Mark Ellis and I are a screenwriting and showrunning team. We named our production company Flashbang Productions, after the grenade-shaped explosive deployed by SWAT teams that makes a lot of noise and dazzles the eyes but isn’t lethal. Also known in the tactical business as a “distraction device.”
Before I teamed up with Mark, I wrote a screenplay for a short film called Curtains. It was a loosely autobiographical story of heartbreak and shattered dreams, set backstage during a long-running play. Curtains premiered at TIFF, traveled the international festivals, got nominated for a Genie Award for Best Live Action Short Film, and was the beginning of my path as a screenwriter.
My next screenplay was co-written with Mark: a short called Remembrance. It was a wartime espionage drama, set in 1942, about a fragile man with perfect memory who’s approached by a stranger with a life-changing offer. This short also premiered at TIFF, travelled the festivals and was a Genie Award nominee.
While we were developing Remembrance into longer form, a shocking hostage incident took place in front of Union Station, ending with a SWAT sniper taking a lethal shot on the gunman. This became the unexpected inspiration for our first TV project, and it’s how we became co-creators, writers, and eventually executive producers of Flashpoint CBS/CTV/Ion). We co-wrote twenty of Flashpoint’s seventy-five episodes. The show went on to win Gemini, Canadian Screen and WGC Awards, including nods for Best Writing and Best Dramatic Series. When we ended the show after five seasons, the Writers’ Guild designated us Showrunners of the Year, and the Academy awarded Flashpoint its Board of Directors Tribute for Outstanding and Enduring Contribution to Canadian Television.
Mark and I were still eager to return to our Remembrance story. We pitched the TV series version to CBC and became co-creators, writers, executive producers and showrunners of X Company. Shot in Hungary, X Company drew acclaim and awards, joining Flashpoint on being aired all around the world. It aired its third and final season in the spring of 2017… just as world politics seemed to be taking a sharp turn to the right, and Nazi flags began resurfacing with a whole new modern meaning. As the show premieres in the US this spring, we hope our themes of resistance, integrity and courage will resonate with even more urgency.
Flashbang Productions is now working on a new project. Its details will be announced soon, so we can’t say too much yet — only that our intent is to make it as noisy and dazzling as we can.