Posts Tagged ‘iZombie’


2016 Austin Film Festival One Hour Spec Competition – 29. September, 2016

Another year, another complete whiff with my iZombie spec.


Still, I don’t want to be that sourpuss that gripes. I want to be that sourpuss that gives you an awesome infographic about the drama specs that made the second round or better at this year’s Austin Film Festival.



TV Drama Specs 2016
Create your own infographics

So what can we glean from this beautifully presented info?

-The popularity of Daredevil and iZombie prove that comic books rule the small screen.

-Writers love to spec CW and Showtime series the most, Netflix and AMC the second most, NBC and FX third most. Also, there’s at least one talented writer watching Audience and El Rey, respectively.

-Folk are busting out the 2nd season shows.

Congrats to everyone that placed.

Posted in Festivals, Writing

Consumed May 2016 – 31. May, 2016

I finished submitting my script at 4:31AM. I’m done… at least until I have to submit to Final Draft Big Break and the NHMC fellowship… but for now, I’m done. This is me for the next week:


Here’s what I somehow managed to consume when I wasn’t writing like a maniac.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Giant robots! Awesome!


Agents of SHIELD
Bob’s Burgers
The 100
The Flash
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – A pretty great season finale.


Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Captain America: Civil War – Everything I expected and hoped.


The Nice Guys – Ryan Gosling goes for the funny. I like it.


Frightened Rabbit live @ The Fonda – I have been loving this band for a decade. So great to see them live.

Private Citizens by Tony Tulathimutte – If a thesaurus were to masturbate, you’d get this book.


Locke & Key – Finally finished the whole thing. It’s pretty goddamn great. No wonder they want to make it into a TV show.


The Walking Dead (The Alien) – Maybe the best single issue of The Walking Dead I’ve ever read.


Captain America: White
Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Five
Codename: Baboushka – Met the artist. Love her style.


Our Love is Real – Not as disturbing as I thought it’d be.


DC Comic’s Bombshells
Birthright – Pretty cool idea


iZombie – The comic is nothing like the TV show.


Doctor Strange
Black Canary – So damn good. Want more!


The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl – Tons of fun!





















The Surface

…Tony sleep now.

Posted in General

Hacking Sleep: The Cat Nap – 19. May, 2016

When you’re dead tired, do you know how to fight exhaustion? By sleeping! Specifically, by taking a cat nap.


Want to maximize that nap and not accidentally doze off for three hours?

1) Set an alarm for 15 minutes. Don’t sleep for longer.

2) Set a second alarm and put it far enough away that you have to get up to shut it off.

3) Nap with the lights on.

4) Drink a small tea or coffee before napping.

As for my writing, the deadlines loom large. Then I learn this fun little fact.

So I’m submitting the second most popular drama spec? Guess I can expect a lot of competition.

Cool. Bring it.

But first…


Also, don’t forget to vote for your favorite comic book cover artist. This poll will close in one week.

Who is your favorite 2016 Eisner nominee for "Best Cover Artist" (pick up to 2 artists)?

View Results

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Posted in General

To TV or Not to TV – 7. April, 2016

Last night I presented a beat sheet of my iZombie spec to my writing group and I got some great feed back. I’m ready to make adjustments, jump into a proper outline, and then pivot into scripting. Then it’s time to practice some project stacking. If I’m writing my spec then I need to start (re)breaking my undercover cop pilot. Technically this is a rewrite of a pilot I scripted last year but so many elements have changed that it’s like starting over again from square one… maybe square two.

But what about after that? I then confront the age old question: be a Jack of All Trades or a Master of One? Diversify or deep dive? Date around or commit to one… oops. Let’s ignore that last analogy.


Do I focus on another television project or do I try my hand at features and comic books? Is it better to have a diverse portfolio or is that diluting my focus? Right now I’m currently brainstorming the following…
-A sci-fi roommate comic book (or possibly a “comic strip”). Think of SPACED after snorting a line of uncut RICK & MORTY.
-An 80s haunted house feature. I’m already building an EPIC soundtrack!
-A New Orleans set monster movie. I started this last year and I really should finish it (but that haunted house idea is calling).
-A pilot about a cult.
-A pilot about stopping Armageddon.

I could keep going but these are the ones that have passed the “let me sleep on it” test. That’s one comic, two features and two television pilots.


What’s the best thing for me to do: go all in with television or hedge my bets? What have you done in the past? How did it work out?

Posted in Writing

INDEX CARDS RULE(d)! – 17. March, 2016

Why do I love index cards? Because they’re portable, because they’re tactile, and because I can go from this (the A, B, C and D stories for my iZombie spec)…


to this (the 6 acts of my iZombie spec)…


Are index cards for everyone? No, every writer has a different process. Heck, I feel like each of my projects demands a different process. Still, all that matters is that I get to “the end” on time and I finally feel like I have an actual episode on my hands.

Posted in Writing

You Aren’t Watching Enough TV – 3. March, 2016

John Landgraf is wrong. There is not “too much television“. It’s that you aren’t consuming enough. And if you’re an aspiring television writer drafting a spec of a current show, then you aren’t watching television correctly.


Last week I wrote about how watching TV is work for a writer, with an emphasis on the data you need to collect per episode. This week we look at questions you need to answer after you’ve watched at least a half season of your show. Some of this is more data collection. Some of this is interpreting the data collected. Let’s begin.

-Is this show episodic or serialized?

-How many stories (A Story, B Story, etc.) does each episode contain?

-How many of the stories are related to the series threads?

-How often do stories wrap up? Every episode? Every few episodes? Every season?

-What is the typical focus of each story?

-Who is the protagonist of each story?

-Who is the antagonist of each story?

-What is the key relationship for each story?

-What is the theme of the show?

-How is each episode related to that theme?

The above might seem fairly general but the answers are insightful. For example, this year I’m writing an iZombie spec and after breaking down all of season 1 and season 2 (at least up until the winter break), I can tell you with authority that my show is…


-Contains 4 stories (A, B, C, D). For this example, I’ll concentrate on the A Story.

-The A Story (which is always a case of the week story) rarely relates to the series thread (curing zombie-ism).

-The A Story wraps up every episode (it is called the case of the week).

-The A Story focuses on solving the case of the week.

Liv is the A Story protagonist. Clive and Ravi support her throughout the A Story.

-The criminal of the week is the A Story antagonist.

-The key A Story relationship is Liv/Clive (occasionally Liv/Ravi).

Doing that kind of work will bring the show’s structure and mechanics into sharp focus. You’ll clearly know the boundaries, which in turn will help you identify areas where you can spin your magic.


Now get off your butt and go write a great spec.


Posted in Writing

Consumed February 2016 – 29. February, 2016

It’s Leap Day!


Take advantage of this extra day. Go be awesome. Maybe get a large shake at the drive-thru Baskin Robbins — DON’T YOU JUDGE ME!

You know who else loves a good milkshake?

Now, here’s what I consumed this past month.

The Flash
Marvel’s Agent Carter – Holy smokes, Peggy and her sunglasses — be still my heart.


Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
The X-Files – I want to believe that this show could be great again.


Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – So it’s Dr. Who but with superheroes? Sign me up!

Bob’s Burgers

Deadpool – Thank you for reminding me of how much I love that DMX song.


The Witch – The best horror film of the year, maybe even G.O.A.T. (couldn’t resist).


The Best of DMX by DMX – Damn right!

Habitual Love Songs by Battleme
You Can Make Me Feel Bad by Phosphorescent – But it makes me feel GOOD!

No Way Out by Warpaint – Don’t know why but I love these dirty hippie girls.

AmERICa by Wreckless Eric
Pale Honey by Pale Honey
Midnight by Grace Potter – This song came out of nowhere and took over my car stereo. Love it when that happens… man, I’m really bummed I’m not going to SXSW.

Ritual in Repeat by Tennis – An upbeat melody for an unseasonably warm February.

Hannah Georgas by Hannah Georgas

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace – FINISHED! It didn’t kill me. Now to burn this book in effigy.

Lego Infinite Jest

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff – I’m still reading this book, loving it so far, so don’t spoil it.


Paper Girls – I hate Brian K. Vaughn for being so good.


Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life – So. Goddamn. Good!


DC Comics: Bombshells
iZombie – Nothing like the TV show, which is actually pretty cool.


The Goddamned
I Hate Fairyland

Video Games
Fallout 4 – So far I have reached “maximum affinity” with Dog Meat, Preston, Codsworth, Curie, Valentine, Piper, Strong, Cait and Hancock. Guess I put more work into my video game relationships than I do IRL.

And that’s a wrap on February. See y’all in the awesome month of March!

Posted in General

The Thematic Hypothesis – 28. January, 2016

I’m taking a break from my pilot, from prepping and strategizing the rewrite, to tackle something that’s come up with a one-hour iZombie spec I’m trying to beat out.

BTW, Scott Myer’s Project Stacking is the best and all of you should be practitioners.

Back to the subject at hand. I was attempting to gather critical mass on this iZombie spec when I thought, “if my scripting is made easier by a strong outline, and a strong outline is made easier by a strong beat sheet, and a strong beat sheet is made easier by a strong concept, then wouldn’t a strong concept be made easier by a strong theme?”

And then my brain when BOOM!


Okay, I know someone is thinking, “if theme comes first then the writing gets preachy and didactic” and I’m going to explain how you can avoid that.

(For the record, let me state that I don’t claim to have answers. I’m just willing to keep trying things until I find something that works for me.)

The key to finding a drama-worthy theme that avoids pedagogical writing is to differentiate between General Themes, Moral Platitudes and Thematic Hypotheses.

Now, for some people, when asked “what’s your theme” they’ll answer “um, I dunno, love and friendship and family, but mostly love.” That, in my humble opinion, is a terrible answer. Yes, a work can have multiple themes but “love” is too broad. You can’t do anything of dramatic interest with just “love”. General Themes are worthless.

The next person might say, “my theme is ‘love thy neighbor’.” That is a Moral Platitude that can lead to overly simplified drama. It doesn’t engender conflict, which is the kindling for drama.

But what if I said, “tis better to have loved and loss then to have never loved at all”? That is what I’m going to call a Thematic Hypothesis. That is a potential argument. That can actually be the engine for a lot of great drama.

Imagine a two-hander, a couple destined to be together but they each have very different views on love. One believes that it is better to have loved and loss, so that person has loved and lost a lot. Maybe they’re addicted to intimacy, to the blush of new romance, but nothing sticks. They’re a serial monogamist.

Then, on the other side of this equation is a character that believes that it’s better to have never loved than to feel the sting of loss. They don’t do intimacy. They’re always dumping people the second things get too familiar because that’s the door to love which resides on the same street as rejection and heartbreak.

That is a hypothesis that two characters can argue, and test, and explore. That is a robust engine that can drive a series. As you write, you know that all characters, scenes, motivations must branch off that central thematic hypothesis. If you test everything you write against that hypothesis, your first draft will be very tight.

And that’s what I’m trying to do with my iZombie spec because I don’t have a lot of time to waste flailing about. This spec has gotta be great because this is the year I want to make one of the fellowships, so wish me luck.

Posted in Writing

Consumed June 2015 – 30. June, 2015

I declare June the cruelest month (screw you, Eliot). I cleared half a dozen deadlines by the 5th, I still have three more projects to complete and damnit, the little things been sweating me. Oy! Even my spirit animal be quittin’ on me!


Here’s what I consumed…

iZombie – I’ve been unfairly comparing this show to my beloved Veronica Mars but each episode has improved upon the previous. How often can you say that? And I’ve gone a whole season without posting sexy pics of Aly Michalka, who plays the role of Peyton. Pics like the one below.


Friends – I’m up to the part where Rachel had her baby. Still enjoying it but I can sense that the end is near.

Agents of SHIELD
The Blacklist – Two seasons and we’re radically changing the show. Hmm. Looks like it’s about to take a turn for the darker. If so, I’m along for the ride.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Attack on Titan
The Last Man on Earth – I don’t write half-hour but if I did I’d be crushing this show.

Modern Family
The Americans – I didn’t enjoy season three as much as the previous two but there were episodes that I still can’t shake.

Better Call Saul – It’s okay to say I was let down, right?


Brace yourself. I have a confession to make. I’m having a country music moment.


Easy. Relax. Breathe. It’s not all about hot girls in cowboy boots (although that is a particular weakness of mine).


…where was I? Oh, right, my new found fascination with country music. Allow me to explain. It all started with a cover by Sturgill Simpson. That lead to picking up the album and loving it.

Then this really cute girl in my book club suggested Robert Ellis. At first I resisted but again I was won over.

Then I started wandering around the country music aisle on my own and I kept hearing about Nikki Lane and her excellent album.

Yes, I’m officially on a country kick but can you blame me? Nikki is crazy talented but also…


I mean…





Yeah, let’s get back on topic.

Mislaid by Nell Zink – I enjoyed this book with a devilish glee.


My Education by Susan Choi – Still reading it. Have to finish soon so I can discuss it with the cute girl from group.

Doctor Spektor
Lazarus – A very slow burn but I’m sticking it out.

Real West
Queen & Country – Goddamn if this isn’t one of my favorites. Just reread the first three collections and I totally dig the different art styles by Steve Rolston, Brian Hurtt and Leandro Fernandez respectively.



The Secret History of D.B. Cooper
Manifest Destiny – I freaking love this book (please keep getting better).

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Four
Meteor Men
Hellbreak – I wish I had come up with this idea.

Princess Ugg
The Sixth Gun – Not what I was expecting. Liking it, and totally surprised. Awesome!


Avengers: Age of Ultron
Jurassic World – This was a bad movie.


It’s okay that we all liked it but let’s not delude ourselves. I mean this is a thousand times better, right?


Far Cry 4 – I need to finish this just so I can move on to Arkham Knight.


Posted in General

What Should I Spec for 2016 – 4. June, 2015

Who is a glutton for punishment?



Why? Because I’m already thinking about shows I can spec next year. As the greatest limiting factor is the Warner Brothers list of approved dramas, here are the shows on their 2015 list that I’d consider for next year.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC) – Renewed for season 3

Halt & Catch Fire (AMC) – Season 2 just debuted

Orphan Black (BBC America) – Season 3 currently airing

Sleepy Hollow (Fox) – Renewed for season 3

The Blacklist (NBC) – Renewed for season 3

The Flash (CW) – Renewed for season 2

Arrow (CW) – Renewed for season 4

Gotham (Fox) – Renewed for season 2

Hannibal (NBC) – Season 3 airing this summer

Shows absent from this year’s list but that I think / hope will be on the 2016 one…

iZombie (CW) – Renewed for season 2

Daredevil (Netflix) – Renewed for season 2

Agent Carter (ABC) – Renewed for season 2

Better Call Saul (AMC) – Renewed for season 2

So, which to spec? I’m not looking to spec my favorite show. I’m looking to spec the show that I can knock out of the park. Therefore, let’s look at my newest spec and the 3 previous ones that have placed in contests / fellowships. They are…

The 100


The Americans




Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles


What do they have in common? All four features 1) bad ass female leads, 2) non-traditional families, and 3) violence/action. Two of the above feature spying/undercover work. Two are firmly science-fiction dealing with the post-apocalypse. Based off that, let’s narrow the list to shows that have at least three of the above elements. Those shows would be…

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Bad ass females (May, Skye), non-traditional family (the team), tons of action, sci-fi (super heroes), spying/undercover work


Orphan Black – Bad ass females (the clones), some action (more suspense than action, really), non-traditional family (the clones, Fee, Ms. S., et al.), sci-fi


Agent Carter – Bad ass female, action, spying/undercover work


Sleepy Hollow – Bad ass female co-lead (Abbie), non-traditional family (Ichabod’s family + Abby), plenty of action, sci-fi, preventing the apocalypse


The Blacklist – Bad ass female co-lead (Elizabeth), lots of action, spying/undercover work

iZombie – Bad ass female lead (Liv), sci-fi, pending zombie apocalypse (kinda)


If I had to pick a show right now, it’d probably be iZombie or Agent Carter. I still have a viable Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. idea but it’s getting increasingly difficult to get excited about that show. I also harbor a deep desire to spec Orphan Black but it’s serialized within an inch of its life (but boy, do I love the difficult ones). Did I miss any shows? Did I get something wrong?

Posted in Writing