Yesterday we published the first part of TVWriter™ minion Justin Cloyd’s interview with THE WALKING DEAD’s (and our favorite Midnight Swim series of all time, NTSF:SD:SUV’s) Curtis Gwinn.
Time now for Part the Second:
In the 2012 People’s Pilot you entered a script called The Last Stone, categorized as an Action/Dramedy. Around that same time you were working on NTSF:SD:SUV::. Was it difficult transitioning from working on something as unhinged and non-dramatic as NTSF to something, if only a tiny bit, more somber?
Well, I’m not sure why “The Last Stone” was listed as dramedy… If you read it, it’s pretty fucking dark. A major departure from what I’d ever done before. I mean, the teaser features a naked man in a rubber chicken mask (a little shout out to the classic rubber chicken of comedy- my roots!) almost choking a prostitute to death.
The Mentalist it was not.
But hey, if it makes you laugh, I’m OK with it. I once read that The Zodiac Killer would occasionally send movie reviews to the San Francisco Chronicle. My favorite was his write-up of, “The Exorcist.” He called it, “the laugh out loud, feel good hit of the summer!”, or something like that. I’m paraphrasing The Zodiac Killer.
Whatever works, I guess.
You were a semi-finalist in the contest. Did this help your confidence when showing your original drama spec around? What kind of feedback did you receive back from the contest?
Yes, it helped me a lot. But you know, it wasn’t the allure of winning that drew me in the most (though it would have been nice… WTF, Larry??). It was the process of having a goal and hitting deadlines. When you write in an open-ended vacuum, it can be very hard to stay motivated. TV Writer’s The People’s Pilot focused me up and got me motivated to write, polish and get excited about my script. It was the simple joy of doing something creative and being proactive about it. A great experience.
But still… I didn’t win. I demand a recount.
Just recently you accepted a position as producer/writer for AMC’s The Walking Dead. How unbelievably cool is your life right now?
Haven’t you been reading? I’m a neurotic who had a lousy childhood. The only person benefitting from my success is my shrink, who can now charge me the full rate instead of the sliding scale she had me on before.
But, yeah, yeah… I’m thrilled. Really. This is a dream job. I’m eternally thankful to Gale Anne Hurd, Dave Alpert, Greg Nicotero, Robert Kirkman and especially showrunner, Scott Gimple… Who took a risk on a goofball who’s spent most of his professional life doing ha-ha, funny make-em-ups. I am a fan of them all.
A special shout out also goes to Larry Brody, who has been so generous with his time. I once sent him a Silver Surfer comic as thanks for all his sage advice. Hope that tides him over for a while… these shrink bills really are killing me.
You completed the Advanced Writers Workshop. He-Who-Runs-The-Site informed me that you took the workshop with the intent of polishing your dramatic writing skills. Since you snagged the gig as staff writer for The Walking Dead, I think it’s safe to consider your skills polished. What about the Advanced Writers Workshop helped you the most in developing your drama talents?
Other than the technical, “how-to,” aspect, which was invaluable, it was the encouragement I received from Larry and the group. I had written most of my script before enrolling, but getting feedback from a living, breathing group of aspiring drama writers on the work was really terrific. You can only ask your friends so many times to read and note your work. It helps to get impartial, critical eyes on your pages.
Again, it’s about getting proactive with your desires. This class facilitated that in the best way.
Not to mention listening to Larry’s, Bob-Evans-meets-Hunter-Thompson-esque stories about living and breathing the TV business in the 70’s and 80’s. That was worth the cost of tuition in and of itself.
So what’s next? You’ve been a stand-up comedian, a TV comedian, a comedy writer, an actor, an executive producer, a drama writer, a director, and you even have an IMDB puppeteer credit. Do you have some super mind-blowing, revolutionary form of entertainment planned which makes use of all these skills?
I’d tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.
Thanks, Curtis. Especially for sparing me!