A First Look At Very Smart Brothas: The TV Pilot

***Assuming you all would have some questions about this trailer and the TV pilot, I took the liberty of learning telepathy so I’d be able to ask myself the most relevant questions you have in your heads. You’re welcome.***

So, when is the actual full pilot going to be released?

Great question! Unfortunately, I don’t have a full answer yet. But, I can tell you a few things.

There will be a private screening Saturday, September 21st in Burbank, California. There will also be public screenings at a yet to be determined time in both D.C. and Pittsburgh in September.

If you can’t make any of those, there’s always the New York Television Festival from October 21-26. The pilot is one of 47 selected for the Independent Pilot Competition, and it will be showcased there for fans and industry executives.

Is this really based on the lives of you, Panama, and Liz?

Kinda, sorta, but not really. The name of the TV blog and book are the same as in real life. But, while “Brandon” (the character based on me) and “Andre” (the character based on Panama) do share some similarities with us, David Hunter (“Brandon”) and Leo Breckenridge (“Andre”) did a great job of making the characters unique people instead of exact copies of people who already exist.

Also, if it was based on Liz’s life, there would be a lot more Bibles laying around. And orange juice. Bibles and orange juice.  

Who is Andrea Thornton?

Andrea is a very talented young screenwriter who also happens to be one of the executive producers. We first met a few years ago at a party while she was a grad student at Carnegie Mellon University. We stayed in touch, and after she graduated and relocated to L.A., Andrea and Earl (the founder of Solo Journey Productions) reached out to Panama and I to option Your Degrees… and turn it into a webseries. We (obviously) agreed and signed our names in blood.  Andrea and I wrote the script for eight six-minute long episodes. (Panama served as our consigliere.)

Wait. Webseries? I thought this was a TV pilot.

It is. When done with the first draft of the webseries, we decided it would be a better idea to shift focus and create a 22 minute long pilot instead. Why? Well, one of the bi products of the success of Issa Rae and Awkward Black Girl is that everyone and their step-momma has a webseries now. Since we aint like everyone else, we did something different.

Was that the guy from Heroes? How did you get him?

I have no idea.

Who are the actresses in the pilot?

Taja Simpson (“Rachel”—the one with the glasses and the, um, dress), Dominique Washington (“Chloe”—the one who “Brandon” attempts to approach), and Aerial Washington (“Chelsea”—the intern).

I know there were a couple more with speaking parts but…I don’t know their names.

Does it feel weird to see someone pretty much playing you on TV?

It didn’t…until 372 different people decided to ask me that question in the past couple months. So, now it does. Thank you.

I know this is “loosely” based on your lives, but did any of the stuff in the trailer actually happen to you?

Yes. A person did actually express to us that we write like we’re better looking than we are. I still don’t know what it means to write “handsome” (or write “ugly” for that matter), but I think it has something to do with prepositional phrases.

Anyway, those are all the questions I was able to conjure. If you have any more, please ask.

Also, let us know what you think. Did you like it? Hate it? Fall asleep during it? Want a phone number from one of the actors/actresses?

(And, regardless of what you think, like/share/tweet the f*ck out of it!)

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

A Very Special Thank You from VSB and Solo Journey Productions

I don’t know how to say this like a real OG would do, so I’ll just say it as a reformed G would say it…

…from the bottom of my heart, I almost teared up a bit. The generosity of everybody who donated and supported our dream and vision nearly broke me down. On the real, when we began this process, the piece that I feared most was the fundraising part. That was for a very simple reason: while we know we have one of the absolute best communities on the Internet, asking for money presents a whole new side of the game. It’s easy for people to show up everyday and leave their mark, good or bad. But when you decide to bring folks into your vision and goals and need to ask for help…well that’s when *CENSORED* gets real.

It’s like that moment when everybody’s joking and somebody pulls out a knife. Terrible analogy aside, asking people for money is one thing. Asking people to collectively cough up $20,000 is another.

My ninja, that’s a car.

So while I was optimistic, it’s still scary to ask for such a large amount of money. But then we dropped the campaign. And folks started donating. Then we got some rather large donations. That first large donation from the homey Derek…let me tell you, I almost didn’t believe Champ when he told me that we had somebody who wanted to drop $5(000) on it. I actually laughed in my car as I almost ran over a senior citizen. Her fault though. Real talk.

And when we crossed the $10K plateau, I was in total amazement. Champ can attest to this. We had these convos daily and even the fact that in the last 48 hours we raised almost $10,000 to cross the bridge. Point is, I’m in total awe and appreciation at the group of people we have here who think enough of our output and believe in all of us enough to hitch their wagon to the VSB brand, financially. If I could hug every person, I would. I do feel this need to personally thank everybody for every donation, no matter how big or small. It means that much to me. I’m not a person who is used to having to ask people things so my own independent issues came into play. So to see the community we have at VSB and the family and friends we have individually come through for us…well it just strengthens the resolve to deliver the absolute best product available.

Believe me when I say that our own standards here are high and we ain’t exactly the take no for an answer personality types. With that in mind, I would like to personally say thank you for believing in VSB. Thank you for sleepwalking with the kids as long as you have and being willing to take a chance on us. We won’t let you down. We can’t let you down. Your mama don’t wear no drawz? Well my mama didn’t raise no fools. From my hood to your hood, bangin’…bangin’…we are going to go hard in the paint.

Like R. Kelly said, “real talk”.

Thank you.

Danger,

-Panama Jackson

Although I was outwardly optimistic about the fundraising campaign, I honestly didn’t think we’d reach our goal. I’m flabbergasted and shit. That was the first and will be the last time I ever doubt VSB nation.

-Damon

VSPeeps! I’ve been coming to this site for the past few years and I honestly believe there is no place like it on the internet. Never have I come across a community of more intelligent, accomplished, fun, and hilarious people. You all have made this place special and if not for the VSB comment section I don’t know if I would have become so attached to this site. I’m so grateful to Champ, Panama, and Liz for creating this place, but I’m just as grateful to you all for making it what it is.

Thank you for being my e-sises, e-bros, and e-boos. Thank you teaching me new slang and new ways to recommend that someone have a seat. Thank you waiting up with me like a maniac till midnight and refreshing constantly in order to be first. Thank you for eating e-popcorn and e-snacks with me as we watch e-drama unfold. Thank you for engaging in delightfully flirtatious e-courtships. Thank you for the glitter. Thank for being resilient and for coming back even if you don’t always agree. Thank you for being awesome. And finally, thank you for donating and supporting this project. We won’t let you down. I love you all.

- <3 Andi

Thank you to everyone that contributed your time and money to help us produce this project and follow our dreams. The past 30 days have been an exciting experience. It will be my honor to bring you all a fantastic finished product to view on your computer screens.

-Earl Bolden, Jr. – Producer, Solo Journey Productions, LLC
For the DMV VSBs: Next Saturday night, November 3rd is another edition of Reminisce. You already know what it is by now. All 90s hiphop/r&b all night long. Sounds by Supa Qool DJ Quartermaine and FREE entry before 11pm with RSVP ($10 otherwise)/OPEN BAR from 930-1030PM/and NO DRESS CODE! RSVP here: http://reminiscedc.eventbrite.com

 

 

Five Dollar Friday

Hello VSB Nation. Because I haven’t finished the hour long wall slide I usually do after the Steelers lose, I’m going to keep it short tonight.

On behalf of everyone involved with our TV pilot project, I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed so far. Due to your collective efforts and a very generous donation ($5,000!!!) from VSB vet Derek Bellard — won’t reveal his screename, but trust me when I say that each VSB regular would recognize it if I did — we’re up to $7,500. We’re aware that all donations, even the smaller ones, come from people’s hard earned money, and we greatly appreciate the fact that you all have enough faith in us to support the project.

With that being said, we’re still quite a ways from our goal. We have less than two weeks to raise over $12,000. But, although this may seem like a daunting task, we think we may actually be able to make a substantial dent in that number today.

How? Well, we are asking everyone — yes. everyone — who visits here today to go to our Indiegogo page and donate $5. Not $10. Not $20. Not $100. Just five bucks. That’s it.

With our usual daily traffic, we’d make a pretty nice dent if we received $5 from even 5% of the people who will visit the site today. I think we can do a little better than 5% percent, though.

Also, if you know anyone who may not be aware of VSB but would be interested in seeing a project like ours make it to the screen — and has five bucks to spare — please share Five Dollar Friday with them. Facebook, Twitter (with the #fivedollarfriday hashtag), email, word of mouth, and pigeons all work.

And, as a special perk, everyone who takes part in Five Dollar Friday today and today only will receive a PDF version of “Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm At Night.” If you’ve already read the book and don’t need another copy, I’m sure you might know someone who would, so regift it to them and tell them you bought it. They won’t know the difference.

Thank you, and happy Five Dollar Friday!

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Also, a special thanks to the following people who’ve supported the project.

+100
Patrick Charles
Courtney Bethel
+50
Canaan McCaslin
Ajamu Matthews
Mona Al Jneibi
Kimberly Johnson
+20
Kalimah Vereen
Joe Edwards
LaToryria Matthews
Angela Dugan
Sebastian White
Marissa Joy
Shawn Morrow
Jason Lemon
Joel Penigar
John Porche
Marcus Williams
Adrean Mabry
Chandra Hampton
Yvonne Kennedy

VSB: The Series

Hello everybody,

Today, in conjunction with Solo Journey Productions (an LA-based production company made up of Andrea (Andi) Thornton – an avid VSB reader and regular – and founder Earl Bolden), we’re embarking on a journey, and we’d love for everyone to join us on the ride. This is the official launch of the first phase of our VSB: The Series project.

What exactly is VSB: The Series? Well, with the three videos we’ve dropped so far — short clips that debuted on VSB with no introduction or explanation — we’ve givien you all a small glimpse into some of the work we’ve created. Each were vastly different with no real connection to the others, short of the lead characters of Brandon and Andre, two individuals loosely based on The Champ and I. (And by “loosely based” I mean…well, you’ll see what I mean). Damon and Andrea have spent dozens of hours scripting episode upon episode of a prospective show based upon the lives of two full-time bloggers/authors and the relationship pitfalls they undergo along the way. Basically, “relationship experts” who, for whatever reason, fail to exhibit that expertise in their own relationship lives.

Initially, the goal was to create a webseries, much like the entire internet seems to be doing right now. But, that just didn’t feel right. See, we’re not trying to stop at the ‘net. We’re looking bigger. We collectively decided to shoot for the moon and create a television pilot.

Yes. A pilot. We decided to shoot for the moon, because even if you miss, you’re still amongst the stars. And, for this analogy to work, let’s collectively disregard the fact that the moon is actually closer than any star.

Anyway, we’ve crafted a well-written and soon to be well-produced project in hopes of being one of the bastions of hope on television we all claim to want so badly. Since our inception, VSB has managed to accomplish so much and influence so much in this online game that I find myself surprised at times. I also find myself extremely appreciative of the individuals who have helped us achieve goals we didn’t even know that we had.

It’s this belief in us, in Damon and I, and what we bring to the table, that makes us believe doing this is not only possible, but inevitable. We’re writers. Writers write. Artists are. Singers sing.

VSBs VSB.

And, we appreciate you for that confidence and inspiration.

Now comes the fun part. We are attempting to raise $20,000 to shoot, produce, and edit this pilot. That is our goal. Some of that money obviously will come from the pockets of Damon and I. Some will come from the pockets and support of family and friends. But, since neither of us have cousins with NBA contracts, we’re going to need your help. We have a significantly sized community at VSB. If we could get everybody to chip in at least $5, well, we’d run this town like ‘Ye, Ri, and Z. Or ‘Yeriz. That was doper in my head than it turned out.

If you have more to give, please by all means, donate as much as you are willing and able to donate. I’d personally come do a jig for everybody that donated. And, I’d at the very least call everybody personally to thank them.

Luckily we came up with a list of incentives that won’t require me to do that, though I may still do a dancing jig video if we achieve our goal. We’ve created an Indiegogo account with a video of Andrea and I explaining some of this in more depth.

Point is, we need your help. VSB is nothing without its community and, regardless of what we do, that won’t change. This pilot is an extension of our community. If the running back wins MVP, he has to thank his line and take his line out to dinner.

Help us take you out to dinner!

Thanks again for the support you’ve given and what you will give. You could have been anywhere in the world, but you’re here with us, and we appreciate you for that.

See you in Paris.

-VSB P (for the entire VSB squad and Solo Journey Productions)

Again, check out ourIndiegogo page for a video and more explanationof what we’re going to accomplish with the funds that are donated and where we intend to take the project!