Locked in a room, discussing murder and aliens
This past weekend, I found myself locked in a room with four other people, deciding what to do about alien visitors and discussing whether or not we'd have to kill someone.
(I'm stretching the truth a little bit. The door was completely immovable and wouldn't close, so we weren't actually locked in)
I'm talking about the writers' room for the upcoming series REAL AMERICAN, produced by Perelandra Pictures. Kathryn Postema and I hired writers Penni Jones and Jalexia Stoutmyre to join our team, and we spent this past Saturday and Sunday fleshing out who the characters in REAL AMERICAN are and where they are going. I've collaborated with a writer here and there before, all with varying results, but nothing like this. This was fun.
When I was making the itinerary for the writers' room, I wasn't sure just how much we were going to be able to get done in two days. I wanted to have each writer pen at least one script. But Penni and Jalexia blew me away with their speed. They worked their butts off, and that challenged me to work extra hard just to keep up with them. I kept throwing new things at them and they kept going. At one point, I asked Penni to pretty much change a whole episode to be about something else, and she did it without batting an eye.
(There was also another moment when I felt challenged, and that was when Jalexia and I both ordered our Thai food HOT – she acted as if it was nothing while I was trying to stop sweating/weeping)
We went back and forth from whiteboard to sticky notes to laptops, blurting out whatever ideas popped into our heads, while our very patient and professional writers' assistant Jake Goldberg somehow took all of that and distilled it down into a way that made sense.
We wrote a total of 6 scripts, and did at least two drafts of each. I would have to say that the show went in a direction I didn't expect, but that turned out to be a wonderful surprise. I think we created something special. I hope that when REAL AMERICAN is released, the viewers will feel the same way.