Living History – Ad Wars

Time_Cover_Ben_Franklin_520

The first time that I got any real inkling that I might be a writer was when I was working on an advertising project during my last semester at a technical college where I got my Associate’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. Our assignment was to come up with a business idea and to come up with a marketing plan for this created business. I was excited about the project because I thought: “why not pitch the most preposterous idea for a business since none of this has to necessarily be grounded in reality.” This was how Tree Huggers was born. This was a project for my John Kerry teachers and thus could be anything I wanted it to be. I decided on Tree Huggers because it was something that actually sounded kind of neat in the aggregate but in reality was designed to be more farsical than anything else.

The concept centered largely around what many resorts in Tahiti do and that is offer you a villa where you can walk into the ocean by going out your backdoor. It looked really cool and these bungalows were totally private, in the middle of nowhere ostensibly, yet still offered great customer service. I thought: why don’t we do that here in Wisconsin? We can renovate a bunch of cabins up north and create a little hippie, eco-conscious community. It would be like a cult without all the bad parts and problems.

The basic idea at the heart of Tree Huggers was also that the entire experience was all-expense paid. In order to truly relax on a vacation you can’t concern yourself with money and the only way you can truly do that is if you have a never ending supply of money or if everything is taken care of up front. It was during this time that I came up with many of the core tenets of Living History. Since my mind had been stimulated by one creative idea another quickly followed and from there I began writing about the things that really mattered to me, but I found it quite difficult to “Proust-it” as I now put it; that is write with no sense of humor whatsoever. This kind of writing bothers me.

Nothing in life is so serious that one cannot make light of something in some sense. Lincoln cracked more jokes during the Civil War than perhaps any other President in American history. It is not for this reason that we consider him our greatest President, but it is just one of the many facets of his personality that made him such an endearing figure. As I look back on this part of my life it is easy to see where the creative light bulb was turned on with me. It was also because of the timing of my creative burst of energy and what I was doing when it hit me that some of my best ideas have comes from subjects relating to that medium: advertising.

Promoting Living History is a gargantuan task. Indeed, any writer with no credits to their name who wants to launch a revolutionary new TV series is going to be faced with an uphill battle. But, just getting noticed has proven difficult in and of itself as a writer and I often find myself trying to think of more creative and even bolder ways to market myself. One of the problems I face with Living History is that TV is not like movies. If this were a movie I’d start a Kickstarter campaign, raise the money I needed to shoot the thing and get it done. I’d write, produce and direct the thing myself if I had to.

With TV though shooting a pilot wouldn’t do me much good since no one is going to watch something from a writer who’s never for the medium he’s trying to sell his product in. One thing I have considered however is targeted ad buys. Getting noticed by Hollywood executives is a daunting proposition and it’s a challenge that far too many writer face every day. One idea that I had was rather than shoot anything for the series itself why not shoot an ad promoting the series and directly market the show to executives by running it in LA during the evening news? Seriously, here’s my idea: script a 30-second ad with one of the founders and direct the message of the ad to executives. This is the script I have in mind:

FADE IN:

INT. Doctor’s Office – Waiting Room

A WOMAN sits in the waiting room of a doctor’s office reading spec scripts while she waits. She shakes her head as she tosses another script to the side. The NURSE comes out and greets the WOMAN.  The two women walk back to the doctor’s office.

INT. Doctor’s Office – Continuous

The WOMAN sits down.

NURSE
The Doctor will be with you in a moment.

The NURSE shuts the door behind her. The woman pulls out another spec script and shakes her head as she reads it.

WOMAN
Doesn’t anyone have any new ideas anymore?

The DOCTOR knocks on the door and walks in. It is BENJAMIN FRANKLIN dressed in scrubs. FRANKLIN smiles. The woman gets up on the bench and FRANKLIN puts the stethoscope on her heart.

VOICE (V.O.)
Do you or a loved one have a timeslot to fill? Are you sick and tired of seeing the same episodic redundancies on television?

The WOMAN nods her head at the camera. She turns around and takes a few deep breaths while FRANKLIN places his stethoscope in different places on her back.

VOICE (V.O.)
Wouldn’t you like to see something totally different? Something that challenges your viewers and makes them laugh?

The WOMAN nods her head again as FRANKLIN asks her to open her mouth. He looks in her mouth with his flashlight.

VOICE (V.O.)
If so, ask your doctor if Living History is right for you. Living History takes place in the present day and follows a re-enactor playing George Washington as he attempts to run for Mayor of Colonial Williamsburg as the historical figure George Washington. Aided in his pursuit by fellow founding fathers Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin, George must convince voters to elect him and not his ex-girlfriend who he is running against.

The WOMAN nods her head and thinks for a moment. FRANKLIN grabs a prescription pad and a pen.

VOICE (V.O.)
Executives seeking ideas that have been done before shouldn’t pick up Living History as this could lead to a dangerous new audience that thinks for themselves. But if you’re reading for something that is unlike anything you’ve seen on television before ask your doctor if a modern historical satire is right for you and if Living History might be the prescription your network needs to spice up its lineup.

FRANKLIN hands the WOMAN a prescription with the words “Living History” on it. The WOMAN and FRANKLIN smile into the camera.

FADE OUT:

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