When the chemistry works

Time now for a few more words about this year’s hottest writer. Hi Vince!

by Michael Idato


‘It is a wonderful time to be working in television,” declares writer Vince Gilligan, as our audience with the man behind arguably the most critically exalted drama of our time –Breaking Bad – begins. ”One of the things that I love about television and, in fact, have always loved about television, is that it is a writers’ medium.”

At a time when the industry’s best writers, directors and, now, actors are drawn to television, Gilligan says the drawcard, especially for writers, is freedom. ”It still takes a village to make a movie and a village to make a TV show, but more often than not, one of the final arbiters of the actions of that village in movies is the director and in television is the writer,” he says.

”Most of the enjoyment and satisfaction that I’ve derived from working in this business has been from working in television as opposed to movies. Plain and simple, I get listened to more by the television business than the movie business.”

The 47-year-old writer-producer of Breaking Bad is heading to Australia as a guest of the Sydney Writers’ Festival. He says he’s not much of a public speaker and he’s honest enough to know exactly what’s on everyone’s mind: ”People want to know how my writers and I went about writing Breaking Bad and how we went about producing it,” he says. ”There’s not a lot of things I’m good at explaining in life, but that’s one thing that comes pretty easily.”

Before Breaking Bad, Gilligan’s credits included The X-Files, its spin-off The Lone Gunmen, and the 2005 reboot of the iconic 1970s horror-detective hybrid, Night Stalker. In fact, The X-Files was Gilligan’s first staff writing gig. As a young writer in Hollywood he found himself in a writers’ room working alongside the show’s creator, Chris Carter, and one of its key creatives, the acclaimed Frank Spotnitz. Most of Gilligan’s credited episodes were collaborations with Spotnitz and John Shiban, who has since gone on to write The Vampire DiariesTorchwood and Hell on Wheels.

”Chris Carter taught us all how to write for television and how to produce for television,” he says. ”He was an excellent boss and teacher and mentor. John Shiban was very good in the editing room, he was excellent in post-production, and Frank Spotnitz was a wonderful storyteller. Working with those folks and also with Chris for seven years, I learnt an awful lot.”

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