Kelly Jo Brick: The Write Path With SUPERNATURAL’S Davy Perez, Part 2

A series of interviews with hard-working writers – by another hard-working writer!

by Kelly Jo Brick

Aspiring writers often wonder how the pros got where they are. The truth is, everyone’s story is different, but there are some common elements: dedication, persistence, hard work and not giving up.

Persistence and positive attitude were major influences in the development of Davy Perez’s career in entertainment. Born and raised in East LA, Davy became involved with a sketch group and worked as a background actor before following his creative passions as a writer. Acceptance into multiple writing programs helped lead the way to him becoming a staff writer for the highly acclaimed TV show AMERICAN CRIME. He now writes for the CW series, SUPERNATURAL.

HOW DID YOU GET THE WRITING JOB ON AMERICAN CRIME?

One of the executives I met with who had a producing deal was Michael McDonald. I went in to his office for a general meeting and he was in pilot production of AMERICAN CRIME. We talked about the script and talked about my own upbringing and when I was a teenager and getting into trouble. They had a character on the show that was going to go through this arc. He was kind of like; you’re very close to the character in a lot of ways. He was also tickled by the fact that we knew each other, you used to get coffee and now you’re here and that’s fantastic. He said, “You should meet John Ridley, I think he’d really like your story.”

I met John and that’s how I got staffed on AMERICAN CRIME. For that to be the first show that I got to work on was a huge blessing, because we were trying to be socially conscious, and also the level of work that I was surrounded by, the people I was surrounded by, from the cast to the crew to writing. I was very humbled and am still humbled to be able to say this was the company I was part of. That job wasn’t just a job, it was the beginning of my career.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR FIRST TIME STAFF WRITERS?

No one is looking at you to solve problems. No one is looking at you to point out the big hole in the season. No one is looking at you to pitch the perfect twist for the ultimate finale episode. They have so many levels above you that have been doing that and are being paid to figure those things out.

They have you there for a reason. What they want from you is your life experience and your willingness to contribute and a little bit of humility and positive energy. Someone to hang out with and has interesting contributions and can also let go when their contributions don’t work.

HOW DID YOU GET REPRESENTATION?

I got a manager through a friend. Stefano Agosto, who is now at AMC as an executive, was an assistant at Universal Cable Productions when I was an assistant. We were both dreaming of bigger and better things. We just bonded. At the time I was working for Noah Hawley. I had material and I had gotten into the Latino Writers Workshop and had met with a few managers. They read me, and either they were gun-shy or I just didn’t like them enough to sell myself. It just wasn’t working. He called me up and said, “Hey, a manager came to a meeting with my boss and asked me if I had been tracking any good writers. I said yeah, and I want to give him your script because I really like it.” I said yes, absolutely. That was totally cool with me.

I made a big writer faux pas. I didn’t have much material to back it up with. So I met with Steve Smith at Stagecoach Entertainment. He was like, you don’t have much material, but this was really good. He had some thoughts on where it could go and how to make it better. He gave me some notes. We talked about how I came up. Ultimately I had, and still have, the goal that I want to be a showrunner someday. I want to tell stories that aren’t being told and I want to hire people that don’t get hired. That’s the kind of person I want to be.

He liked the attitude, loved the personality. The one sample was cool. The other stuff he read and was like you can’t really use it because it was comedy. What I did was I took his notes and I turned a rewrite around, I think we met on a Tuesday and by Friday I had a rewrite. He was like, wow, you work really quickly. He read it over the weekend and on Monday he was like, “This is really good. You took my notes and added things I didn’t see, so we want to sign you.”

ADVICE ON TAKING STAFFING AND GENERAL MEETINGS.

Try to find something to talk about and bond over other than the reason why you’re there, but then never forget why you’re there. When I got staffed on AMERICAN CRIME, I met with John the week he won the Oscar for 12 YEARS A SLAVE. I was in the lobby and I kept saying, “Don’t talk about the Oscar. Don’t talk about the Oscar,” because the conversation will become tell me about what’s been the last year of your life and I will not get to talk about myself.

So I went in the room, I think I said something like congratulations on all your recent success. He said thank you. Then on his bookcase was a Raymond Chandler novel and I had just finished reading The Big Sleep. I said, “Oh, Raymond Chandler, I love Raymond Chandler. I just finished reading The Big Sleep.” He goes, “That’s my favorite book. I read it eight times.” Then we started talking about The Long Goodbye, which I had never read. So that was like fifteen minutes of just Raymond Chandler talk. Then he segued into tell me about yourself.

At that point I had read the script and so I was telling my life story, but I was touching on moments that I knew he could mine for this character, Tony. I went in there knowing that I’m going to pitch myself as the guy who can write Tony the character, but I’m not going to say that, I’m going to embody it. This character in the script, he gets arrested for getting into some juvenile delinquency and so I said, well I grew up in East LA and I’ve been in trouble with the law, but nothing serious, I was just kind of a delinquent. I wasn’t lying and I wasn’t putting on a show. I was being honest about a specific element of my life that applies to the story that he was trying to tell. I always have the attitude of what can I do for the showrunner, because it’s his or her vision. What can I do to bring it to life?

WHAT IS THE MOST COMMON QUESTION ASPIRING WRITERS ASK YOU? HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THEM?

How do I get an agent/first writing job? The answer to that is complicated, because there is no one absolute method that works. That being said, there is one absolute method that will get you there eventually: hone your craft. Getting a job, and getting and agent or manager will happen if your work is undeniable. We can all always do better work. So anyone who believes they don’t have any further to grow and are ready “as is” are already selling themselves short. You may be at a level that is hirable, so that means it’s only a matter of time until that happens. If it doesn’t happen soon, then get better. Get so good that people will fight to represent and hire you. Then you are in the driver’s seat. The other side to working on your own material is to make lots of friends at all levels in the industry. The intern you supervise might someday be the next Shonda Rhimes or Vince Gilligan, why not get in on the ground floor? I’m not saying to live your life trying to use people, quite the opposite. Live your life trying to do good for others and eventually that good will you’ve shown in life will come around in some way.

WHAT OTHER ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR WRITERS IN THE EARLY STAGES OF THEIR CAREERS?

Don’t give up. If this job were easy, everyone would do it. The hardest part is staying committed to the craft. Many people start out willing to fail, to chase their dream and damn all else in pursuit of it. Accept that you will fail a fair amount of times, but above that, be willing to succeed. Be willing to do the hard work, to get past the tough times, to embrace success and what it will bring you. Chase success and enjoy the process of getting there. The journey towards your goals is what makes up the bulk of your life. It should be satisfying to you right now, at whatever stage you are at. Because once you get that first writing job, that’s only the beginning of a whole new set of struggles you will have to navigate. That’s when the work really starts.


Kelly Jo Brick is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. She’s a television and documentary writer and producer, as well as a winner of Scriptapalooza TV and a Sundance Fellow. Read more about her HERE.

The 10 Most Popular TVWriter™ Posts of 2013

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Settle down. Lean back in your chair. Good…ready?

So are we, with links to the most visited articles posted on TVWriter™ in the last 52 weeks. But first a caveat:

By far the most visited articles on TVWriter™ this year were those relating to our contentious contests (as LB’s friend and mentor Stan Lee might say). Announcements about People’s Pilot and Spec Scriptacular placings led the pack, followed closely by announcements that we were going to announce the various results and then by other announcements about new plans, new rules, and new prizes for both the PP and the SS.

So we aren’t going to list them here. Because, when you get down to it, how relevant are discussions and lists about contests that have already been held? A site search will take you to all things related to the PP and the SS and, besides, a new People’s Pilot is about to start January 1st, AKA in just a few days, and you’d better believe that we’ll give you plenty to read then.

(What happened to the Spec Scriptacular, you ask? Don’t fret, goombahs. The next SS will start June 1st, after the 2014 People’s Pilot winners have been chosen, and you’ll probably end up with more than your fill on related info. We’re going for the tight focus thing, you see.)

Now that that’s out of the way, scroll and click on what – since modesty is of course a virtue and we like to see ourselves as being as virtuous as virtuosos can be – we really should be calling:

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The 10 Most Popular TVWriter™ Posts of 2013 That Aren’t, You Know, Tooting Our Own Horn

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10) HOUSE OF CARDS Is a Losing Hand.

9) Become a Better Writer with These Important Reading Skills First

8) Supernatural Season 1 Finale – Recap and Review

7) Joss Whedon Inspires the Hell Out of Us

6) More About the FIREFLY Board Game

5) Kathy Sees Iron Man 3

4) munchman: Stephen Merchant Goes into Comedy Biz with HBO

3) Robert Picardo joins Inspector Spacetime!

2) Want to Read the Most Highly Praised Screenplays of 2012?

And the Most-Visited/Most-Popular/Most-Clicked on article of all:

1) Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

Ta-da!

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Thinking Man Reviews: Supernatural Season Three Premiere

Another review of a recent CW series. Uh, 2007 is recent…if you’ve been in a coma since, say, 2008.

BY ANTHONY MEDINA

**This episode originally aired in October 2007. If you are unfamiliar with the series, be aware this review contains spoilers.**

 “Fatdrunk, and stupid is no way to go through lifeson.” Dean Vernon Bobby

The hunt is on as the Supernatural boys gear up to take on the hundreds of new demons released into the world in the Season Two Finale. And what better way to start a crusade of righteous fury then by taking on the demonic embodiment of the Seven Deadly Sins, or as the episode title not-so-cleverly suggests “The Magnificent Seven”.

We open on Sam (Jared Padalecki) reading some archaic version of Demons for Dummies, while Dean (Jensen Ackles) has some naughty-fun-times with a woman he proudly refers to as “The double mint twins”. It seems as though Dean has resigned himself to his inevitable fate having damned his soul to the underworld last season in return for saving Sam’s life. And with less then a year to go before the grim reaper comes to collect, he’s determined to have as much fun as possible. Which for Dean is a combination of random sex and demon slaughter.

They are contacted by Bobby (Jim Beaver), who says he has a lead on some possible demon activity. They head out to Lincoln Nebraska and run into Isaac and Tamara, a couple of fellow Ghostbusters investigating the same events. Sam suggests they work together but Isaac wants nothing to do with the men who allowed the gates of hell to open in the first place.

Sam, Dean and Bobby continue their investigation and discover that the Seven Deadly Sins are behind all the hoopla. For those of you who don’t know these sins include: Greed, Lust, Envy, Pride, Gluttony, Sloth and Wrath. Personally, I would include Michael Bay movies but I guess Sloth and Gluttony already have that covered.

They track the Seven to a local bar but soon realize Isaac and Tamara are already there. Unfortunately, these Demon slayers came underprepared and are quickly overpowered. Our heroes race to the rescue but are unable to save Isaac who is already dead. They save Tamara and manage to capture one of the demons before retreating.

Back at HQ they use the Devil’s Trap to isolate the demon, Envy, and bring on the Vatican water torture. They don’t really get any useful information so Tamara performs an exorcism to kill him off. Unfortunately for them, the Seven are the Marines of the underworld and never leave a man behind. Pride, Lust, and two other demons attack the Supernatural crew and things get ugly. Fortunately, they are saved by a mysterious blonde woman who jumps into the fight to help them. The demons are killed and the blonde woman disappears with no explanation for her sudden appearance. Well gang, looks like we have another mystery on our hands.

It was a solid opening for the third season of Supernatural, but probably the weakest season opener so far. I would have liked a bit more insight into the motivations behind the Seven but with two of them still out there maybe we’ll find out later in the season.

Thinking Man Rating: 7/10

Supernatural Season Two Finale – Recap and Review

BY ANTHONY MEDINA

**This episode originally aired in May 2007. If you are unfamiliar with the series, be aware this review contains spoilers.**

 “I couldn’t have done it without your pathetic, self loathing, self destructive desire to sacrifice yourself for your family.” – Azazel

After two seasons of chasing down the Yellow Eyed Demon, our ghost hunting heroes get a final showdown with their arch nemesis Azazel and all hell breaks loose, literally.

But before Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) can unleash their righteous vengeance, they have to deal with the small issue of Sam being dead. In the first half of the two part finale “All Hell Breaks Loose”, Sam is killed by a rival psychic in a demon sponsored battle to the death. With Sam down, his opponent Jake Tally (Aldis Hodge) is named the winner and is recruited to help Azazel find and open the gate to hell.

Dean is inconsolable and refuses to accept his brother’s death. Luckily for him, in the world of Supernatural being dead is only a minor inconvenience. Nothing a little deal with the devil can’t fix. Dean summons an old demon pal and offers his life for Sam’s. The demon agrees and gives him one year before coming to collect. And with that Sam is back in the game.

The two track down Azazel’s man Jake to an old cemetery where the gate to Hell is opened and the demons of the underworld rise up in all their smoky glory. The ghostbuster crew kill Jake and try to close the door but Azazel shows up and opens a can of whoop ass on Sam and Dean. But just as he is about to finish the job, our old friend John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) spirits his way out of hell and wrastles Azazel down to the ground. Dean grabs the Colt and kills the Yellow Eyed Demon bringing a close to the biggest story arc of the series so far. John gives the boys a nice nod of approval and wisps off to spy on women changing or whatever it is spirits do. And season three is set up nice and proper with an army of demons on the loose and a ghost fighting duo ready to take them on.

So what can I say about Supernatural. This was a good episode, but I keep running into the same problem with this show. The overall story arcs are fairly interesting, and there are strong episodes to be found. But so much of this show is ghost of the week filler. Not necessarily bad, but very “meh” which is sometimes worse. Perhaps season three will pick things up a bit. After all there is a demon army out there and a ticking clock on Dean’s soul. Let’s hope they take advantage.

Season 2

Thinking Man Rating: 8 Thumbs Up

Season 2 Finale

Thinking Man Rating: 13 Thumbs Up

**Be aware the Thinking Man rating system is based on awesomeness and should be disregarded if you are not now, or have never been, awesome.**

Supernatural Season Two Episode One – Recap and Review

 BY ANTHONY MEDINA

**This episode originally aired in September 2006. If you are unfamiliar with the series, be aware this review contains spoilers.**

“Oh, I don’t wanna trap you. I wanna make a deal.”  John Winchester

It might have been easy to simply coast on the momentum built from the season one finale, but “In my time of dying” raises the bar yet again for this increasingly strong CW show.

We open with our heroes unconscious on the side of the road as a demon approaches to finish the job. Sam (Jared Padalecki) regains consciousness just in time and uses the Colt to chase the demon away. They end up in the hospital where Dean (Jensen Ackles) remains unconscious and in critical condition. Sam and his father John (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) discuss their options and argue about whether or not to immediately go after the Yellow Eyed Demon.

Meanwhile, we discover that Dean has become separated from his body and wanders the halls as a ghost. And that’s when he runs into the Reaper who has come to help his spirit move on.

She gives him the choice of passing into the afterlife (whatever that may be) or remaining on Earth as a wandering spirit, exactly the type of supernatural creature he dedicated his life to fighting. This was one of the most powerful scenes in the episode and Jensen Ackles does a great job as he portrays Dean’s realization that every spirit he’s ever fought must have struggled with this same choice.

Yet, before Dean can make his decision, we cut to John who has decided to take matters into his own hands. He summons the Yellow Eyed Demon and proposes a trade for his son’s life. And after some negotiating, the Demon accepts.

Dean wakes up moments later with no recollection of what occurred. Sam and John have a suspiciously pleasant exchange before Sam is sent to get a coffee. John whispers a secret into Dean’s ear and leaves with a teary goodbye. Finally, we follow Sam returning the room only to find John collapsed on the floor, dead.

A father sacrificing himself for his children, I’d compare it to the first season of Game of Thrones, but comparing a CW show (no matter how much I like it) to the HBO mega series might make the universe implode. So I’ll just say that even though they handled his death well and sent him out like a hero. It’s going to be tough getting through the rest of the series without him. Jeffrey Dean Morgan did a great job with the character of John Winchester and he will be greatly missed. Although, if any show were to lend itself to the re-emergence of a dead character, it would be Supernatural.

Thinking Man Rating: 15 Thumbs Up

**Be aware the Thinking Man rating system is based on awesomeness and should be disregarded if you are not now, or have never been, awesome.**