Casting open for Biola TV show
The casting website for the television show about Biola students will remain open over the weekend for students to submit applications.
Though 300 students are already auditioning for lead roles in the show, producer Jon Oleksiuk said he would extend his visit to campus to see more students if they are interested. Applications are open to all students who will be 18 years old as of January 2015 and attending Biola during the spring semester, according to the YesTV casting website.
“I haven’t any prior agenda. I’m not looking for a stereotype, I’m not looking for a caricature that I’ve seen on other reality programs. Right now, we’re at a place where I want to see as many people who are interested in this project and see what their stories are, what their journey is and then we’ll decide, does this make sense for our show,” Oleksiuk said.
NOT A REALITY SHOW
The potential show is a docuseries, which differs from a reality television show in that none of the events would be contrived, back-produced or scripted, Oleksiuk said.
As casting has just begun, the show is still in its early stages and therefore not completely settled. The casting sessions will allow Oleksiuk to see if the personalities at Biola have the potential to be interesting characters on the show. If he moves forward with the show after casting, it will film from February to May during the spring 2015 semester and aired September 2015 on YesTV, Oleksiuk said.
At this point, Oleksiuk said he is not sure exactly how many people the show would follow, as it depends on the personalities he sees in the auditions. The amount that the lead students would be paid for their role in the show is also undetermined at this time.
Oleksiuk is working with Biola in a partnership regarding the show, said Brenda Velasco, assistant director of public relations and internal communications. Biola agreed after careful consideration thinking it will help further Biola’s mission statement to leave a distinctly Christian impact on the world through its students.
“We thought it was a good opportunity for Biola to participate in this possibly groundbreaking new type of television and also to provide our students with the opportunity to impact culture with their faith,” Velasco said.
LOOKING PAST STEROETYPES
The show that airs will be a final product that both Biola and Oleksiuk are happy with. However, Biola will not contribute any funding toward the show and Oleksiuk clarified that the show is not meant to be an advertisement for Biola University.
Oleksiuk intends for the show to make an impact on viewers that goes past pure entertainment value.
“When people are done watching the show, there should be value added to their life, not just time taken up, time wasted.”
Oleksiuk has been looking to make a show about college-aged students finding their identities and discovering their faith as adults for about 15 years, but had not found the right location, he said. After speaking with Biola about getting students involved in a different project, Oleksiuk thought Biola could be the right place.
Oleksiuk works for Crossroads Christian Communications. Currently YesTV, a Canadian commercial television station owned by Crossroads, is lined up to show the series if the project is completed. Oleksiuk said that once they have a product to show, they will also reach out to other stations in the U.S. and other countries through the distribution company Tricord Media. Although Crossroads owns YesTV, it is not an exclusively Christian television station, as it is illegal in Canada to have a one-sided station.
“We can land on Christian answers and our Canadian government’s fine with it, just as long as we’re asking the questions that everybody’s asking regardless of the faith, so this falls under balanced programing for YesTV,” Oleksiuk explained.
The docuseries will be a step toward providing quality, positive television that portrays the conflicts encountered in life instead of showing cheap, easy drama.
“I think we’ve been fed what reality TV should be because it’s the easier thing to get some college students drunk and let them fight. That’s easy TV, you can spit that out for very cheap money, but if you look into the film industry, conflict comes in many ways,” Oleksiuk said. “I don’t think we have to be regulated to the stereotypical man versus man to have an intriguing product."