The first time I met Jay Firestone was about two years ago, while I was in town working on some nameless production. My agent called to inform me that he had scheduled me a meeting with a very busy, very successful local producer. I thought: “Sure, why not?”. Ninety-nine percent of the time, these meet and greets amount to nothing, but my afternoon was wide open. This, as it turned out, was in contrast to Jay’s afternoon which was peppered with meetings, phone calls, and pre, post, and production duties. An average day for him. I had been squeezed into his frenzied schedule, somewhere between a network conference call and a meeting with another producer and yet, despite the tight window, our sit-down was laid back, unrushed, and surprisingly entertaining. I say surprisingly because, as anyone who has ever done these kind of meetings will tell you, they’re about as entertaining as your friend’s son’s student film project. I remember he struck me as smart, enthusiastic, and funny.
I didn’t know whether I’d left an impression one way or the other but, months later, my agent let me know me that Jay wanted to hire my writing partner, Paul, and I to develop a show for him. We happily signed on and soon started work with him on a delightfully creepy fantasy series. Going in, I was admittedly leery when Jay made it clear he was going to be creatively involved in the project’s evolution, but my misgivings were put to rest after our first story discussion and subsequent notes call. There were none of the standard executive requests (We need a ticking clock! Can our heroine be more proactive? Can we make the aardvark an anteater?). Instead, the focus was on making the most of character opportunities. And, best of all, his notes didn’t assume the average viewer had the intellect of Narragansett turkey. They were good. Most we agreed with and, those we didn’t agree with he would open to debate. We had a great time.
Until we went to the network and the project was shelved. But we came away from the experience with the certainty that we would find a way to work together again in the not too distant future. That certainty – and our development fees.
Months later, my agent called to say that Jay had read Dark Matter and liked it enough to go out and try to set it up (aka – put together the financial package to get it made). I remember thinking “If anyone can get it done, it’s Jay.”. And, as it turned out, I was right. In fact, in retrospect, I’m fairly certain that the ONLY one who could have gotten it done was Jay. Fellow producers are still unable to comprehend how he pulled it off. They can’t believe it. For my part, I CAN believe it – but that’s only because I know Jay now. Connected, driven, utterly relentless Jay.
Having wrapped one production (Lost Girl) and rolled straight into another (Dark Matter), you’d think he’d slow down a little. Think again. In addition to his Exec Producing duties on the show, he’s also tirelessly at work, trying to set up a dozen more. Two weeks ago he was in London. Last week it was Berlin. This week, it’s L.A. Next week? Who knows. New York? Tokyo? Bobo Dioulasso?
So, about a month into production on Dark Matter, and having worked with him, on an off, for a couple of years now, I can tell you this about Jay Firestone: He’s creatively ambitious. He’s incredibly business savvy. And he owns A LOT of superhero t-shirts.
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