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.

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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?

P.S.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Living the exile

Today I was thinking that we’re about to enter the fourth year of The Wakefield Variation: the project was conceived in late 2011 when Alessandro and I finally agreed on which previously-written-material should be the base of our creative vision. Soon after we picked up Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Wakefield” I wrote the first draft of the screenplay of what should have become a one-off cutting-edge short film to showcase our filmmaking skills.
The project was developed during 2012 and went through several stages (check out the previous posts!) morphing into a series; the pilot episode was set to be shot on early 2013, involving an international cast, a whole crew of film pros, and the need of a lot of money.
The huge storm that hit us on the last day of shooting should have warned us that 2013 wasn’t going to be easy… and it proved right. All is still stuck, not a festival accepted our work, and the continuation of the series is still in our head.
2014 will see a new cut of the pilot episode, split in three mini-episodes tailored for the 21st century-superfast-casual-websurfer. Will it work? We definetely hope so. In the meantime, time goes by… in a fancy we would expect to see in a future (but currently unlikely) episode of The Wakefield Variation.
I guarantee there will be happier posts :-): for now, Effetto Espanso wishes all of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a great 2014!

Wakefield is watching you.
Oggi stavo pensando che stiamo per entrare nel quarto anno di The Wakefield Variation: il progetto fu concepito alla fine del 2011 quando I e Alessandro scegliemmo su quale materiale-precedentemente-edito basare la nostra visione creativa. Poco dopo aver scelto “Wakefield” di Nathaniel Hawthorne scrissi la prima stesura della sceneggiatura di quello che sarebbe dovuto diventare un eccezionale cortometraggio per mostrare le nostre capacità nella produzione cinematografica.
Il progetto fu sviluppato nel corso del 2012 attraversando varie fasi (date un’occhiata ai post precedenti!) fino a diventare una serie; le riprese del pilota furono fissate per l’inizio del 2013, con un cast internazionale, un’intera troupe di professionisti e la necessità di un sacco di soldi.
L’incredibile tempesta che ci trovammo davanti l’ultimo giorno di riprese avrebbe dovuto avvertirci che il 2013 non sarebbe stato facile… e aveva ragione. È tutto ancora bloccato, non c’è un festival che abbia accettato il nostro lavoro, e la continuazione della serie è ancora nella nostra testa.
Il 2014 vedrà un nuovo montaggio dell’episodio pilota, diviso in 3 mini-episodi fatti su misura per il navigante del 21esimo secolo, casuale e superveloce. Servirà? Lo speriamo con tutto il cuore. Nel frattempo il tempo passa, nel modo che ci aspetteremmo di vedere in un futuro (ma al momento improbabile) episodio di The Wakefield Variation.
Garantisco che ci saranno post più allegri :-): per adesso, Effetto Espanso augura a tutti voi buon Natale, delle piacevoli vacanze e un fantastico 2014!

Director’s chair

Hi everyone, as you can see from the avatar, from now on we’ll have different profiles for each team member… so you’ll know exactly who’s writing. Lisa has done a great job so far taking care of the latest major updates, but I thought it could be a good idea to go back talking about filmmaking. After all this was supposed to be a work-in-progress diary!

Well, putting crowdfunding aside for a moment, we’ve been thinking a lot about the cast, lately. The Wakefield Variation features only two characters, but since we’re looking for native english speakers, it makes things harder. That’s why we’ll likely have someone coming from…. well, we won’t say that yet 🙂