Producer eyeing Vermont game warden books for television

VERMONT — Could humorous stories about Vermont fish-and-game wardens make for good television?
Hollywood producer Geoffrey Sharp, who grew up in Middlebury, believes it could.
Sharp recently inked a “shopping agreement” with “Vermont Wild” series author Megan Price and will spend the next year pitching the idea to television networks. Price’s five “Vermont Wild” books are a conglomeration of insightful and often-funny stories told from the perspective of Vermont game wardens.
“People love animals and they love it when authority figures get their comeuppance, in a light-hearted way,” Sharp said. “The characters in these books have this way of being both universal and also specific to Vermont.”
Five volumes of “Vermont Wild” contain nearly 100 stories — plenty of fodder for an ongoing TV series.
“Mr. Sharp understands Vermont,” Prices said. “We met recently and within minutes were swapping stories and laughing.”
Sharp graduated from Middlebury Union High School in 1979. He spent his 20s acting in New York, where he appeared in major productions of Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and “Biloxi Blues.” After studying filmmaking at New York University he landed a job at New York Television, a company that made commercials and corporate documentaries.
“That’s where I got my real training as a filmmaker,” he said in a recent interview with the Independent.
In California Sharp has put that training to good use. He has directed or produced more than 100 hours of documentary television, earning him wide recognition, including two Emmy Award nominations. Recent production credits include “The Story of Us” and “Through the Wormhole,” both starring Morgan Freeman.
A number of positive initial outcomes are possible for “Vermont Wild,” he said. A network might pay to have a script developed. It might even request a pilot episode.
“If we’re really lucky, they’ll ask for an entire first season,” he said. “At that point I would hire a small team of directors and producers to run the show. I would be the ‘show runner’ (also known as the executive producer). Early on I would probably direct a few of the episodes, because I have a lot of experience with that.”
Sharp would love to do at least some of the filming in Vermont, he said.
“There are rural spots on the East Coast that could sub in for it, but Vermont has a distinct visual look.”
It also has a good brand, he said.
“Vermont has a great mix of personalities. There’s a slightly old school, agrarian approach to things. On top of that there’s an increasing environmental awareness, which is featured in the books.”
The show would be perfect for families, he said.
“I could see this as something young parents, looking to introduce their kids to media, might see as a good option. Four- and five-year-olds will think it’s really funny, and their parents will see something of themselves in the adults.”
In a press release Price expressed confidence in her new partner.
“I believe Mr. Sharp will make this happen. And having these stories seen by millions of people, would be terrific for Vermont.”
Reach Christopher Ross at christopherr@addisonindependent.com.

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