Will Bigham wins Fox's 'On the Lot' reality filmmaking competition
By Steve Rogers, 08/22/2007
Will Bigham, a 31-year-old film editor from Glendale, CA, was revealed to be On the Lot's winner during last night's finale broadcast of Mark Burnett and Steven Spielberg's poorly-rated Fox reality filmmaking competition series.
"I have so much I want to say, I don't know if I'm going to make it through though," Bigham said after On the Lot host Adrianna Costa announced he had defeated Jason Epperson, a 30-year-old film production company owner from Winchester, KY, to win the competition.
As the competition's winner, Bigham received a $1 million DreamWorks Pictures development deal and the opportunity to be "personally welcomed" by Spielberg, a DreamWorks co-founder.
"First and foremost, I want to thank God, that's the reason we're all here," Bigham continued. "I want to thank this guy down here, Jason... we've been through this together the whole time, I'm proud of him. Thank you to everybody, everybody that was in this competition -- actors, filmmakers -- you are all amazing and I can not wait to work with you again, I really can not, so thank you. Last but not least, I'd like to thank my family because they have supported me through a lot and now I'll get to support them"
After an awards show-style announcement of Bigham's victory (Bigham and Epperson learned of the competition's result while anxiously sitting in the audience with their families), On the Lot's finale broadcast concluded with an anti-climatic final scene in which Bigham was immediately whisked away to meet Spielberg outside the gate of Dreamworks' headquarters.
Once he completed the ride to Dreamworks, the gates opened and Spielberg -- who did not appear to attend the show's studio broadcast and was instead represented by Dreamworks Pictures president Adam Goodman -- greeted Bigham and congratulated him on his victory.
"There were 12,000 submissions to On The Lot... and you achieved beyond all of that," Spielberg told Bigham. "To get here and to do what you've done is just amazing. I mean, your first feature film, when you get it all ready, you're going to think it's a cakewalk compared to what you've been through. I loved the films you made. I saw of course all the films you made... you've got wonderful craft, you've got a great sense of comic timing, and I think... you're just a real filmmaker. I had my eye on you very early in the competition. You were great and I just want to welcome you to our lot and just wish you well, let's go in."
Once Spielberg finished congratulating Bigham, the pair walked through the gates and -- cue the credits -- began walking off toward the Dreamworks offices. "This is the key to your office," Spielberg explained as the pair began wandering through the Dreamworks gates.
On the Lot judges Carrie Fisher and Garry Marshall anxiously await host Adrianna Costa's announcement of the competition's winner
On The Lot's one-hour finale had begun with three finalists -- Bigham, Epperson, and Adam Stein, a 29-year-old freelance film editor from Los Angeles, CA -- still in the running to be crowned the competition's winner.
After nearly 40 minutes of filler segments, Costa revealed that since a technical problem had prevented home viewers from being able to vote online during last week's final voting period, the extremely poorly-rated show -- last week's broadcast drew only two million viewers and placed 88th in the weekly broadcast network viewership rankings -- would be using toll-free telephone and text-message voting to determine the competition's winner.
"While Internet voting was unable to happen because of a severe technical issue, the toll-free and text-vote voting response was overwhelming," Costa explained. "In fact, voting was up an incredible 60% over our previous record-breaking week... and we do have a certified result and an official winner."
After disclosing the massive voting gaffe, Costa revealed that Stein had received the fewest votes during last week's voting period.
"I'm really happy to have made it to the end and gotten the chance to have made these films here On The Lot," Stein said after Costa revealed his elimination. "I mean it was a great experience, I got to work with amazing actors and crew and made some great friends and I'm really thankful to Steven Spielberg and Fox and all the viewers out there that helped me have this opportunity so I'm excited to make the next one -- look for it."
"Adam, you are a terrific artist and the special effects in your films are things were things Carrie and I both learned from," On the Lot judge Garry Marshall told Stein on behalf of himself and fellow judge Carrie Fisher. "When I was starting out, finally after one of my films somebody said you're in the right business kid and I say to you sincerely, you're in the right business, you'll only get bigger."
Marshall also had kind words for both Bigham and Epperson after Bigham's victory was announced.
"Well I picked Jason [to win], [so] what do I know," Marshall told Costa after she announced Bigham's win. "I do know Jason will go on to make great films -- I think so -- but Will will make them sooner. Congratulations on behalf of Carrie and myself, we enjoyed your films, they were imaginative -- the yes men [film], the eye [film], they were all terrific -- and I can only say to you, father to father, filmmaker to filmmaker, as your family looks on, always remember, life is more important than show business."