What began as a far-fetched lunchroom idea in NRK’s Bergen office quickly became a cultural phenomenon. Continuous, live, long broadcasts are known as Slow TV. The first broadcast was a seven-hour train ride from Bergen to Oslo in 2009. From following a herd of reindeer (which will debut this spring), to watching people knit for hours, Slow TV fosters conversation and unites viewers. In the February issue of Viking, NRK project manager Thomas Hellum talks about the power and allure of real-time storytelling. Here is more from the interview.
Q: When you are on location, how does the public respond to the filming of Slow TV broadcasts?
A: It’s really cool when people come out to the locations. For example, last summer when we were sailing on the coast, people would come out and want to be part of the program. They would wave and hold up handwritten signs. They made their lunch and drove for hours to get there. Lots of effort goes into taking part in a very polite, happy and humorous way. It’s really amazing when you get to see your viewers.
Q: When early ideas were pitched for Slow TV, how did your team at NRK react?
A: Most of the ideas tend to get laughter at first, but it’s a good laughter. And we have very brave commissioning editors. They turned the question from asking “what will NRK risk by doing a crazy and very long project?” to “what will NRK as an organization risk by turning down a crazy idea?” That’s mainly the reason they let us do it. It’s an experiment.
Q: What role does social media play in the broadcasts?
A: Social media allows us to keep a dialogue with the viewers. If we note the name of a mountain, sometimes we may get a Twitter message saying that’s the incorrect name. We can correct our errors and put up the correct name. The viewers can also tell us what music they want to hear or what they want to see.
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