Fans of the addictive shoot-it-yourself MTV: music Television staple of the mid-1990s, Unfiltered, rejoice: Producer and MagnifyMedia president Steven Rosenbaum is cruising the National Association of Television Programming Executives' conference in Las Vegas this week pitching a slew of projects based on the Unfiltered idea.
That is, if you give cameras to regular folks and ask them to tell their own stories, the results -- with some very professional editing and post-production -- can be extraordinary.
Unfiltered fans still recall the vivid first-person accounts like those by the wheelchair-bound guy who filmed himself skydiving and the teenage girl who recounted her battle with kleptomania. The latter was a tricky proposition: Should Rosenbaum send a camera to a thief? He did—and got it back. “The pull of being on MTV was stronger than the urge to steal,” says Rosenbaum.
Since Unfiltered left MTV in 1998 after four seasons, Rosenbaum has remained true to the mission of “grassroots storytelling,” working on various Web-based and TV projects, including one for CBS News called The Class of 2000.
But now, Rosenbaum is fired up to apply the concept to everything from news shows to lifestyle networks. Why? Reality television has only heightened the public’s yearning to be on TV, he says. With thousands of people lining up to audition for American Idol, Rosenbaum says, “That’s the Zeitgeist we’re plugging into. People want to be heard.”