Grab your popcorn and open up your laptop for ASU's new student reality show. Season one of the series "Safety" brings together 16 college students to compete in mental and physical challenges for a whopping prize of $35.
In homage to classic network-style reality shows, new episodes of “Safety” premiere individually on YouTube on Tuesdays and Fridays. Season two is currently in post-production and set to premiere in late April, while seasons three and four are scheduled for filming.
"Safety" was originally pitched to ASU's film club Scriptless by the club's president Tyler Kupfer, a sophomore studying film and media production. Kupfer said he was largely inspired by reality competition shows like "Survivor," "Big Brother," and "The Amazing Race," as well as smaller, more recent YouTube reality shows like "The Totem Pole."
Kupfer, the director and executive producer of the show, assembled his team from there, finding additional crew members on ASU film Discord channels and through flyers on Instagram.
"'Safety' is one of the few things we did last semester," Kupfer said. "We did a couple other small documentaries, but this is really the one that ended up being made for the club."
Crew members brought on their own equipment and unique sets of skills. Amanda Aune, a sophomore majoring in film and media production, was brought on as a season one camera operator and was eventually made the director of photography for season two.
“With a reality show, the challenge is it’s moving so fast. (We are) just trying to make sure everyone knows where they need to be, and has their cameras (set) correctly," Aune said. "I wanted to make sure everyone knew where they were supposed to be and we went over things ahead of time to show how things worked.”
The show is authentically student-made, characterized by cameras sneaking into frame, the recognizable Tempe campus backdrop, and cheesy harmonica breaks from host Aidan Fox, a senior majoring in film and media studies. The show has the homemade aspect of a college film club project, but the scale of a full-length reality show, spanning 11 episodes in its first season.
This magnitude allows for the growth and development of the show both on and off screen. The first three episodes, which premiered on Feb. 7, Feb. 11 and Feb. 14 respectively, show the contestants breaking out of their shells, and the production team learning how to portray them as the entertaining and drama-ridden characters reality TV is known and loved for.
Fox was the first, and only person considered for the role of host. Kupfer said he intended on hosting “Safety” himself, but that all changed when Fox auditioned.
“I lucked out in that I’m no stranger to going out in front of a live audience and acting like a fool, and I think this was a really good use of the same skills,” Fox said, referencing his role as the president of ASU's film club Take 100 Comedy and his background in stand-up.
Alongside the assembly of the crew, casting was an essential part of the production. According to Kupfer, “No matter how well we make the show, it all depends on who’s competing on it.”
Season one was cast through recruits who the production team knew personally, as well as auditionees who saw flyers for casting on social media and on campus.
“It was honestly hard to narrow it down, there were a lot of good people applying," Kupfer said. "In the end what I wanted to look for was the best combination of different personalities.”
Despite the amateur appearance of the show on camera, Kupfer and the production team demonstrated professionalism in their casting. For seasons one, two and three the production team followed the same diversity casting rule as CBS, which announced in 2020 that it would commit to at least 50% of its future casts being people of color.
“As long as you can see and hear everything, I don’t really care how the quality is," Kupfer said. "What I care about is that people have fun making it.”
Season three of "Safety" is still open for casting.
Edited by Claire van Doren, Jasmine Kabiri and Grace Copperthite.
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