The Museum of Almosts finds beauty in projects that don’t quite make it. With some distance, artists return to view their work. A curator helps them contextualize it in time, place, and meaning. The collection includes gems with bad timing, overstuffed ideas, flawed premises, and a few “Ones that got away.” Want to donate to the Museum? Submit here.
THE PROJECT: NUTS AND BOLTS
ARTIST: JEREMY REDLEAF
CURATOR: ALEX RUBIN
PROJECT TYPE: ORIGINAL SITCOM
OVERVIEW: The staff at New York City’s only 24-hour hardware store try to survive their overnight shift as they encounter strange and stressed customers.
The Artist in 2010:
“I had just won a jury prize at the NY Television Festival with a web series called Odd Jobs and it came with a development deal with Fox Television Studios. They had started a program that would take new creators and giving them a little bit of money to create content that would ideally cross over to television. At that time I’d only done that one web series and I was eager to prove I could to more. It was incredibly exciting and terrifying, because, seemingly, I was climbing the ladder very quickly. The Hollywood execs asked for a list of ideas. I’ve seen and heard that they love “authenticity,” premises inspired by real experiences, so I scanned my life for material.
I remembered that during the hot and sticky NYC summer, my girlfriend and I woke up in a pool of sweat and decided to go to a 24-hour hardware store called “The Nuthouse” to get an air conditioner. There was this weird, quirky crew of people just waiting to help me with my problem at 4AM. I went back several times, five employees were helping me, and by the end, we felt like one big family. It was almost like I was in a sitcom. It seemed like such an interesting workplace; hours of boredom… interrupted by people who have REAL PROBLEMS.
I told that story to the execs and they loved that the place really existed. They gave me some money to make a proof of concept and left it up to me to decide whether to make a short episode or a sizzle reel.”
“I chose to make a sizzle reel. [Curator’s note: A sizzle reel is like a trailer. It’s two minutes of material that serves to set up the world and introduce the characters and the tone.] I thought it would show the wider range of possibilities for the show and let’s be honest, the trailer is always better than the movie… so why not put the best foot forward?
I was afraid to go back to the actual hardware store and interview them or ask if I could shoot it there. I didn’t want them to think I was stealing their story. So I found another hardware store that, hilariously, was run by a former child actor. They let me have the run of it on a Sunday.
This was especially exciting because it was the first time I was able to hire people, the first time I had the money to have all the toys, all the people. I wasn’t begging people to work for free anymore. I had a great crew put together by Urban Sled.
[Curator’s note: The cast on this project has gone on to do some incredible work including: Jason Ralph (Star of ‘The Magicians,’ Kate Simses (Dr. Ken), Jenni Barber (Broadway), Keisha Zollar (The Busy Phillips Show), Adam Scarimbolo (Patti Cake$) and many more.
THE FINISHED PRODUCT:
RETURNING TO THE WORK (2019)
- Hindsight is 2020… or 2010
“Watching the sizzle now is like watching a younger version of myself and thinking, “Aw, you were so young.” It’s clean and feels very “Of the time,” The Office era of comedy. Knowing what I know now about TV, it was never going to work. It wasn’t the kind of show the studio made, it wasn’t clear what network it would belong on, it was too niche, and making a sizzle reel doesn’t prove you can make the series. It didn’t matter though because I was the last project into the program. It shut down after ‘Nuts and Bolts.’ Nothing ever came of any of the projects. They held the rights for years so I couldn’t even do anything with it.
- Success is Opportunity meets PREPARATION
“[Odd Jobs] skyrocketed me up before I was ready. I didn’t know the language of film, I didn’t understand story, really. I just could write jokes and think of interesting premises and characters. When it happens, you can’t say no but I definitely remember constantly feeling like a fraud.”
- Authenticity can be overrated
“There’s a great quote that’s like, ‘Just because it happened to you doesn’t mean it’s interesting.’ Hollywood seems to crave authenticity of experience. But I’m not so certain it always gets us to compelling stories. Either way, I didn’t even treat this like a ‘Based on a True Story’ project. I could have gone to the store like a journalist and really made it based on the people and the store. It didn’t even occur to me as an option. It was surface level authenticity.
- Pilot VS Trailer: Revisited
“I think I would have gone the other way today because it would have been an opportunity to really build storylines and structure and see how it could work in a more nuanced way. With the trailer it’s like ‘Cool this is a great premise and these are the characters and set up,’ but they don’t walk away knowing I can make a TV show. Anybody can make a trailer look like a full thing. I needed to learn how to tell a story over time. I should’ve been focused on learning to walk the walk. I was overly confident. Early success and white male privilege for you!”
ZOOMING OUT 100 YEARS
When opportunity comes knocking, most answer, regardless of if they are ready. This filmmaker did exactly that, but without the proper support and guidance ended up with the wrong project for the right opportunity. Coupled with a television studio that was unsure of how to adapt to digital media, the creator was left with a project that had no clear home or champion, despite having the nuts and bolts of an interesting story.