A proposed TV drama series about a wayward golf-pro-turned-convict looking for a second chance in Pittsburgh is about to get its first shot at being seen by an international audience.
“Mulligan” — the pilot was filmed in Western Pennsylvania last fall by a predominately local cast and crew — has been chosen as one of three proposed TV shows to be featured in the Indie Pilot program of the 2018 L.A. Film Festival in Los Angeles later this month.
“Each of these three pilots stand on their own and navigate a full hour of an episodic show, showcasing the talents of storytellers who bring an independent sensibility to their original series,” Film Independent, which runs the eight-day festival that starts Sept. 20, says in a news release announcing this year’s schedule.
The event will mark the world premiere of the show, showcasing local spots in Pittsburgh and its suburbs, including Moon Township and McKees Rocks.
The show’s creator and writer of the pilot episode is Patrick Cannon, 29, a West Allegheny High School graduate who grew up in Imperial and Sheraden. He now splits his time as between Pittsburgh and New York as an actor and screenwriting student.
He says it feels phenomenal to execute his vision of “Mulligan” and is eager to pitch the show.
“After L.A., we’re hoping to have some more opportunities to show it across the country,” says Cannon, “and hopefully we’ll be able to start having some conversations and meetings with people who are interested in expanding it and making its full season on a platform.”
The pilot plot
Cannon also stars in the show as Jack O’Mally, the hot-headed PGA Tour golfer struggling to rebound from a series of troubles and to repair broken relationships.
The pilot begins with O’Mally getting released from an Allegheny County prison after falling into a downward spiral in his personal life and serving time for his second DUI. He returns to his family-owned driving range and miniature golf course — set at Scally’s Golf and Training Center in Moon Township — to confront the troubles of his past and attempt to improve himself, regain the respect of his loved ones and fans and perhaps even win back his estranged love interest, Mona — who happens to be played by Cannon’s real-life girlfriend, Ashley Kate Adams.
Adams, 31, of AKA Productions in New York is the proposed show’s producer, along with co-producers Jim Kierstead and Caroline Collins. Adams’ roles have included “Pitching Tents,” “Rules of Cool” and Tina Fey’s Netflix hit “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”
Cannon also cast and hired several of his childhood friends and a few dozen Pittsburghers with years of acting, stagecraft and technical experience. The stage-trained actor said he’s grateful he decided he didn’t have to ask permission to pursue his dream to enter the realms of television and screenwriting.
“The learning curve has been steep and unforgiving but I’ve feel like i’m a better person and artist because of it,” Cannon said. “The achievement itself of shooting pilot was life-changing in that it showed me that at the end of the day, I can always make art with my friends and it will be incredibly fulfilling.”
The character-driven drama speckled with dark comedy and plot twists explores damaged relationships, learning to change and finding redemption while capturing the grit, humor and beauty of Pittsburgh in a way that few shows have, says the director of the pilot, Steve Parys of Pittsburgh’s South Side. It also will hit on issues such as the region’s out-of-control opioid epidemic.
“Just when you think it’s going to zig, it zags, and it takes you somewhere you didn’t expect,” says Parys, whose 30 years of behind-the-scenes credits include films such as “The Chief” and “Concussion” and TV shows such as “Outsiders” and “Foxcatcher.”
Pittsburgh is a star
Pittsburgh itself is a main character of “Mulligan” — meaning among non-negotiables is that if it’s to become a full series, it must be shot here, Parys said.
The opening credits and scene transitions in the pilot take viewers on scenic drives and fly-overs showcasing panoramic sunsets over the Downtown Pittsburgh skyline, Rivers Casino, Heinz Field and the Ohio and Allegheny rivers.
Several golf employee characters frequent Barto’s Lounge, a very real dive bar in Coraopolis. The dialogue contains plenty of yinzer-centric references — from the Parkway West to Eat’N Park to off-brand Pirates and Pens gear.
Cannon is eager to host a viewing party of the TV pilot episode in Pittsburgh in coming months. “The world premiere in L.A. feels like a dress rehearsal or a preview,” Cannon says, “and once we finally get to screen it in Pittsburgh, that will feel like opening night.”
The L.A. Film Festival, which runs Sept. 20-28, also includes world premieres of new TV shows, music videos and documentaries. Venues include the ArcLight Cinemas in Culver City, Hollywood and Santa Monica, as well as the new Loyola Marymount Playa Vista campus, the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts and the Writers Guild Theater in Los Angeles. Audiences will view “Mulligan” during a screening at 7:45 p.m. Sept. 26 at the ArcLight, Culver City.
Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514, [email protected] or via Twitter @NewsNatasha.