On my way to writing good scripts, I wrote many terrible ones. In my long quest to improve, I found myself at UCLA. There, I spent two quarters with Professor Neil Landau at UCLA’s Professional Program in Screenwriting. Not everyone is lucky enough to live within commuting distance of UCLA, but fortunately Neil has written some terrific books. His Screenwriting Roadmap is one of the only books on screenwriting I regularly recommend to writers of all levels.
Neil’s latest book, TV Outside the Box: Trailblazing in the Digital Television Revolution, is focused on TV’s new golden age of on-demand viewing and digital networks. Neil has a knack for distilling information down to very practical, usable points. The book is stuffed full with interviews from actual, current executives and creators. I can’t imagine a more thorough or richer treatment of this subject.
Happily, my interview with Neil is included in this book. It’s from a conversation I had as a guest in his UCLA screenwriting class. It covers my experience bringing Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street to fruition in greater detail than I’ve gone into anywhere before. Even if you have absolutely no interest in me, you should pick up this book — it’s timely, and has a high useful-information-to-page-count ratio.
A while back, maybe even before production began on Gortimer’s final season, and definitely before I cut my hair (how did I ever live like that?), Amazon sent a production crew down to SoCal to make a short video about me. It was part of a series called “Transformations” that features many authors and other various kinds of human beings who have been involved with Amazon in one capacity or another, and whose lives have been changed in the process.
Once you get past the weird feeling of being the center of attention, having a video made about you can be a fun experience. Everyone on the crew was great. Interviewer Cristin Miller has my gratitude for putting me at ease and charming me with her enthusiasm.
Cristin and team spent two days interviewing me and Amazon Studios execs. The crew shot at Amazon Studios’s office and also came to the Dave Cave to film. They’ve also incorporated behind-the-scenes footage into the story. You can make a game out of figuring out which shots are of the cave, and which are of Gortimer’s bedroom set.
The video popped up on YouTube a while back and I assumed it had been abandoned there. It’s been linked on my About page, so you may have seen it but probably not because who reads About Pages anymore. But now there’s a nice new write-up on the Amazon Transformations page. There’s a link on the front page of Amazon.com (yes, I’m bragging) but I’ll save you the bother of hunting for it. Please visit the Amazon Transformations page and enjoy.
What a week for our show and for our writers. It’s been an absolute pleasure to watch as Garrett Frawley, Brian Turner, Gretchen Enders and Aminta Goyel were recognized for their work on Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street. When you’ve been in the trenches with these people, when you’ve fought alongside them to make something truly unique and authentic, when you’ve held the line against compromise and held each other up so you could reach just that much further than any kid show has ever gone before, then seeing their efforts rewarded means so much more. It’s been a privilege to be in the room with these writers. They haven’t just made our show richer, they have defined our show, become part of its DNA. I’m beyond thrilled for them.
I was sitting next to showrunner and series main-director Luke Matheny going over minor changes to our script for the finale. Our producer came over and said “Someone wants to talk to you”. He held out his phone, speaker on, and the voice of our production manager told us the WGA award nominations had just been released.
Four of the five nominations in our category went to Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street, including the script Luke and I had written together in Season 1, “Gortimer vs. the Relentless Rainbow of Joy”.
If you’ve seen even a single frame of Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street, you know that our Production Designer, Kristan Andrews, is some kind of genius. She has imbued the show with a unique warmth and glow that flies in the face of every other loud, brash, obnoxious kid TV show out there.
Thirteen new episodes of Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street were released on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, October 30th for your viewing pleasure. We began planning season 2 way back in December 2014 and it’s a huge relief to finally be able to send these episodes out into the world. It’s a little nerve-wracking too. After all, we have a whole season one to live up to. Sophomore efforts are famously precarious. But I think somehow, despite setting the bar very high, we managed to clear it. Maybe with room to spare.