Day 2...

Day 2 is in the can!! We got all our shots (hooray!) and everything looked great (another hooray!). But it was definitely more challenging than yesterday... and it was also incredibly wonderful.

First, the challenging part: it was the first time all 6 principal actors were working together at the same time; we had A LOT of material to get through; we had even less time than yesterday to shoot everything since we're moving to a new location tomorrow; and, oh yes, today was the "start work" day for the bird. ;-)

Note: To learn more about the All-Powerful Bird, please see "meetings, part 2"

Now for the wonderful part: in working together today, the 6 of us definitely found our rhythm as a group (go team!!!); we got through all the material and didn't miss anything (go Lee!!!); we were able to get from one setup to another quickly, which meant we didn't waste a lot of time (go crew!!!); and the bird landed on the railing on cue, which meant we only needed its stand-in to set up the shot (go Bird Wrangler!!!).

What a great day...

But I have to say, it wasn't just a great day for all of those production-related things that make me happy as an executive producer and writer. I also had a great day as an actor because I was able to experience the kind of moments that actors absolutely live for.

The moments came at the end of our day when we were shooting the very last scene in the pilot. The scene is where my character, Jennifer, decides it's finally time to move on from her ex; and Jen's best friend, Sam, is right there encouraging her. What I'd written in the script was sweet. And in the hands of any other actor, it may have stayed sweet. But then Marnie came along.

Marnie is the actress who plays Sam, and each day we work together I say a silent "thank you" to our amazing casting directors for finding her and bringing her in for the audition. When we were doing the last scene, she and I did it as written for the first few takes... and then we started to really find our way. In the process, we discovered moments together that weren't on the page (even though I literally wrote the page!) and we discovered a connection between Sam and Jen that I didn't even fully recognize when I was writing the script... It was so lovely and so pure, the true friendship and love between them -- and as actors, we felt that connection... so it wasn't so much "acting" as simply "being." It's hard to describe, but those are the kinds of moments that make a character, a relationship, or an entire performance come to life. Those moments resonate with an audience and make them believe that two women who met only weeks ago (Marnie and I) are actually two women who have been friends for years (Sam and Jen). What we found today were the moments that explain why Sam and Jen have been friends for so many years... and why they will be in each others' lives for many, many years to come.

As a writer, I can't wait to find out what those lives will hold. And as an actor, I can't wait to have more moments like that with Marnie and the other fine actors in our cast. Fingers crossed (by the writer in me and the actor in me) that we'll be picked up, and that I'll have many years ahead to explore all that...


Day 1...

Day 1 was an absolute success!!! We got all of our shots, everything looked beautiful, and everyone on set was mellow and seemed to be having a good time. You can't ask for anything more than that. :-)

Now for the details... Well, the day started VERY early for me, with my alarm going off at 4am so I could be ready to leave by 4:45am to get to set by 5:30. When I arrived, I was told that the hair/makeup trailer wouldn't be there for about an hour or so because the wrong one had been delivered over the weekend. Oops. But fortunately, that was the only glitch in an otherwise seamless day (and it didn't even affect us too much because we couldn't start shooting until the sun rose anyway -- and, the trailer company made up for the error by giving the trailer to us for free!... which is only interesting to the EP in me; the actor in me was just happy to have more time with my coffee). ;-)

Anyhow, after enjoying breakfast and finally making it through hair/makeup, we shot our first scene of the day, which is actually also the first scene of the pilot. It was just me and the fabulously talented (and super sweet) Heather, who plays my assistant... next up was a best-friend-bonding scene between me and the fabulously talented (and super sweet) Marnie, who plays my closest confidante, Sam. And then finally, a shot of me at a fireplace and then some atmosphere shots and inserts of other people at the end of the day. On paper, it doesn't seem like a lot... but believe it or not, those handful of scenes were quite a full day and I was on set for pretty much all of it. In fact, the only times I wasn't working were during breakfast, during lunch, and when I had to change my wardrobe. Whew!

It was all so much fun!!! Everyone's really happy with what we're getting (both in terms of shots and performance). And it was amazing to me to be on a set with that many people, looking at all the things I wrote down finally coming to life... It's a wonderful experience. I feel very fortunate.

And now, since I have to be back on set at 5:15am, I'm going to end today's report by answering some of the questions that you may be wondering about...

Question #1: Yes, there's plenty of coffee and creamer on set.
Question #2: Yes, a final decision was made about the bunny in the green green grass...
Question #3: No, I can't tell you what the "bunny" actually is yet; I can, however, give you the inside scoop that the bunny does not wink, nor is it a cartoon "bunny." We went with a picture of the real deal and it looks great!

And finally, some pictures for you to enjoy... The first is from the very first scene we shot today (which also happens to be the first scene of the pilot); the second is of me with my new love, the fuzzy boom mic.

And the two below are of the fabulous production design team turning a corner of a cafe into my character's bedroom! The magic of filmmaking, folks...

Stay tuned! More posts (and pics) to come!!!!


office politics... an update

Someone's been reading my blog...

How do I know this? Well, I forgot to mention this in yesterday's post, but when I walked into the office yesterday morning, there were not only freshly stacked stacks of cups; there was also...


I tipped over in shock. Thankfully, Jessica and Abbie raced out of their offices and caught me just before my head hit the floor (they said they were concerned for my well being...but really, I think they were worried about what it would do to the budget to have the show's lead actor miss the first day of shooting due to a concussion).

Anyhow, after I recovered, I realized that this is a big deal!!! Apparently, those of us working in the building with the rainbow-rific hodge-podge of red and purple walls are no longer considered the drooling, bastard step-children of those working in the buildings with more reasonably colored walls. With our inventiveness, resourcefulness, and unwillingness to let the Corporate Coffee Man get us down, I guess we've proven ourselves worthy of having our own creamer again.

But let me state for the record that although I appreciate such a change of heart, I will steadfastly continue to use only our vanilla coffee creamer -- not just out of loyalty to our production; but out of loyalty to the intrepid Mr. Joe, who took such pains to procure said coffee creamer for us (well, for me).

Now if you'll excuse me, my coffee's waiting...

Note: For those of you who have no idea why vanilla coffee creamer is such a big deal and what coffee creamer has to do with office politics, please see the post entitled "Office Politics."


the last workday before shooting!

Wow... the past two days have been a whirlwind. Somehow, after arriving in the mornings, I've found myself at my computer at the end of the day and wondering how I got there -- and what happened in between. There were cast wardrobe selections (including mine), cast rehearsals, bunny-in-the-green-green-grass logo finalization discussions, various meetings that I no longer remember, and a seemingly endless quest to come up with a better joke than the one we had in the script that had to be cut for reasons pertaining to things of a corporate nature.

But here I am at 7:45pm on a Friday night and the end result of it all is that we're ready to go. Final scripts are going out to the cast and crew tonight. Mr. Joe gave me the official first completed actor "sides" (small sheets with just the scenes that are going to be filmed each day so actors only memorize their lines for that day). I have directions to the cafe where we're shooting on Monday morning. And I've mentally prepared myself for the fact that I'll have to arrive at -- say it with me, folks -- 5:30am. Yikes! I've also cleared my calendar so that I spend the entire weekend doing virtually nothing... that way, I'll actually be awake and ready to go when Monday morning arrives.

This is so exciting!! I'll try to post at the end of each day... but we'll see how it goes. Keep lots of happy thoughts for us in your heads! Our schedule is going to be incredibly tight each day, but we're really looking forward to all of it. We're going to make a kickass pilot!!!

About 60 hours to go!!! Let the countdown to Day 1 begin...


meetings - part 2

An addendum to the previous post about meetings. Please feel free to file this one under: "Only in Hollywood." Alternatively, you may file it under: "Birds: The Real Hollywood Power-Players."

As a preface, I need to mention that one of the other people in attendance at today's final pre-production meeting was our animal handler. Now, that fact alone isn't worthy of the "Only in Hollywood" files, but the following details are...

-- On the master schedule, our animal handler is referred to as a "bird wrangler." Read on and you'll see why...

-- Our "bird wrangler" is training three birds for us in the hopes that at least one of them will be able to make an entrance on cue and land where we want him to land.

-- In the event that the real birds don't want to cooperate, we have a stand-in... yes, a stand-in... for the birds. In answer to your first question: The stand-in is a fake bird that looks like a real bird; if needed, we can place said stand-in bird where we want him and then film him in such a way that you, the viewer, would never know it was a fake bird. In answer to your second question: No, none of the actors have stand-ins. Just the bird gets a stand-in.

-- We also have a "bird double." The bird double is a real bird (a pigeon, actually) that looks like our trained birds (and their stand-in). In answer to your first question: The bird double will be used for one of the flying sequences; it will be filmed in such a way that you, the viewer, will never know that it is the bird double and not the stand-in or the real bird. In answer to your second question: No, none of the actors have doubles. Just the bird gets a double.

-- One of the production report pages is devoted entirely to the "start work" and "finish work" days for the bird. By contrast, all the actors are listed on the same production report page.

-- The bird wrangler has an assistant.

-- The bird wrangler's assistant is a professional magician when he's not assisting in bird wrangling. The fact that he uses birds in his magic tricks is the reason he was hired as the assistant.

This job never ceases to amuse me... :-)


Hi. My name is Michelle Paradise and I attend meetings.

I've discovered that EPs (exec producers) spend the vast majority of their time attending meetings. Meetings to discuss the script. Meetings to discuss locations. And yes, meetings to discuss future meetings.

But unlike some of the meetings I've attended in the corporate world, which feel completely unproductive before you ever even walk into the room, these meetings all have a very definite purpose...

For example, the purpose of today's mid-day meeting with Billy, Lee, and Michael (our DP) was to review the shot list that Michael and Lee created. It was amazing to go through each scene shot by shot! It really gave Billy and I a solid sense of what they envision putting on the screen. Additionally, we were all able to brainstorm ideas for scenes that could potentially be shot any number of ways. So, at the end of the meeting, we all walked away with the solid sense that we're all on the same page (so to speak) in terms of the tone/style of the show we're making... which helps us all feel much more comfortable going into next week.

And then there was our massive afternoon meeting, which was to go through each day of shooting in detail (it was our final pre-production meeting). I kid you not, there were at least 20 people in attendance, many of whom I'd never even met before. There were the network execs and the show execs (Lee, Abbie, Billy, and I), of course. And then there were the hair/makeup folks, lighting designers, camera operators, the stunt coordinator, the special effects supervisor, the editor, the script supervisor, various assistants, etc. We went through each scene to be shot on each day, discussing the people who would be there, any concerns about shooting, any outstanding issues, etc. And at the end, everyone in attendance had the same feeling about the entire production as we did after the shot list meeting: that we're all on the same page and that we'll be ready to go on Monday morning.

Point being, both meetings were very productive. And very necessary. And "productive" and "necessary" are both very good things... But really, what was most important of all was the fact that our afternoon meeting was catered and so I got to enjoy a chocolate chip cookie. Yum.


the table read!

At long last... the table read!!!

After months of writing and casting, we finally had all of our actors in the same place at the same time sitting around the same table and reading aloud from the same script. It was great!!! Not only was it the first time I'd ever heard the dialogue read aloud by anyone other than Billy or I, it was also the first time during this whole project that I've gotten to wear my actor hat -- and only my actor hat.

But of course the writer in me was still paying attention... it was so much fun to hear what the actors were bringing to their roles, and then to think about what more we could do with those roles with such talented people on board.

On a related sidenote, I have to say that our cast is amazing! Between them, they've done big films, little films, lots of television, and quite a bit of theater. Some you may recognize, some you may not, but (fingers crossed) you'll become quite familiar with all of them soon enough... :-)

But back to the read, which went very well, by the way... there was fun, there was laughter, and there was one person (I won't mention who) who even danced a gleeful little jig when it was done (okay, it was me). After the read, all the actors left and Lee, Billy, and I stayed in the room with the network execs, our costume designer, and our hair/makeup supervisor to review each character and decide what, if anything, would need to be done to help the actors fit their characters. For example, when discussing my character, Jennifer, we all agreed that the "look" for me is a mohawk and tongue stud, so I'm headed to the Piercing Depot tomorrow morning and then to Harry's World o' Hair once I'm no longer required to hold ice on my tongue.


Anyhow, after all the hair/makeup stuff, we discussed final script tweaks with the network and then trotted back to the office, where many more things happened... including Round 5 of the winking bunny in the green green grass discussion. ;-)

And after a very long day I finally left the office to come home, where I now sit with a huge grin on my face because today, finally, it felt like all the pieces were coming together... We have a cast!!! We're probably one draft (two tops) away from a final script!!! Tomorrow is the final location scout!!! And next week at this time, I'll have finished my first day of shooting. I can't wait...


the winking bunny

At the corner of 26th and Colorado in Santa Monica, on one of the upper floors of the main MTV building, two network executives sit in their respective offices managing not only “The Rules” pilot project, but also the many other projects they have in development at the present time. Their decisions are creative in nature, affecting the tone and style of all the content that may eventually make its way to screen; and they are financial in nature, ranging from the hundreds of dollars that may be spent on a particular prop to the hundreds of thousands of dollars that may be spent on a particular show...

Now let’s walk down the street and into an office on the second floor of one of the two MTV satellite buildings, where a writer perches on the chair at her desk contemplating the possible trajectories of the main character’s love story, an executive producer sits next to the writer considering how to handle a certain production-related issue, and a director leans against a bookshelf pondering her shot list. They are all acutely aware that their decisions will have a significant impact on whether or not this pilot presentation gets picked up for series… which, in turn, will affect not only their own future employment—but also the employment of the entire cast, crew, and production team…

A knock on the door.

The production designer enters with several sheets of paper in hand. The writer, executive producer, and director look up in anticipation. But almost before they can review the pages…

The phone rings. The two network executives are on the line. They are ready for the conference call.

All six of these extremely busy individuals—the various weights of various worlds on their shoulders—have stopped everything they were doing to come together and discuss:

Whether or not the bunny should wink.

No, that's not a joke. The discussion also includes whether or not the cartoon bunny should smile, the pros and cons of outlining the bunny’s head in a field of grass, and the color schemes that should be used for the bunny, the grass, and the lettering that will go above (or should it go below?) the bunny’s head.

Now, I have to be honest here and tell you that the “bunny” is not actually a bunny… but change the “bunny” to the four-legged creature we’re actually using and then modify the other details accordingly, and that was our actual conversation. I kid you not. Which means, I suppose, that today’s entry should be filed under the annals of: “Yes, I get paid for this." Alternatively, it may also be filed under: “I can’t believe I get paid for this.” I have a feeling my partners—and the network execs—have had the same thought. :-)

Oh, and as to why I can’t tell you what animal we were really talking about, well, it’s top secret. Revealing that information would mean I’d have to kill you… or kill myself… neither of which sound like very pleasing options. As for the purpose of the bunny and its head in a field of grass, you’ll have to wait and see. Let’s just say it has to do with our main character and what she does when she's not failing miserably at dating…

So stay tuned. And when the pilot finally airs (I say hopefully), you can look back on this particular entry and smile, knowing what behind-the-scenes information you now know about the “bunny” in the grass.


office politics

With a deliberately teasing title like that, you're probably expecting some juicy material... gossip like who gets along, who doesn't, and who showed up to work wearing only a bra. (Whoops! Sorry, Billy... I promised I wouldn't mention that, didn't I?)

But no. What I'd like to talk about right now trumps all of that. It's more important than story. More important than script. More important than the casting process, network notes sessions, and even more important than rewriting. Yes, I'm talking about:

Coffee creamer.

Don't laugh. You can't possibly underestimate the importance of a nice strong cup of enjoyable coffee with which to begin your 12-14 hour day. If you don't believe me, just ask my friend Di, an attorney who spends entire days with her leg shackled to her computer and five cups of coffee within easy reach... But this isn't her blog, it's mine, so let's get back to me: And without my drug of choice, I would probably be wandering around the office drooling on my shirt with my eyes at half-mast mumbling about how pretty they painted the walls in this building (purple...red...a hodge-podge of rainbow-rific colors). And since I don't drink my coffee black, "enjoyable" to me equals having creamer. And how does my need for coffee creamer play into office politics, you may ask? Why is this blog not about the need for coffee alone? Allow me to address that...

You see, here in the halls of Viacom/MTV/VH1/LOGO, the Powers-That-Be must expect that some folks will burn the midnight (and the early morning) oils, and so there are kitchen areas on every floor of all three buildings, and each kitchen is stocked with plenty of coffee-making supplies. But the week before last, the vanilla creamer in our kitchen began to get low... I asked Joe (our production associate) to sound the alarm, which he did... to no avail. The creamer got lower. And lower. And then, there was none.

Just when I was about to commit hari kari on the front lawn, our asst. production coordinator Jessica (a merciful soul) presented me with the greatest gift I've ever received: a two-days' supply of single-serving vanilla flavored creamer packages that she'd stolen from another kitchen in another building. HALLELUJAH! But wait! That means that other buildings have creamer... and yet we have none! And that's where the office politics come in. Apparently, we here in the building with the rainbow-rific hodge-podge of red and purple walls aren't good enough to get a new supply of creamer. Nooooo.... That's saved for the people in the other two buildings who have more reasonably colored walls. The Powers-That-Be apparently like people who work within reasonably colored walls better than those who work within unreasonably colored walls. Jealousy, perhaps?

Whatever the cause, the result of such blatant office-politics-gone-awry is that we have no creamer at all in either kitchen of this building... except for the powdered kind that (I think) could be used as an alternative chemical compound in the embalming process. But I haven't let the Corporate Man get me down! No way! I have my sources... and my resources... and I will NOT let office politics ruin the start or end of any of my days here! And so today, when the intrepid Joe (or, Mister Joe, as he prefers to be called) was out doing a supply run, he bought our production its own stash of vanilla flavored creamer. When he came back into the office and delivered the news, I nearly wept... and then I used some in my coffee... and now I am fully caffeinated... and that is, in part, why today's missive is more of a tome.


killing your babies

There's a grotesquely descriptive phrase writers use when talking about the rewriting process: "You have to know when to kill your babies." Mercifully, they're not talking about actual infanticide... though if the "baby" in question happens to be someone who's throwing temper tantrums around the office, then they may be using the phrase literally rather than figuratively... ;-)

In most cases, however, writers are speaking figuratively. And what they mean is that you have to know when to slightly edit, severely re-do, or completely delete your favorite [fill in the blank].

Today, after our notes meeting with the network, I had to kill a baby.

We all knew ahead of time that there were still some issues with that pesky opening scene (yes, the one I was CERTAIN was brilliant just the other day), and so last night I came up with a brand new idea. This morning, I pitched it to Billy and Lee. Since they loved it, we pitched it to the network executives during our meeting. And they loved it too! Great!! But... with the new opening scene, there was nothing else to do but completely delete the other opening scene, which had certain details that been around in some form or other for several drafts. Bye bye baby...

I have to say, though, this new idea is much better. It's simpler, an easier way into the story, and it works a lot better on a lot of levels. So killing it didn't feel so painful. Here's hoping I don't have to kill it again. But if I do, I'm sure something even better will emerge...

On a semi-related note, I'm happy to report that as a result of our notes meeting with the network, I also got to resurrect a baby!

It wasn't my baby... it was actually Lee's baby. There were two jokes in particular that she LOVED... but for our last draft we had to cut them because they just didn't fit. One seems to be gone forever (or at least for the pilot) in babies-that-we-loved-but-had-to-kill heaven. But I think she'll be more than pleased to find, when she reads tonight's new draft, that her other favorite has made it back in. Hooray!!!

I must say, this whole process of killing things, bringing in new things, bringing back old things, etc. is all making our script so much better... and we're getting closer and closer to the final version, which is a good thing, considering we're barely a week and a half away from shooting. ;-)

I can't wait!


a day in the life...

A day in my life... by Michelle Paradise.

9am: Arise to the smell of fresh coffee brewing and breakfast being cooked by one of my 5 live-in chefs.
11am: Massage, followed by aromatherapy treatment and chakra alignment.
12:45pm: Stretch limo picks me up for work.
1:15pm: Arrive at work. All the network executives are standing in the parking lot in a single file line applauding me. They roll out the red carpet. I grace them with my presence for a moment.
1:16pm: The moment's over. I go to lunch.
3pm: Begin to walk into the office, then realize that I've nearly forgotten about my afternoon session with my personal trainer. Whistle for stretch limo. Leave work.
4pm: Work out with personal trainer.
5:30pm: Arrive home to the smell of dinner being cooked by another of my 5 live-in chefs.
7:30pm: Hear an odd sound... it's almost like... vaccuums?
7:31pm: Wipe drool off my desk as I wake up and realize that I've been daydreaming again... and that I'm still at the office.

Whoops! So much for glamour!

"Well," you say, "if the life of a woman turning a short film into a possible television show isn't glamorous, then what is it?"

Glad you asked... it's actually a lot of multi-tasking and multi-hatting. The day did start at 9am... but by then I was already wearing my writer's hat and fielding questions from our producer about some things that had been cut in the new draft of the script. Then there were various and sundry things of a multi-tasking nature to be done until early afternoon, when I began multi-hatting, wearing both my exec producer and actor hats for a meeting with our costume designer to discuss the "look" of my character and the other characters in the show. After that, I put the actor hat away and joined the other exec producers to look at the VERY funny mockups of logo designs for something in the series.

On a sidenote, I'd like to state for the record that one can never underestimate the importance of a creative production designer... and ours is excellent!

But back to my day. After reviewing logos, it was off to a meeting where we discussed the various locations we've locked down and those that are still pending (also an exec producer function); but during the meeting, it came up that the script may need to be shifted depending on locations, shooting schedule, network feedback, and so on (where's my writer's hat, dammit?). So now here I am at 7:30pm, back in the office with just the writer's hat on (I found it...whew), brainstorming alternatives for rewriting the things that may need to shift.

Speaking of rewriting, didn't somebody say that writing IS rewriting? Oh, yes, they did... but I was too busy writing to check into who said it. By the way, don't expect an answer on that from me tomorrow either. We have a script notes meeting in the morning to go over our latest version of the pilot, which means I'll be writing again. Yes, with my writer's hat on. And probably also my exec producer's hat on, since I'll be thinking of locations while writing. And possibly, I'll be wearing my actor's hat as well just for the hell of it, because multitasking is much more fun when you're multi-hatting. :-)


rewriting down to the wire...

The script had to be done by 5pm today for all of the executives in L.A. and N.Y. to get it for their weekend read...

When the day started, we had a pretty solid draft. We were just waiting for Lee's notes. So I figured we'd have a polished draft over to the executives by noon-ish and then I'd spend the rest of the afternoon patting myself on the back, eating peeled grapes, sipping Evian water chilled to 67.3 degrees, and lounging with my feet propped up on my desk while rehearsing my future Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech (I always move myself to tears when I do that). At 9:30am Billy and I met with Lee and everything was looking good... I was on the verge of calling Pink Dot and ordering my peeled grapes... and then... Lee thought we needed to rework the concept of the entire first scene... "How dare she!!!" I thought. "My Evian water is chilling even as we speak! And speaking of speaking, how will I ever remember what to say to the Nobel committee if I don't practice!"

But she was right. Dammit. My afternoon of contemplation and self-congratulation would have to wait. So while Lee and the D.P., the A.D., the location scout, the production designer, and several other acronymed folks went off to scout yachts and coffeehouses, Billy and I got back to work trying to find a new way to introduce the main characters without making it seem like that's what we were doing. After kicking around numerous ideas, we settled on one that really seemed to work... and, of course, it told the story much better than the previous idea. In doing that work, we also discovered other places in the script where we could tighten scenes, strengthen characters, etc. That, my friends, is exactly why I love rewrites so much. The rewriting process is where you find the story you'd intended to tell in the first place -- and where you discover details that end up becoming incredibly important. Rewriting is also where you learn more about your characters. On a sidenote, after today's work we realized that we have a new favorite character... there's a story behind how that character came to be, but I'll save that for another post.

Point being that it's true, what many writers have said: Writing is rewriting. But rewriting takes a lot of time... and when there's a deadline on the horizon, you don't have the luxury of searching Google to find out who it was that actually said the quote you're planning on using later in your blog, which explains why I haven't attributed that quote to any writer in particular. Plus it's late and I'm tired and I've been writing all day and now here I am at the end of my day writing again. So I guess it's also true, what many other writers (who won't get credit from me either) have said: Writers write.

Writers also need to know when to stop writing. Which is what I'll do now. Right after I tell you that we made our deadline with 5 whole minutes to spare. :-) I hope the execs are enjoying their weekend read... I certainly enjoyed writing it for them.


script rewrites

Happy birthday to me! Yes, folks, I'm 26 (again) today and I'm spending my birthday in the best possible way I can imagine: doing rewrites on the pilot script!!! And no, I'm not being facetious... really, this is great! We got notes from the network on Monday and I spent that night and most of the day Tuesday working on changes. Then I handed off the script to my partner Bill. Yesterday we met, did a page-by-page comparison of his notes and my changes, and I'm now in the process of completing the rewrite. After I'm done, we'll give it to Lee for her notes... and then turn it back into the network. Now that we have a cast (more on the casting process later), it's even more exciting to write because we get to write with those actors' voices in mind. We're coming up with some really great stuff, if I do say so myself... :-)

Back to it!! More soon...


an introduction...

Hi there... for those of you who will be following my journey from short film to television series, a little background...

Back in September 1998, when I was living in San Francisco, I wrote an untitled... and never-finished... 7-page short film script about four friends in San Francisco commiserating about love (or, rather, lack thereof) over coffee at Cafe Flore. By the way, Cafe Flore is still there at the corner of Market and Noe in the Castro district. It's changed owners a few times since then, but it's still the place to go if you want good people-watching. :-)

Two years later, in August 2000, I found that little script again and decided to work on the idea some more. It became a treatment for a short film called "So You Wanna Be A Lesbian: A True Documentary By Jennifer Baker." The treatment included 10 so-called "rules" of lesbian life (i.e. the 10 funniest and you-hate-to-admit-it-but-you-know-they're-true-because-you've-lived-them-or-know-someone-who-has stereotypes of the lesbian world).

A few months later, in January 2001, I wrote the first complete draft of "The Ten Rules" short film script while sitting at the corner table in my friend's coffeeshop, the appropriately named Thinker's Cafe. The script was 21 pages long and incorporated some of the September 1998 script along with all of the "rules" from the August 2000 treatment. By the way, Thinker's Cafe is also still there in San Francisco on 20th near the corner of 20th and Arkansas... and they have wonderful coffee, I must say.

While I was writing that script, I was also beginning to spend more time in Los Angeles... and in my various travels in LA LA land, I met Lee Friedlander, a producer who wanted to direct, and her friend Abbie Ludwig, a producer who wanted to...well...continue producing. They loved the script and we made it happen!! In October 2001, just 10 months and a couple of my script drafts later, we shot "The Ten Rules: A Lesbian Survival Guide" with me as the lead character, Jennifer Baker.

The short film turned out GREAT and did as well as any short film possibly could! It played in over 60 festivals worldwide (I even have a brochure from our screening in Iceland!), won awards at 11 of those festivals, was picked up and featured on two different short film compilations, and has also been screened on cable television.

Lee and Abbie said from the beginning that the short film would make a great television series... but to be honest, I just couldn't see how it would possibly happen because when we made the film in 2001, there were no gay television channels and there was very little gay-themed content on television. In fact, the L Word hadn't even made its debut yet! Fortunately, Lee and Abbie were right. In 2005, after MTV/Viacom got LOGO (their LGBT channel) up and running, Lee began pitching our short film to the LOGO executives. She also brought in Bill Grundfest, an AMAZING writer and producer, to be one of our executive producers on the project. Eventually, the head of LOGO came out from New York to meet with us. The meeting went great! And after several other meetings with the LOGO executives in New York and Los Angeles, we were given the greenlight to produce a pilot presentation!!

And that's where we are now... just 2 1/2 weeks away from shooting the pilot presentation for "The Rules," the television series for LOGO. I'm co-creating, executive producing, writing, and starring in this little baby of mine... and I couldn't be more excited!! Based on how this presentation turns out, LOGO will then decide whether or not to give us the greenlight to do the actual series. We're working really hard to make it a no-brainer for them. ;-)

I'll be adding more posts in the coming days to tell you about the casting process, pre-production, etc. I'll also try to add posts during shooting to let you know how all of that is going. This is an incredibly exciting time for me!! Thanks for reading. I'm happy to have you along for the ride.