Articles, Learn, Project News @ 11 December 2010

Local production of TV pilot could mean revenue for the future

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Posted: December 10, 2010 – 11:09pm | Updated: December 11, 2010 – 3:19am

Co-director and writer David Kendall, right, talks about his production of Decktechs on the set at Meddin Studios. (Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News)

By Linda Sickler
Independent filmmakers are shooting a TV pilot in Savannah, that if picked up by a network, could be a boon for the city in terms of a long-term presence.

Kendall Films is producing the dramatic-comedy pilot, “Decktechs,” at Meddin Studios on Louisville Road. Produced for the science-fiction market, the pilot is set in 2075.

It won’t be finished until late summer, but the production already has attracted the interest of networks and distributors.

“A local project can have a larger, deeper impact on the community than a transient project,” said Jay Self, director of the Savannah Department of Tourism and Film Services. “A $50 million feature film is going to spend a lot of money here, but then they’re gone.

“A local project may not hire as many people, but it can create a larger opportunity over a longer period of time,” Self said. “A TV series can go for years and years.”

In ”Decktechs,” a young man, Don, wants to work in outer space and lies on his resume. He lands a job on a corporate space station, but soon finds himself stuck in space in a dead-end job without enough money to return to Earth.

“It’s futuristic, but realistic,” said executive producer Carrie Lee Bland, who has ties to Savannah.

The pilot is being directed by Bland’s husband, David Kendall, a former art teacher who has worked on film projects over the past eight years. Currently, he’s an M.F.A. candidate in the Savannah College of Art & Design film and television program. “Decktechs” is his master’s thesis.

About half of the pilot’s budget was raised through Kickstarter, an Internet funding platform for creative projects. Through the site, 78 backers have pledged $6,850 in funding, exceeding the goal of $5,000.

The script was written by Kendall, Stephen Withers and Brian Pace.

The production was originally expected to involve 50 people, but now has more than 200. The cast includes locals and professional actors from Los Angeles and Chicago.

“Because of the Web and social media, it already has over 1,000 fans on Facebook,” Bland said.

Once finished, “Decktechs” will be taken to independent TV pilot festivals in New York and Los Angeles. Bland is confident it will be accepted into those festivals.

“Our intent is not just to sell the idea but to keep the business here,” she said.

Kendall and Bland formed their film company four years ago. Until “Decktechs,” the company had focused on commercials, short films and TV content.

Talent, equipment in Savannah

Carrie Lee Bland Kendall is the producer for the sci-fi TV pilot called Decktechs (Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News)

Bland attended Armstrong Atlantic State University until a successful audition pulled her away from Savannah. She worked as an actress for 16 years on Broadway, off Broadway and in TV and then went to work for the Chicago Mayor’s Office of Special Events.

“My career sent me to other places, but I always knew I wanted to return to Savannah,” Bland said.

When Kendall decided to attend SCAD, he and Bland toured Meddin Studios and were surprised to find the space and equipment they needed.

“Savannah has always been a creative community that has drawn creative people and produced creative people, but they tend to leave,” Self said. “What we are seeing now is an opportunity that this creativity can be utilized locally and stay here.”

To follow the filming and post-production of “Decktechs,” go to