ’83 spoke about his role as a reality television director on “Shark Tank,” “Family Feud,” and “The Bachelor Universe” (“The Bachelor,”“The Bachelorette,” and“Bachelor in Paradise”) in the Goldsmith Family Cinema on Friday, Oct. 21, giving the audience an inside look into the world of reality TV. The talk was presented as a conversation between Fuchs and Chair of the Film Studies Department Scott Higgins, with a Q&A session that followed.
Fuchs moved to California after graduating from the University and became a production assistant, like many individuals who want to work on the production side of operations. He later directed episodes of “The Roseanne Show,” and joined “The Bachelor” and “Family Feud” in the early 2000s.
Fuchs described his role as a director, stating that his job is to maintain how things look. While he can tell people where to stand, he does not get involved with content, which falls under the territory of the producers. Fuchs acts as the head of crew and liaison to creative producers, meaning that he tells them how to cover whatever they would like to include in the content. While he does give notes, for example, if he does not think the music fits in with the scene, the final cut is done by the executive producer.
Fuchs emphasized the importance of taking only one shot of everything.
“We never have a girl [on ‘The Bachelor’] do something over again,” he said. “If we don’t capture something, we’re screwed.”
The director then explained the process in which people are chosen to appear on “The Bachelor” and “Shark Tank,” the latter he became a director for in 2010. “Shark Tank” received 42,000 offers from inventors. Only 170 are chosen to be filmed and 120 are aired, as 50 are not deemed as making for good TV.
Fuchs then detailed the casting process of “The Bachelor.” The show is careful to choose women there for the right purposes.
“The people who want to be on TV to get famous are the worst,” he said.
The show is meticulous in picking girls with different stories from the thousands of applications it receives.
“With a terrible cast, it’s hard to get a good story,” he said.
Throughout the talk, Fuchs highlighted the differences between the shows he directs. “Family Feud,” for example, is a live-audience game show. Conversely, he described “The Bachelor” as a true reality show.
“[On ‘The Bachelor’] we wait for crazy people to say crazy things,” he said.
“Family Feud” and “Shark Tank” use line cuts, meaning that there is cutting between cameras. On “The Bachelor,” however, several cameras record in different areas without any line cuts. Furthermore, three episodes worth of “Family Feud” can get filmed in one day, while one week worth of filming on “The Bachelor” produces just one episode.
Throughout the talk, audience members were able to learn about why Fuchs personally enjoys directing reality TV. Underscoring his need for something fast-paced, reality television is a lifestyle that Fuchs embraces.
“The best thing for me is live…it gets the juices flowing,” he said.
Additionally, he pointed out that he loves directing “Bachelor in Paradise.” Everything that happens on the one-hour live show ends up being captured.
“Live shows are the greatest things for directors,” he said.
Fuchs expressed the satisfaction he gets out of providing even a little entertainment for people.
“We joke that we’re selling our souls to the devil on ‘The Bachelor,’” he said. “But with ‘Shark Tank,’ it’s the opposite, because it really changes people’s lives.”
The University alumnus went on to say that even the individuals who do not get deals on “Shark Tank” appreciate the opportunity to appear on the show, as people who work for companies watch the show and often go online to buy the featured products. Fuchs continued to describe the power of reality TV.
“The reason ‘The Bachelor’ has been on for years is because we don’t manipulate it as much as other shows do,” he said.
Rather than focusing on dramatic sound bites, “The Bachelor” is a show that is about the story.
“People watch it because they connect with something with it…it’s real [and] honest,” Fuchs said. “The show isn’t about the ring in the end; it’s about the girl crying in the limo.”
Fuchs offered advice to the audience members, urging them to find what they enjoy.
“If you love what you do, you’re going to be happy,” he advised.
When an audience member asked about struggles he has encountered, Fuchs responded with enthusiasm.
“Every day…the biggest struggle is keeping your confidence and not giving up…if your life is easy, it’s not helping you,” he said.