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Into the Battle Arena with 'Game Changer'

Alumna aims to pitch eSports reality show

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Image courtesy of Savannah Spencer.

School of Motion Pictures and Television alumna Savannah Spencer had some outstanding opportunities right out of the gate with work on major reality TV shows like American Idol, The X Factor, MasterChef and The Bachelor. Now she’s starting her own company in hopes of pitching her own reality show that will capitalize on the highly popular eSports industry.

“This is something that has been gaining popularity in the last couple of years,” said Spencer, an avid gamer herself. “It’s still sort of underground and I think the bubble is just about ready to burst.”

eSports is a term for organized multiplayer video game competitions that have a growing base of professional players. In 2013, it was estimated that approximately 71.5 million people worldwide watched competitive gaming. Spencer’s show will focus on one of the big ones, League of Legends, a multiplayer online battle arena, real-time strategy video game developed and published by Riot Games. It is a free-to-play game supported by microtransactions and played on either a Mac or PC.

“It’s a relatively simple idea but it’s really complicated and hard to play,” Spencer said. “Each player takes on one role and then they come together halfway through to rush the base.”

Spencer’s show, called Game Changer, will focus on the development of the five-player team on the Challenger Level of League of Legends, which means that none of the cast can be professionals already. The team will be training to battle it out in their matchups every week against other Challenger teams.

“I think the best way to describe the Challenger Series is by comparing it to baseball,” said Spencer. “It would be like if all the minor league baseball teams held a tournament against each other and the first, second and third place teams were accepted as major league teams at the end of the tournament.”

Teams will compete for over $17,000 in prize money from Riot Games and try to climb the ladder towards the League Championship Series at the end of their season.

“I’ll be focusing on getting to know the players on a personal level as well as their playing abilities,” said Spencer, who has recruited her brother Steven Spencer to help her with the show because of his great base of knowledge around “League of Legends.”

“It’s going to feel a little bit like Hell’s Kitchen, they have to do something like a challenge and have a reward or punishment,” said Spencer. “Then we’ll show them training and competing. All these players, mostly the professional teams live and train together. They will get the gaming house, and have coaches and analysts just like a pro team.”

Spencer timed a Kickstarter campaign to coincide with the start of the League of Legends World Championships, which runs the month of October. She is currently casting and working on her sizzle reel, which she’ll edit herself.

Spencer graduated in 2009 with a degree in editing and started looking for jobs on staffmeup.com.

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'Game Changer' creator Savannah Spencer (right) with her brother and co-creator Steven Spencer. Courtesy of Savannah Spencer.

“I was hired as a PA on The X Factor. That was my first big gig and everything kind of snowballed from there,” said Spencer, who shared that working on American Idol was another career highlight. “I was a production assistant on all of them and being at the bottom made it okay to ask questions and learn about all the different parts of production.”

She was recently promoted to story assistant on ABC Family’s  and will be working on Idol again when they are casting in the Bay Area.

“After working on Startup U, I decided that being a story producer versus being a production manager or line producer was my favorite aspect of reality TV. I love that I can be creative and tell a story,” said Spencer. “I definitely feel like my degree in editing prepared me for developing storylines on set as well and it brings me back to my favorite part of filmmaking.”

Spencer also recently started production company Lonely Alien Entertainment. Game Changer is the company’s first project.

“I’m really hoping that once this show is picked up then we’ll just get more work after that,” said Spencer. “My brother is a co-creator and [is] a huge help. We worked on the treatment together and I bounce ideas off of him. He’s a big League of Legends player. We’re super excited to be working on it together.”

Spencer’s advice to other students would be to take advantage of networking with your classmates and teachers. “I think my best experience there was coming up with good friendships. Most of them I keep in touch with,” said Spencer. “In school we would jump onto each other’s projects, which was really fun and really prepared me for reality TV and feature films and whatever I’m doing.”


Find out more info about the Kickstarter campaign for Game Changer at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1292752186/game-changer-a-league-of-legends-reality-show-0