Surviving Reality TV: The Internship Experience of a Lifetime
The show Survivor is all about casting people off the show, but Tereza Vlčeková may have to be dragged off kicking and screaming. “I don’t want to leave,” she chuckled." “It’s so magical I think I’m dreaming sometimes.” Tereza, 27, is an intern on the set of Survivor Česko & Slovensko, currently being filmed in the Dominican Republic. She’s also a student of the CME Content Academy, and the internship is part of her studies.
The academy is designed to develop talented newcomers into the scriptwriters, showrunners, and TV producers of tomorrow. TV Nova and TV Markíza created CME together with The Television Institute. One of its biggest advantages is the access students have to some of the most talented people in the TV industry – along with the chance to work on reality shows.
Tereza arrived in the Dominican Republic on Jan. 9 eager to learn what she would do on set. Then she found out that not only would she assist producer Adéla Brož, but she would also help with Survivor After, which follows up with the contestants after they are eliminated.
“I was surprised when I was told I would work with the eliminated contestants," Tereza said, her eyes lighting up with excitement. "I asked, 'Just me? Am I going to be handling everything on my own?' But they encouraged me and told me, 'Yes, give it a try.' And now, I'm handling everything from the interviews to the shooting, and I stay with the contestants until they reach the airport."
Tereza has some experience behind the camera, and she has been training in her previous school, but on the first day, the crew handed her a camera she was unfamiliar with.
"I was given the opportunity to work with the latest model and got lots of time to learn how to use it. I immersed myself in the settings manual and spent the first five days honing my skills before starting to film."
After four weeks on set, Tereza is confident and comfortable. She brims with energy and excitement and practically bounces while she raves about her experience.
"I'm working approximately 12 hours a day.” she said. “If no one is eliminated, I can have free time. But I’m so into it, I want to be there. I want to be on set, I want to go to meetings. I want to learn EVERYTHING.
"Adéla recognizes my eagerness to learn and is providing me with a wealth of opportunities to grow and develop my skills. She is constantly pushing me to test my limits and I couldn't be more grateful for her guidance and support. I'm thrilled to be taking on new challenges and proving to myself that I have limitless potential."
Tereza said she was very nervous the first several days, particularly with the arrival of CME Content Director Tubi Neustadt.
"I had a lot of respect for him because he seemed very strict to me," she said. "So when he approached me about the internship on Survivor, I was thrilled to be considered.”
Tereza said she is grateful for the opportunity because seeing Tubi work, learning from him, and spending time with him and the crew after hours has given her invaluable experience in the TV industry.
“Tubi is my motivation, my inspiration,” she said. “He is everything I want to be.”
Tubi says that he chose Tereza for the first internship on the Survivor set because he knew that reality TV was a passion of hers.
"Tereza has a rich background in the entertainment industry," Tubi stated, acknowledging her experience as a reality TV dancer and her eagerness to explore new opportunities behind the camera. "Her eye for the visual, innovative thinking and boundless energy make her a valuable asset."
Tereza begins her day by attending meetings with the Survivor crew on site, then virtually in Istanbul, where post-production is handled. She helps watch the daily footage and makes comments on the editing. She also attends weekly virtual meetings with the showrunners in Prague. From there, she does whatever is needed.
"I am constantly by Adela's side, learning from her and the other key players in the company," Tereza stated with enthusiasm. "I get to observe and take notes during meetings with the host and director. The biggest thrill for me is being able to be in the thick of things, absorbing all the information and perspectives from everyone."
Tereza said she had learned so much about how a big production comes together and how important communication is.
"Collaboration is key, even with diverse perspectives of showrunners. But bringing everyone together and aligning our objectives is vital for success."
She said team building and camaraderie make everything run smoother and eliminate short tempers and frustration.
"Being on this remote island, it's important to come together as a team," she said. "Having dinner and bonding with each other really strengthens our relationships. The closer we are, the smoother things run on set."
Most importantly for Tereza, her internship with Survivor has solidified her desire to work in reality TV.
“This is the work I want to do for the rest of my life," she said. The internship “helped me realize that non-fiction is for me because you can’t plan. You don’t really know how it will be. That’s very amazing and magical.”
Author Andrea Bisconti