XANDER THE SLAYER: The Spec That Started Steven DeKnight’s Career

What would the Christmas season be without success stories? For that matter, what would showbiz be without them? Join us now as TVWriter™ presents the warm, uplifting tale of how Steven DeKnight went from wanna be to showrunner (of DAREDEVIL). Dude’s winnin’, y’know?

Buffycastby James Bean

If you want to work in TV, you have to prove that you can write for somebody else’s characters.This can be difficult, especially when the characters are as beloved as the ones found on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and especially when the name of your speculative episode is “Xander the Slayer.”

It’s actually a well-known rule that you shouldn’t spec a show that you want to work on for exactly this reason: Showrunners and writers know their own characters too well to judge a spec fairly. There will always be something that doesn’t sound quite right. A line of dialogue that doesn’t ring a hundred percent true.

But don’t you dare tell try to sell that garbage to Steven DeKnight, showrunner of Daredevil and writer on Buffy and Angel. You see, early in his career, Steven wrote a Buffy spec script titled “Xander the Slayer” and found himself on the business end of a job offer extended by Joss Whedon himself.

“Somewhere in a storage facility in LA is a copy of that spec script,” said Steven DeKnight when we asked him about it. “I have actually no idea what box that particular script is in, but it’s out there somewhere. It’s like the lost ark. Yeah, that was a crazy little story.”

Armed with the knowledge that you should always spec a show that you love, DeKnight’s main struggle came down to choosing between his two favorite shows at the time: NYPD Blue, andBuffy the Vampire Slayer.

“I had ideas for both of them,” said DeKnight. “For a couple of weeks I went back and forth, and in a very fateful decision for the rest of my life, I decided to write a Buffy spec.”

DeKnight’s plan? To write a “swing for the fences” stand-out episode that couldn’t go ignored.

Read it all at Hypable