From the Page to the Screen: Keilan’s Independent Study Brings an Original Television Series to Life


Otis Cafe Pilot Episode Clip // Keilan Rosow

Ale Lewis '23, Editor-in-Chief

Imagine your two favorite tv shows, Friends and Grey’s Anatomy (okay, so maybe my favorites), meet to form one fun and drama-filled series.  Well, you don’t have to go beyond our own student body.  Last spring, Kilean Rosow ‘22 wrote a TV show series titled Otis Cafe.  I emailed Keilan to learn about his inspiration, process, and next steps.

What inspired you to write a TV show series?

I’ve always loved storytelling. I wrote short stories when I was younger, and I have always been an avid movie and TV watcher.  Summer before my sophomore year, I attended a film and screenwriting school called School of the Creative and Performing Arts in Vermont and found my passion there.  From then on, I knew that I wanted to create stories for the screen.   

How did you begin the process, and what steps did you take during your independent study? 

I developed an early idea of my TV show over quarantine and thought about it a little bit, but I put it aside once summer began. My older brother did independent study during his time at St. Luke’s, and I was really inspired by his work and process. At the beginning of the school year, I reached out to Ms. Sproule and asked if she would be interested in serving as my faculty advisor for an independent study about TV writing and production. She was able to advise me on the story and character elements of my project, and we asked Ms. Fuller and Mr. Conners in the Theatre Department to advise me on the production and film aspects. So, in late September, the four of us had a meeting during lunch and my project began. The independent study project is fully student-directed; the faculty advisors are there to help solve any questions or obstacles you have during the project. In the first semester, I did a lot of research for on-screen characters and plots. I learned how to format and write the best possible pilot episode. I created a television treatment, which is an extensive document that includes descriptions of character, plot, and setting; I thought of enough storylines to make twelve one-hour episodes. Then, I created a pilot episode script inspired by the first episode in my treatment plan. After that, I took many weeks to revise and edit my two pieces until I was confident enough to give them to the teachers who attended my first-semester presentation, where I did a mock pitch of my show idea. I ended my first-semester presentation by saying I wanted to make my idea ‘come to life’ in the second semester. So, during the second semester, I created visuals for characters, sets and props, and considered which famous actors would play the characters in my show. I designed floor plans for each place in my ‘set.’ I then chose three scenes from my pilot episode to storyboard, or visually outline. I chose the best scene that would be the easiest to film at school and one that was a testament to my overall show idea. I then reached out to a few actors involved in the Theatre Program here at St. Luke’s, casted my show, and then reached out to Eye of the Storm to help me with the production and technology aspects of the filming. On May 7, I set up in the school’s cafe and filmed the five-minute scene for a little over two hours. After uploading all the footage onto my computer, I edited the scene to show at my second-semester presentation towards the end of the year. I am so lucky and thrilled with how everything turned out, and I cannot thank the people who helped me enough!

What is your show about?

My show is about a team of baristas and workers in a cafe in New York City. It explores the group dynamic inside and outside the workplace. My show is a drama and is essentially Grey’s Anatomy meets Friends

What did you find most challenging when writing your own show?

I think that being confident in my ideas was the most difficult part of creating my show. Choosing which storylines to include, and where to put them in the series, was hard. I was also considering which demographic would be interested in my show idea and how my idea would relate and compare to other shows on the air. However, I tried to create a vibe and plot for my show that has never been seen or done before. 

Do you hope to continue working on this project or similar projects in the future?

I absolutely hope to continue working on this project. A creative process is really never truly ‘complete,’ and there’s so much I can still do with it. I can change storylines, revise my script, change characters. I hope to be able to bring it to college or even edit it enough so that it’s good enough to be seen by larger audiences. I would love to do something along the lines of television or film with a focus in writing in college, so I definitely think this will not be my last time doing this sort of project (at least I hope not!).

What did you learn from this experience? 

I learned so much from this experience and project. I truly understand the creative process, and that something creative is never really finished–until you, as the creator, declare it is. I learned that imperfection is okay, and there is so much to learn about any topic, regardless of whether that topic is in STEM, the arts, or the humanities. There is a lot that has to happen behind the scenes for a creative project to succeed. When coordinating actors and production assistants to find a time that worked for everyone, I don’t think I’ve sent that many emails in my whole high school career! This independent study showed me how to lead a major, long project from start to finish, and allowed me to form productive, professional relationships with teachers and peers at school that I wouldn’t have made had I not started this independent project. This has been the most rewarding project I’ve ever done, and I am so grateful that so many people in the St. Luke’s community were able to help me with this process; it truly shows what a supportive, caring, and passionate community St. Luke’s has.

Keilan’s engaging and remarkable independent study inspires students to be confident in their goals and get the ball rolling.