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Sunday, February 21, 2021

Personal Experiences ~ Rubbing Elbows with Hollywood


This will be a new series of blogs to add to the repertoire.  As I think of anything interesting, I will continue the "Personal Experiences" saga.  This first post under this tag is probably the most interesting (and unusual) of all. There is two parts here, taken from notes and an old blog post.  There is the Business experience and the Human experience.

To this day, there are individuals that we met during the summer of 2014 and still hold fondly as friends.  This was the bonus.

We Filmed the Pilot for a
Docu-Series/Reality TV Show

  • First, Business Experience

Cross every "i", dot every "t"... and then there are still no guarantees. 

Me & my family shot a reality TV pilot the summer of 2014 with a major Hollywood production company for a national TV network.  It began with a proposition, and the signing of a "Holding Agreement" in November 2013, so that we were tied to this company and could not accept any other offers from other companies should they arise.

The contract negotiations took the whole month of March 2014 and wound up leaving me with an attorney's fee of $3000.00. Everyone was so positive: "You'll be making so much money off this project that this cost will be absorbed".

They were scheduled to shoot the entire month of June 2014: "The first 7-10 days, the film crew will be dropped on you and you just lead your regular life. This will get you use to the cameras."

The reality, when all was said and done, amounted to 3 hectic days of shooting at the end of July 2014 (12 hour days) with a skeleton crew. The producers also had no game plan when they arrived.  They spent one afternoon on my back porch putting together story ideas. There was no compensation or help with wardrobe, set dressings, etc. We had to pull together whatever we had to use.

Once the filming was complete, there followed an eight week wait while the pilot was edited, before an air date would be made public. 

On October 1st 2014, just four days before the show was to air, I get a call from the producer telling me the network dropped the pilot. He said, "I'll see about getting you released from your contract." Three days later I receive an email from him, "I've been told that the network is not ready to release any of you from your contracts-- it might be several weeks or so."

Follow-up: Of course, we were released from the contracts.  We were set to air on a Sunday night following a very popular TV show that contained a connection with our content.  We still feel that the sudden unexpected demise of this program left our pilot obsolete.

  • Second, Human Experience

Note: the following excerpt is from a blog post, which was posted May 22, 2015.

Oh my god, I’ve been hanging onto a Super Duper Secret for so long. It hasn’t been easy, and admittedly there are a very small handful of people (family and close friends) who may have been privy to bits and pieces. I was, however, quite proud of our ability to sit on our tongues for the most part, to not give out any details– even to them, to be able to draw ourselves up short. It wasn’t easy, believe me. It was enormous, this Secret, you’ve no idea!

The Super Duper Secret has sort of Come-&-Gone. It’s like one of those unfortunate 4th of July sparklers that looks incredible for about five seconds and then fizzles out to a nothing blackness as you hold it and watch in utter shocked dismay. That’s the way of this Super Duper Secret. The fizzling out isn’t something that we thought of, not something that we imagined. It was too promising. It was so highly praised by those professionals involved, those who got a chance to work on it, or view it during the creation process. It had “Success” written all over it.  It sparkled and glowed with prideful star-shine.  It bounced around like a beautifully wrapped sun-beaming present just waiting to be opened.

And then suddenly, unexpectedly, in one fell swoop, in one executive meeting, in one unexplainable moment, it was shot out of the sky. And there it was, laying before us on the ground, like the bloody carcass of a turtle-dove, perfectly still at our feet, bleeding out. All life, all promise, all hope…dead. All future plans, dreams, and visions washed away along with the lifeblood of this Super Secret Project.

What was this Super Secret Project? (You ask)…Even now, after everything that has transpired, sometimes it seems like some sort of bizarre dream that never really happened. But in fact, it wasn’t a dream, it was very real. It was amazing! It was fun; it was unique; it opened avenues before us that we never expected to travel and brought into focus possibilities that had once been out of reach. 

It also brought a group of amazing, super talented, creative, big-hearted, beautiful, lovable people into our life. It created a magickal summer, a summer with memories that will be carried with me and my family forever. It will fondly be remembered as the summer The Crew was here.

What was this Super Secret Project? (You ask)…Even now, I can’t be specific. I still reside in a gray area beneath a Cloak of Confidentiality. I still must watch my tongue, ironically enough, even though the dream has died. I still must be discreet, yet I can also be generalized and broad and humdrum. I will not be naming names of companies or people involved in this project. I will be careful to protect the integrity of our working business relationship, as well as our personal friendships. I was hoping to reveal this Super Secret Project in a glaring haze of wild anticipation, but that was not meant to be– This Time.

What was this Super Secret Project (You ask)…I still can hardly believe it as I type it, so I don’t blame you if you don’t (believe it, that is).  Last summer my family and I shot a pilot for a television show with The Crew of a highly respected and acclaimed Production Company for a National Television Network. It sounds so grand, I know, and ridiculous, and unreal, and Bigger-Than-Life. And it was (all of those things). It was going so well. It was going to be aired as a single episode, with everyone being very hopeful that it would “go-to-series”. And if this had been the case, it would have been Life-Changing for me and my family.

However, this isn’t how it turned out.

The Network dropped the show, dropped it unexpectedly, dropped it just days before it was to air. I’ve been told that this happens all the time; pilots are dropped inexplicably. But I think it’s different when it happens to you, when it’s your show, your chance at fame and fortune. There’s too much at stake, too much invested (thousands of dollars to the attorney who worked on my contract), emotions, energy, just too much of everything to shrug it off casually, without a flicker of sadness and regret.

But it is what it is, and we can’t change that.

In spite of all the drama and disappointment...

Creating this show was an incredible experience. It was an amazing process, and my family and I want to thank The Crew for showing us that we are capable of Doing and Being so much more than we thought. We loved working with you. We hate the fact that you won’t be returning, and we won’t have an opportunity to continue working with you; but we’ll be with you in spirit on your Grand Adventures.

To the Producers & Directors & The Crew, Thank you for giving us an extraordinarily magickal summer!

Watching TV is so different for me now. I can’t watch two minutes of a camera scanning a scene without thinking about the crew members and how incredibly hard they work. Most people will never know how much time and effort, how much blood-sweat-& tears goes into producing a 60 minute television show. It’s a test in stamina.

The last day of shooting, our house was turned into a studio sound stage to film an interview.  When the crew broke for lunch, we captured this moment on our phone:

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