Some of you may know me, Steve Greene, solely as the creator and host of “5-Alarm Task Force,” and that I was a volunteer firefighter EMT for two years, before being sidelined by an injury. However, long before I started the podcast or even joined Twitter, myself, along with three terrific friends/business partners, created our company, Dalmatian Productions, Inc.
This was back in 1999. Reality television was in its infancy with shows such as “On Scene: Emergency Response,” “COPS,” “Real Stories of the Highway Patrol,” and a few others. My best friend (whom I had met at the small, combination fire department in the Greensboro NC area back in 1977) and I started thinking that there should be a reality show that focused on the fire-rescue services and set to work planning it out.
Initially, our focus was to be on the volunteer side, as not only had we serviced together in the NC department, he came from Washington DC and had spent some time ride with Bethesda Chevy-Chase Rescue as a volunteer. First things first, though – we had to come up with a name that spoke volumes about the fire service. You can be sure there was a lot of discussion on that. However, we both finally agreed on Dalmatian Productions, Inc.
In short order, we hatched a name for our idea: “America’s Heroes: The Volunteers of Fire-Rescue.” I ran a letter in FIREHOUSE® Magazine, asking for departments who might like to be featured, to contact us, not holding out much hope. Wow were we wrong! We received letters and packages that looked like they were assembled by the local Chamber of Commerce. We received department descriptions, call sheets, t-shirts, caps, bumper stickers and more!
There was a second benefit to the letter posted in FIREHOUSE® Magazine, as well. After I left NC, we moved up to the Onondaga County/Syracuse NY area, where I joined another combination department. As it turned out, a member of that department who was also the County Fire Coordinator saw the letter. He reached out to another gentleman who had been a deputy chief in the village next to ours and who had also relocated to South Florida. Better yet, he was a television news cinematographer! He reached out to us and after a meeting to get to know each other, he came on board to handle our video and editing. Or so we thought. Turns out he was working for one of the TV stations here in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area and he was going to be too busy to be able to work with us. To make a long story short, when the flood of letters were coming in, we had received one from a firefighter/PIO in Delaware who owned his own production company, worked for a news station in Philadelphia and was as deep into the culture of the volunteer fire-rescue service as we were. We had our cinematographer!
Over the next couple of years, we produced several different pilot episodes and, wound up broadening the name of the show to, “America’s Heroes: The Men & Women of Fire Rescue®.” You can still see that pilot episode of YouTube at http://bit.ly/AmericasHeroes. Things were looking good. We had a new partner who was based in Los Angeles and worked on both sides of the camera in television, a distributor and several other shows in talking stages with FDNY, Israel television and even a children’s segment on fire safety for October’s Fire Prevention week for the then-Rosie O’Donnell Show”……by the end of summer, 2001.
We ceased our efforts in light of the terrible loss that those of us in the fire service and all of America suffered on 9|11. It was the right thing to do.
Yet, at the same time, it helped us rededicate ourselves to our ultimate goal – to deliver a high-quality and very realistic and lifelike television or streaming program about the brave men and women of the fire-rescue service. Thus, in the middle of the twenty-first century’s first decade, I came up with a concept regarding the unique make-up of the Philadelphia Fire Department’s Fire Marshal’s Office. Not only did they have their own investigators, they also had a Philadelphia Police Department detective assign to their unit, as well as an agent from the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) along with his accelerant-detecting dog! This could make a great story. But it had to be told correctly, scripts that told the real stories of what firefighters face today, i.e. cancer, marital problems, drug problems, the dangers of the job, etc. This would be a show for and about firefighters, written by firefighters!
I wrote up what is referred to as a “treatment” which is a synopsis of the story or plot line and shared it with my partners. Everyone liked it and immediately jumped in to tweak this or improve that. When it was finished, we handed it over to our LA-based partner and hoped for the best. And so, “CAUSE & ORIGIN” was born.
However, mid-2014, the only people who liked the treatment were close friends and a few folks in the fire service that we shared it with. They all asked for more. Unfortunately, none of them worked for a network or production company. I had worked very hard on this and was deeply disappointed and was ready to throw it away. That is, until a close friend who is a former student of my wife and graduated Cal State-Fullerton with a degree in screenwriting. She explained that there was more power in a full script than in just a one-page treatment. I passed this on to my partners and even our guy in LA had to agree. So, we decided to write a script for the pilot episode.
Our friend pointed me in the right direction for the screenwriting software and guided me in crafting the script for the pilot episode. I’d would share sets if several pages with my partners and added their feedback. By the summer of 2015, we had a full script for the pilot episode of C&O. And we started to share that with our small list. But this time, it grew some “feet.” One of the friends we shared it with was a friend with the then, Commissioner of Fire of the Philadelphia Fire Department and shared the script with him. He liked it. That was a good sign.
At the time, one of our daughters lived and worked in Philadelphia and we planned to drive up there as part of our summer vacation. Before we left. I received a phone call from the director of the Philadelphia Film Office. It seems the Commissioner brought up our script and desire to work with the Philadelphia Fire Department with her. With a trip already planned to see our daughter, I made an appointment and asked my partner in Delaware to join me.
Our meeting went very well. Both the Film Office and the fire department were interested in the project and explained the processes that we would work through together, if and when, we had a production deal.
Since that time, we have done as much as possible to present the concept to as many people as possible, in the industry. During that time, a new Fire Commissioner was appointed. And, thanks to social media, we got the script in front of him and a Deputy. Both responded that they liked the premise and, should a production deal be set, would be interested in working with us.
Now, it’s 2018 and nothing has changed. Again, thanks to social media, we have continued to share the script with dozens of folks in the fire service. All of them have loved the script and the show’s concept and some are reaching out to their contacts in an effort to help us. To get an idea of the show, visit this page on our website, https://www.dalmatianproductions.tv/development.html.
Now, we are asking you for your assistance. If you want to see a program that depicts the passion of real firefighters without the Hollywood “fluff;” a show that tells our story because we have lived it ourselves, then we’re asking you to help. If you have any relatives or friends who are in the television or streaming services business, please tell them about us and “CAUSE & ORIGIN.” We’ll be happy to provide them copies of both the treatment and script.
You can share my email, steve-at-dalmatianproductions.tv with them or on Twitter, we’re at @CAUSE_ORIGIN.
Let’s all play a part in creating a show about firefighters, for firefighters, by firefighters.
Thank you and as always, STAY SAFE!
Steve Greene is the president of Dalmatian Productions, Inc. and the Creator/Host of the "5-Alarm Task Force" podcast.