Tuesday 24 March 2015

'Slow Road Live' - Slow TV arrives in the USA

A road in Arizona - could 'Slow Road Live' be near here?
Slow Road Live did not go out on 27th November 2015; it is assumed this USA Slow TV project is put back until sometime in 2016. A little more discussion here.

"If this happens it will be ground breaking, nothing like this has ever been done before on American television. It goes absolutely in the opposite direction of every other kind of television on air in that country and I think it will have tremendous impact".

These are the words of Andrea Jackson at Digital Rights Group (DRG) who sold Slow TV to LMNO Productions (Leave My Name Off) in the USA, 'this' being an American production of the Norwegian format.

Interviewed last October for a documentary about the story of Slow TV so far, the interview at DRG in London was with a view to exploring the future of what began in Norway in 2009 and if it had any viability outside of Norway.

On the 23rd March word got out of what this Slow TV production in the USA would be. Produced by a California based company, it was LMNO's CEO Eric Schotz who memorably remarked "We bought a format called Slow TV from Norway. And it was the most unique, dumbest, most ridiculous idea I've ever seen in my life. And I said, 'I have to have it." 

For 12 hours on Black Friday 2015 (27th November) when many will be facing and dealing with the stresses of frenzied retail 'therapy' Slow TV will be broadcast as a much calmer TV therapy on cable, on the Travel Channel. With much of the population off work following Thanksgiving on the 26th there will be increased opportunity for audiences to calm down and have a real time, slow edited documentary experience.

The subject will be following a caravan for a journey; now what is meant by 'caravan' is curious from a British perspective. For Brits, being behind a caravan for twelve hours could mean the frustration of trying to get away for a bank holiday weekend on the coast or in the countryside, or the anticipation of some peace and tranquility at the coast or in the countryside in a caravan. (See comments about the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2 earlier this year). Could 'caravan' apply to one of the huge American 'RVs' (Recreational Vehicles), one of the Western style wagons you used to see on Bonanza or a romantic Romany Gipsy horse drawn carriage?

Pondering the location and route makes for an interesting exercise; with the transmission starting live at 9am Eastern Time and lasting for 12 hours, it could finish in the dark in the right (or wrong) part of The States. The Norwegian broadcast of the Hurtigruten ferry was shown in midsummer for the 24 hour daylight of the midnight sun. The end of November is just a few weeks off midwinter solstice for the northern hemisphere. Also the weather... Where would give reliable weather with better daylight at the time?

If the production stays with the Norwegian format of journeys and locations that are significant for national heritage, pride and identity it would need to be somewhere that is iconic for the USA, engage the deepest hand on heart 'I love my country' sentiment and be set in scenery which will awe audiences around the nation and world and allow small unexpected stories to play out in the tapestry of a much bigger picture.

To balance all those ingredients, somewhere in the West or South West could be best suited. 9am East Coast would be 6am in Arizona. Transmission starting from that time and location would minimise darkness with just after full moon setting towards 9am. Sunrise on, say, the Grand Canyon's north rim would be soon after 7am. Assuming clear skies daylight would begin breaking earlier and then sunset soon after 5pm would give light until around 6pm. 12 hour window of light in a world famous beautiful iconic American location. Just a theory.

Strictly speaking it isn't the first time Norwegian Slow TV has come to the USA. Last November a choir from a Lutheran Church in Decorah, Iowa took part via satellite link up in NRK's "Salmeboka Minutt for Minutt" - a 60 hour transmission of 200 choirs scheduled to sing the entire Norwegian Hymn Book - 899 hymns. "Slow Road Live" is a welcome full touchdown of televisual calmness which ought to bust viewing figures like nothing else - if the Norwegian experience is anything to go by. 

"Slow Road Live" comes in a good year for Slow TV. Having been largely confined to Norway to date, Easter sees German Channel ARD-Alpha with a Slow TV project, in June the BBC will have a week of "BBC Four Goes Slow". The developers and masters of the format, NRK will likely have another Slow TV transmission - probably in June - and then the first proper development of the Norwegian format outside of Norway, in the USA in November.

This news also comes in a week when Slow Media is being explored at a Symposium organised by Bath Spa University with speakers and attendance from around the world.

Slow Television -The Slow TV Blog

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Delsin - this project is seemingly on hold until 2016 now. Lots more coming on to this blog in the meantime. Cheers!