Teacha's Pet: Behind the Camera Image

by Dominic Bell

Starting this September, Jamaican television will never be the same. Jamaica's most controversial contemporary figure Vybz 'The Teacha' Kartel has done it again, shaking up standards and breaking boundaries with the advent of the nation's first celebrity reality TV show; Teacha's Pet.

The reality dating show centers on the love life of Vybz Kartel, with 20 ladies vying for his affections. The contestants will live in the same house, where cameras will follow them throughout the day and as they travel around they island conducting a series of challenges in an attempt to catch Kartel's eye and be saved from elimination. 

Teacha's Pet is the brainchild of go-to television and film producer Carlene Samuels and renowned Jamaican director Jason 'Jay Will' Williams, who are partners in the production company Creative Source  which handles both film and live event production.

Best known for his work on music videos for artistes such as Shaggy and Mr.Vegas, director Jay Will's keen creativity comes into play on Teacha's Pet. According to Williams, approaching Vybz Kartel for a show of this nature was a no brainer, "He's one of the most relevant and talked about figures in dancehall," noted the master filmmaker.

Jay expounds, "The idea for this show came about after seeing how women reacted to Vybz Kartel at a concert I attended". Having witnessed the awe and hysteria of Kartel's female fans, Williams immediately contacted the deejay and pitched him the show concept. To the director's delight the answer was a resounding yes. 

The ever passionate Samuels noted that Vybz Kartel's willingness to participate in the show was a key catalyst in her decision to take on the project, as it would take an "artiste like Kartel to always be so innovative and be the first to do projects of this kind". 

Making Teacha's Pet happen however was not that simple. As the show's producer, Carlene Samuels took a managerial one, "I had to work out all the details, so getting corporate sponsorship from LIME and Red Stripe Bold, and partnering with CVM was my responsibility, also finding and booking locations, coordinating the daily activities of filming the show, and facilitating the foreign contestants travel to Jamaica are just a few items on a long list." 

Reality shows are only as good as their contestants, so the production power duo set to the task of recruiting the right mix of women.  Over 1,000 ladies from Jamaica and abroad entered the casting via e-mailed videos. Overseas entrants were selected for interviews via Skype if abroad, while others had face-to-face interviews locally.

From these entries, 20 women were selected for the show, but a late twist came courtesy of telecommunications giant LIME. LIME allows one "wild card" contestant to be added to the Teacha's 20, by letting viewers vote for their favourite entrant from selected video entries posted on YouTube.

According to Carlene Samuels, viewers can expect a first world television production from Teacha's Pet utilizing only Jamaica's best production crews and equipment. Samuels was adamant this genesis of Jamaica's foray into reality television will rival any international product of similar nature, " Jamaica produces international quality film, and now  we are airing it on a local medium."

Working with a mainly unscripted format Jay Will noted that with reality TV, his role as director is a highly technical. He will have to predict how to shoot the unpredictable, "I have to monitor what is happening throughout the show, in an effort to ascertain which angle each episode is to take," says Jay Will. 

Who will be selected as the Teacha's Pet? Iriezine asked Vybz Kartel, and while the Teacha himself doesn't know who the winner will be, he described his ideal woman saying, "She has to be beautiful, smart, and fun to be around. Most importantly she has to be tolerant enough to appreciate my addiction to music, and know that she has to share me with that art form 50/50."

Although the Teacha's Pet is anyone's game, not everything is left up to chance; viewers can also look out for recurring roles from one of Vybz Kartel's fast rising protégés Popcaan, and cameos from local media personality Amelia "Milk" Sewell.           

Teacha's Pet premiers on Friday, September 23 at 10:00pm on CVM TV, with a "too hot for TV" version shown on LIME TV in the later hours. 
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