I conducted an E-mail interview, and this is what I found out.
I first ‘came across’ you through your publication of “REDACTED” featuring James C Burns. What was the inspiration behind the comic, and what was your favourite part of creating it?
I met James C. Burns on a film we were shooting in Oregon titled, “A Haunting at Silver Falls”. Being a gamer, I was familiar with Call of Duty and he had just won the ‘Spike Video Game Award’ for ‘Best Character’, so needless to say, we clicked immediately. As we got to know each other, I mentioned that although I was an Associate Producer on the film, I was also a writer who had created several comic books. He expressed interest in doing a comic book inspired by his character from the game.
This excited me because he had a real passion for military topics, Vietnam in particular, and I had a passion for research and also telling hard -hitting geo-political stories. He had some ideas and he gave them to me. I then took those ideas and folded them into a grand narrative that I felt would shed some light on the real origins of the Vietnam war, but then dovetail into a complete fiction like the Call of Duty games. So the inspiration was definitely a mix of meeting James C. Burns and my passion for conspiracy related stories and comics as an art form.
How hard would you say it is to be a Writer/ Script Coordinator in today’s world, specifically with getting ‘noticed’?
It is difficult to be ‘noticed’, but it is not difficult to be a writer. I believe that it is a mistake to wait to be noticed or given approval to be a writer. I knew nobody was interested in me screaming at the top of my lungs saying, ‘Hire me, I’m a writer”. If I wanted to be a writer, I needed to write. I managed to connect with a like-minded individual through working on film sets and we decided that we were going to create comics in order to share our writing with the world. We then hired artists and published the books ourselves. This was key, because by the time anyone was interested in talking to us, we could actually plop down some books in their hands and say, “This is us”. And it was true, because we didn’t just write the stories, we paid for everything, and it wasn’t cheap. It took us a long time, but we stuck with it. So, while it is difficult to get noticed when you have nothing to show, I believe you should just start creating. People tend to respect those who create and when they see that you have created consistently, and more importantly, that you will continue to create regardless of if they notice you or not. In the ten years since I published my first comic book, I would say that things have changed, and with social media you have the ability to share your talent with the world.
When you were younger, was your current profession the one you strived for, or did it come at a later date?
I have a brother who is almost ten years older than me and I was lucky enough that he was a comic book fan. I grew up reading his comic collection. He was also an extremely talented self-taught illustrator. When I was really young, I wanted to be like him, an illustrator. I realised very early though that I didn’t have his natural talent as an artist. It just seemed natural to me at the time to switch to storytelling. Once that was settled, I grew into my new role quite comfortably. I considered myself a storyteller before I called myself a writer because I used the same set of skills whether I was trying to fib my way out of trouble at school or write a test answer about a book I hadn’t read. I found I was good at it. Then in my teens I began playing tabletop Role Playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons, Champions and Shadow Run. Once I actually began GM’ing the games, I really started to love telling stories. Having six of your closest friends sit around a table and go on adventures and getting to see them react to your twists and turns in real time and you having to react to their whims without missing a beat is quite exciting and when it works, there’s nothing like it. However, as much as I enjoyed writing, I still never really believed it was something I could actually do for a living. It just seemed so foreign to my background. When I finished high school I went to university to study film and that’s when I started thinking that perhaps writing for film and TV was a better option, so I moved to Vancouver and began working as a production assistant in order to learn the business. So yes, storytelling has been with me for a long time, I just wasn’t sure what form it would take. The difference is now I realise that I will always be storytelling whether it’s for many people reading a comic or watching a TV show, or six close friends sitting around a table.
Where would you ideally see yourself in 10 years time?
In ten years from now I would like to be working hard and still be writing for TV. I understand in ten years it may not be called ‘TV’ anymore, but you know what I mean. I have a love for serial stories told over time with characters that can grow and change. My dream would be to have my own TV show, but I would be just as happy working for awesome people on their show if I was valued. I have a very realistic outlook on this industry and I know how difficult it is to get something made, so I try to keep my expectations realistic. My main goal is to work on shows I love with people I admire. I’ve been super lucky to have had my first writing experience on such a great show as “Continuum” that I will be measuring every future experience against it, and I know that will be tough to beat!
What ‘project’ would you most like to work with? (such as a specific film series or a specific actor)
This one is easy. I would most like to work with DC Comics on one of their TV shows. I read many different books from different companies, but I love the generational legacy aspect of the DC Universe. I have enjoyed going back into their catalogue and reading stories from earlier decades because the best ones still resonate today. For some people, a complex multiverse of characters that have been cancelled out, changed completely and contradicted many times is head-ache inducing, for me it’s a thing of beauty.
If you could offer advice to someone who wanted to become a writer/ script coordinator, what would you tell them?
I already answered the writing part of this question, so now I’ll answer the script coordinator part of it. A script coordinator is a very specific job in the entertainment industry; you are the bridge between the writing team on a show and the production team of the show. This requires a very specific set of skills. You have to be creative because you are dealing with the script and often you are contributing to the stories. This is because many teams consider the script coordinator position a stepping-stone to becoming a writer. However, the other half of your job is taking that script from the writing team and altering it so that it is ready for the production team. The thing most people don’t understand is that not all writers come from a production background, nor should they. A writer’s job is to make a great story, sometimes they may not understand the requirements of the people who then take that script and have to film it. The most important part of the script coordinator is to be that bridge that will help make the script ready to shoot by having it fit the industry norms. It is a very demanding job with little room for error. My advice for those who want to become a script coordinator is to first of all get some work on set or in a production office as a production assistant. Not in the writing room. Real production experience is vital. Start on set, then move into the office, then move into the writers room as an assistant to the writers. Of course you can skip some of these steps but it may shoot you in the foot when you actually get a chance to do the job and you mess up. You will be replaced quickly. The thing about being a script coordinator is you kind of have to learn how to do the job through being around those who do it, before you actually get paid to do it. There is no on the job training, everything in this business is pretty much trial by fire.
What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Working with Simon Barry and his team on “Continuum”. I started in Season 2 as the writer’s room assistant. In Season 3, I was the script coordinator and got to write the ‘webisodes’. In Season 4, I co-wrote an episode. I also run the social media accounts for the show. Getting my first writing credit on a show I love so much has made all of the hard work I’ve put in over the years seem worth it. The episode hasn’t aired yet but I can’t wait until it does.
You have been a production assistant for both “TRON: Legacy” and “2012”, amongst many other large movies. What was most exciting part with working with both of these hit titles in particular?
As you’re aware, I have been a production assistant on many large films. This was deliberate. I made a decision early on that if I was going to be doing the difficult work of being a production assistant it was going to be on the biggest movies I could get on. My personal highlights were working with Zack Snyder on two of his movies, “Watchmen” and “Sucker Punch”. He was such a joy and inspiration on set and a creative maverick that doesn’t get half of the accolades he deserves, in my opinion. The attention to detail on those movies is incredible and just watching him in action was so cool. In regards to the “TRON: Legacy” the most exciting part was being part of something that was so important to pop culture and was a show I watched as a kid. It was amazing to step foot in Flynn’s Arcade. To be on the sets where everything was “Tron-ified”. Watching the directors work with 3D while they were shooting was really cool. They had different monitors on set and they could watch it as it was being filmed in 2D and then they would put on their glasses and see it in 3D while they were filming, it was really cool. Plus, Jeff Bridges! My role on “2012” was very limited and because that movie contained a ton of VFX, all I remember is shop-vac’ing a lot of water and staring at a lot of greenscreen. Ha!
It’s been awesome interviewing you and I wish you the very best in life!
Thanks for interviewing me, I had a great time answering your questions. If I’ve scared anyone away from pursuing their dreams, it just means they weren’t really theirs to begin with!