Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Pack it Up, Gang! We're Heading North!!

Finally, after two postponements and fearing another one last night just minutes before we were scheduled to start our company conference call, all was quiet. I waited for a text message, the ring tone, anything that would signal that we would not be able to hold this meeting. Tick...tick...tick....at 7:28 PM, I dialed into the conference line. "BING," Rich rang in. "BING," Tom rang in. "BING," Jesse rang in. "Hot damn," I said. "We're having this meeting!"

And a good meeting it was. No, that's not correct. It was a great meeting. Here was the agenda (in brief):
1. There were two levels of the project to decide on; do we produce a complete 46 minutes pilot or do we cut down on the work and money, to produce an extended trailer (a trailer is like the "preview" you see on television or in movie theaters. Those are usually 2-3 minutes; we were looking at 6-10 minutes.
2. Based on the answer to #1, how much money will we need to raise to not just to the job, but to to the best possible production we can?
3. Were we going to agree to use crowdfunding to underwrite the project and if so, which one?

I had been thinking about these questions a great deal. It's not like they are unique, they are not. It's like lining up dominoes in a fancy shape then knocking them all down. But if only one domino is out of place by just a fraction of an inch, the knockdown is knocked out! Even though we are equal partners, I take my role as the president very seriously. Listen, we're not a huge, multi-million dollar production company; we are three snot-nosed, belly-crawling  nozzle jockeys and a videographer who chased police and fire scanners. 

So, I've always played the "parent" in the company, watching over what we decide on and do so that my three partners who, unlike me, still work full-time. Me? I've been classified disabled since 1992 and have only worked part-time as my aching back would let me. Not so with my partners. My biggest concern is protecting them from any personal financial strife. I was an argument that they shot holes through in the first fifteen minutes of the meeting. So here are our decisions:

1. We are going ahead and produce the entire first pilot episode of our new show that is scheduled to be shot with the cooperation and participation of the great men and women of the Philadelphia Fire Department. Bear in mind that with both Tom's and Jesse's experience, they showed us that for relatively the same time and money to shoot the trailer, the pilot would not take much more, so we decided to go with the pilot. (Here's a lesson in TV Physics - writers and producers want a lot. They usually don't get everything they want. (Even though we are determined to shoot in Philly, all the "t's" have to be crossed and the "i's" have to be dotted.) To help facilitate this, we have a meeting next week with the Greater Philadelphia Office for Film & Television to start the "hose rolling out."

2. We are definitely moving ahead to raise funds through crowdfunding. We believe that, after all the research we have done over the last three week, we have chosen the best crowdfunding platform that's primary work has always been in film and video. I will not be exact, but we have set a significant six-figure sum for our budget. And combining these two facets, every donation will receive a "charm," a gift appropriate to the level of the contribution. Additionally, we will be looking for commercial participation was well. Thus, if you work in the fire-rescue commercial industry, you may want to see what possibilities there might be with your employer. 

In summary, we're taking the production to the next level. However...this is not to say that we are going to drop our efforts in Los Angeles to market the show to networks and studios. That will continue to go forward, full speed ahead.

There is still a great deal of work to be done, so we have no dates as of yet. All of that will come in due time. What's next? YOU! YES, YOU! No, we're not asking you for a penny (wink..wink, yet!). But we do need your help. We need you to start talking up the project. Tell your friends and family about it, your parents, siblings, grandparents and neighbors! 

We have had test groups of people read both the synopsis (summary) and the script, some involved in fire-rescue, most, not. And every single response has been, "Wow! What a story! I couldn't put it down until I read the whole thing!" Share that with them. Get them as excited about the project as you are.

I want to make one point regarding the fundraising that I mentioned in a previous post within the past couple of weeks. In the U.S., there are approximately 1.2 million members of the fire service, career, volunteer and on-call. That doesn't count the fire-rescue members across southern Canada. It also does not account for members of law enforcement and EMS. Now, add in spouses, family and friends.

Now, if every one of those people donates but $1.00 to the effort (I know, "What kind of a crummy gift will they give me for a buck?") we could raise much more than we would ever need. However that is not going to happen. Even with all the wishing in the world.

So, let's just try our best. It's not even time yet to ask for money, but you know what? Enthusiasm is FREE! Pass it along!



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