It’s crazy to think how time flies by, but this week marks one year since were had the incredible fortune of being followed for the day by Garvin Thomas of NBC Bay Area.
Surreal, nerve racking, inspiring – all words that would describe us that day. But Garvin and his assistant kept us at ease – they never were intrusive, yet you knew they were there. They never got in the way, yet somehow always got the shot they needed. In case you missed it, here’s the story that Garvin produced.
But Garvin didn’t just stop there. He went a step beyond. When a TV station tried to hire me away from my current gig, Garvin was more than happy to dish out advice – good advice mind you – that has served me well ever since.
The motto at my high school was “Men and Women for Others.” I must say, after meeting with and working with Garvin – he is the living epitome of that phrase. I can only hope to someday return the favor. Maybe with a mention in an Emmy speech…or how about the CreaTiVe Awards if we’re nominated?
After filming all last summer, Indigo Films‘ “Insane Coaster Wars” debuted it’s third season last night – and I can’t help but comment on their latest “effort.”
The premise of the show, is a decent one – have people vote on specific aspects of certain rides, then rank them against other coasters around the world. Seems straightforward, right?
Experiencing a film date in St. Louis last summer.
At issue with most coaster and park enthusiasts (who make up a large number of the viewing audience) however, is the continued downgrade in quality of the traditional summer “coaster show” over the past few years. “Insane Coaster Wars” is just the latest in a string of low budget, low quality productions from powerhouses like the Travel Channel and Discovery. Just look at some of the reactions from last night’s debut:
So what can this show do to make itself better in the eyes of it’s core audience? Read on:
1.) Stop hiring actors and talk to real “coaster enthusiasts”
Original screengrab by Dan Hower (who’s also in the second row with Alyssa Schipani). Used with permission.
SPOILER ALERT: Television isn’t what it always appears. Multiple sources have confirmed to this website that the “coaster enthusiasts” featured in each segment are actually…wait for it…local actors found on Craigslist, hired for around $300 each.
Yup, Craigslist. Home to “Casual NSA Encounters” and apparently beautiful & young roller coaster junkies. Didn’t you wonder why those featured riders always seemed to speak really good english…in the middle of Taiwan and Costa Rica?
Those “friends from college” who “visit the park all the time” – it’s usually their first trip ever to these parks. Yet, the graphic in the lower third clearly says they’re “Coaster Enthusiasts.”
Last night’s episode featured two “coaster enthusiasts” who had never been to Kennywood – and in fact, had not been to a park, “in years.” True enthusiasts don’t take years off – they rarely take months off.
What’s even more ironic – if the production company wanted to save up to $1200 per segment (and it’s obvious they do) simply stop hiring actors – just call on the local region of the American Coaster Enthusiasts – not to just fill the seats, but to TALK on camera. Not only are many of our members familiar with being interviewed – we’ll do it for FREE!
Some of the phrases that are used by these actors must also drive park managers nuts. Things like, “I felt like it was about to fly off the track,” or “I can’t believe I survived,” really make PR Managers have GREAT days. Simple rule to follow: Never mention death or dismemberment on TV when referring to amusement parks. You don’t say “bomb” at airports and on planes…
2.) Compare rides “Apples to Apples”
Outlaw Run and La Avalancha? How are those two rides even remotely similar? (They do both loop, but they’re built completely different). The best way I can describe it – it’s like comparing apples to oranges. It’s as if the people in charge took suggestions from people who actually knew what they were talking about – then threw those papers up in the air, and randomly pulled out rides.
3.) Be wary of those who make money off parks
Robb Alvey – who was once the “host” of the program – has now been relegated to a “Creative Consultant” production credit off-screen (which is a major improvement in my humble opinion). That being said, his wife was featured on the premiere show as a coaster enthusiast, along with one of their friends. I’d call them non-actors, but both he and his wife have agents.
Now, doesn’t this scream nepotism to anyone else besides me? Then again, at least us true coaster enthusiasts know she actually is quite knowledgeable about the subject. Too bad the producers edited her in a way that ensured she sounded just like any other clueless park guest.
Don’t even get me started on how his presence on the production team could directly influence his view count (and income) on his commercialized videos on YouTube…
4.) Allow park experts or bloggers to vote, not the general public
Let’s face it – most of these Craigslist actors (and indeed other park guests) don’t even know about the other rides they’re comparing, so how exactly can you compare them if you’ve never been on them…oh wait, isn’t that how the Mitch Hawker Poll runs? : )
While the show did make some minor improvements and tweaks, it’s still the same copy / paste generic “coaster show” that’s polluted the airwaves for far too long. Yes, the POV is good, but it’s everything around it that just brings the show down.
If you’re looking to support a quality roller coaster / amusement park program, consider sharing our “Great American Thrills” concept with your favorite cable channel or production company. We promise the enthusiasts we feature – will actually know what they’re talking about:
You’ve seen the recent support from coaster fan sites for Great American Thrills®, now – we’re proud to have industry leaders Irvine Ondrey Engineering stepping up and sharing our idea for a better amusement park travelogue show!
You know you’re onto something when fans of the industry you want to highlight like the idea – but when companies WORKING in the industry you’re looking to highlight want to help spread the word – that gives you an extra-special feeling.
I’m fairly certain “Insane Coaster Wars” (by Indigo Films) or “Ride-iculous” (by High Noon Entertainment) don’t have that sort of support from within the industry they’re covering; but then again, neither of those shows are as “authentic” as Great American Thrills®!
Thanks again, Irvine Ondrey Engineering – and remember, we can’t do this without YOU! Keep sharing the video with all your friends, family and favorite television networks – let’s get Great American Thrills® on the air, together!
It looks like the Great American Thrills® pitch is really gaining steam! We’ve also been contacted by several other sites interested in interviewing both Nicholas, Robert and I about the project – so stay tuned and KEEP SHARING THE VIDEO WITH YOUR FAVORITE CABLE CHANNELS!
After months of planning and years of dreaming – I am proud to present the official “pitch” video for our Great American Thrills® concept:
But, we need YOUR help! We need you to share this video with all of your friends, family and websites that you visit, especially television social media pages, such as Discovery, Travel and Destination America. The more eyeballs that see it, the better the odds of it being discovered – so SHARE AWAY!
From our press release today:
NEW COASTER SHOW CONCEPT AIMS TO SHOWCASE AMERICA’S GREAT AMUSEMENT PARKS
REDWOOD CITY, CA: Today, Kris Rowberry and Nicholas Laschkewitsch, producers of the popular “Lost Parks of Northern California” series, are proud to debut the official television “pitch” for their Great American Thrills® travelogue show concept. It can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeIJ6Kd__M0
The show follows host, Kris Rowberry, as he and his crew – headed by Laschkewitsch – travel the country to find their next thrill, based on suggestions and recommendations sent to them via social media, using the #GreatAmericanThrills hashtag.
“We all know social media is a huge part of our lives now,” said Rowberry. “So why not use it to its full potential – beyond just getting something trending?”
“Other shows may use hashtags or handles, but we’re the first one to utilize the medium to this level,” said Laschkewitsch. “In the process, we’re getting the authentic park experience from the people that know parks the best – their fans.”
Contributors to the show have the opportunity to join in on the fun: if their post is chosen, they get an automatic invite onto the show – which offers the chance to be on TV.
“We noticed that most ‘coaster shows’ have featured the same three parks,” said Rowberry. “We want to tell the stories and meet the people of the other 99% of amusement parks here in America.”
“When coaster enthusiasts aren’t watching the current slate of ‘coaster shows,’ that should tell you something,” said Laschkewitsch. “Our concept is simple: Bring back the passion of enjoying the great American amusement park, with the latest in modern technology.”
“But we can’t do this show alone,” said Rowberry. “We need fans of coasters and travel shows to tell their favorite cable networks they want to see Great American Thrills® on the air this summer!”
Both Rowberry and Laschkewitsch are proud members of the American Coaster Enthusiasts, an organization dedicated to the preservation and enjoyment of roller coasters worldwide.
If you’re in need of a serious park fix in Northern California today, come on out and cheer us on at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk this afternoon.
We’ll be filming a “pitch” video for networks and production companies, hopefully to get the “GAT” concept on the air!
If you’re not able to make it out to the beach, you can still participate! Just tell us the next great ride you want us to ride by tagging your post on social media with #greatamericanthrills, just like this:
We’ll be using the posts in our post-production work – so POST AWAY!
Those of you who are theme park or amusement park fans know that for many years, Discovery, A&E, History and Travel Channel would produce an onslaught of roller coaster and theme park programming right at the start to the summer fun season.
As a fan of these shows for many years, I am sad to report that these shows have been in steep decline in recent years, especially considering all the upgrades to picture quality!
The worst of these examples is “Bert the Conqueror” a show based on a premise similar to “Man vs. Food.” Consider they are from the same production company (Sharp Productions) it makes logistical sense.
Sadly, while MvF can get away with some bending of facts, “Bert” deals much more with a factual information-based industry. Simply put, this show fails miserably at it.
For example, in the show’s very first episode, Bert “conquered” the Cedar Point “Fearsome Foursome Challenge.” There’s only one problem…that challenge doesn’t exist. It was a complete fabrication to “attempt” to keep the conquering motif of the show, yet show coasters in the meantime.
Too bad they didn’t expect me to stand up and say they were wrong…
To prove my point, sust watch the segment I analyzed on one of my local parks, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Imagine how many errors they’ll rack up in a whole season…(egad!)