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"The Quarantine Bunch," a promotional image for QH:WB. Image by Jordan Lomax.

Quarantine House: Winter Break brings reality TV to Zoom

Not even Zoom can stop a reality show from being a hit, which is why junior media and communication studies major Jordan Lomax decided to publish Quarantine House: Winter Break, a Big-Brother-style online show to his YouTube channel during the first half of February. 

QH:WB features Lomax as the host and stars nine East Coast college students, three of whom attend the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, as its contestants. Lomax posted each of the nine episodes on consecutive nights starting on Feb. 6, beginning with an introductory non-elimination episode and concluding with a reunion.

Each of the middle seven episodes follows a game show format: the contestants play a game; the winning individual or team is safe, all the contestants on that episode vote to eliminate one amongst their number, and they each film individual confessionals about the events that transpired. After being eliminated, a contestant does not return to the show until the reunion episode. And each episode features some sort of twist that shakes up these rules.

This show is actually the second season of a texting-based show that Lomax and some of the QH:WB contestants (who are his friends) participated in last year, simply called Quarantine House. Lomax won that first season, and did not want to play again, but agreed to host QH:WB after getting permission from the first season’s host to make the show his own. 

The main change that Lomax incorporated into QH:WB from its predecessor was including video footage of contestants in each episode, mostly recorded over Zoom and on their private devices for the confessionals. In an interview with The Retriever, Lomax said that he wanted this new format to create more dialogue between contestants in order to be “more engaging for the viewer.”

Lomax planned all of the games and the twists for each episode before any filming began, basing them on the number of contestants who would still be involved at each stage. Filming took place over about three weeks during January, on a tight schedule because all 10 people involved would be busy once Spring 2021 classes began at the end of the month. Lomax then edited all of the episodes before beginning to post them.

Lomax said that planning and editing were the most challenging aspects of this project. He made detailed plans, and then had to adapt them in real time as technical and scheduling problems arose. Then, he had to edit during his busy work and practice schedule, which resulted in him editing eight of the episodes in one week (he noted that they each took three to four hours to edit).

The most fun part for Lomax was filming the first two episodes, as the whole group was together on Zoom calls. He also learned more about efficient multicam editing and practiced his presentational skills, which he hopes to incorporate into his future YouTube content. He is also interested in exploring media creation and multimedia journalism after graduation, with dreams to work as a music video producer or a television presenter.

QH:WB is free to watch on YouTube and has an Instagram page as well.