1 July, 2013 – Two years ago, to this very day, I hit a wall. I had been rewriting scripts for others, and I had a couple of scripts on the market. One had done quite well; it had placed finalist in a couple of competitions, and was snatched up. And released. And snatched up. Again. And released. Finally, an actor whose work I loved had expressed keen interest in it, and then, after winning a particular award, his price quadrupled and he went on to choose a role in a film which, well, let us say, did quite well. Wise choice for him.
I was really struggling with the war between commerce and art, and how difficult it was to find a balance between the two when doing the Studio shuffle. I went to sleep one night, and slept fitfully; just before dawn, I had a dream.
I dreamt that I was walking through the streets of L.A. Not the pretentious self-aware streets of Beverly Hills and the Westside, not the hipster laden streets of Hollywood and Silverlake, but the real L.A. – downtown, where the city began. I saw a man. He intrigued me. He was tall. He wore a long coat, a sort of duster, and an air of melancholy surrounded him like a lover’s embrace. I suddenly realized that this man was not of this world; I realized he was a fallen angel – and he was in love with a prostitute.
I woke. All I could think of was this fallen angel. I decided to take a trip on the train to the Cathedral, and to see if I could find any relics, carvings, statues… anything there.
I am not a religious person. But I was compelled to find the angel.
When I arrived, I toured the behemoth structure. It was massive; covered with gilded glass, it reeked of corporate power. At the gift store I learned the price tag for this place of faith: $250,000,000.00.
I knew then that this was not the place for me to find the fallen one.
And so, I found myself on Skid Row, a modern-day snake pit if ever there was one. I looked around me at the mass of people living in fetid squalor. Feral children ran in the streets; women screamed at drug-addled men like harpies. I returned home, somber.
The next morning, I walked it off in the Hollywood hills. I passed Castillo de Lago, one of my favorite haunts, and continued on above the Hollywood sign. My mind drifted away; I looked at the magnificent vista… and my mind touched on the story of Peg Entwistle, the first actress to commit suicide by leaping off of the sign. I wondered what drove her to it. I thought of the dichotomy of a multi-million dollar cathedral towering over wretched, starving, tormented souls. And I thought of my fallen angel… and I realized that he, too, had once lived on Skid Row… and thus, as Buer says, it began. I wrote the first three episodes in three days. Less than 6 weeks later it was cast and another 8 weeks and we had raised funds and were in production.
They Live Among Us is more than a supernatural-slice-of-life story about fallen angels and the humans they love. It is about the violence of poverty. It is about the cycle of abuse and addiction. It is about corporate greed, and those who look aside from the unfortunate ones, and feed upon the toil of others. It is about life. It is about love. It is about war. It is, ultimately, about redemption.
I invite you to join us all on this journey, and explore this rich tapestry of fallen angels, suicidal spirits and the humans they love, as they struggle to find grace in a place known as the City of Angels.
Creator, They Live Among Us
© 2011 They Live Among Us Productions