by Pam Wheeler, Marketing Director
Why would a law firm make a soap opera? We didn’t set out to make this series; it evolved from a much smaller idea from our production company.
Apple Productions, out of San Antonio, Texas, has been producing our commercials since 1999. Mark Crabtree and Susan McBeth, a husband/wife and director/producer team are the creative force behind Apple’s products. For the first year, we made testimonials where a former client shares their experiences of working with our office. In 2001, we transitioned into spots that told stories from aspects of Bart and Blair’s life.
In the summer of 2003, Mark and Susan pitched a new concept: an 8 part series revolving around a coach and what happens when he’s involved in a serious tractor trailer accident. We approved the concept and subsequent script and started shooting a few small office scenes in November. The budget was set at $100,000.00. As always, when we started shooting, we started brainstorming and revisiting the script.; Bart wanted to make the series more appealing and visually interesting. He thought there was a “cheese” factor with many scenes revolving around Bart and Blair and the law office. I can’t tell you how many discussions we had on whether we were making Masterpiece Theater or Bay Watch. Mark believed that we had a sweet story and people would tune in to see it unfold. Bart thought we should offer beauty and great scenery to keep people entertained. Let’s just say we beat this topic to death.
With the goal of spicing up the series, Mark and Susan created another character, Irina Sulemina, an old flame of the treating doctor (Grant Lawrence), a character already in the script. Other characters were created around Irina’s story line. A soap opera was now evolving and we all agreed we needed eye catching locations and scenery. When Malibu was suggested, we thought it would be the perfect backdrop for a lot of the story. By December of 2003, we had finalized the script and locations. It was now a thirteen part series.
We used talent agencies to cast the major roles. All other talent and extras came from responses from ads on Craig’s List in San Antonio and Los Angeles.
Our first major shoot was in February, 2004, in San Antonio. Over the course of seven days, we shot most of the hospital scenes, all of the diner scenes, and many of the courting scenes between Grant and Irina. Our next shoot was in August in hot San Antonio where we shot all of the baseball scenes. In September, we headed to Malibu for a twelve day shoot. There, we shot all the deck, water and boat scenes.
We wrapped up the serial shooting in Malibu and editing began. We still had to come up with a catchy open for each episode. A number of action-oriented ideas were discussed before settling on the boat scene. In March, 2005, we shot the open scene and we were finally finished with the camera. Editing would continue throughout the year with Bart and I making numerous trips to San Antonio for input and feedback.
We shot extended versions of most scenes. That extra footage was used to make a thirty minute “movie” version which will air on television after all of episodes have run. After all was done, there were twenty episodes. The first episode aired December 5, 2005. We expect the series to run through 2007.
If you would like to share your thoughts on the serial, feel free to email me at: