Rog and The Films

Written By: Roger Turner Jr.

Most 16-year-olds look forward to Summer, Christmas, and Spring Break because school is out. But Thanksgiving Break during my junior year of high school was overtaken by an unexpected medium — television.

It was around 10p.m. on the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving; School was out. My parents were home, but asleep. The little brother from Hell was locked away upstairs taking over the Xbox. Only the couches and television were there to keep me company in the living room. Of course, as I flipped through the channels on this rather lonely Sunday night, I desperately wished to be at the local get together with all the “cool people” from my high school.

Sadly, I continued browsing the DirecTV Guide of channels until – Entourage.

I had heard of the HBO Original Series before. My friend Jayson gave the best pitch about the show I have heard to date. His synopsis was just as straight-forward as it was memorable. “It’s about these guys who get high and party in Hollywood.”

Sounds like everything I wished my life could be like at 16 – I’m sold. Entourage it is.

The first episode ended at 10:30. Another episode followed at 11. Another at 11:30. Midnight. 12:30. 1. 1:30. 2. 2:30. 2 – wait! 2 again?! It was then I remembered that this weekend was the end of Daylight Savings Time. This meant an extra hour of the show that would soon become my favorite television show of all time.

Oh, hell yeah!

There were very few experiences I can compare to the amount of genuine excitement and overall joy I would ooze when watching Entourage. I was unaware of the show’s success until near the end of the series, but the characters of the show were easy to relate to. I continuously found the premise of each episode both realistic and ruthlessly funny. It was as if Entourage Creator Doug Ellin had found the secret stuff.

However, not until my sophomore year of college did I begin to realize I too wanted to be the one running a TV show.

And so I wrote.

When I first started out, I focused on being a student of the craft. One shitty retail job after the other consisted of two things: haggling customers and research time. My first job in college was at Best Buy. And when I wasn’t trying to convince daily cheap-skates to buy this Mac over that Acer, I was scouring Safari to figure out how most writers got their start. During my tenure at JC Penney’s, if I wasn’t at the register, my co-workers could find me in the fitting rooms reading up on how to format a screenplay. Somewhere in there I entered a couple affordable screenplay competitions and got my degree.

Only now, a familiar force has taken precedence over my career path – imagination.

For most of my life, a career in the collegiate sports industry was my primal dream. I wanted to coach. I wanted to breed athletes from high school into their profession. If I didn’t make it as a coach, I flirted with the idea of being the next Stephen A. Smith. But as a former beat writer and avid researcher, it became obvious the sports industry was oversaturated with bias and not the avenue for me.

Which brings me back to circa 2013.

In a span of a little over three years – I curated countless concepts for film, learned how to make a film, joined a film club, made films, made films with a film club, and formed a production company – all the while working on three original one-hour TV pilots that have yet to be made for TV. After college, the sunny skies of Florida welcomed me for an internship with a local production company that made infomercials for new products. For 8 weeks, I was in charge of things like – getting coffee and lunch orders for people on set, holding a white card to bounce light, arranging sets, and occasionally holding up the “video village” duvet for producers when they were watching a playback of a take.

In short, I learned more about how a film is made as an intern doing bitch-work than I did all five and a half years I spent in college.

Talk about a hustle.

Today, I still reside in Saint Petersburg, Florida, or Tampa (for all you non-Floridians), where I continue to write and produce films for UpStream. Once upon a time, the thrill of a sporting event was the best adrenaline rush I could ask for. Now, I would say my drive for bringing a concept from ink to life is what fuels my ambition day-by-day. Whether it be lyrics cultivated into a music video or a playwright transforming into a theater, the process of bringing words to life is a burning passion of mine. However, a quarter century went by as I tried to figure out what it is I wanted to be when I grow up.

Luckily for me, I do what I love so I don’t have to worry about ever working another day in my life.

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