T and I have been working on a secret project, we can’t talk about it directly in terms of the studio, but I can say that it is based on the “Gracetown” stories in her British Fantasy Award winning collection “Ghost Summer.”
We were asked to create a series based on the collection, so we’ve been working for over a year now to create a town, with a curse, and a female protagonist who must unravel the secrets to save her own sanity. There is much more, but again I’m limited in what I can say.
What I CAN say is that we went from meeting to meeting, pitching ideas, watching the reactions and doubling down when we got a positive one.
From there, we went to breaking out a story. Even then, you have to watch their reactions, listen, and pick your battles.
Eventually, we were given the go-ahead to create a pilot script. This is proof of concept: the world, the characters, the themes, and an example of the kinds of stories that will be told in the series.
Our first script was sixty pages long, about eight pages too long for an hour-long episode, but we got no comments about that. What the production company asked was questions about the magic, the relationships, the “A” and “B” stories…that there are multiple time lines, and each of them needed a separate image system to differentiate, as well as different levels of reality: memory, dream, and current day. Yow!
T and I have really drawn on our friends and associates, our “mastermind” of contacts, people who are more advanced, further down the road, to give us advice. Two who really came through are Zack Stenz and Jonathan Westover, my former agent. Together, they helped us interpret the notes, figure out what was meant, and gain a clearer perspective on where we were in the process.
You have to fight the voice in your head, the anger and insecurity that can make you criticize the people you’re working with. In my experience, they are quite intelligent…but harried. They have only minutes to think about something you’ve put weeks into, and its not surprising that they rely upon broad templates for reference. But they are SMART. Short attention spans, perhaps…but that’s your audience as well, so it all works out.
Fear. Every time, every single time, there is fear that things can’t or won’t work. And the more optimism I have at point “A”, the worse it can hurt at point “B” if things don’t go perfect. I saw this on Monday, when we had a meeting with the studio. They had a relatively small number of things they wanted changed, but because I’d allowed myself to dream a bit, it HURT. So I have to go into cyborg mode, simply list the things that have to be done, and analyze the way todo them. You don’t have to take all their suggestions, but you’d better the hell have actually listened, and addressed the 20% that handles 80% of their concerns.
I also find that its fun to give them something they aren’t expecting, a little twist or change that keeps things exciting…they never know what to expect from you. You always over-deliver, just a bit.
That’s where we are today. Saturday we’ll have a conference with our technical advisors (I’ll say that they are medical). Today, we’ll send a note to the production company detailing HOW we will address their notes.
It really can be like playing tennis with someone firing cannon balls at you. This time, its fun, if stressful: we’re playing with smart people who are clearly trying to help us win. That makes all the difference.
Write with passion!
(Our Afrofuturism webinar series continues this Saturday with the amazing Nnedi Okorafor. Join us by registering at: WWWAfrofuturismwebinar.com. If you can pay Full price, we get to give away another scholarship. If you need a price break, please PM me with details, or reach me at: email@example.com)