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The Next Thing I Write


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I think there's a ton of young people that have at one point or another dreamed of making films. Probably 90% of Nightly lol. But to actually pursue and successfully earn a degree shows more than mere desire. I'll make an assumption that it was a pretty big passion of yours. I hope that Amazon ebook thing works out and you do it eventually. That kind of pursued passion is rare and I bet you could turn out some crazy good sh*t.

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I dont really think its a waste even though I complain about it a lot, and yeah, I definitely learned a lot from it and my previous creative writing major as well, so I feel like I have at least a little bit of a leg up when it comes to writing. Talent wise Im probably garbage though haha


But having a degree, even a film degree, helped add a little bit of money to my pocket when I got my last promotion. They even said it didnt matter that it was film, having a BS would bump my pay up no matter what it was in. So hooray!

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1:00-1:30: wrote a page

1:30-1:50: celebrated by walking down to the liquor store for some lime peanuts and a diet coke.

1:50-2:00: SNACKS

2:00-2:30: forgot I have a wedding to go to, so bought plane tickets, reserved hotel and rental car

2:30-3:00: wrote while texting with my friend I will see at wedding

3:00-3:15: rewrote everything I had just written because I was distracted by my friend and wrote hot garbage

3:15-3:18: realized housekeeper was cleaning, she almost saw my wiener cause I didn't shut bathroom door. Went to ATM to get her cash

3:18-3:45: got home, realized the ATM short changed me, went to bank, complained, got a 1-800 to call, got out more cash

3:45-3:50: realized the ATM gave me 50s instead of 20s. I wasn't short changed.

3:50-4:00; think about what to blow the extra cash I have in hand now on because I am a child and once it leaves my bank account it MUST be spent

4:00-4:35: attempt to write more, get sleepy, NAP

4:35-4:50: remembered it was new comic day; go to comixology and get new comics

4:50-5:15: read Powers of X#3 then tell myself I can't read any more until I finish writing

5:15-6:00: screw around on internet

6:00-7:00: after writing a sentence at a time all day, as the sun starts down I become efficient and bang out everything else I wanted to get written today

I ran a little longer than I wanted, went to page 15-- but that's okay, I'm still in the acceptable range. I over-write in vomit-mode. At some point I'll go back, clean everything up, making my descriptions better, and refine character voices and than will thin things down.


The only point on my list I didn't hit was the idea that they never moved in case Sigil found her way home. I just couldn't find an organic place to do it. It's a little expository. I think there will be a more logical place for it in the upcoming pages, so that's fine too.


Of what I wrote, there's only one scene I am not sure about: Randal and Calliope in the kitchen. It doesn't do much for the tory, and feels a little "pre-cut" which is what writers call a scene they know an exec will love to axe. It's definitely a character scene, it kind of shows the friendly way Randal and Calliope are, which I DO think is important. It's also got a fun little creepy bit described as a dream, but the audience will suspect is real based on having information Calliope does not. For now I am keeping it, but it's flagged if I end up running long.


I'm not going to list out every scene and it's reason for being... unless somebody reads it and then takes me to task on it.






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It's always amazing to me to see someone really chase what they wanted to do liek Tank and then how when you get it it's not like you are some super wealthy person. I originally majored in radio and tv production, wanting to be a sports talk show host. I wasn't stupid, I knew I wouldn't be given the drive time slot on WFAN in NY when I graduated. However when I approached graduation and the fact of having to move to Walla Walla and talk about local high school sports overnight was staring me in the face I flinched and stayed in school with a new major.


I don't regret it at all but I do admire the people who didn't flinched and kept working at it.

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All those fancy degrees n **** and they didn't teach you to proofread for typos or what? ;)

Haven't you learned from decades of nightly that I am a terrible typist? Especially in vomit draft mode. I dont worry about that until the end.


After about the 3rd one I was just like "ahh...classic Tank".


Btw, I'm intrigued so far.

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I don't regret it at all but I do admire the people who didn't flinched and kept working at it.

Oh, I've flinched MANY times.


I guess this is a good prompt for context of how I got where I am...


My entire life as a kid, people were telling me I was going to be famous. Not sure why, but it certainly messed me up I think. I've had this problem since I was a kid of deriving self-worth through adulation based on work performance. If you're into astrology, it's a very Capricorn type thing.


When I was in grade school, I looked a lot like Corey Feldman. I got a grey windbreaker like he wears in Goonies, and while I didn't ever say I was Corey Feldman, I did tell people I had auditioned for the role of Mouth but was second choice. I was taking acting classes then and 100% wanted to be a movie star. I stuck with that until I hit puberty, at which point I no longer liked people looking at me, and REALLY no longer wanted to be the center of attention.


About that time I got super into tabletop RPGs, specifically running games, becuase I liked making up the stories. I don't think being a writer occurred to me... but I liked running those games... and when I was acting I always felt I had a better way than what was on the page or being directed... and when I was a kid and my cousins and I had make-believe play time, I was always the one driving it, making sure it had a plot.


In high school I got into creative writing to some extent, but my grades weren't great enough to really have any freedom in class for such things. I struggled with high school. I just didn't want to be there, I was bored, annoyed easily... I should note that since I was in 4th grade, at least once a month, I would fake an illness and stay home for a couple days just so I could watch movies by myself, and rewind and play back my favorite parts over and over. In high school this was basically a third of my life. By the time I was a junior I knew I was going to art school so I just had to graduate. My grades weren't a huge issue. I didn't even take the SATs.


I think that if film school would have been an option for me out of high school, I would have done that. By then I was making goofy videos with friends. I actually wrote a horror movie for us to make and we shot a few scenes... but then I spun out because we were playing adults, and I knew we were kids, and that wasn't realistic. I was going to rewrite it so we could be characters our age, but I never finished it because I then looked old enough to get my hands on PORN.


This was the early 90s, so porn was not easy to get, and if you wanted to go to film school your choices were USC, UCLA, or NYU. I didn't have the grades or money for that. I was also really into visual art-- drawing and photography specifically. Art school was a good fit, and I was able to take a couple simple film classes to learn the basics of editing. I knew enough from still photography to be able to run a film camera.


I could have done some great things at this stage in my life, but I was really lazy, and I was really focused on getting laid more. So I coasted through college. This is also when I started writing more seriously. By then I had figured out that all these times in my past where I was making narratives, it was because I wanted to tell stories. The RPGs, the play time, etc. I thought I would end up leaving art school as a comic book person. If I couldn't get into film (remember, this is pre-digital so film was kind of an exclusive/expensive field of art), comics seemed like a great merger of art and story... that's when I realized my hand-art skills were good enough to set me apart from normal people, but not good enough to be an amazing artist. This is also about the time Jim Lee took over X-Men and the whole 90s extreme comic period was beginning. And I was SO outclassed it was insane.


My drawing skills just weren't as great as I wanted, and again, the Capricorn stuff kicked in and I realized I was about to be out in the world and I saw all my painter friends leaving school and being jobless-- so I shifted into Graphic design. With that as a degree I knew I could work.


Photoshop came out my senior year of college and my thesis became this fumetti-style photo comic. It was really cool when I made it, it's horrible to look back at. I was also writing a lot of prose stories on the side. I had my own mini-horror universe made up of about six "books" (100 pages at MOST) and an actual manuscript of a 300 page novel that was, in retrospect, terrible. It was nothing but thinly vieled anecdotes of me and my friends. And when you're 24, you of course think your life is SUPER interesting to the world. (It's not).


I was out of school for about a year, working as a freelance designer, and doing okay. Lived with friends, partied a lot. The stuff you're supposed to do. Everyone was jealous cause I had an "arty" job where I made my own hours... but doing visual art as a job kinda killed it for me as a creative outlet. Writing became the sole place I was creative.


After I finished another of my horror novels I had this breakdown. At that point I think I had read everything Anne Rice and Stephen King had put out up until then. And I was re-reading either Lestat or Salem's Lot (don't recall, but I know it was vampires) and I was looking at how masterful it was, and I realized I was crap. I had the EXACT same feeling I had back in high school when I realized my friends and I were 17 year olds pretending to be cops in serial killer movie and no one would buy that... or when Jim Lee exploded into comics and I couldn't even draw a hand properly. IMPOSTER SYNDROM.


I was also feeling super trapped in Portland. I was a goth kid in a mid-sized city, so my pool of friends, potential girlfriends, and bandmates (I was in a bad, but that doesn't effect this story) was really small. All of this combined led me to applying to grad school writing programs in other cities.


CalArts in LA seemed perfect-- it was a writing program at an Art School. Without an English degree I couldn't get into a lot of the writing programs I was looking at, but a BFA from an art school worked for CalArts. They were specifically looking for multi-disciplined people. I applied with my terrible anecodtal manuscript, got in, and 6 months later filled a Uhaul truck and moved to LA knowing zero people and having very little money.


Grad school was amazing. I was taking writing classes, film classes, art classes, everythign I wanted to do all at once. While I was there, the miniDV revolution happened and Phantom Menace came out. Digital filmmaking exploded, and now it was really easy to make movies if you had the skills. I started making fun movies on the side with friends, and finished grad school with a new novel manuscript (that was pretty decent).


After grad school I tried to get my novel published, and it took about 2 weeks to be rejected everywhere. I had written a book about a family of morticians (because, still goth) and it just so happened that Six Feet Under had recently debuted. Everyone felt like it was derivative, even though I'd been writing it for two years. I couldn't afford to move back home, I had just started getting serious with the person that would eventually be my son's mother, and design work was a little easier to come by in LA if you were willing to go corporate and be an in-house designer for a marketing department.


So I decided to stay, work corporaate design jobs, and on the side try my hand at screenplays. It finally seemed like I could write and direct films with relative ease (as long as it was zero budget and made with whatever I had at hand). I thought I could write a couple "real" ones, somehow find reps, and sell a script and cash into Hollywood after a couple years.


Try TEN.


For ten years I was writing scripts, trying to get them read, posting at Nightly, going back to school a third time to keep my student loans off my back, getting a film production degree, got married, had a kid, got divorced, and here's where the flinching comes in... EVERY YEAR I told myself if I didn't break in, I'd throw in the towel and move back to Portland.


One of the biggest reasons my son's mother and I split up was because I kept not throwing in the towle, Not that she didn't want me to succeed, just that everything-- getting a better job, moving somewhere else, everything was on hold because I wanted to break in.


I saw a dozen friends give up and move away. I WANTED to. I tried to stop writing, but it's a compulsion. I couldn't stop. My second long term relation started up in there (the one ending now) and she made pretty decent money. She told me "Quit your damn day job and just be nothing but a writer, in practice and in your head, for six months."


So paid my share of the bills (which I hated) but I did it. I had to make that mental flip. That was my last push. I was 39, and while I was making really good money as a designer (and wasn't some bum wannabe writer couch surfing)-- that's not what I wanted to do. I had gotten a few smaller writing assignments-- nothing that got made, for smaller production companies-- so I had had a taste of it, but never really was able to quit the day job or change my life.


I figured there is nothing more pathetic than a 40 year old saying he's trying to break into Hollywood, so this was it for REAL. My last shot. I knew I wasn't going to stop writing, but I figured maybe I'd go back to prose and try to get published.


So I flinched a lot. I never quit, but I WANTED to.


And it was during that last ditch that I landed Leatherface. I've been in the business six years now, and it's flown by and completely changed everything.



After about the 3rd one I was just like "ahh...classic Tank".


Btw, I'm intrigued so far.

In grad school I wanted to actually do well since I coasted through high school and college. There was a LOT of reading, so I taught myself to speed read. The trick is to ID words by sight without reading them fully, but based on the first couple and last letters. When I try to proofread my own stuff, my brain still does this. Add that to terrible typing, but still having spell check and you start to see my signature mistakes: "the" instead of "they," missed apostrophes, or sometimes I just start a sentence over halfway through it.

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Well, I guess I mean people who actually tried. lol.


Like I said I wasnt naive, I knew all along I'd have to start at a very small station in a very small city. However when actually faced with it I just didn't even try. I actually graduated and walked at the ceremony but I never stopped going to school and just took on a new major and finished that in one full year, 2 summers and 1 intersession class in the winter.


I also was stupid. I wanted to intern at WFAN in the city, I didn't get it. They are kinda locked into Syracuse for that. I should have just interned for a local radio station and got some actual experience. Instead I interned at MTV which sounds really cool but I literally did nothing there that was valuable. I basically was a delivery boy for them around Manhattan or sat around waiting to be told what to do. I got to meet some celebrities which was cool at the time but looking back, who cares. Ofcourse taking an internship at a cable music network when I wanted to work in radio made zero sense.

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I worked adjacent to radio for years. One of my in-house design jobs (the last one actually( was at a company that syndicated radio shows. I worked on a lot of campaigns. Radio is a weird, sometimes fun, often times icky industry.




Progress report for today-- Couldn't sleep last night, so I slept in, ate, went to my boxing lesson, ate again, and somehow it's already 3:00.


I don't feel like working today, so I'm not going to. I am full of gratitude that I have that option in my universe.


I'm going to take a shower, maybe get a massage, go to the grocery store, the bank, put the custom grill that should be arriving soon on my new Jeep, and then maybe I'll dick around with that essay I have to write. I am hoping all the reflective posts I've done will give me material for this thing.


After that I may jot down some notes and loose ideas for this pitch on the Korean TV show remake I have. I also have a meeting tomorrow so I need to look over whatever script of mine they read so I can be ready to talk about it.

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My entire life as a kid, people were telling me I was going to be famous. Not sure why, but it certainly messed me up I think. I've had this problem since I was a kid of deriving self-worth through adulation based on work performance. If you're into astrology, it's a very Capricorn type thing.

... ****.


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My entire life as a kid, people were telling me I was going to be famous. Not sure why, but it certainly messed me up I think. I've had this problem since I was a kid of deriving self-worth through adulation based on work performance. If you're into astrology, it's a very Capricorn type thing.


... ****.

I too am a Capricorn. It's true.

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I know this thread was to document this one script, but it seems like I am documenting my work in general while I write it.


Today I had a meeting on the west side, so I am just now home from it. It was a general, which is what they call a basic get-to-know meeting between execs and talent.


Normally, an exec reads a thing you wrote, you come on to meet them, they say why they aren't buying your thing, but they wanted to meet you to keep you in mind for other stuff, (or the currently have open writing assignments and want you to pitch).


It sounds like BS, but when you're new getting one of these means EVERYTHING. I do a few a month so I am jaded. But, it was a general that lead to my invite to pitch on Leatherface (a year after the meeting).


Today's meeting was about a script I wrote- a scifi thingy. It's REALLY good, maybe one of the best things I've written-- but it's expensive and not based on IP, so no one will make it. We talked about how crap that is, cause everyone says they want new stuff, but no one has the balls to pay for it.


Long story short, they optioned the script anyway because they think if they could find a hot director into it, that might inspire a studio to bankroll it anyway. So that was worth a trip across town.


Now lunch, then grocery store, then off to pick up the kid, so I don't think I'll be doing any work on this until Monday.

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Continuing my pattern of no pattern, I felt like working today... probably because I have a call in an hour or so with the exec team for the Amblin/Disney project. They've read my outline and are either going to blow it up with notes, or send me off to script. Either way, I don't see me being able to work on sweaty sexy southern stuff for a minute as the paying work takes priority.


Today was decent...


- Woke up

- Ate

- Saw the kid left his retainer in his room

- Took retainer to his mom at work so she can take it home with her

- Gym for an hour

- Wrote the first pass at this damn essay I keep dodging

- Ate pure junk for lunch because I am a garbage person

- Wrote 11 pages and closed out (roughly) the first act of Sigil


I did everything on the little list I had. Basically, establish that Sigil is indeed their daughter, that she's weird but tries to fit in, that they never moved in case she came back. I also brought in the detective who chases down her story. The TBD part of trying to decide if she is honest or not seemed obvious to me on the page.


She's going to lie, he will chase a red herring, eventually catch on, and face doom before he can do anything about it. I need bodies.


Speaking of bodies, I know Randal is likely to die at the end of act 2, but it was starting to feel like his story. I tried to steer it toward being Sigil's, but she's too mysterious. I thought Amy would stand out more, but once I was in it, Calliope was clearly the one that I wanted to write the most.


Looking ahead, I don't see any trouble with what I have roughly planned falling on her POV. Crazy, me wanting to write the teen girl POV for a change. :|


So for now I am good. Hitting the end of the act is a good place to be since I will likely not get back to this for a couple weeks.





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I haven't done a thing this week as I have been killing myself over this stupid essay.


I finally wrote it and had it vetted by the other writers on my show...




Often in our industry, the thing we are first known for tends to define the first portion of our career. For me, despite being a straight 40-something white guy, my brand has become “teen girl horror.” How does that happen?

Our teen years are generally full of firsts— first loves, heartbreaks, cars, jobs, moments of rebellion… a lot of our core self-ness comes out of these years. Teen stories are easy to relate to because we’ve all been there. But why does the female perspective feel natural to me?
I have struggled with the concept of masculinity as a child. I identify as straight, but I was never into the things that “men” liked. I didn’t want to play sports, I wanted to read books. I was raised by women, and have always surrounded myself with women.
I don’t claim to be the voice of young teen girls, but I have been aware of the cis-white male narrative long before we started using those terms. A friend once asked why I always play female characters in video games. My answer: “Because I haven’t seen that.”
I would never co-opt or take ownership of anything I am not. I don’t want to take charge, or speak for, anyone other than myself in my writing— but at the end of the day, I like writing what I haven’t seen enough of.
In television, the best writer’s room would be made up of people sharing their visions of what they feel should, or need, to be seen. I see my dream staff as like a Star Trek bridge crew. I want to be able to find the right balance of personalities and skills to make the best team possible.
I have much to learn about budgets, schedules, and production needs, but what I lack in experience I make up for by being a leader. It’s a role I am only now comfortable with, and it comes from years of NOT wanting to lead— because that meant I was listening. Listening, understanding, and being on the outside helps me tell outsider stories from the inside.
It’s also easy to say I want to be a showrunner because I want my ideas and visions to be made real… but really, I want to be the best Starfleet Captain I can be by fostering a staff that listens to each other.
Now that this is out of the way I need to get to work on this pilot script, I'd share more about it with you guys, but it's all wrapped up in NDAs.
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Seth - this has been really insightful to read from your point of view.


Not that anyone would entirely care, but I'm actually on the executive/producing side of things in the entertainment biz these days, which Seth knows - and it is really interesting to see how the other half live, essentially. I'm fortunate to be on my salary with additional bumps when a gig rolls - ultimately this industry is very freelance in nature, so a salary is rare - and people are eager to meet with me and people in my team because of the power we hold. And you do quickly forget that these people you meet are people - and have significant lives and obligations and anxieties, because that bingo card is what we do all day - and they plausibly don't know where their next paycheck comes from. There's so much competition and content being created and generated, this industry chews you up and spits you out, especially in the role that is writing. I'm jealous that you get to tap your creative juices, but I don't even the freelance hustle you have to do. At the same time, I can't wait to get back into pure producing and not be tied directly to a Studio - I want the Bad Robot of it all, for sure.


Funnily enough, Seth, I'm working with Amblin at the moment too - but Disney isn't involved, so I'm guessing we won't cross paths this time around. One day we'll make it work. In fact, we've just been talking about a pipeline fund for those $5-10m genre films to have a rolling production going on here. Maybe there's a thread we can pull in due course?


Excited to read your upcoming process deluges. Appreciate you sharing.

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