Matchlight Entertainment: Broadcasting Consumer Video to the World

The world of reality TV is vast and the potential endless. Two independent producers are staking their claim in this new frontier of broadcast television. Jason Bourgault and Joe Guidrey combined 17 years of experience from shows like Americas Funniest Home Videos and RealTV and the latest consumer video gear to form Matchlight Entertainment. The production company is putting itself onto the international map this fall when its first program Wild and Crazy Animals will air across Europe. The duo became a team while working on special projects at RealTV and decided to strike out on their own earlier this year.

"Weve been working on stuff like this together for a long time," Guidrey said. Both men agree the decision evolved out of all their experience. "We were ready to go out on our own and its paid off," Bourgault said.

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Bourgault and Guidrey put in some long hours making the European special happen. Both say the latest consumer video technology made it possible. For editing, Matchlight uses a PowerMac 9600 with 512MB of RAM. Software for editing video and graphics included Digital Origins Edit DV 1.5, Adobe Photoshop 5.0 and Adobe After Effects 3.1. The whole project was stored on 36GB of hard disk space and mastered onto Mini DV tape for distribution.

Guidrey said the newest consumer production equipment not only produces a ready-for-broadcast product, but is so inexpensive (less than $15,000 for the entire post-house) that just about anyone can put out video for broadcast from the desktop.

"Thats going to be the next wave," Bourgault said. The two men keep a close eye on the latest in editing software. At press time, the duo had plans to take Apples Final Cut Pro system for a test drive to see how well it would work for them.

Building a Vision

To land the European special, Bourgault and Guidrey put together a pitch tape for European producers using home video they had gathered from a variety of sources. They got the green light for a show on animals. And because the show is for an international audience, Bourgault said they could get away with a few things you would never see on American TV. The result is an hour of animals, from pigs to llamas doing some pretty zany things. "Humor is very universal," said Bourgault. "Animals for some reason make people laugh. No language is needed.

Finding a Niche

Guidrey would like Matchlight Entertainment to be a portal for other people looking to break into the broadcast business. He says its important to get your video out there so others can see it. "Public access is great. Thats one way to get your stuff out there," he said. "And if the right people see it, youre on your way.

Like any creative process, experience is often the best teacher. Guidrey advised shooting as much video as possible and hunkering down through the hard work of producing a finished product. "Its an experience thing," Bourgault added. "We didnt just wake up and decide to do this. Nothing is going to come to you, youre going to have to go out and get it.

Whats Next?

Whatever Matchlight produces in the future, Bourgault and Guidrey want it to stay fun and entertaining. While other production companies keep turning out the latest in police and crime video, Bourgault and Guidrey want to stay firmly on the entertainment side of reality video. Bourgault said television news has become so sensational that its often difficult to tell whats information and whats entertainment. "The news should just cover the news," he said. "Weve come to the realization that we like the lighter, funnier stuff.

Matchlight is getting ready to produce another animal show. This time theyre aiming to sell it domestically. The teams latest project is called Pry. Guidrey says its just what its name implies: camcorders prying into peoples lives. With the success theyre enjoying, you can bet theyll continue to shoot and edit on consumer gear.

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