Five years later

It turned out Wakefield (the movie we had nothing to do about) was no big deal. I mean, no offense intended for any filmmaker involved, I’m talking about The Wakefield Variation: yes, the source material is (almost) the same, and yes it sort of upset me.

I haven’t read the updated short story by E L Doctorow the film claims to be based on, but the narration is linear and ends exactly as Hawthorne’s original story does. That is, without an ending. Which was our premise to the series.

The film relies entirely on Bryan Cranston’s performance, with almost the whole story told in voice over, often breaking the fourth wall, something that also goes back to Hawthorne’s novella.

The story chooses to be all about Wakefield and doesn’t make much of the other characters, and the overall tone felt like an adult, dark-ish comedy with some hint of drama. So the atmosphere is pretty far from my idea for the (mini)series. Also, not exploring much beyond the original story, it is leaving us space to do so. At least I think it does.

Did it take me four months to elaborate such thoughts? Not really, as I came up with this five seconds after the lights went back on at the Princess of Wales Theatre during the TIFF premiere. And the above is actually part of an email I sent to a few friends and colleagues after the screening.

So what’s the point? Five years ago today I set up this blog and against all adversities I’m still here, discussing The Wakefield Variation. A vaguely similar movie will not stop me… after all, it is what the film industry is all about.

Geneviève Bujold and Cliff Robertson in the opening credits of Brian De Palma's Obsession (hint hint...)

Geneviève Bujold and Cliff Robertson in the opening credits of Brian De Palma’s Obsession (hint hint…)

So, as 2017 will see my effort focus on moving more or less permanently to Toronto, I’ll also do my best to make something as big happen for The Wakefield Variation.

Happy New Year to all of our the loyal followers 😉


Maple Syrup

I apologize for the stereotype in the title. But not only is this a symbol of my Canadian days – I’ve been staying in Toronto for over three months now – it is also a fine metaphor for the taste left in my [mediterranean-taste-adjusted] mouth after the news: They made a movie about Wakefield. And we had nothing to do with it.

As you can see by the lack of posts, nothing terribly important really happened in the last six months, in regards to The Wakefield Variation.

Something happened to me though, as I decided to take the opportunity to experience Canada on a working holiday visa. Pushed to find work and network with fellow filmmakers in an all-new and still competitive setting, I didn’t forget about our beloved project. After all, Canada has always been a big part of the deal, being the home country of the lead actors and of Toronto-based story editor Jonathan Robbins (who I met again in person 4 years after Marseille! Yay!).

So, long story short: in the time that I have been here in Toronto, I have met some very talented filmmakers (all tied with MAD Resilience Films: thanks Mark!) and while talking about our respective projects, Wakefield comes up. Cards and links are exchanged, and plans of injecting new life into our dormant series are discussed! It looked like all that miniseries (re)development material was going to be taken out of the virtual drawer…


…not just yet. I was browsing the catalogue of the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival, until Bryan Cranston with a beard appears. TIFF will screen the international premiere of Wakefield, directed by Robin Swicord and based on the short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne E. L. Doctorow. The late Doctorow retooled the original, public domain short story into an updated piece, published by The New Yorker in 2008. And no, we didn’t know about this.

So, I don’t know if this will affect the future of The Wakefield Variation. If it will, I hope it’s in a positive way. Somehow this is a perfect follow-up to the previous post: the nice thing is that it proves we might have had a good idea, using Wakefield as source material/inspiration. Needless to say, I’m utterly curious to see this movie. No matter what is actually in it, I’m pretty sure I’ll have a bittersweet feeling. After years of thinking of all of this as a solitary run… we’ve been overtaken.

Although… the race isn’t over yet 🙂

The good idea syndrome

I watch a lot of TV series, and I’m sure most of you can say alike. The format has become even more popular in the last decade, and the quality bar keeps being set higher and higher. Many actors are eager to be part of an episodic show because they have a better chance at developing their character, and the viewers love to grow affection towards their weekly heroes. Also there are stories that fit much better in a serialized context.

In my opinion, the latter has always been the case of The Wakefield Variation, and besides being a fan of many shows myself, I always try to sit in front of the screen with a critical perspective: if I’m trying to make my own show, I can’t help analyzing other people’s work.

That’s why yesterday, just while Italy was showing how far behind the civilized world it still is with the controversial-to-say-the-least family day, I decided the give a shot to the highly praised Amazon Prime‘s show Transparent.

The series tells the story of a family who find out their father, played by Jeffrey Tambor, is a transgender. I just recommend you this show and I won’t go through many details, I’ll just focus on the soundtrack here. The characters find some old records at their dad’s house: when they run into Jim Croce’s Operator, they start to sing along. You might remember my Songs in the key of Wakefield category posts, in which I mentioned the lyrics to Time in a Bottle to be pretty pertinent to the story I was trying to tell.

You may think that Operator has a more specific background which wouldn’t suit The Wakefield Variation as flawlessly: but what is Wakefield trying to do, if not trying to reach out to his ex girlfriend? All right, he’s got his way to do it, and he’s definitely beyond pay phones… but it’s undeniable that he has unresolved issues with that relationship. That’s basically the point of the show, as told in the three-parter web pilot.

I always imagined to use covered versions of existing songs in the show, alongside the original soundtrack, and I’ve been thinking that a female voice could be great to sing Jim Croce. It could be diegetic, with Eleanor or some other character (hint: three more female characters have been outlined during these years of undisclosed development) playing/singing on screen, for some reason. When I saw, and heard, Operator played by the two girls at the end of the pilot episode of Transparent, I had an epiphany.

Maybe I won’t be able to feature a song by Jim Croce in my show, maybe I’ll never get to take The Wakefield Variation to the next level. But I got a confirmation that I might have had a good idea, and that’s enough to keep me in the game, for now.

Christmas at Wakefield’s (one year later)

A Charlie Brown (or is it Wakefield?) Christmas

All right, there are two ways this thing can go: one is you remembering the previous post, with all the high hopes about 2015, TV development, treatments and such, and then bursting giant laughter. The other one is you thinking of this one-year long silence as the way Wakefield himself would have… after all, if you want to vanish and make everybody believe you’re dead, writing a blog doesn’t sound like a solid strategy.

I guess I’m in the middle of the above. I’m more inclined to pout than laugh about missing all the objectives for our project in 2015, but truth is that in the last twelve months some other work issues pushed us away from The Wakefield Variation. It’s almost three years since we filmed the pilot and we have not managed to go any further (so far). Development materials actually exist, I still think that this show has potential and I keep working on story ideas.

But without the right chance and/or the right people to pitch the whole thing to, there won’t be any steps forward. I haven’t lost hope, yet spying on people from a bunker is getting boring. I definitely need a plan to come out. Any suggestions?


Merry Christmas everybody!

Variation 2015

Three years ago today we set up this blog, marking the official start of The Wakefield Variation project. The day after (January 1st, 2012) the first post was published, then you can read (and watch!) about all the rest 🙂

We wish things were going a little faster (actually we’d be happy if they were at least moving) but this business is tough and competitive, and let’s say we haven’t been lucky so far. We’ve been working on re-developing the series for television – yes the remote control in the previous post was a clue – although distribution is not as categorized as it used to be. We want to take advantage of this, and make our storytelling as flexible as it can get. After all, we want the best for our story and characters, and reach the widest audience possible, no matter what kind of screen they will use.

I once said that The Wakefield Variation will not stop with the pilot – now 3-parter tiny series! – and I still mean it. I think that spending some time on a bigger scale project is worth the time, and I firmly believe that something will come out in 2015. We might even post some bits of the treatment for the series continuation

Meanwhile, we wish you all a great New Year, hoping it will see our beloved cast and crew meet again 🙂


Wakefield’s follow-up

With the Roma Web Fest approaching (september 26-29), screening episode 2 “Variation” in the foreign language category, it looks like the 2014 festival season is coming to an end. But what is happening around The Wakefield Variation? All the development claims seem to have vanished, and over one year and a half after the original pilot broadcast, nothing seems to have moved a slightly bit forward.

sat_remote3We know it’s the way it seems, but if you were just a little closer to us you’d know we’ve been working hard for this project… undercover, Wakefield’s style 🙂 Although we’re still far from seeing the outcome of our efforts, let’s say we spent the last couple of months thinking (and writing) about a broader context for The Wakefield Variation. Stay tuned!


Con il Roma Web Fest in arrivo (26-29 settembre), che avrà in concorso il secondo episodio, “Variation”, nella categoria lingua straniera, sembra che la stagione 2014 dei festival sia prossima alla fine. Ma cosa sta succedendo attorno a The Wakefield Variation? Tutti i proclami di sviluppo sembrano svaniti, e oltre un anno e mezzo dopo l’uscita del pilota originale, sembra che niente si sia mosso.

Sappiamo che è così che sembra, ma se foste appena un po’ più vicini a noi sapreste che stiamo lavorando duro a questo progetto…sottotraccia, nello stile di Wakefield 🙂 Sebbene il risultato dei nostri sforzi sia ancora lontano, diciamo che abbiamo passato l’ultimo paio di mesi a pensare (e a scrivere) un contesto più ampio per The Wakefield Variation. Restate sintonizzati!


Going to Melbourne (with a gift)

Melbourne WebFest is starting tomorrow, and although we won’t be there in person, we’re sure it will be an amazing event: The Wakefield Variation – which is part of the 2014 official selection in the suspense/thriller category – will be screened this Sunday in block 2, as shown in the attached screening schedule.

We look forward to see pictures and videos and get some feedback from all of you lucky ones who will be attending the spectacular Deakin Edge… and for the occasion, we decided it was time to give a second life to One Look Behind, the graphic novel prequel to our beloved series: you can now download it for FREE! Happy reading!

MWF 2014 Official Selection screening scheduleIl Melbourne WebFest inizia domani, e sebbene non potremmo esserci di persona, siamo sicuri che sarà un evento fantastico: The Wakefield Variation – che è parte della selezione ufficiale 2014 nella categoria suspense/thriller – sarà proiettata domenica nel block 2, come mostrato dal programma allegato.

Non aspettiamo altro che vedere foto e video ed avere un po’ di opinioni dai fortunati che entreranno nel fantastico Deakin Edge… e per l’occasione, abbiamo deciso che era l’ora di dare una seconda vita a Come Nasce Una Spia, il prequel a fumetti della nostra amata serie: ora è possibile scaricarlo GRATIS! Buona lettura!

Wakefield goes to Australia (and then back to Italy)

LA WEB Fest was a great achievement, though we didn’t receive an award: The Wakefield Variation earned a world-wide showcase, which is exactly what we wanted. Now we’re happy to announce that this is actually an ongoing project, as we’ve been selected for the Melbourne Webfest as one of 30 outstanding webseries. The festival takes place from July 18th to 20th in Melbourne, Australia, and The Wakefield Variation is competing in the Suspense/Thriller category!

Right after its southern hemisphere trip, our beloved webseries project might have an opportunity to show up in Rome for the Rome Web Fest: why don’t you help the process by voting for us? 🙂

Melbourne WebfestIlLA WEB Fest è stato un grande risultato, pur senza ottenere premi: The Wakefield Variation si è guadagnato una vetrina internazionale, che è esattamente ciò che volevamo. Ora siamo felici di annunciare che il processo continua, essendo stati selezionati per il Melbourne Webfest, che ha accettato solo 30 finalisti. Il festival si terrà dal 18 al 20 luglio a Melbourne, Australia, e The Wakefield Variation farà parte della categoria Suspense/Thriller!

E subito dopo il suo tour nell’emisfero sud, il nostro amato progetto potrebbe avere l’opportunità di farsi vedere a Roma per il Roma Web Fest: perché non aiutare la cosa votando per noi? 🙂


Something happened

The re-cut operation gave results:The Wakefield Variation has been selected for the 2014 LA Web Series Festival! The event will take place on march 26-30 at the Radisson LAX Hotel in Los Angeles, California, and it marks the first international screening of our beloved project! Let’s keep finger crossed, and let us thank you all the people who helped bringing it to life, no matter any prize we will or will not get. (Yeah, wathever :D)

LAwebfest 2014L’operazione di ri-montaggio ha dato risultati: The Wakefield Variation è stato selezionato per il L.A. Web Series Festival 2014! L’evento è programmato dal 26 al 30 marzo all’Hotel Radisson – LAX a Los Angeles, California, e segna la prima uscita internazionale del nostro amato progetto! Teniamo le dita incrociate, e lasciateci ringraziare tutte le persone che hanno aiutato a portarlo alla luce, senza pensare ad eventuali premi (Sì, come no! :D)

Beyond the sea

And the third episode of The Wakefield Variation is out, too. It marks the end of our re-cut operation and the beginning of the series’ undefined hiatus. We hope this new version will be more appealing to audience, festivals and markets, and again, we’d *love* to hear your opinion.

This whole new re-cut thing wasn’t as easy as you may think, either technically (ask our sound designer, Alessandra) or from a creative point of view. Also, dismantling our filmmaking effort has been a delicate choice. While we hope it’s going to pay off, we’re at least happy to keep our project alive. We’d like to take a vow here, saying The Wakefield Variation will not die here, no matter what. There will be a follow-up of some sort. We’d love it being more episodes of this kind, but if that won’t be possible, the story will continue, somehow.

As for our last-but-not-least episode, the seaside flashback is…. back, clearer then it used to be, we think. Also, Wakefield is forced to get over his “variation” and yes, the title is a reference 🙂 feel free to post your guess!

E anche il terzo episodio di The Wakefield Variation è online. Segna la fine della nostra operazione di ri-montaggio, e l’inizio della pausa indefinita della nostra serie. Speriamo che questa nuova versione sia più attraente per il pubblico, i festival ed il mercato, e ancora una volta, sarebbe *molto bello* ascoltare la vostra opinione.

Ri-montare tutto non è stato semplice come si potrebbe pensare, sia tecnicamente (chiedete ad Alessandra, la nostra sound designer) che da un punto di vista creativo. Oltretutto, decidere di smantellare il nostro sudato sforzo cinematografico è stata una scelta delicata. Speriamo che la cosa dia i suoi frutti, ma siamo almeno contenti di mantere il progetto vivo. Vorremmo fare una promessa ora, dicendo che The Wakefield Variation non morirà qui, qualunque cosa succeda. Avrà un seguito di qualche tipo. Vorremmo che si trattasse di altri episodi di questo genere e fattura, ma se ciò non sarà possibile, la storia andrà avanti, in qualche modo.

Riguardo il nostro ultimo-ma-non-meno-importante episodio, il flashback della spiaggia è tornato, immaginiamo in maniera più chiara rispetto al passato. Wakefield inizia a metabolizzare il fallimento della sua “variazione” e sì, il titolo è una citazione 🙂 vediamo chi indovina!