It may seem at first blush that the producer responsible for the Hallmark movie and the host who first brought Real TV to network airwaves would come from different ends of the film spectrum. But K.C. Schulberg and John Daly, guests last week at a Sarasota County Film and Entertainment Office mixer, started with a very similar goal: staying out of television.
“My father was in television,” Schulberg relates. “He told me when I was 17 that he could get me in front of a TV camera, but I said ‘I hate TV.’ I viewed it as like a wasteland. But your an idiot when you are 17.” Years later, of course, after Schulberg had spent years in the theater, he had the opportunity to get in television again. While his father had passed by then, Schulberg figured that somewhere the old man was enjoying a chuckle. Of course, Schulberg would have plenty to smile about as well as he helped turn television movies into an international mega-business.
“It was something with the economics of the time,” he said. “It has changed since then, but American TV movie were suddenly sought after around the world.” The creation of cable television and home video, along with a hunger for affordable American releases abroad, changed the way films were financed and how they turned a profit. At the peak when Schulberg was at Hallmark, around 1995 or 1996, the company was producing around 75 movies a year.
As for Daly, he started out as a journalist uninterested in the shallowness of TV news, but in the changing 1970s world, he was drawn into the business and eventually ended up anchoring a station in Las Vegas. It was while he was at that job that he was recruited to host the pioneering Real TV, a show that told stories through home video, surveillance tape and other low-production-value means. The show ran for four years, by which time every news show in America was aping their editing tricks. “We taught everyone, the people at 20/20 and 60 Minutes, how to tell stories with home video,” he said, “and that still lives on today.”
Both told attendees at the event that outside forces, be it from technology or economics, can greatly impact the way film is made and distributed. Daly said a show like Real TV could not work today because of outlets like YouTube, and because shows ordering “reality television” shows now demand an episode-by-episode plan that saps out the true documentary aspect.
Daly makes most of his money today doing consulting on viral video campaigns. Schulberg is making independent films again, and is working right now on a film he wants to shoot entirely within Southwest Florida.