Sunday, January 4, 2015

On Our Way....MAYBE?

It's been quite a while since we've posted to our blog. I could list dozens of excuses, but those of us in emergency services, don't do that. We suck it up, face the music and list the reasons. Basically, there was only one. We had come to the proverbial "brick wall" in try to get a good, strong and true show about the men and women of fire-rescue, on television. None of the major broadcast or cable/satellite networks were interested. Yet, by flipping a few channels, you can have your pick of every other "flavor" of reality shows, e.g., "COPS," "Wardens," "North Woods Law," "Alaska State Police," and many more. And as much as we admire our brothers and sisters in blue or tan, what about those of us who wear the red or blue & yellow?

So, we gave up. It was that simple. We had been working since 1999 and our first pilot, "America's Heroes: The Men & Women of Fire/Rescue," to bring a reality show about the fire service to television. However, as we have all seen, be we career, vollies, or paid-on-call's, we're the "experts" at going from "heroes to zeroes!" Sure, everyone loves us after a great rescue or major fire and they "respect" (sic. pity) us when we experience and LODD, but just let us ask for a decent wage in a union contract, or tell the town supervisors that we need to replace our 1985 pumper with 90,000 miles on it, or our 1992 ambulance with over 150,000 miles on it, and the next words said about us are covered in crap!

I was pretty discouraged. I was only active in the volunteer fire service and EMS for eight years, but those are some of the most important years of my life. Ever since 1985, when I had to retire out due to an injury, my car has never been without an emergency jump bag. I've never shirked stopping at the scene of an emergency to assist until fire and EMS arrive. Basically, I've lived by the axiom, You can take the boy out of the firehouse, but you can't take the firehouse out of the boy!"

During those ten years, my three partners and I had developed lots of ideas for other shows that all touched on the fire service. I was even asked to produce a version of our show for an Israeli network. Most of those ideas, after beingfo registered with the Writer's Guild of America-East, were tucked away in either a drawer or a hard drive. Until last year...

At this point, I must explain that I am not yet able to go into specific details, the show I'm about to explain to you in non-specific terms is currently being shopped at two major studios in Los Angeles. Be that as it may, let me say that during a lot of that down time, I spent hours and hours online researching the fire service. There were some great web sites and others that were rudimentary. Nevertheless, they all allowed me a peek or two into their department, their personnel, the SOP's, etc.

Then I found one, a fairly good-sized city on the East Coast, that intrigued me because of the makeup of one of its specialized divisions. This department has never been featured on a TV drama before. As a matter of fact, the division I was interested in, which hundreds of departments around the country also have, has never been the main focus of a TV show either. However, its make-up was unique to my research and the wheels started to turn. Over the next few months I wrote what's called a "treatment" or "synopsis" of the show. It would be true to the heritage of this department and the our proud heritage of the fire service. However, this time, the show would not be "reality-based," rather it would be a one-hour, limited series, drama.

Last year, the four partners of Dalmatian Productions decided to take one more stab at the TV biz and to tell our story, even if we had to dramatize it. One of our partners is based in L.A. and has done a great deal of work in and on television, as a technical adviser. He spoke to producers and directors that he knew and most of them told him that we had an interesting concept. They encouraged us to develop it further.

Now, I've written my small share of both fiction and non-fiction. As a matter of fact, I'm about 75% finished writing a fairly humorous account of my first four years in the fire service, along with one of my partners, who I met when we both joined this combo department back in 1977. But I had never written a real TV show. Never! Nevertheless, my three partners and my personal adviser who graduated the University of California with a degree in screenwriting, ganged up against me and decided that I had to be the one to write the script for the pilot episode of this show. This is not what I had expected.

Needless to say, I sat down to the task. And over the course of a few months and lots of telephone calls, online meetings, etc., we hacked one out that everyone liked. However, there was no way we could try and pitch it based on our own personal views. We needed to get some feedback from those who have been or still are in the trenches every day. 

Another of our partners, located in the northeast near our target city, is still active in his department after more than 20 years. And those many years brought him numerous friends and contacts in the fire service. So quietly, he started pitching the idea to other members of the fire-rescue service. Everyone who read the synopsis, loved it. For the first time in several months, we could take a breath. "Sure," someone might say, "It's a fire show. Everyone is going to like a fire show." And we couldn't get caught in that trap. Thus, we proceeded to share the story with trusted friends who had no connection with the fire-rescue service, unless they have to dial, 9-1-1! And amazingly enough, they too, enjoyed the idea for the show and the story we had created.

With that accomplished, we now had to get our material to a couple of very important people; the decision-makers in Hollywood and the leaders of the city we chose and the leaders of its fire department. Using numerous interpersonal relationships with people at the department level and the city level, the pitch was passed on to the city's Office of Television & Film, as well as to the Chief of the city's fire department. And on a beautiful Monday morning this past September, I received a phone call from the Director of the city's Film & Television office. Remarkably, this call included the news that both the City and the Chief of the Fire Department, were very interested in our project. 

I was brutally honest with the Film Office's Executive Director in that a complete professional presentation had not yet been made to the studios, however, their interest in being the "host city" of the show could provide us a great deal of "influence" for the studios to see. 

Now we come back full circle. Hollywood has enjoyed its extended production break from the beginning of November through New Year's week end. Our synopsis is sitting with people at two major studios. And we will muscle every person we can, especially from our targeted department to talk it up amongst the people that they, in turn, know.

It is our plan, that in the event we do not hear any feedback from the studios, just with what we can bring to this "fight," that we will turn to you. Real men and women who place your lives on the line each and every day. Utilizing more than this blog, and adding in our Twitter Account @DalmatProd, we will ask for your help, as soon as we get the green light to announce it publicly. You'll have a chance to read the synopsis and possibly, even the pilot script. And if you do like it, we'll organize teams by educating you, so that you will jump on our bandwagon and work with us to convince the execs that this is a show that the nearly 1,000,000 men and women firefighters and thousands more EMT and Paramedics will want to see,

Stay tuned to our Twitter feed @DalmatProd and we'll keep you posted on the develpment and then, at the right time, with the most influence, we will all pressure the studios to pickup our show  for a 10-12 episode limited series.

If you have any questions, I'll be around to answer them. You may do so via Twitter, forum comment or email to

Now, let's stay safe out there so that #EveryoneGoesHome.

No comments:

Post a Comment