So Where Is The Apprentice Footage?

Thanks to my former colleague and seasoned Post Supervisor lowbudgetfun for this guest post.

We’ve heard that the footage is horrendous, but despite a sizable bounty , we’ve yet to see it? Oh where, oh where is our Apprentice outtakes footage!? My guess is that it is much harder to get a hold of then we’re giving credit for.

The low hanging fruit, i.e., the easiest footage to have access to, would be a “joke” reel on a MGM review & approval system; something like Wiredrive, MediaSilo, or Vimeo for Business. For the layman, a review and approval system is a like a private YouTube that a production company will use to share their work in progress with the network. An executive will be sent an email with a private link which will allow them to watch a current cut and give the production company notes.

According to IMDB, the most recent Apprentice with Donald Trump aired in February 2015. Which means that a good Post Supervisor would have removed all of the videos from their system by March or April of 2015. That’s what I would do. Therefore, the material that someone like a producer or editor would have easy access to is probably gone.

The following is what I think is the most likely way for the footage to leak.

A Producer or Editor of a past season created a funny (or disturbing) joke reel of Trump’s outtakes to share with their colleagues internally. This joke reel, if it exists, probably exists as an Avid bin file. This proprietary files does not contain any video or audio, just instructions for how to playback media in a specific order. But we’d still need to know that a ‘joke’ reel exists in the first place. Editors and producers have an elaborate system of saving bins files, so something like, “Hey I created something in my work folder back in season 6” is a huge help!

Recovering this hypothetically ‘joke’ reel would require one additional labor intensive step; re-digitizing the footage from the original fields tapes. Two things about that:

Firstly, re-digitization would require access to the original field tapes. At the end of a  season, the network usually requires a production company to box up all of the original tapes and send them to a deep storage facility like Iron Mountain. However, sometime the production company will retain the original footage onsite in order to flashback to past seasons, create “best of…” specials, etc. I imagine that at this point that MGM has the original tapes under a tight lock & key, but production offices are usually not secure facilities.

Secondly, and most importantly, work like this, recovering old Avid bins and re-digitizing masters, is typically the province of an Assistant Editor. Unlike editors who are usually older, and perhaps curmudgeonly about the way of the world or their careers, Assistant Editors are usually young and at the start of their promising careers. Therefore they are less likely to get involved because the fear of being black listed is much deeper.

Therefore, someone is going to have to create an even bigger incentive than what is already out there for an A.E. to risk a combination ‘B&E’ felony and potentially career killing NDA violation.

In summary:
  • The current incentives aren’t big enough. The well heeled need to kick in more!
  • Producers or Editors from past seasons could help merely by confirming the existence of such a reel. Again, a “check my current cuts from season 4” or “it’s in my episode 203 work bin” is a big start.
  • Then an Assistant Editor with a revolutionary/socially conscious spirit would need to 1) recover the archived Avid bin and 2) identify the location of the original tapes.
  • Whoever is responsible for overseeing the security of the archived Avid bins and original tapes would need to turn a blind-eye, while revolutionary A.E. does a tape pull for an upcoming “Best of Apprentice Special” 😉
  • Finally Decomp, Uprez, Export! If this skill set sounds like something you know how to do… I know people who’d love to talk to you. Just please keep me out of it!

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