I've been a dreamer all my life and creating stories is something I have always done. Most of my stories tend to be more fantasy or science fiction. In a line up of my ideas Phoenix Inc stands out like a sore thumb, so where did it come from?
It probably will come as no surprise that the idea is actually founded in a fantasy concept. It was 2008 and I was at a Christmas activity. I was in the hall outside the main event on a phone call, when they started a slideshow of pictures about the season. I could only sort of see the screen and had no idea what some of the images were but I saw one image that struck a chord with me for some reason. I think it was a depiction of Jesus Christ in some sort of symbolic representation, but I'll never know.
What it looked like I was seeing was a man being consumed by fire, but not being burned if that makes sense. It was like he was being cleansed by the fire, not killed by it. I looked on the net and this is the closest image to what I saw, although this one is actually more obvious in its subject matter.
It got me thinking of a phoenix, and a place where people could go to have their old lives stripped away and a new life given. It was a cool idea but it ultimately didn't have any legs as a story. I would revisit the idea from time to time but it never formed into a story. I thought about moving it to modern times instead of a fantasy time and place but it still didn't work.
I have a system for developing stories that many other writers probably have. It's what you might call a back burner system. When I get a good idea I think about it for awhile, but it usually doesn't take shape right away. I toss it into the back of my mind and kind of forget about it until I have a breakthrough and then the idea will come back to me and be easier to develop. Sometimes this happens many times, and it can take days or years depending on the story.
Fast forward from 2008 to 2012. I was still somewhat recently married, and both my wife and I were working jobs we didn't like that weren't paying us enough. I was a college graduate with a useful skill set but couldn't even get an interview most of the time at better jobs. I felt trapped. I wanted to walk away from my life and start over. I felt kind of desperate for a couple of years. There were times where I had some George Bailey moments. I never literally stood on a ledge but I feel a strong connection with Aiden's character in the short film because I feel like metaphorically I stood on the ledge many times.
It was during this dark time that I stumbled across the Phoenix story in my mind. Never before had any story of mine hit so close to home. Over a few weeks the story practically wrote itself in my mind.
Over the next three years I wrote, rewrote and prepared so that in 2015 I was able to officially begin preproduction on the short film.
Production of the short was amazing, a life changing experience for me, but I won't get into that here much, but it was on the set of the short film that the idea for a series was born. In a conversation it was mentioned that this would be a good premise for the TV show. It hit me like lightning and the stories just started coming out.
In the development of the short film I had come across at least a dozen other stories that I thought would be great side stories to incorporate into the main story, but it became too cumbersome. I was sad to lose those ideas because I felt that they were important, but they couldn't stay. When the idea to make it a show came along though, suddenly all those ideas found a home and the basic reason I wanted to make the short film found renewed purpose. I wanted this show to provide hope to those who feel as I did and with a series I knew we could explore so many more kinds of stories and hopefully help a lot of people to find more hope, and reasons to stay.