The L.A.-based production company Authentic Entertainment is behind a slew of reality titles, including TLC's infamous "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," Food Network's "Ace of Cakes" and Esquire's cubicle jockey fight show "White Collar Brawlers." Now the company wants to try its hand at a scripted series, and for help, it's turned to Kickstarter.
"Project Moonbase" is a sci-fi comedy for which Authentic Ent. producers M.J. Loheed and Jeanne Begley are trying to raise $350,000 in order to make a pilot. They're hoping to sell the show to a network like Netflix, AMC, FX, Amazon, Hulu, Comedy Central or Adult Swim. The synopsis:
In the year 2043 the space administration is grappling with budget cuts so they turn to Hollywood to find a way to keep their flagship project Moonbase Genesis going. In exchange for money to keep their base operational, the astronauts let a cast of reality TV rejects on board to create a show like “Big Brother” in space. Unfortunately, the moon is knocked out of earth’s orbit and into an uproarious sci-fi odyssey. Humanity’s least deserving ambassadors will meet alien cultures, tackle reality TV tropes and contend with zero gravity toilets.
So Loheed and Begley aren't venturing into entirely new territory when they try out scripted fare. On their blog, they note that crossing over from unscripted to scripted projects isn't easy, even for an established production company:
Firstly, as a production team we have a great resume but it’s all reality TV. Collectively we’ve produced hundreds of episodes of really popular TV. Some of them are even considered hits. However, none of those shows could be considered scripted and based on our resume the likely-hood of any network hiring us to make a scripted pilot or series is very, very, very, very low.
To be fair, an individual network executive could really like the idea and like the production team that we’ve assembled and still not feel comfortable giving us a budget to make a pilot at all because it’s a risky proposition. The best case scenario in that situation is they buy the idea at a very low price and then hire a production team who has a resume that makes them comfortable.
While we've been seeing bigger movie projects turn up on Kickstarter this year, professional-grade TV projects are a rarity. Beth Riesgraf ("Leverage"), Erika Christensen ("Parenthood"), Erin Daniels ("The Bling Ring"), Greg Baker ("I'm in the Band") and comedian Greg Behrendt are among the cast members set to star in the pilot, should it become a reality, and their presence might help make that happen if they're willing to push their followers to donate, but $350K is no small ask for a project without any brand recognition, coming from a group of people who already produce TV for a living. Will a company known for their reality series be able to convince people they can and should try something new? Check out their Kickstarter video and an extra compilation of extended scenes.