For those of you who have been reading my posts, the paranormal television show concept that I have been working on for a few months is in full swing.
Filming begins next month on the show — we had our first photo shoot yesterday. All the research has been completed — three months worth. And we have a great cast, crew, and a few industry agents and lawyers on board to take this concept to the next step. All systems are go!
And yet, my head can’t stop thinking about Elizabeth Smart and her parents.
Smart disappeared from her bedroom in 2002 when she was 14 years-old, only to resurface nine months later (thanks Alani for the correction); she was alive, but being raised by a religious nutjob who raped her daily and brainwashed her and replaced her sense of identity with someone entirely different.
And let me tell you why I can’t stop thinking about her.
The television development process has brought a newfound respect to those in the television and film industry — especially those on the creative side. I spent six years of my life working as a musician in a band with mixed responses from peers, club goers, A&R, and magazines. We were able to tour frequently, playing nearly every major city in the country, and showcased for labels multiple times. We won national press on several occasions. We released three CDs during my stay with the band, selling out of each one of them and having to restock supplies multiple times.
Being a musician, creating music as an art or creative release, brings with it a sense of instant gratification. You have a product: your band. Your band plays in front of people and you regularly receive feedback. You get to write songs under a new genre, you get to create the image of your band, you get to artfully tweak way you present yourself on stage and in print. From each effort, you get a response. Onstage, you know whether a crowd likes a song or not. You know whether your singer has “got it” or not. You can tell a lot of things on a regular basis — what works, and what doesn’t.
And with each and every show, CD, or interview, you get to change a little bit.
You can spend years as a band fine-tuning your “product.” As time passes, you only get better, until you have a completed product from years of learning what-to-do and what-not-do. When your music reaches the ears of the people who can aid in your success, you know you are at your zenith.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t work with television and film — you only have your idea and nobody to “test” it on. There is no stage for you to work on presentation. There is no feedback. There is no time to take your idea and polish it for presentation. . . you are flying blind.
Kristyn Gartland, from TAPS/”Ghost Hunters”, gave me the best advice when I initially approached her with the concept of the show. She said, “Don’t trust anyone. Don’t tell anyone your idea. They will steal it from you.”
She was right.
In the television business, especially when you are a newb (such as myself) you are presented with a paradox: you have to keep your cards close to your chest, you have to protect what is rightfully yours because there is no way to copyright a concept. You don’t share, you don’t talk too much, loose lips sink ships. However, in order to get your concept to the next level, you can’t go it alone. Similar to the traditional music industry, you have to have your work “solicited” — represented by an insider — or else doors won’t open. So you have to get outside interest by telling a stranger about your idea, but not too much — just enough for them to sell it.
This process can drive you mad.
Basically, you have to trust in people who you know little about, and that has proven to be the hardest part of this whole experience. Our idea is out there, somewhere, passed out of my hands and into the hands of someone else, and people are talking about it, somewhere. And then those people talk about the idea to other people. And so on. And so on. Waiting for someone to just take the idea elsewhere, and call it their own — someone to reach through the bedroom window and snatch it away from me in the darkness of the night. Only to see a commercial about it a year from now as a new show on some network, that oh-so-familiar format and tone — there is my child on TV with a different parent.
That is my worst nightmare.
All I can do is sit back and wait for a response from people who know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody that I have confided my idea to. I feel like a parent with a kidnapped child, sitting by the phone, hoping above all things that that child is returned to me, rather than winding up dead, or worse than anything else, resurfacing years later as someone else’s baby.
I am happy Elizabeth Smart returned home. I can only pray for the same, and hopefully for my “baby” to be fully intact.