Tag Archives: TV production

Entering the Long, Slow March of “Cold Void” and Coming out with New Purpose

(Good morning, sports fans. In case you didn’t notice, and judging by the lack of traffic yesterday, you didn’t, there was no post yesterday. No reason, I just flaked…)

I am, at times, a good writer, and once in a while a great writer. Those instances are usually left to rare times of complete inebriation where my brain is in the “off mode” or inundation of heavy clouds of pot smoke emanating from my neighbor’s open doorway which push both my brain and hunger into maximum overdrive…

There is no doubt that like great writers throughout history (of which I am NOT), I suffer from some sort of depression. Sometimes I am aware of it and it is little more than a nuisance, a pesky gnat that I can easily swat away. Other times, it lurks menacingly behind me like a dark cloud, shouting things in my head, confusing me and telling me, “No, you can’t do that. It’s better for you to stay inside and concentrate on seemingly nothing, while you doubt yourself.” Then, he knocks on the door all day long, inviting me outside, only to go back to step 1.

(I will address the double-edged nature of the word “no” in an upcoming post)

But, last summer, a friend of mine name Al Burgos came to me during a Friday night BBQ and told me he had an idea for a movie or TV series, and asked if I might be interested in working with him on writing it. I was skeptical to say the least. While I don’t have a super strong background in TV or film, I DO have some experience in TV production and ancillary experience in product placement and brand integrations at Hollywood Branded, a great boutique product placement agency here in LA, which allowed me to read a lot of script. Having read some of the movies that are being “green lit” these days, it led me to believe that Al’s idea, “Cold Void,” could be a great TV series, even with Al’s background in accounting and DEVOID of any TV production experience.

(If you want to know more about “Cold Void,” a sci-fi/family drama with global implications, you can visit the “Cold Void” page here at “OffTopicTim.com” or email me and I’ll send you more info.)

What Al had written, in a Jack Kerouac style, was a solid idea drawing on the thousands and thousands of UFO sightings and abduction stories from pre human history to the Phoenix lights in 1997 and stories this last April from Russia, Sao Paolo and New Mexico. There was work to do, of course; “Cold Void” was raw, like an incomplete set of board games. We had to throw out the Lincoln Logs and Lego’s that mistakenly found their way in, and add cards from Monopoly, Clue and playing pieces from Candy-Land. Sure, it didn’t make sense at first, but creation rarely does. It’s messy.

So, with a new purpose and of course unemployed with lots of time on my hands, I pushed aside the large skulking dark cloud and waded in with both feet not knowing where I would end up.

Al Burgos is a great guy, and will make a great production accountant for a film or even “Cold Void” should we find ourselves making a pilot and getting picked up and going to series and spinning off movies and merchandising…

Sorry, got carried away there!

As I was saying, Al Burgos is great with numbers, and although great with a story, not particular good with spelling and grammar. Come on, guys, he’s an accountant! However, thanks to Larry Barley, my dear old Dad, I am a stickler for grammar and spelling. Together Al and I plunged through the 25 page treatment that he had written and cleaned it up into a small polished piece of coal of a scripted 42 page 1-hour TV pilot. Unfortunately, small pieces of coal aren’t even looked at in Hollywood and are more often used as coal to keep their offices warm while the Bob Cratchet’s of the world shiver while rolling calls in the outer office.

What Hollywood agents are looking for is large, shiny diamonds ready to set in a beautiful setting which they can give to their other clients. But, how were Al and I going to take the “Cold Void” TV pilot (aka small piece of coal) and turn it into “Cold Void,” the 2-hour back door pilot to a series?

With momentum briefly halted, this is where the dark cloud began knocking at my door, but like a lot of things he’s better left ignored…

Realizing that we had something, we needed to find out what we were missing. By now, we had been working together on this project from August through October. By November, we had come up with more back story, greater character development and enough mystery to keep the audience asking for more (aka “a series”). By December, we had crafted a good, not great, 2-hour TV back door pilot, which is basically a 2-hour made-for-TV movie. I feel that it needs a professional coverage person to read it and give notes to us on what WILL make it great… Opinions between the creators of “Cold Void” differ…

In January, we made our first attempts to secure representation for our project. Of the first batch of agencies we solicited, AFTER researching which ones would take unsolicited material(s), “Cold Void” was rejected by one agency, and unheard from by nine. What we failed to realize is that agents want that big, shiny diamond from KNOWN writers, not the small piece of coal that COULD be a diamond with a little help. For that, we need managers, who will guide us in our project and help our careers. And, well, here we are.

The problem with not having forward momentum is that it allows things to catch up to you, including that dark cloud, who knocks at my door; not only throughout the day, but at night when all I want to do is sleep.

Writing “Cold Void” with Al Burgos HAS given me purpose and led me to rewrite an old script from the late 90’s, called “The Turn” about kids, racism and golf in small town Michigan. (Yes, I KNOW. THAT old story…). It’s actually quite good, but needs work even after I took out all the dated Coolio and car phone references.  I’ve also come up with some great ideas for films called “Storyline,” “The Arms” and have even begun to rewrite my “eternally being written” novel The Summer of Blue Drinks.

Someday, I’ll get them all done.

But, right now, I need to answer the door…

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