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By Mark Bell | May 30, 2007

Now that the Fox reality show on filmmaking is in full-swing, it’s time for me to chime in “On The Lot.” For the duration of the show, I’ll be checking in the day after they screen the shorts to give my thoughts on the films and contestants, prior to the final box office reveal and elimination of the week. As this is the first entry into this new column by yours truly, and also the first real episode of “On the Lot,” I’d like to give a little background thoughts on the show thus far.

First off, for those who aren’t aware, “On the Lot” is the Fox Network’s, aided by “Survivor” producer Mark Burnett and filmmaker extraordinaire Steven Spielberg, attempt to do to the film industry what “American Idol” did to the music industry: let the public pick their pop poison. Every week a group of filmmakers will shoot a short film. The following week, their shorts will screen for the public and before a panel of three celebrity filmmaker judges. The judges thus far have been different from episode to episode, made up of Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Jon Avnet (director, “Fried Green Tomatoes”), Brett Ratner (director, “X-Men: The Last Stand”), Garry Marshall (director, “Georgia Rule”) and D.J. Caruso (director, “Disturbia”).

At the end of the each screening episode, the home audience will be allowed to vote via phone or internet (at for their favorite filmmakers. The following episode, the votes, known as the “Box Office,” are revealed and the three filmmakers with the lowest totals get the boot. Then the remaining filmmakers are sent off to make another short, and we lather, rinse, repeat until we have a winner, who gets a $1 million dollar development deal with Dreamworks (which, compared to “Project Greenlight,” doesn’t seem as appealing to me as a development deal doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll make your film, which with “PGL” was the whole point).

Last week we were “treated” to two prequel episodes of the show, a crash elimination of a much larger group of filmmakers to get to the 18 that began showing their films this week. Contestants were cut down to the first 18 via two challenges, a pitch round and then a 24-hour short film competition. As the prequel episodes rolled out, we were able to make heroes and villains of certain contestants that both did and did not move on, and the groundwork was set out. The ratings, however, painted a negative story, and you have to wonder if anyone even saw these two primer episodes.

Now we’ve had the first screening episode, and the top 18 will be down to the top 15 by this time next week. While audiences vote for their favorite, I’m going to give my thoughts on each short film, and make my final prediction for this week’s losing filmmakers. If you haven’t seen the episode, check it out at and then…

Read all about the first group of shorts in Sneaking “On the Lot”: Week One (Part 2)>>>

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