out perform // outlast // out work
It’s been a while since I had the opportunity to feature film. As my first artistic love, it’s always a pleasure to see innovations in how movies and shows actually create their stories. One of my more mainstream indulgences is FOX’s series Gotham. Told during the childhood of Bruce Wayne, the man who later becomes Batman, I fell in love with Gotham‘s cast before ever falling in love with the show. A solid mix of widely known actors such as Jada Pinkett Smith, John Doman and Ben McKenzie star alongside actors I’d never previously heard of. I was so impressed by the performances of these new (to me) faces that I logged into my Twitter account and followed them. While browsing through tweets by David Mazouz (Bruce Wayne), Cory Michael Smith (early-stage Riddler), and Robin Lord Taylor (Penguin), I caught wind of Peacekeepers for the first time.
As Robin Lord Taylor was one of my new favorites, I was easily swayed by his friendly words about Peacekeepers. After several failed attempts at tweeting my own Shorty nominations, I successfully joined Robin Lord Taylor in supporting this new show! Then I realized I had nominated a show I’d never actually watched. Whoops. To recover my dignity and return to the natural order of things, I checked out the Peacekeepers pilot. The first thing I thought when I started the pilot was “Wow. That is a LOT of laurels.” Sixteen different accolades decorated the starting screen from various film festivals and media sources. To me they spoke a single message: “This is about to be awesome.”
The world of Peacekeepers turned out to be a parallel one to ours- same locations, same historical figures, same general groups of people- with one major difference. Several residents of New York City have started receiving messages from an unknown source. Each of these messages tell the recipient when and where to go in order to stop someone from dying. We see the heroine question the source of these messages, we see the rewards of her obeying them (someone’s life is saved) and the consequences of failing to heed them (someone dies). I finished the pilot wanting more. In a stroke of good luck and a little bit of humor, I had the opportunity to enter into a conversation with one of the brains behind Peacekeepers, Charlie Reeves. Apparently, Charlie and good ol’ Robin Lord Taylor used to sit in Gotham meetings together when Reeves worked as a script assistant on the show. Charlie directed me through several failed attempts to nominate his show for the Shorties, and I eventually took the opportunity to request an interview for Out of the Woodwork.
Our interview process was the longest stream of questions I have ever put to anyone, but Charlie Reeves was always ready to talk about the Peacekeepers. He seemed to have a genuine passion for his work, and he had a wit about him that I really enjoyed. The following is what we finally managed to narrow our questions down to.
I’m all for a discussion of good vs. evil, but I find moral relativism far more interesting in fiction. Without spoiling anything, everybody has their own motivations for doing what they’re doing. Some of it’s good, some of it could be characterized as evil. If you watch that backstory video, yeah, there’s an element of conspiracy here.
Two of the four leads on the show are female, yeah, and I think it’s important that it stay that way. Alana’s obviously the main character, and keeping that Buffyish vibe is important– there just aren’t enough women in scifi. As a bi dude (and like, a good human being) it’s important to me to see LGBTQ representation in scifi, a genre that grossly underrepresents LGBTQ people… which is odd, since so many creators of sci-fi are LGBTQ themselves, and so many fans are LGBTQ people looking for stories they can identify with.
Ohhhh I dunno. I love the actors we have. There are a lot more characters to come, and I’d like to think I WILL have free reign to cast the actors I want. I’m not into using celebrity for celebrity’s sake. Actors are serious craftspeople like anybody else, and anybody that’s really good at what they do and willing to work hard for what we’re trying to do is welcome to work on Peacekeepers.
Ugh. I’d have a really tough time handing this show off to somebody else! I mean, like any good story, Peacekeepers has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Even if it goes on for many years, I don’t want to live in that world forever. I know exactly where it’s going and how it ends for every character before I start. So if somebody else were to take over the writing before I finished, I’d hand them the show bible, be like, don’t fuck it up, and cut them if they changed the ending.
Yeah! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We need all the help we can get. Or just donate to the Indiegogo campaign when it goes live! That’s how you can REALLY help.
Not so much parallels as mis-Googlings. “Peacekeeper” isn’t a made up world, obviously, so most people, upon randomly stumbling across the show, assume we’re either affiliated with the UN Peacekeepers, the Hunger Games’ peacekeepers, or the peacekeepers from Farscape. We are, in fact, affiliated with none of these.
We’re probably going to be asking for $15K to make the next two episodes. Much smaller than the budget of the pilot, sure, but we think we can do it much more cheaply, and faster. The money goes to paying the people who can’t (and shouldn’t) work for free, renting the camera, lights, a van. Buyin’ food. Not sure on the exact start date, but it’ll be soonish. Probably within the next month or so.
Well for the first few years I worked in film, I did production accounting. Awesome for two reasons: 1) I didn’t starve when my student loan payments doubled (thanks NYU). 2) Accounting is the only department that gets to see EVERYTHING. At an entry level position I saw (and was responsible for tracking) the movement and spending habits of every single department on a show. Saw stuff only producers should really see. And it helped me when I was ready to start producing myself, because I knew all the moving pieces, and was able to scale down a budget to fit something tinier. I’ve since moved into the scripty side of things on the shows that I work on for my day jobs, but accounting was super useful when I started.
In terms of scripts… Reading as many scripts as I did helped me see exactly how to put a TV script together, but in terms of plots and stuff, I didn’t really learn much from Law & Order or Smash or The Leftovers or Gotham or The Knick that I hadn’t seen onscreen in all the other TV that I watched. Learning how a script CHANGES– that was useful.
Mmmmm I don’t even want to touch that one. Has Doctor Who taught you nothing? You don’t mess with the past. Things are only the way they are right because of what happened before– I don’t want to risk saving somebody and botching the circumstances that led to my own birth, y’know? So messy.
The “why” part is tricky. I don’t know why everything converged into this story the way it did. I mean, it’s the perfect amalgamation of all the stories I want to tell at this stage in my life, the perfect platform to discuss women, LGBTQ issues, child abuse, being young in New York, growing up, and all in a scifi setting! It’s incredibly convenient that all these things mesh together so perfectly. But they do! And I’m excited to tell this story.
Writer’s block is a weird thing. I’m not sure if I’ve ever sat down to write and been like UGH THERE IS NOTHING, because when I sit down to write it’s because I have something to write. If I feel the need to write, I write. If I don’t, I don’t. The block part hasn’t happened yet, really, because I only ever really write for myself, even if it’s for contests and stuff. A prof a long time ago told me never to write a story unless you absolutely have to, unless you have something DYING to get out, because otherwise nobody’s going to give a shit, and what good is forced writing anyway. And I think that advice has two sides: First, Don’t write pointless stuff, but Second, there’s always something meaningful that needs discussing, and if you HAVE to sit down and write, you can always write about that stuff. Everybody has something that scares them, or moves them, or pisses them off. If I’m trying to write, say, an episode of Peacekeepers, and I’m stuck, I just go back to the list of things that pisses me off, and I write about that.
No, no aliens. And no mutants beyond a very, very vague definition, as posited by that storyboard video. For this project I’m grounding everything in a very specific branch of science, and I don’t want to mess with that. It’s not that kind of show.
Get your friends to watch it! Tweet about it! Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter. And, most importantly, kick our Indiegogo campaign a few bucks when it goes live. THAT’S the most important part– our audience has just shown up and come to us after we put the pilot online, so once we have more episodes, that’ll happen again. We need a bit of money to make those episodes. Give us your money.
There’s another area in which Peacekeepers could use some help. The team is looking to translate their pilot into as many different languages as possible. Volunteers have put in time to create Portuguese and, very recently thanks to Twitter user @VanessaTulum, Spanish translations but they would like to reach out to an even wider audience. If you speak multiple languages, Charlie Reeves is just a Tweet away. Contact him on Twitter at @peacekeepersnyc for details.
I look forward to the release of the Peacekeepers IndieGoGo campaign. I always love helping bring awesome ideas like this to life, and I can’t wait to see what the team has in store for us next.
Until next time, I’m Chancy Johnson. Here to bring them~
Out of the Woodwork.