Okay, well, the secret is out. It was revealed in tonight’s episode that the cast of The Real World: Austin will be spending the season making a documentary film about South by Southwest. The job was assigned to them by indie film business pioneer, and Austin resident, John Pierson. Their advisor will be UT professor and doc filmmaker Paul Stekler. Their instructors include acclaimed cinematographer PJ Raval and popular local docmaker Jenn Garrison.
Regardless of my own bias, I really think this job assignment is something significant. Not because they’re making a film for MTV about where I work, but because their job is to be docmakers. In seasons past, the Real World casts have been asked to: work at day care centers, promote a Las Vegas nightclub, run a coffee shop, and so on. The fact that they are now branching out into the world of filmmaking, is something kind of cool.
More than anything else, it may be the latest testament to the mainstream power of nonfiction storytelling. And, of course, it’s awfully post-modern that subjects of a reality show are going to be documented making their own reality film. But, more than all that, the idea that the show’s target demographic will be exposed to the idea that “making documentaries is something cool,” shows how much things have changed in pop culture.
Who knows whom to thank, but it’s certainly a sign of the times and a further step in making nonfiction filmmaking a household genre. Though, with the current abundance of popular docs and nonfiction programming, I guess this is truly part of our real world.