Genre: Crime, Mystery, Drama, Western, History
A TV series based on the life of the Pinkerton “Cowboy Detective” Charlie Siringo, who spent two decades working undercover across the violent American West, infiltrating gangs including Butch Cassidy’s. The show crosses the Western with undercover crime dramas like Sneaky Pete or The Americans, since the lawman lives as an outlaw.
Narrator: Sean Ballantyne
Siringo: Neil Bennett
Jacky: Brandon Nicoletti
McParland: Christopher Huron
Deputy: Rais Moui
Mamie: Daniella Zappala
Mrs. Burke: Connie Wang
Get to know the winning writer:
What is your TV Pilot screenplay about?
The true adventures of the cowboy detective Charlie Siringo, who worked undercover for the Pinkerton Agency all over the Wild West, employing a variety of personas. The job changes the man over time, mirroring the darkening changes that come to the West itself.
Why should this screenplay be made into a TV show?
I think it would make a wonderful star vehicle for an actor, given not just that it’s a vivid time period, but the person playing Charlie gets to mix it up, since Siringo is mostly acting undercover, and the part keeps changing —this week he’s investigating as a railroad tramp, then he’s infiltrating Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch (which he really did), now he’s posing as a silver miner to find a gang of dynamiting killers. He also did a lot of research in saloons and bordellos, so there’s room for guest cameos.
How would you describe this script in two words?
What TV show do you keep watching over and over again?
Justified, Columbo, Mad Men, The Office, Patriot
How long have you been working on this screenplay?
How many stories have you written?
Can’t say exactly. Have written three books and a lot of journalism. Some flash fiction as well.
What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)
Maybe it’s Johnny Cash’s version of ‘Hurt.’
What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
My biggest challenge was in learning to let go a bit. As a history writer, the actual timeline of events was not negotiable, but the longer I worked the more I saw that the episode may demand its own dramatic timeline, and that it’s ok for something that happened in June to move to the following October, if it works better. That goes against all my training as a history writer, but was a lesson I had to learn for myself. The story is still true: it’s just not an exact transcript of events. The tinkering with timeline is merited if the whole thing works.
Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
Movies, some sports (baseball, boxing, tennis), my wife and kids.
What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
As I am primarily a history writer, I was looking at ways past the gatekeepers of this film world I know so little practically about. It seemed to me yours was a format where my debut script might actually be read by kindly insiders who might be generous with their knowledge.
Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
I have greatly enjoyed the process so far of just writing a pilot and receiving feedback and (hopefully) improving the script. So you should write one just to do it—no matter what comes of it.
Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com
Director: Kierston Drier
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson
Camera Operator: Mary Cox