Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Inside the X Factor

Hello and welcome back my devoted readers! Today, I will be uncovering my inner journalist and writing about what really goes on when filming hit television show (or the Australian version of it) 'The X Factor'. Before we start, I'll give you a bit of background info. My friend kindly offered me a free ticket to go and see the show being filmed live, and of course, how could I not accept (despite having never seen an episode before in my life). So today, I can proudly give you the inside info regarding the making of the show, the crazy fans that watch it, and the process that goes in to acquiring poll position in the studio.

Waiting (and waiting, and waiting)

After officially being prepped by my friend (the night before via Facebook) who comes to watch the show being filmed every time it's on (how she gets all these free tickets I do not know), I arrived at Fox studies at 11 am on Monday the 30th of September, eager and ready to begin my journey to 'The X Factor'. I had no idea what to expect. I had accepted her offer for a number of reasons, one being that I really couldn't pass up the opportunity to see how genuine the glitz and glamour of television really was, another being the fact that I have been tempted to audition for the show for several years now, and the final being that I thought it would make a pretty cool blog entry (which I hope it does). However, I had no idea what I would be walking into. Turns out, I also had no idea where I was walking at all. As I was trying to get my head around where the studio was, I ran in to a bunch of kids who told me to go in the opposite direction. After walking around completely lost for half an hour, I finally swallowed my pride and called my friend for help. As I found out soon after, I was waking in the right direction originally before I ran in to those children (damn them). Despite being half an hour late, I still managed to get a spot third in line (thanks to my friend arriving at 10). I wasn't really sure what I was expecting to happen next. Turns out, nothing really happened at all. We sat and waited, and waited, and waited. For the first couple of hours, the line didn't get any bigger at all (having only about 10 people in it, making me question why we had to be there so early in the first place, but whatever). The only things I were able to do to pass the time was help my friend make a banner (glitter and all) for her favourite act (which was Jai Waetford), and check my Facebook notifications (or lack thereof) on my phone over and over again. We stopped for a lunch break at around 12:30 (Oporto veggie burger here I come), and the other fans kindly let us back in line where we were originally. At that stage, the line had expanded quite significantly, and I could now see the logic in my friend's arrival time. 

At around 1, my friend asked if I could accompany her to the bathroom to charge her phone (our spots in the line already being saved). We did this, no hassles whatsoever, until she then asked if we could go around the back of Fox Studios. Of course, I was super confused, but I went along with it because hey, what's the worst that could happen? Once we got around, my friend met up with a bunch of people she'd met, just from waiting in line for 'The X Factor' (I thought it was weird at first, but then realised the same would probably happen to me surrounding anything related to 'Glee', so I decided to put my hypocrisy to rest for the day). I had absolutely no idea who these people were, and they made no attempts to find out who I was, so I just went with it and sat down with them in a park across the road. Turns out, they were waiting for Jason Derulo to arrive out the back (as he was a guest performer on the show) in hopes of . . . I don't actually know what they were expecting. I felt as if I was inspecting test subjects or something, and learning about a whole new species. I hung around for a little while, failing to go along with it as they talked about contestants I'd never even heard of, before finally just walking back across the road (like a loner) and sitting down in the line (alone, 'cos I'm cool like that). I was there for a couple of hours, just sitting around and feigning interest in something on my phone (which was actually turned off), before I finally saw my friend and her little 'X Factor' pack com back over and sit down. Turns out, as soon as I left, they got to meet Jason Derulo (of course- I'm now officially the blitz). It was now nearing 5pm, which meant that the security guards were officially allowed to let us in . . . to another queue. This time, as the masses were being herded in, we were offered free products by some of the sponsoring companies (which in this case were the new line of 'popped' Thin's chips, Nescafe instant coffee, and a sample of foundation from Rimmel London). Being the groupie that I am, I of course accepted all of these (before disposing of them in the nearest garbage bin).

The excitement was thick in the air, as everyone in the crowed was buzzing with anticipation of the big event. Everyone was taking photos with Jai Waetford (one of the contestant)'s girlfriend (why, I cannot answer that), and absolutely everybody, no matter whether they knew them or not, was talking to each other. As expected at events like these, there were quite a few, shall I say, odd, people there. Some of the most enthusiastic fans ended up being the parents. One woman, the mother of two 10 year old girls (despite the required age of entry being 12), was swearing like a trooper, and complaining about . . . pretty much everything. She was talking to my friend about how it was unfair that a group of people were let in who are apparently put up for harassment chargers for (and this is the kicker) stalking the contestants inside their hotel, before turning to me and complaining that she won't be able to get her photo (not her kid's photo, her photo) with Omar (a contestant I'd never heard of before in my life) until the Grand Final. Unsure what to do, I just smiled and awkwardly turned away to avoid any more trouble. But that was not the end of the weirdness, oh no. There was also another mother who was constantly trying to (not so) discreetly push her way through the barrier and get ahead of everyone else (who had been waiting around since 10- or 11:30 in my case). I don't know what kind of lesson she was trying to teach her kids, but obviously, it was a bad one. Anyway, after all the waiting around we were finally allowed through the gates and began the long walk to the 'X Factor' studio. And that's when the trampling started. 

Showtime (almost)

After nearly being crushed to death by a bunch of teenage girls (and their parents), I made it inside (relatively) unscathed. Finally, after hours and hours of hanging around, I was there, inside an actual television studio surrounded by actual television cameras. And just for the record, that 'actual' television studio- way smaller in real life (the magic of television).

I made it to the second row of the left mosh pit (my first mosh pit ever!) with no idea what was going to happen next. Though what did happen was super weird- a random man dressed as a biker slash homeless guy named Dave popped out from behind the screen and began to 'warm up' the crowd. After asking my friend, turns out, he's been using the same old, stale jokes since 2011.

Next thing we know, the actual judges begin to walk out onto the stage (including LMFAO's very own Redfoo) with no fanfare whatsoever (I myself almost missed it). At this point, it was only about 6:30, so I was confused as to why they were coming out so early.

Turns out, it wasn't really early at all. You know that great 'live' performance from Jason Derulo you thought you saw at about 8 o clock? It was actually filmed at 6:45. However, turns out, Jason's a pretty charismatic dude. It was quite an enjoyable performance, and he was able to get out of there by 7. Next up was Australia's own Jessica Mauboy, performing her new single. This was also pre-recorded (not that anyone watching at home knew that), but she was awesome in real life, so it wasn't a total lie. Next up were the contestants. Yes, you read that right. They even pre-recorded the contestants (although only the opening number). Everyone came on and the crowd went wild, as I tried to see if I could pick out anybody that looked vaguely familiar (which I really couldn't). Honestly, because everyone was screaming so loudly (louder than for Jason Derulo and Jessica Mauboy which I found really weird), I couldn't actually hear any of the contestants, so was absolutely mesmerised when watching it back at home to realise that they all sounded professional (thank you audio enhancements). So, now that all the pre-recorded performances were over, it was time for . . . more pre-recording. This time, it was ex Home and Away star and current X Factor host Luke Jacobz's time to shine. He was filming these short 30 second promo things that were set to be shown just before the program started. Turns out, Luke's a little bit of a diva. He seemed to get super upset because he had to film the promo more than once (because the audience may have been laughing at him just a bit). But then, finally, all of the filming was over with for the time being, and I was able to take a selfie with Redfoo.


Lights, Camera, Action

Finally, at exactly 7:27pm, the show was about to begin. Dave, the 'warm up' host, signalled to the crowd to start cheering, meaning that we were forced to scream at the top of our lungs for minutes before the show even began. And then, the cameras were rolling, and the viewers at home were watching live. Luke did his signature introduction, every word mapped out for him on the autocue, as he welcomed the opening act involving all of the contestants (which of course, was pre-recorded). As you guys were watching it at home (or not, depending on whether or not you've actually seen the show), we were watching the play-back on the massive screen in front of us. Again, I was blown away at the vast difference between the recording and the live performance. However, it was over soon enough, and it was announced who would be staying, and who would be performing in the bottom two. I honestly didn't really care, but the audience seemed to react wildly. This was side-tracked soon enough, as it was announced that both Jason Derulo and Jessica Mauboy were 'in the house' (despite the fact that they'd left over an hour ago), and their performances were played back. To be honest, I cannot for the life of me remember the order of these events (because I didn't care), but they were once again played to us on the screen before going into an ad break.

I have to say, what happened in the ad breaks was sometimes more entertaining than what was happening live. The group I was with had managed to befriend a security guard (shout out to Vince), so we chatted to him for a while. But the cray began when some man pushed his way to the front of the mosh pit and began to randomly shout 'Redfoo, you're my idol!'. I don't even think he was anybody's father, just a really enthusiastic (creepy) man.

Not long after, filming was ready to once again commence, and both groups went head to head against one another (and this was actually filmed live, achievement). Admittedly, I couldn't here either group whatsoever, so when it was announced that JTR were going home, I had no reaction. Personally, I'm quite offended that I hardly made it on TV (besides the neon orange glow from my top). Oh well, it's their loss. That pretty much summed up that part of the night.

When all was said and done

After the excitement had finally died down, everyone left the building mourning the loss of JTR from the competition and headed home. However, this is not what my friend and I had planned. We discretely made our way out the back to Gate D in order to see the contestants drive past on their way to the hotel. It was obvious what everyone else's intentions were, but mine, well I wasn't entirely sure myself. I guess I just got swept up in the excitement of the night. I didn't have long to ponder however, as soon enough, we saw the van headed towards us. Other fans had made their way outside as well, copping on to their location. We were all excited, unsure what was going to happen next. None of us were expecting however, for the van to just drive off without even a wave (talk about an anti-climax). Some people were madly running after the bus and trying to shove in their specially made posters, while I just laughed at their eagerness (before realising my hypocrisy once again and awkwardly shuffling away).

As my friend and I were preparing to leave (her mum's car pulling up conveniently outside), we saw not just any contestant, but the one my friend was absolutely obsessed with. He was on the phone playing with a football, just watching everyone crowd around him. At this stage, I'm pretty sure my friend was verging on a cardiac arrest. Finally, he'd hung up, and everyone pounced. He told us all he was Jai's twin Josh (which really sadly, the majority of people believed), before leaving us with a quick 'Vote for Jai' and hopping in his car and driving off.

So, with that, the night was over. What did I take from this experience? The inside knowledge of what happens behind the camera, a massive sunburn, and some confetti that I managed to steal from the side of the stage.

I hope you enjoyed my little splash in journalism, and found it sort of informative and entertaining. Til' next time . . .

Annabel xx

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