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The Lemon Tree - Sitcom

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Published on Aug 2, 2012

The Lemon Tree -- First Pilot Episode -A half-hour comedy series, created by Gene Cartwright, 1994. Gene is an author/screenwriter/inventor, and former engineer. http://genecartwright.com — In 1994, with no experience, the help of my best friend, and armed only with an idea, a clunky home-style, S-VHS camcorder, and boundless determination, we set about to write, cast, produce, and direct a sitcom.

In many ways, we benefitted from having no idea of how difficult this was supposed to be; and so it never seemed impossible. I'm told we were ahead of our time. This was long before any such programs on TV or in films. The truth is, there still aren't, really.

Brief synopsis:

The Lemon Tree was once a real salon, located on Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia California. Black, white and Hispanic operators, who call themselves 'The Crew', staff our fictional LEMON TREE, with its eclectic clientele. It is much more than a beauty salon—more like a shrink's office with a Salon. It's a social club, an information exchange (house of gossip) Nothing is off-limits; no subject and no one is sacred. Its patrons are young and old, and mostly—but not exclusively—female. They reflect the tenor and pulse of the neighborhood and society in every way. If it happens in real life, it happens at The Lemon Tree.

Eighteen years ago, I was fortunate to have the indispensable assistance of my late, best friend, Lance Brown, and Kelly Choi—Gene's no-nonsense, chief assistant. We finalized a script for three episodes, created the so-called 13 episode "bible," ran Hollywood trade paper ads, cast, auditioned, rehearsed, and shot the first episode in one 19 hour shooting day. One amazing cast member, Kate McIntyre, was a principal cast member who remains a friend to this day. Her friendship is one of the greatest results of this venture.

Having no money, it wasn't hard figuring out what to pay some truly great actors and wonderful people: nothing. What we made clear was that, if the project was successful, they would reap the rewards. What we did provide was a dream, and some great home-cooked food, catered by Lance's wife, Patricia.

Oh, we also had no equipment, at least not the professional kind. I had a clunky, home-style, semi-pro Panasonic AG-400P Super-VHS camcorder (which I have in my old tech collection). Lighting was purchased from "Home Depot," and we created reflectors using large picture frames covered in lamé fabric.

Our location: the beauty salon, "The Lemon Tree" was owned by a wonderful friend, Clara Banks. When I told of her of my idea, she excitedly said yes, "use the place as you wish. Just clean up, and don't break anything," she smiled.

All the heavily mirrored stations were kept in place, and were used to provide reflective angles while not reflecting our very "professional" lighting. Still, we had challenges. A principal cast member had an afternoon flight home to Ohio that could not be missed. Her part was filmed out of sequence. Another "operator" could not come to the set until late, so I changed the script to reflect her being "late for work." We got it all done.

Although, the final production could have been more slick and polished, considering our home camcorder, Home Depot lights, and a crew made up of anyone standing around with a free hand, the impossible was made possible. Take a look and see for yourself. The project is now 18 years old. Wow.

Unfortunately, no one in Hollywood gave us a minute of "pitch" time, and no agent gave us the time of day. We did approach Fox Television on our own, but never heard back. That's Hollywood. However, this experience remains foundational in our determination to not only revive this project but bring our first feature film, "Shadows in The Mist" to fruition. And we will. Giving up is never an option.

With a growing body of work: eight novels now, seven screenplays—more in progress, we are hoping to involve newly discovered talent, everyday people like you, in the casting, financing, and production of our future projects.

Before work begins on "Shadows In The Mist," we will produce an exciting film short: "The Waiting Game.

I see my future epic project as the adaptation of my Pulitzer-nominated novel, "A Family Gathering." (502p. hardcover). The completed "AFG" script is under revision. While I have tried to interest established directors from Norman Jewison to Tyler Perry in the daunting project, I am determined it will be done. I am prepared to do so myself, no matter how long it takes.

Visit me on Facebook at https://Facebook.com/gene.cartwright or at my web site, to track our progress. http://GeneCartwright.com

We invite all the original "Lemon Tree" Cast members to contact us for first consideration regarding present and future role opportunities. Contact me via Facebook or on http://GeneCartwright.com/contact.php,

Follow The Lemon Tree on Twitter: http://twitter/LemonTreeSitcom - @LemonTreeSitcom

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