Television Writers Vault congratulates Executive
Producer, Jim Kiriakakis of Buck Productions on
his recent successes, with two shows airing as a
result of his scouting and collaboration with
Writers on projects he
discovered at the TV Writers Vault.
From The Dark Side", a Docu-Style
Reality Series explores escape artist Steve Santini's
unusual and bizarre world of macabre historical
artifact collection. Buck Productions has
produced 13 episodes (as of this interview
date), currently airing on A&E Australia, with
U.S. broadcast premiere on
Nov. 7 10/9c.
and company also bring us the world premiere of
"Saw Dogs", with
back-to-back episodes on Discovery Channel. The
series takes viewers on a wild ride with
world-class chainsaw sculptors as they battle
deadlines and conflicting creative views to
deliver mind-blowing works of art commissioned
by high-end clients. 10 episodes have been
produced in its first season currently airing.
Buck Productions is a producer of
cutting-edge reality-based programming, with
offices in New York and Toronto. Jim Kiriakakis joins Scott Manville at the TV
Writers Vault for a brief chat about his current
Scott Manville: Jim,
it's great to finally have a chat with you and
catch up, with all the great projects you have
going now. But first, congratulations on "Deals
From The Dark Side", and "Saw Dogs". How many
episodes are in the can? Any announcements
Thanks Scott. Saw Dogs will
have itís World Premiere Jan 7th at
9pm ET on Velocity Discovery and on OLN January 24th
at 9pm ET which we are really stoked about.
"Deals From The Darkside" has its U.S. series
SYFY this fall.
SM: As we
understand, you discovered the Creators and
their concepts from scouting the TV Writers
Vault, and through development they morphed into
the shows we now see. How was that process?
JK: I am sometimes
amazed and how quickly people feel TV deals are
made. The creators that I had
the opportunity to work with were up for the
task of hurry up and wait, and ultimately their
patience and hard work paid off with legitimate
shows that have really good broadcasting
partners behind them.
SM: Was it
challenging to cover content for a narrative for
each episode, or did you have enough to work
with knowing post-editing would pull together a
focus for the story. Or is this really a
I think with the doc-reality type series,
that I believe both Deals From The Dark Side and SAW DOGS
would be categorized as, you plan as best
you can with storylines A, B and C but a number
of times you end up combining good planning with
learn-as-you-go, as the reality of the world
throws things at you that shift those storylines
and character arcs.
SM: Can you tell me
a bit about the process for Mike Harris and
Steve Santini, on each show, respectively?
JK: First off
working with both creators was great.
They really worked hard at getting all
the elements that I needed to pitch these out.
With Mike Harris and SAW DOGS it was an
interesting scenario. He had
a world (wood chainsaw carving) that had not
been explored yet as a series, and we went back
and forth with what the best format to bring it
to market would be.
Ultimately, we decided that using Steve Blanchard
(co-creator and master carver) as the lead
vehicle, and creating a doc reality series that
would focus on commissions and characters would
be the best way to go. As
opposed to a competition type series which is
where the initial concept was heading.
From there we came up with
the title, shot a character demo with Steve, and
teamed up with our Distribution partner Cableready to pitch the show. Velocity wanted
the show and had us shoot a proof of concept
demo, which we did, and in short they were good
to go. We still needed to get
another broadcaster on board to complete the
financial scenario so we pitched OLN in Canada
and the rest is history. Two networks, one show.
thatís the great thing about TV math
there are a number of ways to make it all work.
and Deals From The Dark Side,
we had a concept that was a twist on the
treasure hunting genre of reality. The initial
concept was a Pawn Stars / American Pickers like
show with a paranormal twist. We needed more,
with questions like - what elements would make
this show different? And what aspects of, and how
much of Steveís life would be a part of it?
We decided that the Escape Artist side
was definitely something that should be in, and
made his character different than what was out
there already. We also knew that the dark nature
of the objects was going to be a sell. But, we had
to get the tone right, so we strayed away from
too much paranormal, and focused on the macabre
world and quirky characters that the objects
would lead us to. We put together a great
treatment package outlining some Dark Deal
scenarios and a character demo. Pitched that to
OLN and they loved the character and the world
but really wanted us to push the escapes, and
more shopping scenarios so that the show would
not just depend on one objectís journey.
SM: Looking at Steve
Santini's "Deals From The Dark Side", that
must've been a wild ride. How was it working
with an Escape Artist who has such a peculiar
profession hunting those relics?
JK: Steve was, as
you can imagine, full of surprises. The
Escape Artist side was pretty intense. Especially
when trying to decide what escape to film and
which would be less likely to kill him if it
went wrong. I think what we
all got a kick out of was how amazing the
characters we met along each journey were.
SM: I love the style
of shooting and editing done on both shows - a
very specific style. How involved are you from
start to finish? Can you give us a general
birds-eye-view of that process?
For both series I had the privilege of
developing concepts with the creators and
getting the shows commissioned.
From there, my job as the Exec Producer
was to bring the right team together that would
help achieve the wants and needs of the series,
including content and style; from working with
the DP on Deals From The Dark Side, to decide on using the Sony F3 to shoot
reality, to working
with the director and story team on Saw Dogs to
make sure we had the right recipe of process and
character story points. Iíve
had a part in all aspects of what makes it to
air, but the collaboration process on both
series was, and I believe always is a big part
of any successful finished product. And I truly
give the kudos to the production teams of both
SM: You produce
shows for distribution in both Canada and the
U.S. How do the Networks differ between the two
markets? Are the mandates and tastes for
JK: It seems like at
this point the mandates of networks both in the
US and in CAN fall in the same zone as far as
what type of content they want, e.g. big
characters, new worlds etc. I
think where the tastes differ is shooting style,
graphics and storytelling structureÖI find that
the way Canadians view TV is different then the way
US audiences view TV.
SM: Can you share
with us any details of new programs coming down
the pike from Buck Productions, or are they
under the golden cone of confidentiality
until Network announcements?
JK: We have an
exciting year ahead and Buck is going to picture
Jan 15th on a new series as well as
in development with a couple networks on new
SM: Your company is
really hot right now with expansion into the
U.S. broadcasting market. Share with us the
current Mandate and Agenda for Buck Productions.
Where do you see the company heading?
JK: Buck will
continue to create great programming for our
broadcast partners while we expand and use the
momentum of series like SAW DOGS and
Deals From The Dark Side
build more properties commissioned from the US.
2012 will be a big year for Buck as we
move towards world dominance.
SM: When you're
scouting projects for reality TV, what are you
hoping to find?
JK: I am looking for
something that makes me say ďI would watch
that.Ē I feel if I would want to watch it then
it would be good TV. I know that might sound
cocky but you donít get anywhere in this
business by doubting your sensibilities. Now that
sounded cocky. Ha!
SM: Can you share
any perspective on our service, and how the TV
Writers Vault serves the Industry?
JK: What I like
about your service Scott, is that itís always
being updated and I can come in one week and not
see something that I like, and that will change
a week later when I come back.
You offer what I would say is a one of
the only places that creators out there can put
up their concept and reach a producer in a user
friendly manner. Thatís how
it serves the industry. As a producer, I do a lot
of researching and I'm always looking for the
next great concept. The TV Writerís Vault makes
that process a little bit easier. It gives me a
solid go-to resource that is now a part of my
congratulations on your current shows. We'll be
Thanks for the support Scott.