IN WET N’ WILD RUGBY NEW ZEALAND – REMEMBERING MY JULIAN LENNON, DISCONNECTED YOUNG HOLLYWOOD ACTORS’ TV PILOT
‘Fantastic. Goosebumps. When you’ve got the right song with the right intention one cannot help but be emotionally taken’.–Julian Lennon on creative process.
Once I had visions of being a documentary producer and director in Hollywood when I lived in Los Angeles. I had a year and a half worth of production meetings, once a week in California. People used to write a lot of notes when I talked about my creative ideas for new films and TV. I wondered what they were bringing to the creative process at a lot of those meetings.
Eventually, a producer who used to distribute Joe Francis‘ Girls Gone Wild TV programs is who I decided to have as the main producer. As a publicist I had a really cool film production company as clients I knew and trusted. They also trusted me. We were all in it together in making my first idea. The idea involved the experiences of young actors jumping through the hoops of Hollywood on the road to movie stardom.
I was lucky enough to have an Irish-Kiwi acting talent friend who was good friends with Julian Lennon at the time. Jules agreed to appear in the 15 minute pilot we filmed. The crew and I did the slog on the idea. We filmed, edited and produced the reality TV styled, cinema verite pilot that I wrote. One of the best movie poster artists for Hollywood’s biggest box office films whipped us up a groovy poster as they loved the idea of the new show concept so much.
Then the jealousy set in with the producer. The film crew had all once been immigrants to the USA fiften to twenty years prior. I was new in Hollywood and the crew were so loyal. They 100% supported my creative vision. The producer who was taking the idea to MIPCOM (where pilots and TV shows are purchased for global audiences in France each year) had our pilot and poster to shop.
I had had numerous phone meetings with German TV network producers and French TV Network people as a part of our production meetings prior to filming the idea.
Photo: A Julian Lennon photograph
They ended up using our pilot to land a top distribution job with Lionsgate in London. Although they never once worked on the pilot in any way during production, they shopped our bro Lennon’s name, his friend and also our hard work to land their high-flying new job. On their return from France, before their exit to London from California, the producer told me:
“Look, I was born in the USA and I’ve been in Hollywood twenty years working in this industry. It’s not right that you immigrants who just got here, should land TV pilots. It doesn’t work that way. You should wait and do more time.” They never once apologized for burning our pilot’s awesomeness, to land them their new high-flying job in movie studios distribution in the UK.
I was left to apologize to Jules too. Ouch! I felt like such an idiot. Jules was all good as his respect for Maori peoples’ conservation philosophies of the ocean was an area that he himself had furthered as a producer of a documentary on conservation that looked at Indigenous peoples around the world and their thinking about relationship to earth and coean. You will never find more of a Maori cultural fan of The Beatles’ kids set, than Jules. He just gets it.
After the crappy pilot let down experience, we had about $20k worth of bills to pay down. And I never did want to be that reality TV/ documentary styled producer/director of California in California again. Cured.
I’ve often thought about the experience though. How people who waste other people’s time (eg: almost a two year project) and yet who only benefit themselves, how much they actually cost an economy and jobs for young people through their own greed. An entire crew could have been employed, new talent discovered and noticed for the movie industry and seen all over the world, had we not been played out by the wrong producer. The moment equated to a disconnected TV pilot that effectively was shelved as a result.
My once immigrant film crew bros (American citizens for many years at that stage) were so p*ssed, they wanted to Al Pacino it over to the producer’s Hollywood office and do really bad Al Pacino movie things to the producer’s knee caps before the poducer flew out of the USA to London. (One of the crew, wanted to do that). I said “thank you” but ”no.” Then over the next two months, I paid all the bills off.
I learned that if you live in Hollywood, you have to be more forgiving then usual.
For that reason, I also really respect young talent who make it in Hollywood, on their talent. A tough school.
I admire the new directors, writers, producers who stay the course to create the next wave of stories.
I never thought though, I’d get to make a TV pilot that starred John Lennon‘s first born and eldest son in it. So I guess, that was worth the $20k experience and two years of brainstorming a production company, ideas for it, and a production effort, even if no one got to see the TV pilot on TV.
In Wet n’ wild rugby New Zealand winters and springs land (where I am at the time of writing), we still love The Beatles hits to this day.
It’s been A Hard Day’s Night (1964) is still a favorite on my music play list. It was the music that defined the era of industrialization and urbanization in NZ yonks ago. And yep, Jules Lennon is a very cool guy. His insights into letting go, to move on and have faith in the universe of forgiveness, is something I am thankful for, being exposed to. A life changing conversation moment.
~Posted by Horiwoodblog, Aotearoa New Zealand, Polynesia Asia-Pacific. 8.9.12~