Write what you love

I love drama. I love sci-fi. I love action thrillers. I love cop shows and I love medical procedurals.

So what type of TV shows am I working on now?

I’m working on a cop show, an action thriller and a kickass procedural. I’m still looking for that ever-elusive Sci-Fi drama (please: no time travel, end-of-the-world intergalactic arks, or save-the-world coming-of-age supernatural dramas).

memorial-day-history

I took some time this Memorial Day to draft some notes on my three shows. I must humbly say, I am stoked about these. None come as a spur-of-the-moment idea, for which, that I pat myself on the back prematurely. All have been carefully thought out, crushed under the grinder that is my development process, killed and then resurrected. Yes, they still live. I have hopes for these ideas at my fav TV networks, but they can virtually go anywhere TV goes.

My ideas are affectionately titled… nah. I won’t go that far.¬†I can’t spill the beans about the titles because y’all will never ever guess what the shows are about. But, here’s a freebie. One show is titled, MY NEXT TOUR.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Ideas are still ideal

It’s been far too long since my last post.

However, despite the absence of words here on my blog, there has been a lot of movement and action behind the scenes.

A week ago, Sunday, I attended, my 4th pitchfest with the Great American Pitchfest — now called the Scriptfest. One of my producing partners, Ramona, came down from Northern Cal to lend an ear to the pitches were were ready to hear. This time the event was much slower than usual and I attribute that to updated prodco bio I added to the GAPF directory. In it I stated that I was primarily interested in television concepts and pilots, particularly scifi dramas and new/fresh takes on procedurals.

Aside from the endless stream of time travel and supernatural/alternate universe stories, there were come intriguing concepts that caught my attention. I’ve gone through the 50 or so projects and narrowed them down to 12 that I want to take a closer look at.

Besides that side of the business, lest I forget, I am a creative too. I’ve been reworking some under-developed projects and developing brand new ideas too. One project that I am particularly excited about is a an idea the network loved when I pitched it but passed because the it “stepped on the toes” of another project they were heavily invested in — which has since been delayed and now canceled. Some of you may know it, it was called “Heartbreak.” I hope to get these proposals out and into the network’s hands by the end of June.

I’m also waiting to hear from a potential agent who’s reviewing an unscripted proposal developed by another producing partner, Dionna (from Atlanta) and I. I love this project and its been pitched before, but we hope to get a more receptive audience next timeūüôā

Lastly, this summer I expect to pick-up where I left-off and continue writing my epic sci-fi period fantasy novel.

Week in Review

My daughter had a birthday on Thursday.  We celebrated at Cheesecake Factory and she had her favorite, Strawberry Cheesecake. The next day she got braces.

Meanwhile, I’d been working hard gathering the best of the best of the best series proposals I have worked on in the last three years — scripted and unscripted — and rewrote as necessary to get ready for a big networking push. ¬†Next week a potential contact is back from NYC Upfronts ¬†and we learn what possible next steps are. In the interim, I’m planning some network cold-calling with my top projects. I’m trying to expand beyond the NBCUniversal universe and breach the walls around other promising networks.

I’ve kept working on my book. I’ve slowed my pacing¬†and I only get to it twice a week, but I’m usually able to hammer out at least five pages or more. I’ve changed the title twice and changed the main characters’ names thrice. I’ll probably do it again at some point, but it’s all a part of my process. Titles and names are super important, as they convey a message all their own, in addition to the logline and synopsis.

i am broken-angelo

Moving-on-the-road-again

Moving-on-the-Road-again.jpg

My “work” with another producer who had¬†aspirations on working in TV are over. ¬†There is no more business to be had and I am relieved. This marks the end of a six-month period when I thought I was going to have to get medieval on his ass. It was the dirty ugly side of the business that shows its head when money gets involved. A huge opportunity to set¬†records and create¬†new benchmarks at an up-and-coming network was lost.

Luckily, this¬†also marks a time when some amazing¬†friends came out to support me. Not with tweets and Facebook “likes” — although I did appreciate those — but with text messages, IM, emails and phone calls. They talked¬†me down from the ledge and helped with deal with the BS one more day, and again, and again, until it was all over.

And in the midst of it all, guess what? I made a new lawyer friend who’ll be getting all my business for the next few years. Actually I knew him for a few years after following him on Twitter. When I had serious contractual questions he returned my calls. Enough said.

On the flip side, because I’d gotten so dismayed with the business, I turned to writing narrative fiction from a literary perspective. I started my first book. I am now deeply one-third of the way into the story and it’s going amazingly well thanks to a 100+ page outline I created (by way of a screenplay!). Each time I think I’ve hit a troublesome patch during the literary process I’m amazed out how efficiently I can move past it. All I need to do is take my time, focus on the story, not the words, and remember my outline is there for a reason.

Lastly, the RCWD Team is in full force and effect. The access we have to TV networks has moved past and beyond our dear friends at NBCUniversal. Time to take this show on the road. Again.

#pitchtime!

Me? An Author? First 3 Chapters

AuthorA week before the New Year I opted¬†to get a head-start on one of my goals for 2016: Writing a book. I always said that I write “everything” but truth was, I hadn’t written anything destined to be a book in many years. The last time I tried,¬† I lost 16 chapters due to a defective floppy disk (wtf is a floppy disk?). The experience was extremely painful.

As I started my goal to become an author I was happy to use one of my completed screenplays as an outline and it has served me well. I am now one-third of the way through the first month of the 2016 and I am midway through my third chapter, approximately 16,000 words so far.

Moving into the author realm has rejuvenated my love for writing. I crave each¬†and every¬†moment available to me when I can sit down with my MacBook, launch Microsoft Word and write. Luckily, I have experienced no challenges “getting back into the groove” after a few days away from my story. It has been fairly simple to reignite the emotional context under which I prefer to write, to create the content I am most comfortable developing.

I have to admit that using my screenplay has presented some challenges and advantages. My screenplays are written in present-tense. I describe what is happening as it is happening. My book, however, is written in past tense. On more than one occasion I’ve reviewed¬†my work to see that the most recent pages I’d written were plagued with conflicting¬†tense issues. Small price to pay for having much of the work already done. And this brings me to one of the advantages.

The advantage of using my screenplay as an outline is that I spend more time¬†rebuilding than creating. The idea is there, and the dialog is there. The emotion is there, and the conflict is there. Now, I can embellish freely, and I have the room to do so. In the screenwriting world, we learn to stifle our narrative voice in order to keep our action and description short and concise. In the world of narrative fiction writing, it’s best to give our voices room to move, expand and ¬†sometimes even touch on the minutia of details. While writing the first three chapters of my book, there have been several times when I¬†remembered all the details¬†I’d surgically removed from my screenplay because I’d gone over a certain amount of lines or pages while writing a description. Now, I can include all the visceral elements that typically only actors, ¬†directors, cinematographers and production designers are allowed to infuse into a story.

Specifically, there are two instances¬†that stand out. One instance¬†involved¬†three lines of¬†the screenplay that¬†I hoped would be emotionally compelling action. In screenwriting you write what’s on the screen, not what’s in someone’s thoughts, so I left a lot of emotion to be “included” by the actor and director. ¬†Not so in the book. I was free to expound on those three lines, which ultimately became three pages — three pages of all the things that were in my head when I wrote the screenplay but couldn’t use in the script. Three pages of inner dialog, inner voices, inner thoughts, everything that we as people go through when faced with decisions, dilemmas or crises. It was there and it was a joy to read every word and know that it was perfectly acceptable to leave the pages just like that.

I am starting to feel like an author.

SECOND CHANCES

December 8, 2015

One Year Ago¬† today I was admitted to Community Hospital Long Beach after a week of breathing complications, severe wheezing, shortness of breath, an incorrect pneumonia diagnosis and a 3-day hospitalization at Gardens Hospital. The good folks at Community Hospital Long Beach found what the other hospital missed: a massive saddle pulmonary embolism that was choking off blood flow to my lungs. I had no lower-lung function and basically I’d managed to escape death a few times by calming myself down. God only knows, it was some sort of Zen thing I did to keep my heart from exploding trying to get blood to my lungs so they could produce air. However, by the seventh day of December I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to last the day. So, I called my ex sister-in-law Tammy, whom I now lovingly refer to simply as, my sister.

Tammy saved my life with empathy, compassion, care and action. She arranged for me to get to the hospital, met me in ER with a wheelchair (I couldn’t walk without gasping for air) and made sure I had the best nurses and doctor in the ER. When the nurses whispered my diagnosis to her, Tammy nearly cried. I thought I was a dead-man-walking at that point, but Tammy was just happy that they figured out what was wrong, and she knew I was on borrowed time like a mofo!

Tammy is super humble and says, “God did it,” which I know He did — but he used her as the instrument. She didn’t have to listen. She didn’t have to care, after all, I’m the dude who’s divorced from her baby sister. But she rose above all the¬†BS. That’s why she’s a nurse. She is¬†why I am still here. She is the reason my children still have a father.

I was very grateful then, as I will be forever. At some point in life, this second chance will yield more than gracious words. Until then, back in January I asked a few of YOU¬†to let Tammy know that you too were grateful for her actions, because without them I would not be here and I would not be in your life either…for whatever that’s worth. My blog would have stopped as quickly as my heart, some lonely cold day in December 2014 and I would forever be known as the guy who died mere¬†months before his¬†50th birthday.

The love goes deeper. It was Tammy’s¬†entire family who stepped up to help me. Tammy’s husband Billy took me to the hospital. Each of Tammy’s adult children, Ciara and Alexa, visited me while I was in both hospitals. Ciara is also a nurse and brought me goodies — she knows what it’s like to be stuck in a hospital bed. Joshua, Tammy’s son, and Alexa chauffeured my children to school while I was out of commission. Like mother like children.

Thank you, Tammy. I am free to continue my pursuit of an amazing career in film and television, because of you. I do not take this second chance lightly. I did more in the first six months of 2015 than I did for the previous four years. The end result: two TV deals for pilot scripts. 2016 will yield even more fruit. That is my promise.

Selfies from December 8, 2014

Angelo at Skyline

November 11, 2015

Below¬†are the folks who also, said, “Thank you!” Below is a Facebook post I wrote on January 24, 2015 asking YOU too to thank Tammy for keeping me on this planet a little longer. Many of you did. Huge thanks to all of my friends and family for doing so!

FACEBOOK POST 01-24-2015

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I’m Grateful for the Eight

eightfold buddha charmWhile I am semi-embroiled in a feud of economic proportions; ¬†battling for payment for services rendered to an idiot who’d rather hold my money hostage and deprive my kids of an awesome Christmas than admit he was wrong and blew a high five-figure TV deal, I’ll take this time to catch my breath and reflect on some happier moments of 2015 and the previous years of pitching and developing ideas for TV.

I have to admit, I’ve been lucky. Despite the underlying emotion of my last 3 or 4 blog posts I’ve been extremely blessed. I have a connection that few people have. I’ve been able to do — multiple times — what some people never do. And in the midst of it I’ve earned some cash and met some awesome people.

This blog is about the awesome people.

None have been more grateful nor sung more loudly the praises of yours truly that my dear friend and sister-from-another-mister, Ramona (@RamonaMaramonte). Out there in the entertainment industry you’ll see people preach ad nauseum how great another writer or producer is even though that person has done nada for them, yet they become as quiet as a church mouse for others who’ve actually done a thing or two to help them aspire towards their dreams.

Bar none, I have not stood across the desk of a network TV exec more times than with I have with Ramona. We’ve pitched reality like crazy — and some scripted — and breached the walls of a helluva lot of networks. I fondly remember pitching to NBC Alternative Programming with Ramona, and although I knew five minutes in that our Project would get a “Pass” from the network, ¬†we were in that office shooting the shit with the big dawg (SVP) for 45 minutes. That is unheard of. Ramona and I¬†always, always always have fun, laugh, get nervous and get over it…together.

And what’s super awesome is, from time to time Ramona¬†will surprise¬†me with an unsolicited random #AF email saying, “Thank you for the opportunity you’ve given me to achieve my dreams.” Such gratefulness is rare in this industry and deeply appreciated. Cool thing about working with Ramona is that when she comes down from Northern California to attend a pitch in LA her husband Tony always comes with her. That type of spousal support is super rare in this industry (trust me, I know!) and definitely enviable.

Lastly, when I was in the hospital for most of December 2014, Ramona texted or called me every day. Every. Day. EVERY. DAY.

There’s one other couple I know who have made the trek together: the Hedges. Justin and Laura from Arizona have driven down to LA from Arizona multiple times to attend multiple pitch meetings. I went to my first pitch meeting with Justin. It was with NBC and it was the scariest thing I think we both ever experienced up until that point. Still, it was an unforgettable experience. Laura was the person who called or texted me the second-most times when I was in the hospital and it was super appreciated.

In 2015 I had the opportunity to work with¬†Dionna from Atlanta. Dionna and I met in 2014 during the Great American Pitchfest. She was going through a very tough family crisis at the time, but made the trek to LA and pitched an idea to me. We worked on the idea over 6-9 months and finally I submitted it to the network. We got called in to pitch. ¬†We basically spent the whole afternoon¬†together driving from Beverly Hills to Miracle Mile and then to LAX. We stopped in Playa del Rey for drinks and she learned how strong a Manhattan really is. I laughed. Dionna is real (WYSIWYG) and I appreciate that. We also can commiserate over issues in the TV business as well as over¬†relationships-gone-bad. We’ve gone through the same things and she’s been a steady listener for those times I needed to vent like a madman. She has become a trusted confidante. Thank you Dionna!

Then there is someone whom I’ve never met in person. Michael C. Cordell. We “met” on Twitter and then Facebook. Michael has read some of my scripts before anyone has, in their rawest form. He is always authentic, professional and honest in his critiques. I’m going to owe him a heap of¬†¬†money for script reading services soon. He’s always supportive and vocal about it. That’s the thing, if you support someone, it means little¬†if you do so in secret. Michael is always first to RT, share my posts and updates and take other¬†very generous actions as well. Lastly, we used to share the same friendship with a bat-shit crazy female friend who went ape-shit on us for no reason. If that’s not a bonding moment I don’t know what is.

Then there is Aaron in Canada. Fucking Canada! There have been times that I’ve needed super fast turn-arounds on reads of my outlines, ideas, brainstorms etc and Aaron is ALWAYS first to volunteer. Not only is he first to volunteer but he’s a¬†volunteer who¬†ALWAYS comes through. Aaron never stops coming up with ideas and I can be honest with him. We are honest with each other in fact. Many times our raw concepts have sucked to the nth degree and Aaron and I¬†are comfortable telling each other the truth, “That idea sucks,” and we move on, no feelings hurt. I’m gonna hire his ass when I get my first network show.

Last but not least, there are my four children who offer me wide-eyed, unconditional love and acceptance. Wanting more for them compels me to do more, go longer, push harder. Without a doubt, I maintain the struggle for them. They deserve it. I owe it to them. I see them growing into productive, responsible, compassionate members of society and I am pleased, and I want to ensure they have everything they need to thrive.

There are many others who have been instrumental in my longevity. I thank them all. The above-mentioned folks stand out because in 2015 I’ve called on them the most. See, while it may have looked like Angelo had it going on, this year, there have been some super low points when I felt like I was spinning my wheels…and doing so alone.¬†These folks helped me get through it.

And I am grateful for the eightful.