February 21, 2011

"Ha Ha Ha Ha Wipeout"

Do you know that song?  Now, are you familiar with that show? “Wipeout”.  You know, the ones with the big red balls?  The one  that challenges people to run the world’s largest obstacle course and more often than  not, wipeout?  …Now you know what I’m talking about!  Well, I’m happy and excited to say that I was one of the lucky 260 Canadians who were chosen to be a contestant on TV Tropolis’s “Wipeout Canada” Season 1.  http://www.tvtropolis.com/wipeout/
Episode 13 Contestants
I'm the hula dancer on the left

Out of 44, 619 applicants (that’s 1 out of 750 Canadians), only 260 made the cut.  Of that 260, 129 were women, 84 were from Ontario, and 1 was from Dundas…that’s me!

Our episode, #13, was the last to shoot  - maybe because they were saving the best for last?  At least I’d like to thinks so.  From the little I can disclose of what happened during shooting, let me tell you this, our episode will be the most entertaining and competitive one you will ever see!

Before I talk about the experience, I will start off by telling you how I was chosen.  In June and July of 2010 there was an audition notice online to apply for the show.  Being an avid viewer who enjoyed laughing at others who slipped, fell and banged themselves up on the program, I thought, why not?  After the 67 online questionnaire and application form I got a call saying I was one of the 800 short listed applicants to be interviewed by producers and industry influencers during a three-city call back tour.  What they saw in my application that made them like me is beyond me, but I’m glad they saw something!

My call back city was Toronto.  When I arrived there on that July morning, I was able to bypass the hundreds of people to be seen 28th.  Walking into that room and talking to the four individuals who had the ultimate say  in if I make it on the show or not was an exciting 10 minutes.  I was asked why I should be on Wipeout - I did a little dance and sang a song to show them why.  I was asked to show them my victory dance - I did.  I was asked to say my shout out - and I yelled it proudly.  After 10 minutes, I was done.  I walked out of that room feeling confident but still unsure.

After the casting call I found myself searching the internet only to find my photo (along with other crazy costumed Wipeout contestant wannabes) on the Wipeout Canada homepage!  A few days later one of the producers told me I had to send a one minute video and post it on you-tube…below.

I had to basically sell myself and tell them how much of an awesome contestant I would be and why they should pick and choose me.  I sent it in and by early August I got the fantastic call informing me that I was picked to be on the show!  That was one of the best phone calls I have ever picked up!  I was vowed to secrecy to not say a word to anyone…a hard task, but I succeeded.

On October 5th a national press release was sent out introducing the names of the 260 contestants, and that was our thumbs up to tell everyone we know to expect to see us on national television in the spring!  So, after a month long application process and a month and a half of me keeping my little mouth shut, my out of this world news was known!

Dancing for two minutes.  Without any music.
This might have been harder than the course itself
So that’s how I got on the show. Now let me tell you how the shooting experience went…

On Saturday October 30th Episode 13 flew from Toronto to Argentina!  That’s right, we were all flown to Buenos Aires for a week to shoot the show.  There were twenty of us competing against each other for the $50,000 prize.  Although we were all competitive, winning wasn’t everything (…but don’t get me wrong, it was very important); by the end of the first night we already became such great friends and by theend of the week we were inseparable.  If anything (since I can‘t confirm or deny winning), that was the best part about the trip!  To this day we still correspond with one another if not the Ontario contestants get together once a month.

                                      About the obstacle course itself - it was big. 
The Famous Big Red Balls

Bigger than what you would expect after seeing it on TV. As mentioned, I can’t disclose much from the shoot since we are once again sworn to secrecy, but what I can say is this, those four red balls are bouncy gigantic inflatable objects that knock the wind out of you if, nay, when, you fall into the cold refreshing water below.

Our specific course consisted of our shout outs (mine being “Float like a butterfly, sting like ABI…get it?  Abi, like a-bee, buzz buzz”), topple towers (8 towers of three large pads stacked on top of one another
Topple Towers and Mud
with oil in between them) with thick mud below, the sucker punch wall (a wall full of punching gloves trying to make contact to any part of your body which hit with vigour) once again with mud below them, the famous big red balls, and the cookie cutter cut out that we had to swing into by a rope on the other side of the water way.  Sound easy?  Try out for Season Two and find out for yourself!

Not only are you against the other 19 contestants, but you are also against the clock.  The top six men and six women move forward to the next round, The Sweeper. 
The Sweeper

This is basically where a contestant stands on a 10 foot tower with a three foot wide platform while over water.  If that isn’t hard enough, a contestant has to avoid getting knocked off by a large robotic arm spinning around trying to “sweep” you off your feet.  As time goes on, the arm goes higher and gets faster.  The last person standing automatically moves onto the final round and the last 6 contestants to stay on their platform move on to the Dizzy Dummies.  
Dizzy Dummy Course

The Dizzy Dummies is just that.  Each contestant is strapped to a merry-go-round type device that turns at high speeds for 40 seconds.  After getting spun a contestant (the dummy) has to navigate through another obstacle course over water.  Cruel and unusual punishment, but what an entertaining one!  From there, the top four contestants face The Wipeout Zone.  This is where you want to be as this is the place where you can win the $50, 000. 

The Wipeout Zone consists of 6 obstacles and the contestant who completes the course in the fastest time wins the big prize.  During this obstacle, each person has to dig deep and give it all they’ve got because one little mistake will cost them time and that millisecond could be the difference between 2nd place and being the ultimate Wipeout Champion.

This was definitely an amazing and unforgettable experience which I will always look back fondly at.  For those of you who want to know how far I got, you’ll have to stay tuned to the spring of 2011!  And for those who think they can conquer the big red balls, Season 2 has your name on it!

So, just like all my emails from the producers ended this way, I think it’s fitting to end this article the same way too…BIG BALLS! 
Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like Abi ... get it???

February 18, 2011

Journalism is Dead

It’s a dark day in journalism.  I, Abigail Santos, is blogging?!?  What’s that about?

Maybe its because it’s a Friday night and I’m delirious after having worked over 40 hours this week, maybe it’s because there’s a full moon out right now, or maybe it’s because of the 1.25 litre bottle of red in front of me that‘s more than half way finished; whatever the cause may be, I, Abigail Santos is blogging. 

You may be wondering, why is blogging such a big deal?  It made it’s way into our culture the same way Justin Bieber made it into the music scene, fast and surprising (and for the latter, with no talent).  You may not like it, but they’re here to stay. 

A brief background, about me, I have a BA in communications, a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism … Broadcast Journalism to be exact.  The knowledge I have in this industry is that I tell the audience a story in a way that will keep their attention for 2 minute spots, all the while doing it with a hot white light on me and a camera person watching my every move.  To me this is easy.  Writing.  That’s a whole different story (no pun intended).  Yes, story telling comes with broadcasting but writing a full fledged article is playing in a different field.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve also dabbled in the print journalism world these past few years; however, not enough as it never kept my interest.  Writing stories just wasn’t for me. 

Now I’m sure you’re wondering (you…first off, who are you?  And why my blog?  Secondly, thanks for reading!) if you feel this way, then why blog?  Well, blogging is different.  It’s not a news article.  It’s not traditional journalism to say the least, but it has become a form of journalism.  So I choose to blog in hopes that this will keep my interest while keeping you interested.  I choose to blog in hopes that it will allow me to express my ideas in the same ways I was able to while speaking to a camera.  And to be honest, I chose to blog to stay current in the journalism game.  Now you can choose to keep reading my blog or choose not too…but wouldn’t you rather pick the former?

In front of the camera. Never behind with a pen...until now.