Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Dating Rules" Inspires The Return of "Dating in L.A"...

I am in development hell.

Okay, "hell" may be too strong a term. The truth is, I love reading original material-- be it novels or blogs or scripts-- and adapting them for TV pilots or web series. When I see potential in a story, my own creativity surges, regardless of who actually wrote the story. I just get frustrated when things I so deeply believe in don't end up going anywhere for reasons outside of my control. That's why, a few years ago, when I stumbled across a blog called Dating in L.A. and Other Urban Myths, I saw web series gold. To make a long story really short, it turned out that I actually knew the author of the blog, and with a little coaxing, she and I set out to create a ten-episode web series from the idea of a woman of a certain age being confronted with the fact that the ex she always assumed she'd marry was moving on, and so should she-- even if she wasn't truly ready. We pitched the idea as a web series to a few places and then had some interest on the half-hour comedy script front, so we adapted the tale once again. Months went by without a bite. The company who had expressed interest in the project underwent a merger and moved away from half-hours and comedies completely. We were back to square one.

I wasn't deterred, though. I took it as a sign that Dating in L.A. was always meant to be a web series. I went back to trying to find sponsors and/or advertisers. We made a list of talent we'd want to approach to get letters of intent in order to help with said sponsors and/or advertisers. It became a bit like the chicken and the egg: most actors' reps didn't want to commit them to even looking at a project they might get excited about without knowing the money was there; most sponsors and/or advertisers wouldn't write a check until they saw a name talent attached to know this thing would have eyes on it. My new writing/producing partner and I moved on to adapting the script yet one more time-- for a live event setting.

And then a funny thing happened. A new web series cropped up on Facebook, with the backing of Ford and Schick and Biore and Revlon, starring Life Unexpected's Shiri Appleby, Parks and Recreation's Alison Becker, Episodes' Mircea Monroe, Pretty Little Liars' Bryce Johnson, and The Vampire Diaries' Taylor Kinney. It has charm; it has quirk; it has the rom-com formula of bright blue skies and kick-ass best friends down. It shares the tone and setting and even some of the ideas for sponsorship with Dating in L.A., yet it has managed to get itself off the ground already-- and developed such a cult fan following to boot.

Dating Rules from my Future Self
is not identical in premise to Dating in L.A. Most notably because it centers on a woman (Appleby) who is a bit of an overgrown child, agreeing to marry a man she may not truly love simply because he's there, and she's at that point in her life when she "should." But her friends don't think he's the one for her, so when she starts getting mysterious text messages warning her not to go through with it, she assumes it is one of them. As it turns out, though, it is her future self-- herself ten years down the line. She knows she is not happy and needs to get her to wake up and change her life before she dooms both of them. Other than that one fantastical element, though, this series is a straight rom-com, where she will have to start looking around and learning to date again after years of being in a serious relationship. But most importantly, she has to learn to open her eyes to the guy who's been under her nose the whole time.

The two "Dating" web projects have enough elements in common that I actually believe the launch and success of Dating Rules can lend itself well to the launch and (hopefully eventual) success of Dating in L.A. Clearly there is a market for it, and there can be cross-over in the demo without direct competition. Instead of getting frustrated that again someone else managed to beat me to my own game, I'm using this opportunity to blow the dust off the files on my secondary hard-drive, get excited that people want to get behind this type of content, and throw myself back into pitching.

Do I hate that mine couldn't be the first to hit? Of course. I've always had an oddly competitive streak about being the first to do things, but the idea is hardly revolutionary. I know I have to stop being so bogged down by the "now or never" and "first or nothing" aspect and focus on making it as high quality as possible. Because if it's good, people will watch-- whenever and wherever it airs.

The same can (hopefully) be said for the two television pilots I am also in the process of developing. I will make something of myself or die trying! I'm just not ready to give up on this crazy dream yet. Or ever.

So, uh, if you'd like to help make Dating in L.A. a reality, I may be starting a Kickstarter...

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