10 years ago this weekend we shot Being Civil, a reality show in 1866 with a Union soldier and Confederate soldier living in the same log cabin. Jeff Madden and I wrote the treatment, and the honorable Joe Kreml filmed it. Brady Novak, Allison Bills, Marz Timms, and Jim Mulvaney starred alongside Jeff and me, with Cork Kangas proving the soundtrack and Andy Ross doing artwork. . It was a butt-ass cold weekend, and I still don't know how Brady got the shirtless outdoor scenes done without dying. And to the name of Marz's character cracks me up. (Cassius Alcindor)
The actually dialog we improvised, and did the whole thing over a weekend. This was the first project I produced, and when it screened at the Music Box theater later with an audience of strangers laughing at the spots we wanted them to laugh, I knew I was following the right path. (Oh, and finding a large cloth confederate flag takes you down a scary internet rabbit hole..)
If you don't have time to watch the full pilot, here's the summary..
The war is over, but the battle has just begun. It’s 1866, and former Confederate infantryman Calhoun Jackson and Union soldier Hilton Thurdinghill III are put to reside together in a modest log cabin in pastoral Norford County, Pennsylvania. Following the war that pitted brother versus brother and left well-nigh 200,000 perished in combat, tensions naturally manifest themselves in myriad behaviors. The bespectacled Hilton, one born into the better class, is of a sanguine temperament, whereas Calhoun, whose demeanor is imbued with a distaste for aristocracy, is barren of tact. Previously unable to conceal his mirth, Hilton has altogether too rough a time trying to be cheerful and frivolous or anyways frisky as Calhoun wantonly casts a gloom over his merriment.
Compounding the rascality is the one-upmanship for the attention of Eliza, the town whore. Doubtless, Calhoun will be well pleased should the lady accept his courting, yet she will have none of it, not even for a monetary sum. After Hilton acquaints himself with Cassius Alcindor, the county’s only black man, Calhoun reacts as fiercely as ever, the results whereof will be felt for quite some time to come. Enter malodorous Blackfoot and the enigmatic Woodsman, and the stage is set for an infinitude of riotous adventures. It is fair to presume that such an array of persons was never assembled for a show of this variety upon any previous occasion. Is it well thus to ask the success of so mighty an enterprise as this?
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Please watch PED CROSSING!