The Death of “Atlanta Homicide”
As most of you know, I became involved with the start up TV show “Atlanta Homicide” (later known as “Atlanta Investigations:HD/ AI:HD”) back in December of 2007. The premise in its origins was a crime drama set in Atlanta and like most others in this genre it attempted to balance the character stories of the principal actors with the drama of solving crime.
After working on nine episodes – five of which actually aired (on ColoursTV), one currently in post-production, and three others that seem closer to a beginning than an ending, I have decided to leave the show and have terminated my relationship with the overall project. This is something I feel is unfortunate and I that regret must come to pass but is for the betterment of my career.
Sources inside the AI:HD camp have reported me being labeled a “Narcissistic, Ego-driven, ass*!&%” which, although probably not that far from the truth, still saddens me because of my prior commitment to the show.
From day one on the set of AI:HD I was prepared. I stayed as long as I was needed and went above and beyond my role as simply an actor on the set. Many times I had to re-write scripts on set so that they made sense. I have re-written lines for people so that they flowed better and were easier to deliver. I have bought food. I have catered and hosted a network night when one of the producers and co-creators of the show could not be there and the other one showed up 30 minutes before the event was over. I supplied props for myself and others. I knew what day in the script we were shooting and usually had to educate others on what wardrobe went with what “day”, etc. And ultimately I have waited – countless hours on the co-creators/director/cinematographer and other cast members who would show up when it was convenient for them – at times up to 3 and 4 hours late, leaving those who were on time to wait.
So why did I leave you ask?
I took this show and this project very seriously – as I do every one that I work on. My reputation speaks volumes about who I am and my character on and off the set. I am a professional and act as such. I cannot say the same about many of the others involved with AI:HD. When the co-creators and primary producers don’t treat this as an absolute priority and a professional endeavor, others will not either. That is where I feel AI:HD is now.
Overall there is a total lack of communication and follow up. Planning and organization are non-existent. This has to change. Casting is done on the fly and as a result we ended up unable to complete episodes because now “so and so” lives out of state, etc. There are currently 3 unfinished episodes that involved me – one which we began filming in FEBRUARY! We did not have production meetings, table reads or even call sheets, all of which I feel are critical to planning and ultimately executing a successful episode filming.
On my last day on set, our scheduled call time was 10:30 a.m. I got a call at 10 a.m. indicating that the call time had been moved to 11:30 a.m. Upon arriving at the studio on time, I found the parking lot completely empty – no crew, no cast, other than me! A phone call later, I found out that the director was enroute and would be there with in 15 minutes and our producer/cinematographer would be there shortly (undefined). At 12:15 p.m. the director showed up and shortly there after assorted background cast members began to trickle in. At 1:05 p.m. the producer/ cinematographer finally showed up and immediately left again. Fortunately I was out in the parking lot detailing my car, so at least I was somewhat occupying my time. Now by 2:30 p.m. I was done with the car and getting a little impatient. My ultimatum to the director was if we were not shooting by 3:00 p.m., I was leaving. Everyone involved knew that I had to leave no later than 5:00 p.m. Finally at 2:55 our producer/ cinematographer showed up. None of the equipment was set up and we were still waiting on my partner for this episode. It was doubtful if not impossible that we could get anything filmed prior to my 5:00 p.m. cut time. So after several discussions I left. I should point out at this point that I had passed on a well paid, modeling assignment to dedicate my day to filming for AI:HD.
The following day I was fortunately able to perform the second half of the shoot that I missed on Saturday (for the remaining half of the total compensation). Afterwards, my phone began blowing up with calls from cast and crew members of AI:HD asking me to come to the studio to film. I refused. After the final straw of Saturday’s absolute waste of time, everything else really came into perspective. And as such I realized that I could not commit any more time to this project unless steps were taken to address the many production downfalls (see above) that had become the norm. To date, I still do not believe that these opportunities for improvement and paramount needs have been addressed.
To those actors and crew members still working on AI:HD, I wish them the very best. I would not have spent the amount of time and energy I did if the show was not something I believed in. However, it was just time for me to move on.
Now, as far as the promised compensation of copy and credit I would issue this warning to anyone associated with AI:HD as well as independent directors and producers. When you indicate “COPY and CREDIT” as the only compensation, it is your absolute responsibility to provide that to your actors. And actors, it is your absolute right to request, repeatedly, even if you have to demand it from your director/producer.
With AI:HD I had to write numerous emails requesting that my IMDB.com (Chris Durant on IMDB.com ) page be updated before they finally were. That takes care of the credit portion, so how about copy? Beg, borrow, steal and maybe with a little ardent encouragement you’ll get it. I even went so far as to give a pack of 50 DVRs to our co-creator/director/cinematographer. I am still waiting on two of the finished and aired episodes.
Now this brings us to the present day:
As many of you know I had written a script titled “Vendetta” for the show that delved into why my character, Detective Winslow, was who he was and why he acted the way that he did. I already had 95% of the roles cast. I had the bulk of the locations secured. I had the prop list compiled with the vast majority of them being supplied by me – including visual and graphic effects. I had a world renowned producer prepared to score the episode. And as important to the production planning process as I feel they are, I had undated call sheets prepared so that during our preproduction meeting/table read we could plan out our shoot days based on everyone’s availability all at once. Many of the people I had worked with in putting this together were leery to commit knowing the (not so good) reputation of AI:HD but also knowing me, they agreed to participate as a favor to me. I guess they’re off the hook now. I wanted to use this opportunity to showcase AI:HD to those who had heard not so good things about this production and show them where we were had come to now. Or not!
As a result of my departure from AI:HD I am rewriting “Vendetta” into a short and also a feature length film to be shot by my newly formed production company – Twisted Window Productions. So thanks for the inspiration.
Chris Durant ®