Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rewriting the Chronicles

Today begins the first day of rewrites for the spec TV pilot that I've been writing for some time now, tentatively titled The Hudson Avenue Chronicles.  For those of you that are unfamiliar with the project, here is the basic gist as portrayed by my currently underwhelming log line:

Six college students make the subtle and reluctant transition from adolescent to adult through belligerence and debauchery while living in the ghetto at one of the most notorious party schools in the nation.

Overall, not a bad logline.  Gives you a basic idea.  Problem is that the series has morphed quite considerably over the years from "half-hour comedy romp crazy time" to "hour-long introspective dramedy about the existential dread of becoming who you are".  Glory Daze this is not.  Greek this most certainly is not.  Animal House would probably be the fairest comparison of anything that has come before it, but it is designed to have much more heart and carry much more thematic weight and depth to its characters and storyline.  In fact, the whole "college" setting is really more of an afterthought when I think about it; a device to drive the narrative and themes.  It's not just about these guys, it's very much a social thesis on institutional dysfunction and existential nihilism.  

Sound a little much for a (relatively) first project?  You'd be right.

And I don't say "over the years" lightly.  The series itself has been quietly in development for the better part of six years.  Any writer will tell you that is not a boast, it's a cry for help.  The more you treat a project like your baby, the less objective you can truly be, hence the harder it is to break through to greatness.  A price I'm willing to pay.

Fortunately for me, I do have much to show for my six years of on-and-off rumination and procrastination.  It is very much a concept series, a la Babylon 5, where it is a long form style story that has a finite amount of episodes -- 72 episodes over the course of six seasons -- from the outset from which said story will be told.  Many of the early years in development consisted of hammering home each episode's general idea, franchise, dialogue, plot and themes, which spawned a seemingly endless assortment of supplemental material so that if the series ever actually got picked up, I'd never be starved of them and could focus on making it the best show it could be rather than panicking inside a writers room.  The well, indeed, runs deep.

Every episode focuses on a specific theme and kind of acts like its own short film; a snapshot of these guys' lives every week, while still being mindful of an overarching character and plot arc.  The goal is to fuse a litany of genres together without making it feel like hodgepodge; Keeping things organic so as to hide the seams, so to speak.

Over the better part of the last year, I've focused solely on just getting the first draft done.  No more ruminating.  No more over thinking.  Words to page, whatever happens.  I'm happy to say that actually occurred, and I officially have a 131 page first draft to work with.  Sure, it sucks, but its supposed to.  It's the first draft.  Now the real work begins.  And I'm glad that a 60 page script turned into a bloated 131.  I'd much rather have a shit load I need to cut than a little I have to add.

Time to squash this coal into a diamond.

I have no idea how long this process with take.  On my big board of things to do, I have scheduled seven different rewrites, progressively inching my way to the marshmallow covered sun soaked nirvana that is 60 pages.  Could take more than that, but I want to at least get this done in a timely fashion so I can finally start the always rewarding process of finding representation.  That's gonna be a blast.

In the meantime, for those who care, and for those who believe I long ago gave up on this and it has made virtually no progress in half a decade, I leave you with the current episode list as it stands today.  I was going to link to the prologue of my first draft, but I've decided that I'm not fully comfortable with the quality of the writing.  You're supposed to junk your first draft and start again.  I will resist temptation, and do just that.

I'll most likely keep you posted after every major rewrite with a general update, give or take.

Here goes nothing.


The Hudson Avenue Chronicles: Season 1
"Year One: Junior Year - Fall Semester"

1. "The House Party (Pilot)"
2. "Around the World"
3. "MacGyvers"
4. "The Beer Pong Tournament"
5. "Alumni Weekend"
6. "The Mid-Term Adderall Binge"
7. "Halloween"
8. "Larkfest"
9. "The Pre-Game"
10. "Amanda: The Craziest Bitch I Know"
11. "Vance Gets Roofied"
12. "The Christmas Heist"
The Hudson Avenue Chronicles: Season 2
"Year One: Junior Year - Spring Semester"

1. "The Road Back"
2. "Snow Day"
3. "The Grind"
4. "Showdown at Hyrule:The Ballad of the Smash Bros."
5. "Kegs & Eggs"
6. "The Breaking of the Grey"
7. "Through the Grape Vine"
8. "The Fire Pit"
9. "It's Robey Weekend!!!"
10. "My 21st Birthday"
11. "Tulip Fest"
12. "Fountain Day"
The Hudson Avenue Chronicles: Season 3
"Year Two: Senior Year - Fall Semester"

1. "The Scavenger Hunt"
2. "The Art of the Wingman"
3. "Full Yellow Jacket"
4. "The Little Drummer Boy"
5. "Breaking Badass: Inside the Hudson Cartel"
6. "Turning Stoned"
7. "The Breathalyzer Drink-Off"
8. "The Slam Cam"
9. "Origins"
10. "The Minority Report"
11. "Reading Day"
12. "The Dismissal"
The Hudson Avenue Chronicles: Season 4
"Year Two: Senior Year - Spring Semester"

1. "The Appeal"
2. "Major Pains"
3. "The Super Bowl Riot"
4. "The Job Hunt"
5. "The Craigslist Killer"
6. "Wos' Excellent Adventure"
7. "Homeward"
8. "4/20"
9. "The Blackout"
10. "The Party Car"
11. "Terminators"
12. "The Block Party"

The Hudson Avenue Chronicles: Season 5
"Year Three: Super Senior Year - Fall Semester"

1. "Reconstruction"
2. "Service Integrity Respect"
3. "The Ex"
4. "The Freshmen Bar Tour"
5. "The Black Week"
6. "Epitaphs"
7. "Overdose"
8. "The Scare"
9. "Cave Dwellers"
10. "Exile on Hudson Avenue"
11. "Justin Smokes Weed"
12. "The Stalemate"

The Hudson Avenue Chronicles: Season 6
"Year Three: Super Senior Year - Spring Semester"

1. "The Friend Auditions"
2. "The Sober Challenge"
3. "Where the Wild Things Were"
4. "Resurrections"
5. "Crossing the Line"
6. "The Witch Hunt"
7. "The Fellowship of the Slum"
8. "The March to Capital Hill"
9. "The Baptism"
10. "Graduation"
11. "Moving Day"
12. "Epilogues"

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