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Video clip synopsis – John Safran talks about the unique techniques, structure and ideas of reality TV.
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 1min 41sec
Tags - audiences, broadcasting, change and continuity, digital technology, emerging technologies, entertainment, technological change, television, television programs, see all tags


New technologies create new TV formats

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About the Video Clip


This interview with John Safran was recorded for the website From Wireless to Web produced in 2005.

John Safran is a filmmaker and self-proclaimed media hooligan. You can view his full biography at From Wireless to Web

The website is a selective history of broadcast media in Australia. Decade by decade, from radio and newsreels to TV and the internet, this history shows how the Australian broadcast media developed and shaped the way Australians see themselves.

From Wireless to Web is a Film Australia production in association with Roar Film.

Background Information


The rise of home video technology was behind the ratings success of a new kind of program, Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show, launched on Nine in 1990. The show combined viewers’ video clips with sound effects and comedic voiceovers. However it was not without its predecessors, such as Candid Camera.

These technologies have also reduced the cost of professional news gathering and led to increased sourcing of footage from the public, most famously in the 1992 Rodney King case in Los Angeles.

The 1990s were the start of the low-cost 'reality TV’ phenomenon that dissolved the boundaries between games shows and documentaries. Reality TV productions involve using 'ordinary people’, and in doing so the medium of television comes to play a direct role in contestants’ lives.

Cheap and portable cameras were also behind the success of the ABC’s 1997 Race Around the World. The program followed a group of young filmmakers who were funded to travel the world and record 10 four-minute documentaries using camcorders. Race Around the World introduced the viewing public to John Safran, who infamously demonstrated his techniques for breaking into Disneyland and streaking through the streets of Jerusalem.

SBS was also experimenting with production technologies and drama and comedy formats in its 1999 program Going Home. The show was based on the interactions of evening commuters on Sydney’s rail network, and their commentaries on the events of their day.

Classroom Activities


Making and Producing

  1. Create your own Lifestyle Segment
    Forming a production team, make your own lifestyle segment that is a parody of the lifestyle shows that are on television. Ensure that your production reinterprets the selected lifestyle show you are parodying.
  2. Produce a ‘mockumentary’ on one of the following subjects, that you can research and film within your school:
    *Canteen Food – health Issue or nutritional haven?
    *School Bully – myth or truth?
    *Teachers – are they needed or can the World Wide Web replace them?

Critical and Historical study

  1. Go to the website From Wireless to Web and find the section called 1990 the Age of Infotainment. Provide a historic account of how ‘infotainment’ became an accepted genre within the popular media of television.
  2. A hybrid is the merging of two forms to create a new entity genre*. A ‘docusoap’ is the merging of documentaries and soap operas, while a ‘mockumentary’ is the fictitious construction of a documentary which calls into question the truth value of the subject and the gullibility of the audience. Both genres come from a postmodern perspective, which attempts to challenge assumptions of established conventions within film and television.
  3. List as many docusoaps you know have been on television recently and provide a brief synopsis of each production.

*genre – a conventional cinematic form or format such as documentary, noir, romantic-comedy, horror, or thriller.

Further Resources


Go to From Wireless to Web for more about the history of broadcast media in Australia.