Chris Levinson – “There are writers who write and there are writers who talk.”

Chris photoChris Levinson is one of our faves here at theOFFICE. She’s always a hoot and always busy working on something exciting. She has written/produced for numerous TV shows including Party of Five, Law & Order and Tyrant. Her pilots have been produced at NBC and FOX. Chris recently connected with Brooks Elms, a fellow screenwriter and consultant, to share some amazing, only-in-Hollywood style anecdotes (like when she booked her first writing gig by running into someone with her car on the Fox lot).

Full transcript below or click here for the audio.

BROOKS: One of the first questions I have, because it’s fairly unusual, is about you being a second generation screenwriter, the daughter of Richard Levinson. I’m curious if that was a double-edged sword. Maybe in some ways it’s easier to get doors open, but in other ways more difficult because there might be higher expectations or maybe jealousy among colleagues. What was your experience?

CHRIS: Neither, actually. My father passed away when I was only 14, so I was not necessarily clear on my career path just yet. About three months out of college, I got my first job in television. But it had zero to do with any connections to my father. And for luck or fate or whatever, to this day I have yet to get a job due to nepotism. I’m still waiting.

BROOKS: That’s funny. So you’ve sent out the nepotism memo. You’re totally down for it. And no takers yet.

CHRIS: Yeah, my father created Columbo, Mannix, Murder, She Wrote” and some beautiful television films. His name comes up in meetings sometimes, people acknowledging his work and so on, but because there was such a long gap in time between him passing away and my career beginning, him being my father never had a substantive impact. That said, I feel a huge responsibility on me personally, in large part because I was very close to my father. I loved him so much. I grew up having dinner with him every night, him getting home at six at night, and us talking about the state of television. He took the role of being a writer, reaching that many people, very seriously. And so there is a weight on my shoulders about living up to his name, but it’s a weight I’m proud to carry.

BROOKS: That’s very interesting. So, tell me about what drew you to storytelling in your early days. Sounds like you were having conversations with him around it.

CHRIS: I think my early experience with writing came from simply wanting to prove him wrong. I was drawn to mysteries because that was his passion. So he would take me to see, like Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap and we’d walk out, and the first thing he’d say was, “Okay, Chrissy, where are the plot holes?”. So I was trained very much to think that way, and I loved it. It was a game that we played together. One time, my father and his writing partner, Bill Link, couldn’t come up with the ending to one of their murder mystery television films. And my dad was very cranky at dinner, which was unusual for him. And I asked him to tell me the problem. I listened. I gave him an ending. And they used it!

BROOKS: And so the residuals are still coming in for that work you did?

CHRIS: (laughs) Yeah, I’m like, “I could’ve gotten my guild membership!” But what I actually got was a Barbie and a pasta maker.

BROOKS: Even better!

CHRIS: Right?! It was a great pasta maker. And I still make a mean ravioli. But that’s the way our relationship was. It was like a language that we had in common and I always loved the puzzle of it. Then I grew up and wrote shows like Law and Order, so yeah my relationship with him definitely came in handy.

BROOKS: Did you go to college?

CHRIS: I went to Stanford. Close enough to get my laundry done when I came home, but also far away enough away to have my space.

BROOKS: How was Stanford?

CHRIS: It was not the right fit for me. It was close to my mom and I liked that because I’m an only child and with my dad being gone that was cool. But back then, the English department wasn’t what it is now. The school was a great place to be for tech. My then boyfriend was creating a search engine and he retired when he was 24. Perfect school for him. But I was in a big hurry to graduate. I needed extra units so I wrote a feature. Meanwhile, I kept saying I had no interest in being a screenwriter. I was going to go be a food critic. I was moving to New York. I’m obsessed with food. I was going to work for Gael Greene. So screenwriting and LA was something I fought hard against. Now I write for television, live in Los Angeles, in my childhood home. So it’s become the exact opposite of what I thought would happen. And I’m perfectly happy.

BROOKS: After Stanford, you had the script you wrote in school, but…

CHRIS: …but I was moving to New York. I had an apartment all set to go. Before I left, I was having lunch with my friend who was an assistant on the Fox lot. He was on The X-Files”which was his favorite show of all time. I drove onto the lot to pick him up for lunch. Now I know, having worked at Fox for eight years, that parking spots are very hard to come by. But back then, he got me a coveted assigned spot to pick him up in front of his boss’s bungalow. When I pulled in, there was a guy standing in it, having a conversation. So I honked, waved, “Hey, could you move out of the way?” I honked again and he kind of smiled, put his hands on his hips like “I’m not going to move.” So I hit him with my car. But only lightly. Had I hit him harder he would have feasted on that story because I’ve now known him many years. It was my friend’s boss, Howard Gordon, who ran The X-Files. Howard thought I was funny and he’s like, “Well, what are you doing?” And I said, “I’m moving to New York, but I wrote this script.” And it was literally in my trunk. He read it and he offered me a job on The X-Files much to my friend’s anger.

BROOKS: Oh my goodness. That’s great.

CHRIS: But I turned Howard down because I was moving to New York! I did not want to write for television. He told me that was absolutely the right thing to do because the show was a miserable place to work. I’m now friends with a bunch of people who worked there who all seconded that. But then he was like “Look, if you don’t want to work for me, I’ll send your stuff to my friends, Chris and Amy who created Party of Five and they hate everyone’s writing almost as much as they hate their own. So nothing will ever come of it. Don’t worry about it.” Then I get a call from Chris Keyser, who to this day remains one of my dear friends, and they brought me in to meet. And there I was, miss 21-year-old, sitting with Chris Keyser, Susannah Grant, Mark Perry, P.K. Simonds and Lisa Melamed. And they’re like, “You’re adorable.” And they hired me. Then I thought, “Wow, now I can’t leave. I actually have to try this.” And I never left.

BROOKS: That’s amazing. And very unusual. And it completely undermines my next question.

CHRIS: Sorry!

BROOKS: No. No. I love that because I think a lot of people that hear/read this interview are wondering – yeah, but how do **I** break in without any connections. And your connection was just a friend you had lunch with. So I’m curious how you would suggest that they attempt to move their writing career forward. Find a friend who works on The X-Files?

CHRIS: Well, number one, have gas in your car. That’s my big suggestion. And the other thing is to just write. My dad always said this too. There are writers who write and there are writers who talk. The fact that I actually put my ass in a chair and wrote a script made the difference for me (even though I’m sure if I read it now I’d be horrified by it). I was ambitious and I wanted to be a writer of some kind. I just thought I’d be writing about consommé and not, you know, bludgeoning people to death, which is what I do now. I think mainly it’s a question of being prepared instead of just talking a big game.

BROOKS: Let’s talk about staffing. What I hear from TV writers is that obviously quality writing matters, but they also prioritize social skills – because you’re spending SO much time together and because it’s such a team creative experience.

CHRIS: When I’m staffing up a room it’s like I’m inviting people to a dinner party. And you usually staff from the top down. You’re looking for your number two, and a strong middle person. You build around them. You don’t want a lot of people who are similar. It’s different every time because you’re trying to balance out the room. I shot a pilot for Fox and it was a predominantly Hispanic cast. Shockingly, I am a white woman. I needed the people in that room who had life experience that I couldn’t possibly have had, so I brought in people I could lean on for that.

The staff writers are usually my favorite people to hire – or a story editor – because they are hungry. They are so excited to be there. The newest writer on the last show that I staffed came back from the DMV with three A-story pitches. I’d hire her again in a heartbeat. All of that said, staffing a room is a complete crap shoot. Let’s face it. You sit down with somebody for 45 minutes and you’re guessing what their real personality is like because they’re performing. You have no idea.

Also, they’ve given you their material. But you have no idea how long it took them to write it. I always make a lot of phone calls and get a lot of references. And not just from the boss–because hot air tends to be blown up certain orifices of the boss.

Also, rooms are always fabulous the first four weeks and then it gets real. But things are different now. I used to get there at 10 and you were there till 7. You ate your lunch there and you never left it except to pee. And then it started being weekends and staying later. That’s ridiculous. You don’t need that. Now rooms meet three days a week. You have to come in with your stuff already broken, but that’s a better way to skin the cat.

BROOKS: Is it true that that comedy rooms are longer than drama rooms?

CHRIS: Totally dependent on the show. Comedy hours used to be a nightmare and that terrified me and I was like, “Thank God I’m not funny.” But I’ve also been on drama shows where I was required to show up all day Sunday and where certain people didn’t go home on weeknights. And then I’ve been on shows where there is no room. Like, literally no room. So you’re obligated to come up with an episode, pitch it, break it, all by yourself.

BROOKS: What’s your ideal work situation?

CHRIS: Party of Five was the best run show I’ve ever worked on because it was a machine. Monday morning, you’d meet, eat bagels, talk about what that episode was going to be, and in five days we’d have it broken. The hours were completely reasonable. And even as a staff writer you got to be on set for your episode. That was great. The environment of fear didn’t exist at the same level as it does now. But my ideal room? I think it would be great to do half days, three days a week and require that people move their episodes forward.

BROOKS: Cool. Tell me about pitching. What’s the best pitch you’ve ever had and the worst?

CHRIS: Oh Gosh. Nobody’s ever asked me that.

BROOKS: That’s how I roll.

CHRIS: I am a weird freak of nature. I love pitching. Writers are supposed to be antisocial mole people. But I’m not. And the environment of these networks makes me giggle. The whole procedure, the formality of it. I have (knock on wood) been very lucky to sell everything I’ve pitched thus far. Now having said that, watch it all go to crap! But here’s the key. By the time you go in, know your characters like they’re living people you hang out with. And know the pilot, know the arc for the first season and a summary of future seasons. And then, in this climate, which is harder to sell than it ever has been (despite what people may say) I still go in thinking, “I would so love it if you bought this, that would be amazing. I can buy my kids more shoes. And, if you don’t buy it, I’ve already spent so much time on it, I’m going to write it any way and hopefully it’s good enough to sell as a spec.” So I don’t go in afraid. It’s more like a hoot.

The worst? I did a project with a prominent producer and studio head. And we pitched to every network president in one day. Four executives and the head of Warner Brothers were carpooling together and they got in a car accident! Everyone was fine, but I’m glad I drove my own car.

The best? I was pitching at Fox to executives I’ve known for a while and I had to pitch at 5pm. I called and said that’s really late. You guys are out of it by then because you’ve already heard pitches all day. I want alcohol. And we laughed. But when I showed up, they brought in a bottle of wine and glasses and everybody was giggling and it was lovely. Of course, I completely screwed myself over because I had to talk for half hour and I couldn’t drink anything! Well, I did tell them the story and luckily they bought it.

BROOKS: Have you also pitched features?

CHRIS: I have. Mainly for rewrites, which is fascinating. Sometimes I’d get hired on a job to rewrite a script that the previous writer hadn’t even turned in yet! I remember thinking “Wow, feature writers are really not treated well. I don’t like this.”

BROOKS: You mentioned that from your perspective, it’s actually getting more difficult to sell shows. That surprised me because of the boom in television shows – something like 500 TV series aired in 2017. But your impression is that it’s more difficult.

CHRIS: Yeah, I have friends who are seasoned, extraordinary writers, with material that sounds like a sure thing, and it isn’t getting picked up. The trainer at my gym told me they’re buying everything, but I’m not seeing that. If you look at what’s getting bought, it’s from JJ Abrams and Stephen King or from established I.P. And I totally get it–I’m terribly cynical with what I’m willing to watch. It’s hard to find audiences. And yet you’re right that there are outlets and networks I’ve never even heard of buying shows. I just sold a pilot to a new outlet, but I’m like, can I even see this show? Like where does this air? Then again, if you’re writing a story you love and making your show, you’ll produce it in your bathtub. It’s all good. And fewer notes that way.

BROOKS: What do you like about writing at theOFFICE?

CHRIS: My husband (novelist Antoine Wilson) is a member of theOFFICE and it is his favorite thing since sliced bread. I blew it off because I figured it would be too distracting to be in a room with other people. And that it would be oppressive because it’s so quiet. I was just not getting it. Plus, let’s be honest, I’d have to put on a bra, so… why? Then I sold two pilots. And at the time, I had a 9-year-old and a 3-year-old. She was only in school for three hours a day. I was desperate and the coffee shops kept closing on me.

So I gave theOFFICE a try and was blown away by my level of productivity. There’s something about having a place to go… If I’m driving or walking to sit my butt in a chair in a public space, I’m beholden to actually accomplish things. I also have a ton of friends who work here who will signal me to grab coffee and when we go, it’s always, ” What are you working on?”. So I’d better be working on something. It’s also a wonderful way to break up my day, which is essential for those of us developing our own material. And it sounds potentially silly, but it’s also almost a spiritual thing — it’s just very special. It’s a place where the work is respected and everyone is creating. That’s pretty powerful.

BROOKS: Yeah, there’s a palpable energy when people are focused on something in a certain way, even when silent, but sharing the same space.

CHRIS: It was also fascinating to be here when the me too movement launched. News would break and people just looked up from their computer screens and stared at each other. I mean, it was wonderful to have a community and not be at home for times like that.

BROOKS: Yup. I get it. Alright, so the last question is… what’s next?

CHRIS: Oh, how lovely of you to ask! If you know anyone at USA, they are getting my final draft on a pilot I’ve been working on for them. It’s been a pleasure and it would be lovely if that went. Actually, are you ready for this? It’s the same idea as the first pitch I ever sold! A producer that didn’t get it the first time, who was running ABC at the time – we stayed friends and she said let’s do it again. And I took it out and sold it again many years later. I’m putting a present day spin on it, so I loved writing it.

BROOKS: So not only have you sold every pitch you’ve done, you sold one TWICE! Two for a dollar!

CHRIS: And I am also helping a brilliant Danish writer adapt his series that I actually was a huge fan of before even meeting him. We just turned in the pilot and met with the powers-that-be. If it does get picked up, I’ll be very busy with that. It’s called Rita. Whether it happens or not, you should check it out. The original airs on Netflix and it’s a pure delight.

BROOKS: Wonderful. Wow. Chris. Thank you so much. I really appreciate you doing this!

CHRIS: My pleasure!

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Self Introduction – Jordan

jordan

Hi, I’m Jordan. I recently joined the crew at the Office, and I’ll be helping out with some of the blog posts here. I thought it would be nice for the readers to know. I’m going to try my best to show what inspires me, and I’ve also got some fun ideas for future blog posts. My hope is to keep the best of the blog going, while I bring in some new and interesting posts to inspire. I hope you enjoy!

Gary Glasberg

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We are still reeling from his passing. Gary was one of our very first members here at theOffice. He wrote most of his NCIS scripts here and was a friend to so many of us. Anyone who crossed his path in this business could tell you what a kind and funny and uplifting spirit he had. His was the very first plaque on our It Was Written Here wall back in 2005 and he’s the only member who’s managed to get two plaques up there – a testament to his many years with us as well as his prolific work in television. He will be missed terribly.

We are devastated by the passing of our dear friend and colleague Gary Glasberg. He epitomized the word mensch and brought kindness, integrity and class to everything he did. His remarkable talent as a writer and producer was only matched by his ability to connect with people. Gary was a beloved member of our family and we are so honored that he called CBS his home for so many years. Our hearts go out to his wife, Mimi, two sons, his entire family and all those who loved him.

CBS Television Studios president David Stapf quote in The Hollywood Reporter

RIP Gary.

David Gleeson Kills the Deadline

David GleesonDavid Gleeson is one of our members here at theOffice who makes very good use of his membership, meaning he’s ALWAYS here. When we probed him about his current projects, we were astounded (and inspired!) by just how much this guy is able to accomplish. In the last year alone, David has been juggling 5, yes 5, different screenplays – DOWN TO A SUNLESS SEA (an airplane disaster movie for Focus with Morgan Freeman attached), RED GIANT (a sci fi epic for 20th Century Fox), a Biblical spec, a Christmas movie and his 3rd film as a director, DON’T LET GO, now in pre-production.

David, I want to talk to you about deadlines. I’m assuming they’ve been pretty aggressive. What were your deadlines? And did you hit them?

With the Focus feature and the Fox movie, my deadlines were very real indeed. Scarily so. I also had a very firm deadline on the Christmas spec in that I had originally intended to pitch it but that strategy proved risky as I had never worked in that genre before. So, I decided to write it. As it was a Christmas movie we needed to go out to the town in that sweet spot between Thanksgiving and mid-December, before the town goes on hiatus. I decided to write that movie in October!

Bottom line is – I wrote it in 8 days at my desk at theOffice and Paramount bought it in a pre-emptive bid!

But deadlines can be terrifying, especially for someone like me, used to writing on spec. A few years ago, I sold a pitch to Fox Searchlight. Suddenly I found myself in a situation where I had 6 weeks to write a screenplay. For a company which specializes in winning Oscars. No pressure. I didn’t think I could do it, but I had to. To my great surprise, I got it done and everyone was very happy with the results.

This was a great learning experience for me and now deadlines don’t phase me at all. Having been through the process so many times, I know that I can do it.

No matter how hopeless it seems, no matter how little connection I have with the material, I pull the juice from somewhere and I get my pages in and eventually, the work gets done.

What was the biggest challenge you faced with hitting the deadlines?

Thinking about it, I guess the biggest challenge is overcoming my own fears – Am I good enough? Am I finally going to be found out? These thoughts can be paralyzing. I remember speaking to friends who weren’t in the industry and telling them I had 6 weeks to write the Fox Searchlight movie (a complex historical biopic) and seeing the horror in their eyes — “6 weeks?! How are you going to do it?”. I found myself reassuring them that it would be okay.

Bottom line is, you get it done however you get it done. I always say to people that there are 2 things you do not want to see how they’re made – sausages and screenplays. On that particular Searchlight experience, I just wrote a lot with no clear daily page quota and eventually reached THE END.

Since then, I’ve refined my methodology and borrowed from George Lucas who said that on STAR WARS, he wrote 5 pages a day. If he finished the 5 pages in the first hour, he took the rest of the day off. But he rarely did. Instead, he looked out the window most of the day then wrote his 5 pages in the last 30 minutes.

This is now pretty much what I do all day at theOffice (hence my preferred seat with the panoramic view) and it works for me.

Was there anything that turned out to be easier than you thought?

I guess the thing I learned was how enjoyable it can be to write a script in a very structured and deliberate manner when you have a story which works.

The very word “deadline” sounds terrifying (it’s got the word “dead” in it), but in essence, all it is really is a construct in which you are mandated to work efficiently for a proscribed number of weeks.

When you embrace that, then it actually makes a nice change to engage with what you do as though you have a “real” job. So much of what we do can feel like a messy shot in the dark that it’s nice to feel like a professional occasionally.

Having a hard studio-mandated deadline won’t necessarily make you feel like a professional but clearly someone in a position of power thinks you’re a pro, so every once in a while (if you’re lucky) you’re expected to perform like one.

You go through that process once or twice and the work comes easier. That’s what I love about writing – You really are out there on the edge with no safety net. It’s a voyage of self-discovery and it’s never less than impossible. And yet we get it done.

Would you call yourself a fast writer? Is there such a thing as a fast writer?

I used to have a writing method – a tip I learnt from a successful writer – whereby I would check into a hotel for 10 days or so and have them remove the TV and all other reading material and then I’d just write. The premise was — as it’s costing money every night to stay there, you have an incentive to write faster.

I’ve written in hotels all over Europe at this stage and have usually managed to complete a first draft during my time away. Gradually though, as the right side of my brain cottoned on to what I was doing and held my left side hostage(or was it the other way around?), this method ceased working for me.

So now, I’ve become just another working stiff putting in normal office hours and, I’m ashamed to admit, it works for me. In short, my output in concentrated bursts has diminished but my productivity, working regular hours on a daily basis, has increased immeasurably.

When I’m actually writing a script, and not researching or rewriting or outlining, I’ll slog through my 5 pages a day and work 7 days a week. If I’m on a roll I’ll do as many as 15 pages a day or more. 5 though is a very manageable amount and if for some reason I miss a day, then it’s easy to catch up and I’m not so guilt-ridden that I become paralyzed. Been there.

They say that the work expands to fit the time allotted to it. This is soooo true! I’ve sat here all day trying to write 5 pages, then I’ve come in where I only have 35 minutes to work and I’ve completed my 5 pages in 20 minutes.

Having said all that, no matter how fast I write a first draft, I’ve found that the overall journey, i.e. getting from first draft to salable draft (with the exception of my Christmas movie), remains the same and usually takes at least 6 months. That involves working with script editors (of whom I’m a huge advocate) and working through many, many drafts.

What would you say trips writers up the most? What slows us down? And how do we avoid that?

I don’t have internet on my MacBook, nor do I own a smartphone. Sitting at my desk, a tablet in my pocket with the sum total of all the world’s knowledge and entertainment on it. And I’m not supposed to look at it?! Give me a break. So I do without.

All I’ve got on my computer is Final Draft and Word. If I need to research something, I just look it up later, at home. A nice side-benefit to this is that my MacBook will probably last forever. I’ve been using the same brick now for 7 years.

One of my favorite quotes re screenwriting is, “Don’t get it right, get it written”. I always bear this in mind as I slog through a first draft. It’s so much easier to rewrite something, no matter how bad, than to stare at a blank page.

I’ve also found that as I get more experienced, I’ve become less courageous. I’m often reluctant to follow new paths or take chances because experience tells me that particular idea won’t work. This can be quite debilitating, to the point where it becomes terrifying to face a new project – knowing that lousy first, second and third drafts are inevitable.

I’ve learnt to fight through this, accepting that not everything needs to work beautifully first time out. There’s a directing analogy to this, an anecdote I read once about Spielberg – When they were shooting AMERICAN BEAUTY, he visited Sam Mendes on set and watched him shoot a long scene in a single take. When the take was over, Mendes announced they were moving on to the next set-up.

“Aren’t you going to shoot any more coverage on that?”, asked Spielberg. “No, I got what I needed”, replied Mendes, to which Spielberg commented, “Oh, to be a first time director”.

It’s the same in writing and that kind of naive fearlessness can often lead to great things and new insights.

Another huge impediment to writing, and the most soul destroying, I find, is realizing that you’ve written yourself into a corner. In my own experience, this usually comes through lack of a cohesive outline.

I tried writing a screenplay without an outline once. After 200 pages, when I still hadn’t reached a turning point, I gave up. Never again.

Finally, David, you put in long hours at theOffice (as opposed to other writers who pop in for a couple of hours here and there). Would you say that’s part of your process – just showing up and being in the space. Or do you not have a home and secretly live here at theOffice?

The beauty of the Office is that it’s a place where you feel like spending a lot of time.

Writing is a very lonely experience. When I’m in writing mode I become quite moody and depressed. I don’t know why. In fact, if I’m not moody or depressed I feel I’m not ready to write yet. Working from theOffice, surrounded by other artists, removes some of the pain of the process.

Writing for me though is a deeply immersive experience. When I used to visit hotels to write I would live the script 24/7, emoting the whole thing, really living it in my head.

Clearly, I don’t have the same experience at theOffice but I do tend to enter a very creative headspace at my desk.  There have been many days where I’ve spent from 7am until lunchtime just looking out the window. That’s all part of the process and it can take me most of the day to enter a headspace where I can knock out a good page or two.

I see writing as a war of attrition against myself – One part of me refuses to write, while the other part insists I do. Most of my day is engaged in stalemate. The productive side inevitably wins but it’s usually an 8 hour process before that happens. That’s why my days are so long.

I once read an analogy about creativity being like a knight waiting to slay the dragon.  So, I show up every day and I sit around outside that cave. Sometimes the dragon shows.

I often come and go throughout the day however. My wife will call and ask me to pick up one of the kids from school or I’ll nip out and see a movie, just to remind me what it is I’m supposed to be doing.

My father (and his grandfather before him) owned cinemas in rural Ireland. I pretty much grew up in a cinema so I’m very much at home sitting alone in the dark. I find that I do my best thinking in a movie theater.

As a screenwriter, dealing with the minutiae of words on a page day in, day out, it can be all too easy to lose sight of the overall picture – that we’re creating the blueprint for a movie here. I need to keep reminding myself of that, so I watch a lot of movies and I try to read a lot of screenplays.

We are looking forward to seeing all of David’s hard work on the big screen in the coming years. Kudos, David, on continuously slaying the dragon!

TIGER ORANGE

Tiger Orange poster
A little self-promotion here but if any of you are in the LA area, my film is premiering at Outfest on July 18th. It’s my feature directorial debut. It’s been a whirlwind directing a feature AND managing things here at theOffice. Luckily, Emily, our blogger-extraordinaire has kept the creativity flowing. You can scroll back through the blog to check out her many insightful and inspiring posts on the writers life. (Um, how did this become about me promoting Emily?!)

The film is called TIGER ORANGE. It’s a drama about estranged gay brothers struggling to reconnect after the recent death of their father. I’m super proud of it. If you’re in LA, we’ll be playing the Ford Amphitheater. Outside. Under the stars. Find me after the screening!

– Wade

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Member Chatter

On writing for TV.
The process changes quite a bit as the season goes on, both in a positive and negative sense.  On the positive side, you begin to develop a relationship to your characters (the ones in your head, not the actors); they start talking to you, mouthing off, doing unexpected and unimaginable things.  And those are the moments you pray for, because the characters start contradicting themselves in the way flesh-and-blood people do.  On the downside, I think you can develop a degree of self-satisfaction and a sense that the whole world must know your characters as well as you do, and the narrative can begin to take on a kind of inside-baseball laziness.
Matthew Carnahan, writer and creator of House of Lies and Dirt. theOffice member since 2012