Hank Isaac: Underfunded Overachievers – The Crafting of “Lilac”

Lilac 1

by Hank Isaac

I read somewhere that we’re supposedly entering the “Third Golden Age of Television.” Referring, of course, to the Internet’s ability to deliver up real-time (and other) programming to the potential global audience of more than eight-billion connected souls in 193 countries. (Are there really THAT many countries?)

But really… “Third Golden Age?” There can only ever be one golden age of anything. C’mon now. So maybe this is like some sort of Bronze Age. Maybe. Bronze looks pretty good. Especially when polished well. Though you gotta keep polishing it. Otherwise, it starts to get a kind of green-blue patina all over. Which also looks good. Kinda. Hmmm… Metaphor alert?

For a long time, I’ve felt TV has actually wandered into some sort of Stone Age. Fair content, but offered up with all the finesse of a mudslide.

When I and a colleague were pitching a different TV series to a to-remain-unnamed major studio, we were told something really, really important. What follows are my words, not the exec’s. And they are: There are twenty-four hours in any given “TV day.” If we air your show, someone else’s has gotta go.

Can’t really argue with that one. At least not in this Universe.

And then, seventy-two hours before they were prepared to greenlight our series, they dropped it.

So clearly, one of the early roadblocks to getting a show to an audience is the palace (whoops…) place from which it will spring. And let’s face it: The traditional TV bandwidth is as narrow and as controlled as anything can possibly be. And the number and variety of gatekeepers is unfathomable.

Enter the Internet. The Internet can be likened to having the ability to drag a small wood crate to a street corner, climb onto it, then just start talking. Folks either listen or they don’t. They either like what you say or they don’t. Okay, it’s not perfect. Sure, you could be arrested for disturbing the peace, etc.. I get it.

But my point is: By airing content on the WEB, one no longer needs to seek permission. There is no ego-driven gauntlet to run.

Okay, okay… Conventional TV is still seen as the “big boys.” The prestigious place to be. The grownups’ table… Yadda, yadda, yadda. Except… How come studios are swiveling their focus toward the WEB? Do they know something we… know?

Back to point. If one wants to put a show up on TV, one has to purchase a home in the gated community with the luxury swimming pool and swim only when allowed. If one puts a show up on the WEB, one swims in the ocean.

I’m a sailor and an explorer. I picked the ocean.

Enter “Lilac.” This is a WEB series I’ve been developing for about two years. The story went through three major changes and several page-one rewrites. And ever since the tragic massacre in Dunblane, Scotland (1996) where sixteen primary school children were shot and killed, the Sandy Hook shootings, and the more than one hundred school shootings which followed, I wanted to try to find a way to turn kids – many of the shooters have been peers of those shot – away from ultimate violence.

Hence the main theme of “Lilac” is: It’s not necessary to annihilate one’s enemy to win the war.

So I created in Lilac a character who has virtually nothing in the way of worldly goods but who sees the world as broken and wants more than anything to fix it. My hope is that if Lilac can be someone a young person can admire, that same person might just embrace Lilac’s ethos.

The log line for the series is: “What if Robin Hood was a homeless ten-year-old girl living in a modern city…” The story is loosely based on an amalgam of the many Robin Hood legends, dating back into the Twelfth Century. Lilac is a crossbow-wielding street waif who possesses supernatural marksmanship (thus giving her super-hero status) but who chooses cleverness over violence to achieve her goals.

The series pilot is online. It’s a bit longer than the planned ten minutes (almost fifteen, in fact). And there are twelve more ten-minute episodes slated for Season One.

If we can get the funding.

Lilac is here: 

Next time: How our lead actress changed the way the character of Lilac was written.