Q&A: Dexter filmmaker streaming in a new direction with TV series pilot “The Patron”

Dexter’s Michael Steinbeck, who has been working in multi-media for over 20 years, shot a TV series pilot “The Patron” in Dexter last year. On Saturday morning he will present a preview of the show during a private screening at Quality 16 Theater in Ann Arbor. While this showing is a private premiere for the cast and crew, Steinbeck hopes to someday soon show it to the world.
“The Patron” is a northern family/crime drama centered on the Jarit family. Nat Jarit is the seeming black sheep of the family, but when a series of violent events upends the natural order of things he is the only one who can shoulder the consequences in an effort to set everything right again for the family and everyone he loves.
Steinbeck talked to WLAA/WLD about the idea, the show and the future.

What was the inspiration behind the “The Patron?”

I love living in Dexter with my family. It’s a great community with great schools, and has a certain charm to it. When considering shooting a new project, I thought this area would serve as a good backdrop due to the unique character it brings to the screen.

My co-producer, writer, and longtime friend Bill Elverman and I have worked on various projects throughout the years. We discussed doing a short film back in 2016, when Bill had a script he was working on.  However, given the current rise of streaming TV services I had suggested to him that we turn the script into a streaming TV pilot.

What is your background behind the camera?

I have worked professionally in multimedia for almost 20 years. Indie films are somewhat of a side project, but I have directed three award-winning indie films, and helped produce several others. This is the third project that Bill Elverman and I have worked on together. I’ve gotten to be known as somewhat of a jack-of-all-trades, as I typically wear many hats when I work on a project.

What were the challenges putting the series together?

The pilot episode is a Spec TV pilot – It is designed to be a proof-of-concept for a series. The episode was entirely funded out of pocket by me and Bill. As any indie filmmaker will tell you, stretching every dollar in your budget as far as it can go can definitely get challenging.

Talk about the cast and crew?

The cast and crew were amazing and easy to work with, so we had a fun and easy going set every day. The Metro-Detroit area is full of talented people both in front and behind the camera.  We were able to cast almost everyone using local actors, some from the Purple Rose Theater in Chelsea.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in rural Wisconsin, but moved out to Michigan for a career 20 years ago. I’ve lived in Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor and Dexter.

What other work do you do?

In the past, I’ve worked as a media and marketing manager for a company that produces interactive video based law enforcement simulators. Currently, in addition to working on film projects, I’m employed full-time as a media group manager for Pratt & Miller in New Hudson.

Tell us about your family?

I’ve been married to my lovely wife, Sandra, for 16 years and we’ve been together for 23 since high school. I have twin boys, Alexander and Adam. Both boys are incredible, loving school in Dexter and have begun to show their own creative talent. Sandra and the boys even have a brief cameo in the pilot episode.

How did the finish product change (improve) from your first vision of the series?

Every project is a learning process.  Even with as many years as I’ve been doing this stuff, I keep learning something new every time. I’ve taken my time getting this pilot episode polished and ready, and I feel the end result definitely shows.

What’s next after this private premiere – do you shop it to distributors?

We are currently working several different angles and seeing what pans out. The goal would be to get into a development deal with a streaming service. In addition to the fully produced pilot episode, we have additional episode scripts completed, and a full series arc outlined.

What is your next project?

Currently my main focus is on getting “The Patron” out there and developed.  I have a few seeds planted for future projects, but I’m keeping them under wraps at the moment. A lot will depend on what the future holds for “The Patron.”

All photos courtesy of Michael Steinbeck


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