Filming a TV Pilot: My Experience on the Set

A reenactment scene from the pilot episode

My experience shooting a TV Pilot

I haven't done a hub in a while and some of you may have wondered where I've been. Well, I've been busy getting a TV pilot I'm involved with completed before the Pilot Season submission deadline. It's been a busy few weeks but its also been a fun experience.

Sadly, I can't tell you any details about the plot because I signed a Do Not Disclose agreement that binds me to secrecy on the project. I don't think I can even say the title yet. (I got permission from the Director/Executive Producer to show these Still Shots from the show.) The most I can say is that it's a Docu-Drama, based on true stories, about the drug culture in NY and people involved in addiction and recovery.

I was one of the script writers. I worked with the director and one other writer on the screenplay. It took us several weeks and seven drafts before we finally got the final shooting script. During the time I was working on the script, I attended several production meetings. It was a great experience joining with about 30 other creative types to discuss the project. Aside from the director and writers, I got to meet the Art Department (wardrobe, hair, make-up, props), the electricians, the 'Grips', the PAs (production assistants), the equipment wranglers, the location scout, the camera operator and the sound man. Later, I got to meet the cast of actors. They were a fun and interesting group and I liked talking to all of them.

The creator/executive producer/director/co-writer of the project is Corey Snyder, a talented TV cinematographer who has also directed videos and commercials. He is taking the plunge into creating his own series. I came on board last September. Progress was slow at first but we jumped into high-gear over the past six weeks and managed to pull together a professional project in a short time.

Most of the pilot was shot in Queens/Long Island NY, although it's supposed to take place in Brooklyn and Manhattan. I give the location scout credit for securing some shooting locations that look sufficiently sleazy, where the property owners didn't ask for an arm-and-a-leg to let us shoot there. (We're an independent operation so our budget is very modest.) Its amazing how a little resourcefulness can overcome financial restrictions to create something impressive.

We ran into a lot of unexpected obstacles. For instance, a location we secured was supposed to be available to us from 8am-3pm but then the property owners pulled a swerve on us and told us we had to be out by noon, so we had to squeeze the whole shoot into four hours. Also, it was a very rainy week here in NY and that wrecked havoc on our outdoor shooting schedule. At one point, while shooting in Queens, we got a weather report that it was raining in Manhattan and the rain was heading in our direction so we had to scramble to get the shooting done before the rain arrived. Lots of little obstacles kept coming up but the director and producers always managed to work around them and we got the whole thing done on schedule.

As the writer, I didn't have much to do on the set. I offered to help out because we were short handed on the set and I hung around, waiting to be useful. I have to admit that I wasn't a lot of use during filming. I carried some equipment, moved some props around and got breakfast for the cast. For that small contribution, I got a Line Producer credit. Actually, I was rather self-conscious standing around while other people were working so feverishly.

Principle filming ended a few days ago and now the editing process begins. (Which I'm not involved in.) Soon I should be able to see the first director's cut and not long after that, we'll submit the project to a well-known cable network. (I'm not at liberty to say who we're dealing with.) Even if this cable network doesn't buy the project, we may still make it into an online Web Series. We should know what's what by the end of October.

So keep your fingers crossed for the project. If it comes across, I'll have a steady writing gig and you'll all have a great series to watch. I'll keep you posted.

Rob


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Comments 17 comments

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Congrats Rob on the gig and Line Producer credit!! Looking forward to hopefully watching the show, it sounds very interesting. Wishing you good luck!


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Thanks Sunshine. I appreciate the good wishes. I'll have my fingers crossed until October.

Thanks for reading,

Rob


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 4 years ago from Upstate New York

Oh, good for you, Rob! I bet that project got all your creative juices flowing! Though going through so many revisions sounds like a lot of work.

It is about time the media highlighted the real urban nightmare of the inner-city drug culture. Now, that's reality!

Good luck to you with the marketing end of things. It's good, so it will get the audience and appreciation it deserves, in one way or another.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hi Paradise; Good to hear from you. This will be a hard hitting and gritty look at the inner city drug culture, based on true events, so it should get some attention when (if) it gets on the air.

Thanks for the support.

Rob


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Rob, this sounds like you've had a wonderful time and well done on your script getting selected and made into a show. Doing this kind of work would be my idea of heaven. Good Luck with it all, keep us up to date with things - hopefully I'll get to see it over here and say 'Oh yeah, i know the scriptwriter Rob' :o)

Voted up, very interesting!


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England

whoa this is interesting Rob, and you're writing a graphic novel too, you are multi-talented. Yes keep us updated on this venture.

Voted Up and interesting.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hi Jools; Well, we haven't been selected to be made into a show yet. We won't know that until late October. This would be my ideal job, too, if we get chosen. I don't know how many new shows this network is looking at or how many new programs it plans to air next year. It's all very up-in-the-air just now,but I think we've done a quality product, so I believe we have a good shot at being picked up. (Fingers crossed.)

Thanks for stopping by, Jools.

Rob


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hi Steve; I appreciate the compliment. I try to be versitile. I'll definitely let all of you know how the product is coming along. I'm holding my breath until October.

Rob


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

I added some new photos from the show. It's looking great.


Flora Breen Robison 4 years ago

This is exciting news Rob! What an amazing experience to be involved in the creative process of a project with a large number of people involved. Hopefully it will a be a big hit and will air for several seasons. Script writing as a permanent career would be rewarding.

Flora


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hi Flora; Good to hear from you. It was definitely a fun experience. I'm just praying now that it gets picked up in October because I've always wanted to be a professional script writer.

Thanks for the good wishes,

Rob


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

Excellent news.....hopefully the last couple of weeks have brought even better news. I greatly appreciate the behind the scenes look at your experience. Hopefully October will bring you some excellent news.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hi Bruce; Good to hear from you again. How have you been? I've been so busy rewriting the dialogue for the voice-over narrative that I haven't been on HUB pages lately. I'm giving my all to this project.

Thanks for the good wishes and I'll let you know what happens as soon as I know something.

Rob


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

Just stopped by to see if there was any news to report. Hopefully you are still getting good news. So I guess the real question is.....any news yet to report?


tlmcgaa70 profile image

tlmcgaa70 4 years ago from south dakota, usa

way cool, i bet that was an exciting experience. congratulations on the whole deal and i wish you and the show all the best. i hope you will keep us up on whether it goes on air or on internet. voted up and then some!


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hi Bruce; There's no concrete news yet. There are some good signs. One of the networks we pitched the show to has asked for six more scripts, so they must see some potential in it.

Thanks for asking. I'll keep you updated,

Rob

..........

Hi tlmcgaa70; Thanks for the good wishes. I'll keep everyone updated about the progress of the show. There are some good signs. Wish us lick.

Rob


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

Glad to hear about the good news.....I would think that the script order has to be every better news for you.....got my fingers crossed for you and your fellow associates.

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