For the next year, or so, I will be producing a proof-of-concept short for my television series, “Utopia, TX.” Here on this blog, I will attempt to document that process in the hopes that it helps other creatives out there to be able to do the same.
My goal is to produce a professional and cinematic short film, ten to twelve minutes in length, that demonstrates the comedy, and compelling story and characters of my series. I want to do this with as cheaply as possible, without sacrificing quality; which means it will take time. Time is the asset I have however, so I will aim to do it right.
In the past I successfully directed and produced a feature, as well as produced and directed over thirty professional theater productions. I’ve directed several shorts for other producers, and written numerous projects, one of which is a drama in development right now, but this project is thematically the most ambitious piece I’ve ever undertaken, and the need for proof-of-concept was determined after several industry folks (agents, producers, executives) all praised the writing, but weren’t sure how the series would “work.” What they meant to say is, “the show is incredibly political, and has thriller elements mixed with satire, so we’re not sure if it will all gels together.” To be honest, I’m not sure it will, but in my mind it does, so there’s nothing left to do but to prove it. And that’s what a proof-of-concept short should do: prove your material is compelling and works visually. Most projects don’t need a proof-of-concept because the conceit is clear. But my piece is a hybrid, which I feel most audiences are sophisticated enough to handle, but the script doesn’t fit neatly into the old classifications television uses. Drama is 60 minutes, comedy is 30 minutes. The series started as a 60 minute comedy, like “Orange is the New Black”, but the producer of my other series suggested making it 30 minutes to help readers get into the comic mind set, and recently OITNB was told by the Emmy’s they could no longer call themselves a comedy. I would prefer my series be a 60 minute program, and perhaps after the proof-of-concept is finished, others will see it that way too. But that’s the best part—after it’s finished others will be able to SEE it.
It’s a long and complicated process I’m undertaking along with my co-producer, Brenna Palughi. Join us. It will be exciting no matter what comes of it.