By Keith Josef Adkins | Shadow and Act July 16, 2012 at 2:44PM
My name is Keith Josef Adkins. I’m a so-called awarding-winning playwright and screenwriter. I receive more awards than I actually get productions, but hey, you can’t have everything, LOL.
I worked as a TV writer for the hit comedy Girlfriends with Tracee Ellis Ross and Golden Brooks and developed a few TV projects, including the adaptation of an urban novel called The Adventures of Sam Black with Maya Films (makers of Serena with Jenifer Lopez).
A few years ago I had this idea for a sci-fi TV series called The Abandon. A series that places five black men and one black woman at the center of an alien invasion. Although shows like Battlestar Galactica and the short-lived The 4400 intrigue and entertain, the amount of black and brown representation are usually limited.
And no, side-kicks and color-blind casting are not sufficient representation. I love sci-fi. I particularly like sci-fi that explores alien invasions. Ridley Scott’s Alien is one of my favorite films and I can watch it every day and never get bored. In my opinion, the film has the perfect mix of a singular alien encounter and the expendability of human life, all played out in that final (and often claustrophobic) frontier of space.
I also love horror, not slash for the sake of slash, but horror as in terror, as in stories where people are literally (and legitimately) fighting for their lives. Neil Marshall’s 2005 horror film The Descent is a perfect example of that. A group of women go on a caving expedition and discover creatures from the unknown and must fight for their lives and each other.
My idea was to shape a sci-fi/horror series that’s part Alien and part The Descent, where a group of black men discover they may be the last people of earth after an alien invasion.
The Abandon is my effort to see a group of smart black men handle an alien invasion. It’s that simple.
I contacted my former agent about The Abandon and he didn’t respond. Needless to say, we’re no longer together.
I met with an NBC/Universal executive who has ties with the SyFy Channel and he immediately expressed interest, but quickly reneged when he discovered there were no white men in the pilot. He told me that statistics show the demographic for sci-fi are white men between the ages of 13 and 49. I didn’t disagree with his statistics. I was confident he was right. I simply told him there was a silent demographic of black and brown people who love, absolutely love, sci-fi in any shape or form. An all-black sci-fi series would rock their worlds.
The NBC/Universal exec didn’t seem convinced. So instead of marching from one network meeting to another, I decided to produce the pilot myself.
I found a kick-butt group of producers like Hip Hop Theatre Festival’s Kamilah Forbes and VH1’s Single Ladies star Terrell Tilford. I nailed down a group of phenomenal actors like Sterling K. Brown of Army Wives and Broadway’s Morocco Omari (Streetcar Named Desire).
I also started an indiegogo campaign. I gave myself 45 days to raise $7000 and with the help of my community of friends, family and artists, I met my goal. For me, that is a testament of how many people believe in a project like this.
Now that I have the funds (although the project could use more, LOL), I’ll shoot the pilot episode on July 27, 28 and 29 in upstate New York.
After post-production, I plan to launch it as a webseries (w/15 minute episodes). While it’s on the web, I plan to pitch it to other networks and production companies. I want the series to reach a very large audience. I also want to quickly shoot the second episode that features the series' only female character, Asha Jones.
The second episode will be 15 minutes of Asha Jones in her bedroom, singularly fighting off an alien abduction. I’m psyched.
I would be in seventh-heaven if a group of black investors/producers decided to support The Abandon and help me diversify the images and genres of black and brown people on television. I know they are out there. They need to know we need them. It takes a village.
Meanwhile, look for The Abandon sometime in the Fall.
Here's a link to the IndieGoGo campaign: http://www.indiegogo.com/theabandon
Watch the pitch below: