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'The Abandon' - A Sci-Fi TV Series (5 Black Men Learn They May Be The Last Humans On Earth)

Television
by Keith Josef Adkins
July 16, 2012 2:44 PM
17 Comments
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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:

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17 Comments

  • willie dynamite | July 17, 2012 12:59 PMReply

    Keith, I can't applaud you enough for doing this yourself. Please keep us updated on your journey and by all means please protect your vision. A lot of folks won't get it until they got it. Your concept crackles with infinite possibilites. If you stay on the path you are on right now, that nbc/universal exec will be calling YOU!

  • Keith | December 20, 2012 12:26 AM

    The Abandon, my all-black digital sci-fi series launches Friday, December 21 at 12am EST. Check out our new website and spread the word! http://theabandon.com

  • Jamie | July 16, 2012 9:45 PMReply

    I wish someone would turn an Octavia Butler novel into a movie:(

  • keith | December 20, 2012 12:26 AM

    The Abandon, my all-black digital sci-fi series launches Friday, December 21 at 12am EST. Check out our new website and spread the word! http://theabandon.com

  • Donella | July 17, 2012 1:23 PM

    Now wouldn't that be something? There's much interest in this from the potential audience, but Keith's words here go a long way towards explaining the white-centric focus of science fiction projects that get the green light. -----------"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."-----------Maybe we've always suspected that this was the case, but I tend to believe it's true. Otherwise, Kindred would have been green-lit in the 1980s or 1990s.

  • melody | July 16, 2012 9:32 PMReply

    So interesting! I definitely want to see more. I'm a big fan of sci-fi, too (BSG did so have a lot of people of color compared to other sci-fi shows, but I'll leave that alone lol). I will admit I only came to check this out because there's an all-black cast. It's truly a novelty in this genre. Makes me wish I had some investor-style money to throw around! XD As for that whole, only white dudes watch Syfy thing, they have truly earned a *side-eye* That can't be 100% true 100% of the time. I'm a woman and I love their Being Human remake. A vast majority of Being Human's fandom is female too, so whatever to that dude's bullshit stats. You should actually consider yourself blessed that they weren't interested. Their numbers haven't been very good lately and with most of their upcoming roster being reality shows, they're likely on their way to even more shitty numbers. This seems too promising of a project to risk getting whitewashed or canceled after 5 episodes with a group like Syfy. I'll be keeping an eye on this and hopefully becoming a loyal member of your target audience :]

  • Keith | December 20, 2012 12:26 AM

    The Abandon, my all-black digital sci-fi series launches Friday, December 21 at 12am EST. Check out our new website and spread the word! http://theabandon.com

  • Shanea | July 16, 2012 7:10 PMReply

    I wish you much success with this project Keith! I am a huge sci-fi fan and The Abandon sounds very exciting. Thanks also for sharing your journey with this project. For aspiring filmmakers like myself, it's helpful and inspiring.

  • Keith | December 20, 2012 12:27 AM

    The Abandon, my all-black digital sci-fi series launches Friday, December 21 at 12am EST. Check out our new website and spread the word! http://theabandon.com

  • CareyCarey | July 16, 2012 6:42 PMReply

    Questions & Feedback: Keith, your writing is good and speaks to someone who is humble, unpretenious and confident. Great qualities for any aspiring filmmaker. 1.) Concern: Are you the best "pitchman" for this project and I would drop this pitch/clip. In my opinion, it did little to "grab" the viewer and the reference to "five black men" was unnecessary and tends to alienate those who are not "black" or "brown". 2.) Is 15 minutes too long for the attention span of today's webseries viewers? Has there been any research in that regard? 3.) You hope for "a very large audience". However, admittedly, you're working with a small "market", consequently, can you survive or convince the powers that be that you have a viable product, solely from the "hits/views you may receive? In other words, what is the exact demographics of your market and how are they tabulated? I mean, I don't know so I am just asking the questions but I believe a great pitch interview/session would include the exact numbers of who's watching and why you believe they will continue to watch in a different format. 4.) What's the championed selling points of your series? Is it as simple as "many blacks love sci-f/horrori and "we" are unrepresented in that genre"? Is it great storyingtelling/writing? Are Sterling K Brown and Morocco Omari truly phenomenal actors? Will the series be character driven or plot driven? Would Alien have been as successful without it's talent pool of actors? In other words, what was the most significant reasons for it's success and can you duplicate them? In short, you didn't disagree with the past demographic (statistics) for sci-fi films (mostly white males), yet you said there was a silent demographic of black and brown people who love, absolutely love, sci-fi in any shape or form. AND... "An all-black sci-fi series would rock "their"? worlds". Well Keith, "silent" is not going to kick-up much dust, and as business goes -- as usual --- those execs/investors are going to need a whole lotta shakin' & rockin' & proving & convincing, in order to change their minds. Oh, and that reminds me, a good plan is like a road map: it shows the final destination and usually the best way to get there and it's an ill plan that cannot be changed. Good luck and keep hope and faith alive.

  • Keith Josef | July 17, 2012 6:15 AM

    I appreciate your concerns and feedback. Thanks and good luck to you as well.

  • the black police | July 16, 2012 4:51 PMReply

    "...five black men where going on a hike in upstate new york..." Oh lawd. Why cant they just be MEN. Would their race have been mentioned as relevant if they were white, for example? In any case, interesting plot. I wanna see.

  • Keith | December 20, 2012 12:27 AM

    The Abandon, my all-black digital sci-fi series launches Friday, December 21 at 12am EST. Check out our new website and spread the word! http://theabandon.com

  • Donella | July 16, 2012 3:17 PMReply

    Now this is a great story. Most people are familiar with Alien. But even though The Descent is lesser known, its well-respected in the horror/scifi world. Both movies are rough rides of terror in a plausible reality. I'm definitely interested in this project. It sounds as though it will be amazing.

  • Keith | December 20, 2012 12:28 AM

    The Abandon, my all-black digital sci-fi series launches Friday, December 21 at 12am EST. Check out our new website and spread the word! http://theabandon.com

  • Haq | July 16, 2012 2:59 PMReply

    Tambay, HELP, how do I personally reach this guy. I want to work with him on this project. The dates are close. Please help me reach. I'll pull out all the stops to be involved in this. I don't even live in NY anymore but I'm from Rochester, NY and I'll go anywhere upstate to help this guy get this done. Keith Josef Adkins, of you're reading this call me, 585-303-6181, email me elhaqi@ymail.com. I want to help you create this masterpiece of concept and niche for the exact, group of brown and black who love sci-fi! Our time is now. I'm also a filmmaker, designer. I've got a degree in new media, motion graphics, web and 3d animation. I've got my MacBook pro and I'm ready to work.

  • Keith | December 20, 2012 12:28 AM

    The Abandon, my all-black digital sci-fi series launches Friday, December 21 at 12am EST. Check out our new website and spread the word! http://theabandon.com

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