You wanted to know what was happening with the Silicon Spies trailer? As someone pointed out, our company got $100K and has taken four years to make that 90 seconds, so where has the rest of the money and time gone?
The aim of the Silicon Spies project was to get a TV show going in Canberra. We were following the Farscape model, which was a very successful show garnering awards, putting the US Sci-Fi channel on the map as an original programmer and spending $200m dollars in Sydney on production over four years.
So we needed to get up a TV show, not just make a low-budget film.
To do this, we developed a slate of four projects (to give us a better chance of getting some interest), wrote a pilot script for Silicon along with 30 page treatments for the other shows, worked up “bibles” or concept documents which outlined the episodes, characters and series story arcs, and commissioned artwork for brochures and websites.
We also cut an action-apcked 25 minute Silicon Spies short to act as a short pilot but the level of special effects proved overwhelming given that the money had to go into scripting, design and travel. We only ever just needed a trailer for the show but had hoped that if we finished the short film, that could play in festivals and do the viral marketing thing to promote the concept. It was a tough call on my part as a director to divert energy and funds away from the short – no glory from that decision.
You can see the results of some of the slate development effort at www.inventive-entertainment.com and www.siliconspies.com, where we’ll post the pilot episode script and maybe some of the series bibles.
Through all of this, we built networks locally and nationally, attracting some big names including Michael Rymer (Battlestar Galactica), Ann Darrouzet (Emmy winner and producer on bunch of kids TV shows), Mark Shirrefs (Oscar-nominated writer for short film Japser Morello) and Justin Monjo (EP on Farscape).
In October last year we were final ready to go and pitch to Sci-Fi US. Having Michael Rymer attached got us a 90 minute meeting with a top US exec which was very lucky given there are stories of 6 minute meetings. We pitched our four projects and one stuck – Love Across Time – an anthology series of love stories with a tie travel twist.
Silicon Spies (the exec watched that same 90 sec trailer on our laptop) was a pass, for now, because they had just bought Painkiller Jane, 22 episodes for US$35m. So the money was there, the concept might have worked, but the timing was out. The US also like existing properties, which in the case of Painkiller Jane is a popular comic-book series.
We managed to get a few other networks interested in Love Across Time but as the scripts were completed, the interest died away. They liked the stories but not the package.
So now we’re back to the drawing board, re-developing but with a bunch of international networks who will read our emails and documents, take our phone calls and give us a yes or a no within a fortnight. we also have some trusted professionals who are helping us hone the pitching material.
We’re now redevloping our shows to be more contemporary because they were all pretty way out, as well as tailor them to better fit what individual networks were after. We’ve been invited to-repitch some of the episodes of Love Across Time as movies and series in their own right (Voice of Steel, Colours of the Soul).
It is impossible to describe how time consuming and emotionally draining this all is. But the feeling we had after being told there was US$1m available for Love Across Time (we were going to have to find the other US$8m) was great, and was proof that we’re on the right track.
This Friday we’re discussing with Sci-Fi UK whether our redeveloped ESP series is worth advancing, we’re talking to a major German distributor about a more contemporary version of Icekeeper, our frozen Roman Centurion story, and right now we’re brainstorming Silicon Spies as a future disaster movie with Sci-Fi US as a low budget for US TV movie.
As they say, for more action, stay tuned to this channel.
and thanks John for the Riot Act.
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