This Fall I executive produced one of two NYU Advanced TV pilots, The Troupe. This was the first year that the Advanced TV class received funding from the Will and Jada Pinkett Smith Foundation. $10,000 for each of the two pilots. While that may sound like a lot, the reality is that after accounting for locations, food, and transportation, this is an extremely tight budget to make a 30 minute pilot with an on-screen troupe of 30 plus, set in a post-apocalyptic landscape.
When it came time for the administration to select which two pilots that would be made, they were very hesitant about The Troupe. It seemed as though the sheer scale of the script might make it too difficult to pull off. On Harry Winer’s request, I wrote an email to the administration outlining creative solutions we could use to tackle the biggest challenges, and asking for them to trust that we students could rise to the challenge.
I am very happy that the administration took the risk to fund The Troupe, allowing us to take on an ambitious script. It was clear from the start that Harry believed that we were capable of pulling it off. It has been a huge logistical challenge not just to create as realistic a “post-apocalyptic” look as possible, but to do so while making sure the on-screen relationships feel real. As a group, we were eager to take on the challenge and prove ourselves capable.
This has been the most memorable and fulfilling set I’ve worked on at NYU. As one would expect, plenty has gone wrong. We had to recast a main character overnight after they booked a gig in LA, when we had already filmed some of their scenes. It hailed overnight while we were filming and camping in the woods, destroying much of the set we needed to shoot on the next day. One of our crew-members even broke her nose at the end of our last day of shooting outdoors. Thankfully, she’s since recovered and even came back to set the next weekend to be part of the team for our last day of filming.
All of the challenges we faced were tremendous reminders that this was a learning environment, where it’s OK to make mistakes. Every obstacle forced us to find a creative solution that ended up improving some aspect of the final product. The mistakes I made on this production ended up being great opportunities for me to learn and grow as a producer. It was a great experience not only to bond with the cast and crew as we weathered the challenges together, but to see my peers grow and improve each day in their respective fields. I am very proud of what we accomplished.