Thursday, March 23, 2017

Why Us? Why is it Always Firefighters??

In no other profession do its workers go form "Heroes-to-Zeros" more quickly than in fire-rescue. It doesn't matter if we're career, volunteer, combo or paid-on-call, we are all "painted" with the same, very wide brush. "Why?" you ask. Because everything we do is inherent in performing our sworn oath, to protect and save people and property. 

Think about it; almost every time there is a big story about a rescue, a major conflagration and yes, even an LODD, all manner of newspapers, Internet sites, television stations, all whip up a huge froth, lauding the fire-rescue people who were involved as "great heroes," "bravest of the brave," and so on. Then, a week later, community leaders start asking questions about the career department's contract or the volunteer department's need to replace a twenty-seven year old engine, with seals leaking and a tank that can barely hold water! Not to mention the need for new PPE, Haz-Mat needs, etc. "Heroes-to-Zeros!"

This revolving door of adoration followed by disrespect has always bothered me. It bothered me before I became a firefighter and it has bothered me ever since. For the most part, our comrades in "blue" and "green" are not affected by this as much as the fire-rescue service is. Funny thing is that all three services take an oath for the greater good of society. However, in my eyes, we always wind up with the "short straw."

If you've been following this blog for a time you are well aware that for the last twenty or so years, our company, Dalmatian Productions, Inc., has been working very diligently to bring a positive-themed show about the fire service to television. OK, so it was only television and videotape when we started in 1992 and today, it is all manner of video distribution. 

When the "tone" of reality turned negative, we decided that the only chance we had was to try dramatic television. We had bounced around several ideas and finally settled on our current project, "CAUSE & ORIGIN." When writing the script, our goals were to be as realistic as possible, include educational aspects and develop a story that will entertain viewers whether or no they are affiliated with the fire service. Our story line is not just "smoke, flames and sirens;' rather it tells the complete story of a third-generation firefighter and what he deals with in his department and in his home life. We have provided both our synopsis and pilot script to many folks, both in and out of the fire service. Not one, not a single one came back with a negative review or comment! We believe that speaks to the quality of our premise and how it is told. 

Having had a great deal of exposure to and work with the Philadelphia Fire Department, we based our story there. And we are very proud to say that the PFD and the Office of Film & Television support our efforts. 

However, if you look at any television listings magazine, you will see a plethora of television shows based on the police. There's a mixture of shows that have been on for many years and others that are more recent, as well as news one debuting this month. This begs the question, "Where are any shows about the fire service?"

That answer is simple. There is one. Only one. One that chose titillation, infidelity and drug abuse, not to mention numerous depictions of actions that no firefighter would do, nor would an officer order a firefighter to do. 

That's it. No more. Just one show. Does this speak to the point that the fire service is so droll and simplistic that it cannot carry a television audience? Are we just blase and not worth the effort?

To be perfectly honest, maybe we are. A year ago, we posted both the synopsis and the entire script for the pilot episode on Amazon's TV website. It allows people to visit the project, read whatever is posted there about it and to leave their own comments. If there is a strong, positive reaction by the visitors, Amazon might actually, pick the show up, at least to produce a pilot episode.  I busted my butt to get as many people as I could to go to the site. I used our Twitter accounts, emails and phone calls. And the total number of people that just visited the site over three or four months? Twelve! Only twelve people took a few minutes to visit our page on the Amazon site. 

Somehow, some way, we, as a united effort, need to get a message to the TV-streaming industry, that a strong and positive show about the fire service is, at the least, worth producing a pilot and testing it with audiences. These networks spend hundreds of millions of dollars on pilots and shows that they cut after just two or three episodes. All we want is a chance. 

Finally, the message I want to get across to every producer is to remember who shows up at your door when you dial 9-1-1 for a medical or fire emergency!

Stay safe and let's make sure every firefighter goes home.

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