This week, my chat with game show director Jon Olb draws to a close, as we track his game show related exploits right up to the present day…
SH: Jon, in the last few years, you’ve directed two game shows that are brand new to our screens – Hard Quiz and The Chase Australia. They’ve both been very successful so far. What are the ingredients that make for a successful game show, in your opinion?
JO: Hard Quiz is a credit to its creators – who would have thought that a host taking the piss out of the contestants would work? (Host) Tom (Gleeson)’s style was showcased on The Weekly With Charlie Pickering, and they, with Tom, developed the show around that. They actually did the very first rudimentary workshop of the idea in my studio. It’s obviously very popular, as is The Chase Australia. (Host) Andrew (O’Keefe) and the Chasers are so knowledgeable and entertaining, and the breadth of questions is impressive. If you look at an episode, you realize the sheer number of questions that they go through on that show. That requires researchers, writers, verifiers, etc. all working with Producers. And it’s not as simple as using questions from overseas – in any Aussie quiz, the questions are localized, so there is a mix of local and international knowledge required. It’s a massive challenge before they even reach the studio.
In my humble opinion, the only necessary ingredient for a successful game show is playability. You need to be able to play along with it at home.
SH: Are there any ‘secrets’ (or even interesting or little-known facts) about how game shows are made – from a director’s perspective – that you’d be happy to share with our visitors?
JO: Obviously, I need to be careful about what I say here! I don’t think that people are sometimes aware of the amount of work and fact-checking that goes into each show. In my experience, everything is always above board, and the production team takes the show and the contestants very seriously.
SH: Before I let you go, Jon, I have to ask… Could you possibly give us your top three tips – if possible – for any aspiring game show contestants?
JO: Sure! Be polite. So many people take part in these shows – you may be less memorable, but for the right reasons.
Do your research – as your site explains, there are several staples of General Knowledge.
Listen carefully – things in a question like the tense (past or present?) or a region versus a country can mean the difference between right and wrong.
SH: What’s been your favourite game show to work on (so far)?
JO: As if I’d say!
SH: And after you’ve clocked off and gone home, what is – or was – your favourite game show to watch?
JO: Several of the shows that I’ve been fortunate to be involved in are amongst my favourites – I can enjoy them like any viewer and sort of forget about the other aspects.
SH: What do you see as the future of TV game shows?
JO: I don’t know what the future of TV is, but game shows will always have a place in society. People love to test and display their knowledge. If you can play along at home, it’s likely to be engaging.
Jon Olb, thank you so much for your time today, and for all the game shows you’ve helped bring to our screens over the years… Long may you continue to do so!
JO: Thanks Hally.
And that’s where we bid Jon Olb a fond farewell. I’d like to thank Jon once again so much for being so generous with his time, and for sharing his memories and experiences – not to mention his tips – with me for HowToWinGameShows.com. You can keep up to date with what’s happening over at Jon’s studio on Twitter and Facebook, and you can see his work on Australian TV pretty darn frequently. In fact, if you watch a reasonable amount of Australian TV… odds are you’ve probably watched something he’s directed this week!
See you next time.