June 24, 2014

Master Classes


Nic Pizzolatto & Dan Harmon, representing two sides of my creative expression.
The Banff World Media Festival. The conference can feel a lot like a mystical dream, you're up in a castle surrounded by mountains... The Fonz will causally walk past you. You'll meet a famous House Wife of [insert shithole here].

And on the other hand, it can feel a lot like the high school cafeteria where you don't know where to eat and people who know you pretend they don't. So, a nightmare. It's overwhelming,  and impossible not to have fun or feel inspired. You just have to get through the first day and call a friend when you start to do the Charlie-Brown/Michael Cera walk outta there.

So here's what you're dying to know. Henry Winkler wore a fuchsia pink sweater. I had to contain myself from hugging him and calling him Daddy. Dan Harmon reminds me of my co-writer on Truckstop Bloodsuckers. This is great news for the talented Tony Binns, who will no doubt get his own show and the world will know he's super cool. Ben Mulroney is orange, but still strangely handsome. Many TV executives have bitchy resting face. A week of appetizers does not make a full meal. There are amazing women in WIFTA and WIDC. Nic Pizzolatto is the absolute shit. Even Dan Harmon thinks so. He has a dark air of Rust to him, Cohle that is. I'm sure he too would have the best pick up lines, but dude has a wife. Did you hear that? Broken hearts around the world.

I was privy to some of the most amazing master classes with Clyde Phillips (Dexter, Nurse Jackie), and Mitchell Hurwitz (Arrested Development) and of course, Nic from True Detective. It was surreal and I am so grateful, yet it had me thinking of how unfortunate it is that these experiences are so exclusive and expensive. I really hope to see that change in the future.

So I will sum up each inspiring writer's message, as there was a common thread spoken throughout. Fear is toxic. Even The Fonz said it. Creatives get so hung up on what we're producing and how to do it, it can paralyze us before we even start. And imagine - you have an all-star cast and cult following with 8 Million viewers and your show still gets cancelled. Now, executives would love to find the magic key to attract that many viewers as reportedly network TV only attracts an average of 3M. Times have changed, but a suit is still a suit and their view of you as a failure really means nothing. That's what The Greats want you to know.

Another exciting sentiment that burst forth from the collection of writers - the idea that producers and broadcasters need to keep their grubby hands out of the process. Quite the rebellious statement in a room full of producers and broadcasters! I LOVED IT. The buzz behind True Detective - besides the show's merit- has been the unusual happenstance that Nic works alone and hasn't been forced into a writers room or taken off the project altogether, seeing as he's a relative "unknown." Dan Harmon said it best, "It's a novel idea, allowing the storyteller to tell the story..." The writers in the room erupted in laughter and applause. Let's hope the suits take a hint, because it's not the norm.

Now aside from the leather jacket, let me tell you another reason why I'm so inspired by Nic Pizzolatto. Dude knows exactly who he is and what he's not. He made something incredible and wasn't willing to compromise and that - ladies and gentlemen - is how you get an HBO show. Though having Matthew McConaughey signed on before the pitch couldn't have hurt. I asked Nic if he ever felt like giving up and throwing in the towel. For sure he did, but perhaps the loom of failure and the need to provide for his family motivated him. Upon meeting him, I just couldn't imagine him asking for approval or permission. And isn't that the theme of the year.
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