In this podcast, Glen Mazzara talks about The Shield, LA, the WGA strike action, and much more.
About Glen Mazzara
Glen Mazzara is an American television producer and writer. He is most well known for his work on The Shield, The Walking Dead, and Damien.
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Haunted: Perron Manor by Lee Mountford
Haunted: Perron Manor is Book 1 in the Haunted series, which continues with Haunted: Devil’s Door. Available now in paperback, eBook, and audiobook.
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Michael David Wilson 0:07
Welcome to This Is Horror, a podcast for readers, writers and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson. In every episode alongside my co host, Bob Pastorella. We chat with the world's best writers about writing, life lessons, creativity, and much more. Now today, we are chatting with Glenn Mazara. For the second part of our conversation. He is a producer and writer of shows such as The Shield, The Walking Dead, and Damian, just to name a few. And in this episode, we talk specifically about the shield about working and living in LA. And we talked a little bit about the WGA strike action. Now it is important to note that this was actually recorded at the end of April. So at that point, we didn't know if the WGA was or we're not going to strike. So I just wanted to make that absolutely clear to all your listeners. Okay, before we get into the conversation, it is time for an advert break.
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Michael David Wilson 2:48
Okay, without sad here it is it is Glenn Mazara. On This Is Horror. So, I mean, earlier you were talking about how when you first had your job at the medical center, you kind of felt like, you know, you wanted to be a writer that was obviously the passion and what you wanted to do. What was it that then prompted the move to LA to pursue writing in 1998?
Glen Mazzara 3:24
Oh, well. So I had I had tried to, you know, I had, I was learning how to write. So I had written you know, a screenplay, I had written a play, I had written a number of short stories, I was trying to figure it out. And then I started to pursue TV writing. And so in those days, you would write a spec script of an existing show, you would write your version and so I worked in an ER so I wrote an ER, as a writing sample, you know. And that was I was calling around, I was trying to connect with people, I was just kind of cold calling people in Hollywood or asking people in New York, do you know anybody have any one who could give me some advice or whatever I was working in the hospital, I was married, had a kid at that point of threes, you know, altogether, but we, I connected with a manager, okay, he managed me for a number of years. And I connected with this manager and he said, You know, I like to script if what else do you have as I gotta write something else? So I wrote a spec homicide. So I live on the street. You know, I learned about that show i and then and then I and then he shared that with an agent that he that he was interested in working with. And the agent knew I worked in a hospital so he felt the ER might be kind of ugly. any, you know what I mean? Like, like kind of like, oh, you know that world very well. What else can you write? So Buffy had just come out around that time. And I was a fan of that show immediately. So I wrote a spec Buffy. And it was a it was fun episode. It was a fun episode. And I'm actually friends with Charisma Carpenter are kids played on the same soccer team. And at one point, she read the Buffy and she liked it, you know, which was very flattering. So, so, so they took that and then they. So I originally in March of 1998, I came out and I met those guys, that manager and that agent, I had only spoken to them on the phone. So I didn't know what I was walking into, you know, but these seem like nice guys. And they started. They said, why don't you come out for staffing season and staffing season was in those days, you had a very set schedule to TV where, you know, you had the upfronts in May, the new shows were picked up the they started writing in June. And then and then you would kind of work through the year do 22 episodes and finish in like February or March I have a few months off and then begin the process again. So I wrote, so I came out for a staffing season and within like maybe less than three weeks, I think I had a pitch meeting at Nash Bridges, which was a cop show with with Don Johnson, and Cheech Marin. And so I went in, I pitched I kind of bombed that pitch. I didn't really do a good job pitch, but they had mercy on me and brought me in the following week. And I, I sold them an idea that, you know, I'll be honest, though, working at the hospital, I was making something like $43,000 a year. And the the fee for this was 26,000 for the script. So I called my wife and I said, Okay, we just need to get one more script, and I'm ahead of where I was working a whole year at the hospital. So we moved and then unfortunately, they liked that script. And they hired me onto staff. And so when I was on that staff, and it was a great staff, it was a it was a fun staff. I felt like you know, a very broad show, but I was partnered since the other Junior writer was Sean Ryan, who then created the shield. We were assigned to split scripts, I wrote a number of scripts with Shawn and and I was always sort of wanting to do grittier, you know, fair, you know what I mean? And so then when Sean went on, and he created the shield, he started working on ANGEL. And then he had a development deal. And he wrote this, this cop thing that was called the barn and became the shield. And so when that was picked up to to, by FX to be FX, as far as drama, I really was the first writer he he hired, you know, and I remember he said to me, he said, he said, I need to hire real. I had been out of work for about 18 months between mash and the shield. I was just kind of, like paying my dues there. Because so, you know, in one way, I came to Hollywood, I got a job within three weeks. Okay, but then after that job ended, then I didn't work for almost two years, you know what I mean? Sometimes it's hard to get your second job in Hollywood, then to get the first one. So I and he said, You know, I need to hire real writers first. But you know, come to my house and help me break episode two. So, so one of the things that was fortunate was when I was working on the shield with him, he was learning how to be a show runner, and I had management skills from working in the hospital. You know, I kind of knew how to just manage a chaotic situation, you know, it was I was like, Oh, I get this, I understand what people need, you know, or thought I did. And, and so I sort of, you know, became a person on that show, especially when Shawn started working on the unit and stuff that people would come to me for support advice or whatever, you know, believe it or not, they called me uncle Glenn on that show. And like everybody would come to my office. It was like I was Lucy. And peanuts. You know, were like, psychiatrists for five signs. Yeah, psychiatric help. People were just kind of come to my office and ask what do you think I should do here? Like actors, directors, everybody and so I loved working on the shield. The shield was just such a beautiful experience. I love all those people were so close and you kind of feel like, Oh, this is family. Like it sounds like bullshit. But it really was I got the time, it was an incredibly hard job, it was incredibly hard to work on, because there was always this fear that it wasn't going to be the best. And there was just a tremendous amount of pressure that we put on ourselves to make it the best we could. And, and we took that very, very seriously. And we pushed each other, we really did push each other, you know, but, you know. But I think all that passion, anxiety, fear, love, I think that we'll end that up on screen. It's a very emotionally honest show, because I think so many people really saw it, as you know, we knew at the time, we're like, we're probably never going to have a job this good. Again, like we do. This was was special, you know? Yeah.
Michael David Wilson 10:56
Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, we, we spoke before about how the Walking Dead kind of changed the game and did things that were different at the time. But I mean, the same can be said for the shield too. And in many ways, I wonder if the shield is almost more relevant now than it was then in terms of the police corruption, the brutality, the cover ups, there's a lot that that's so timely and so relevant to the world that we're living in?
Glen Mazzara 11:28
Well, I agree with that. I think I think, you know, because I spoke about this when, you know, the George Floyd was murdered. And we started revisiting these these issues. And you know, and I was even just talking about this the other night, what was I talking about? I was just talking about within the past week, but what people forget, okay, you had to be there. But when the shield came out, the shield was not accepted to show some people acknowledge this, as well made show that the shield came out in March of 2002 911 was obviously, you know, at the end of the previous year. So to do a story that was going against the grain and examining police corruption, and police brutality, was completely outside the zeitgeist in a world where all cops were heroes. You know what I mean? And so we were seen as writers, we were seen as villains, that we would dare question the heroism of any cop. Right, and we got slammed for it. And I talked about this that, you know, it was also famous, it was part of the inspiration was la had a scandal called the Rampart scandal, okay. It's kind of similar to the recent scandal that there was a, a, you know, a task force, a gang task force, but, you know, murder that man a few months ago, you know what I'm saying? And so, so it was still kind of like these cops, you know, feel they have carte blanche, and some of them become rogue. And then there's a culture that covers that up. So the Rampart scandal was definitely that and then we were dramatizing that well, LAPD felt we were doing an extra day on LAPD. So they refused to let us use the trademarked LAPD badges. The badges the fox lawyers were so freaked out that LAPD was threatening to sue that our badges if you look at the shield, it's the only thing in the world where the badge is on the wrong side of the uniform. Right. Okay. The we could not get cops to, you know, shut down or, you know, help secure our sets. You know, I mean, we really had a lot of trouble early on, because we were just seen as, as you know, going against the grain. And so what happened was, you know, the show came out, people realize that was not a dramatization of the Rampart scandal. Chiclets won an Emmy, you know, rightfully so. And cops started thinking like, oh, it became sort of wish fulfilled. This is what's weird. A lot of cops started calling us we met with a lot of cops, and they would tell us these stories, they were like, Oh, I got a story for you. You could use this story. These stories were terrible stories about about mentality but it was all you know, but it was kind of like they were sharing these war stories. You know what I mean? And so I remember I haven't some guys and coming to my office, like, Oh, I got this crazy story. One time we check this guy up and we did this. I was like, okay, that's evil. I don't know why that's funny to you or whatever, but you would hear stories. You know, we will be like, don't let the guy in the building anymore. Whatever. And these were not LAPD officers. They were retired cops who were fans of the show. They're all He's like a bunch of people around the shield. It was like, I got one for, you know what I mean? So, so anyway, the shield now holds up, you know, the shield holds up, I think it's outlasted its critics. You know, at the time we were not a lot of TV critics did not like us, you know, Entertainment Weekly, constantly, you know, gave us poor grades or whatever, because they love this shows, it was all about the sopranos it was all about six feet on there was all about these other shows. And and, you know, I think the the shield, you know, got better and better every season has a legendary finale, it's last two episodes of fantastic. Cast is fantastic, you know. And so, so I think it holds up and it is relevant. Sadly, it's still relevant. You know what I mean? Sadly, it is. But it's, it's, it was an interesting journey. And I'm very proud to have been part of that, you know, what I mean, when I look at my career, I'm like, Yeah, okay, I was there, you know, the shield, I was there on Walking Dead? You know, I wouldn't say, I would say, you know, I was able to kind of see the game changed twice. And when you do that, though, you feel you're part of something bigger than yourself, you know, what I mean? You feel like, you know, you're, you're part of a winning team. You know, it's like that. It's like that. And you're like, Yeah, we won the Super Bowl, or we did something important, or we said something, or we affected people in a way that we sought out to do. But it becomes a tipping point where those big shows are those those things that just kind of hit, it develops its own energy. And that's just becomes astounding to the people working on it. Because you're just locked in an office trying to figure out how to do your job, you know what I mean?
Michael David Wilson 16:58
Bob Pastorella 17:00
I was gonna say that you probably, I mean, there had to been a lot of pressure being that that your show and, you know, obviously, six feet under, but mainly, you know, the sopranos, which came out before, it's like, you know, and you got to show that basically, you know, hero, turning villains, you know, turning gangsters into heroes, and then you have, you know, a show that's got basically cops turning into villains are showing us how to corruption, there had to been a lot of pressure to kind of, I guess, in a competitive spirit, it's like, hey, you know, we like you showing the opposite side of a coin. Did that come into play and actually, like writing, you know, the scripts and, and making the show grittier and, and changing the moral dynamics of the show?
Glen Mazzara 17:46
Well, we had a lot of conversations early on. And Shan Shan was right, I give Shawn a lot of credit for this, that we didn't want, we didn't want. So in the pilot, you know, in the shield pilot, you know, Vic commits this act of murder, right? He murders and other cops that he thinks is, right. So it's easy to go, well, Who's he going to kill this week? And then you have a serial killer, you have a serial killer who's a cop, but that's not what the show is. Okay. Right. You know, and so, so that was a very complex character. So it became about an intensity of storytelling. It became about you know, and he wasn't always doing the, you know, the wrong thing for the right reasons, right? Because he stole his money a lot of times and he kept that money and he did this and he did that. So you couldn't say he was kind of you know, justified in a lot of his his actions. Sometimes he was controlled sometimes he brutalized people and was sickened with himself or something like that, you know, I mean, so so it was about showing a complexity and what we really had was we pushed each other as writers you know, what would really happen what felt real and we would fight a lot we really would fight you know, and you know, yeah, I remember having arguments with you know, Kurt Schneider you know, it was a dear friend who I love He's like a brother I we had you know, real fights and then he and I would you know fight somebody else because we were on the same page and then we didn't like that idea you know, and it made or or curtain that other person would find me you know, and but it was just a, a really personal like, not just what's cool, but what's what's honest, you know, so, so we want to do what was honest for our characters, we had to tell that story. So the soprano is became the sopranos like we couldn't tell the soprano stories. They had different rules. They had a different thing. We were all fans of The Sopranos. We loved watching it. You know what I mean? One thing we did not watch was the wire because the wire was in the same world we didn't want to, you know? So we had our assistant, who's now a showrunner Randy Huggins. He created BMF on Starz. He was our writers assistant, he would watch the wire. And then he would say, you know, would pitch something and be like, I just saw that on the wire, or I feel like the wire is going to go into that storyline. So we would, we would protect ourselves there, but we would not watch it because we didn't want to get infected with it. You know what I mean? So we had certain things like that. But but the competitive quality. Yeah, sure. We will competitive. Yeah, we were competitive. And we felt like we were telling the best show on TV. And you know, the sopranos was good. But there were many times where we felt like, yeah, we landed that and the sopranos, Dennett or, you know, or, you know, that kind of thing. You know, we felt like we were the underdog, you know, which was probably right for that show, you know what I mean? Like, we didn't have a lot of money to film that show. We did it on the cheap. And that added to it, you know, what I mean? You really, you know, you know, all of the cast. You know, they came in and they just, you know, nobody had like huge trailers or star treatment, you know, and now it's all from Michael Chiclets, Michael Chiklis is a match and a great guy and just a wonderful human being. And I love him too. And he set the tone like, yeah, we're, we're gonna do this bare bones, and we're gonna get it done. And it's going to be great. And he and you know, he was never in his trailer, like he was always on set hanging out. And you know what I mean? He was like, he cared. He cared about my product, you know, and that was infectious. So, so part of the So yes, we were competitive against other shows. And on the show, maybe people were competitive in the sense that nobody, nobody wants to be seen as the weak link. That was a conversation I had with a lot of people. Like, like if you wrote a script, and that script was not well received. You felt bad about yourself. But you know what, then we threw that script out, and we rewrote it, rewrote it, rewrote it, rewrote it like I don't, you know, I don't think we we just we just, we just push ourselves to make that show as good as possible. You know, but yeah, we were certainly competitive. But, but it, it kind of worked for that show to feel like everyone else was getting love. And we weren't, we really felt like nobody was watching the show. We really felt we felt we felt neglected. We did. I believe we did. If I could say I don't know, if Walton Goggins ever got an Emmy nomination for his work on that show. You know, I don't think he did. He should have, he did phenomenal work. You know, I mean, how does he not have several Emmys for the work he did on the shield? You know? So that kind of stuff anyway, go ahead. I'm sorry. What was your question? No, no,
Bob Pastorella 22:58
I was gonna say it was probably in some ways it was a healthy competition. You know, because I, you know, that's, I'm not, I'm under watched on the wire. Okay. So maybe part of the see, you know, part of the first season, so I can't really compare it, and I could see why you wouldn't want to compare it to. But to me, if you're looking at shows that came up, that kind of changed the landscape of TV, it was it was really, to me the sopranos on the shield, because you had you basically you had like a cable version of a really, really gritty show. And then you had like, you know, a premiere station, you know, or Premiere channel premiere network that has another show. And to me, and it's interesting hearing how, you know, the, I guess the money was a little bit different as far as like trailers and things like that, and how people, you know, the budgets and everything, but those shows seem like they were so so you know, they're so well done, that they're almost equal. They're equal to meet. They're just opposite sides of the same coin.
Glen Mazzara 23:55
My love to hear that. Thank you. I mean, that was good. I think, I think I think such a great experience. It's just, it's just something you know, I want to I want to change anything about it. I just love it all.
Bob Pastorella 24:09
No, it's a great show. Thank you.
Michael David Wilson 24:12
Yeah. And I mean, what Walton Goggins in general, I think it's criminally underrated like, he should. Yeah,
Glen Mazzara 24:24
he's great. He's such a great person. I love him. Yeah.
Michael David Wilson 24:27
He's great. Yeah. Yeah.
Glen Mazzara 24:30
Every night. I didn't cast you know, it was great. Yeah, I
Michael David Wilson 24:33
think it was when we were talking to Jordan Harper. And Bob will correct me if I'm misremembering, but I mean, Jordan had written a pilot for an LA Confidential series in which he walked in his organs was that yeah, the main role and frustrate in that, you know, we haven't got that. Right. Exactly.
Glen Mazzara 24:58
Did you see Did you ever see that pilot?
Michael David Wilson 25:01
Haven't seen the pilot, I need to, I need to reach out to Jordan and see how I can. How I can work here. Yeah,
Glen Mazzara 25:10
that is a terrific festival called the ATX. TV festival that's in Austin every May, I believe. It's great. It's really great. And it's a lot of fun. And so they screened that pilot once it was directed by Michael dinner. And, Michael, you know, I know Michael, and I'm a fan of his work is incredibly talented, very, very smooth director. And it's, it's a heartbreak, when you see that you're like, how is that not the biggest show on TV? And somehow it just wasn't picked up, you know, but we all have those heartbreaks, you know?
Michael David Wilson 25:46
Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, you were talking about the shield being in competition to a point with the wire in the Sopranos. Now, I'm wondering, in terms of competition, when you're working on a TV show, I mean, how, how healthy and vital is that? And then when does it kind of become unhealthy? And just kind of counterproductive, I guess, what is the balance that one can strike as a writer, as a producer in terms of being in competition with other TV shows?
Glen Mazzara 26:24
Well, I haven't really been in competition in a while, you know, what I'm saying? Because the projects I do are so particular, you know, I mean, well, you know, like, so, you know, when I was doing when I spent a long time, you know, writing and filming and developing Dark Tower for Amazon, you know, that didn't go so I was, I wasn't competition, I wasn't competition with, you know, obviously, Lord of the Rings and Wheel of Time, you know, what I'm saying? And I, you know, stand by my show, you know, so, you know, I would say I, you know, lost out to those shows in some way, you know, because those shows went and obviously, Lord of the Rings was a huge investment for that company. You know, I would say with Damien, you know, Damien, the show that maybe, is fair to say that Damien was somehow in competition with Lucifer, which was a very wild, different version, you know, an antichrist or son of the devil or something like that? Probably not so. So you can start to so so in a way, and like, who cares? You know, it's either you get to make your show, or you don't make your show or you shoot, you know what I mean? So I think, I think right now, when I am working on a project, I find that when I, when I work in a project, I'm all in I mean, I'm obsessive and compulsive about it. And I, you know, go through every stitch of film and really, like, do like, like, it's crazy that, like, I'll, you know, think, oh, we have to shave four frames off that shot, you know what I mean? Like, I'm really, very, very particular. So, so I can't really watch a lot of shows that are in the same tone of what I'm doing. Okay, it might be a different thing, but I just can't, because I just need a break. So when I'm really working, you know, and something, I'll end up watching a lot of comedies, or watch a lot of animation, or something like that, I just, I just don't find that as they sit down and, and watch a one hour drama that I can enjoy it as much because I started feeling like, Oh, they're doing this, maybe I should do this, or, Oh, they're doing this, I did this or something like that. So so I can't shut off the part of my brain that that that is working, and I want to shut it off so that it rests so so I need to watch something so I'll end up watching or you know, or watch something that is comforting to me. Like I find the Star Trek is very comforting to me, You know what I mean? Or online, something that, you know, will sort of, if I want to watch something intense, you know, I'll watch a watch a horror movie by myself. I know my wife doesn't like horror, or you know, a couple of weeks ago, she she fell asleep. We were watching TV. She fell asleep. So I put her on barbarian. So then she woke up and I didn't want to watch the horror movie with her. So now she's watching and she's like yelling like get out of the house. Why is she there? Why doesn't she do that? I'm just like, you know, like, I like her yelling but then But then in the second half of the movie, she didn't go for that ride and so she then I was like, but this wasn't for you to watch. This was my space so so I'll sort of I like watching horror movies that kind of you know, I like that. I like it when I'm agitated watching a horror movie. I stand up a lot. I'm like, I don't you know? Yeah, it's good. You're intense. I love that. I love that. And it's all kind of do that to burn off if I want something intense, but I find I can't watch an intense drama. You know, I just it's it's just not it's it's not it's it just doesn't do anything for me. It just it just isn't relaxing in any way, you know?
Michael David Wilson 30:30
Yeah. Yeah. To be slightly indulgent with your mansion and comedies. I'm just wondering, what are some of your favorite comedy shows of all time?
Glen Mazzara 30:42
Oh, of all time? Oh, that's pretty good. That's a good question. I mean, obviously, you know, Seinfeld. I love you know, what would I watch? That would be you know, I love I love what we do in the shadows. Just I love that show. You know, what else have I been watching that I really love? There was something else. Well, right now even I will say I'm watching. I'm watching something that I don't know if it's of all time. I mean, you know, but like, well, we have all time. You know, I really do love the but I just love the way they curse on each other. But I would say, right now I'm watching a thing called rain dogs. Right, which is urge you kind of is like a half hour. And it's very weird, you know, and it's it's intense. But it's only half an hour. So it's not like it's a whole drama. I'm still trying to figure out how they do it, how they write it. I'm trying to figure out what's going on. I'm enjoying that. That's something that I'm watching right now. You know, last night, my son worked on the visual effects for Mrs. Davis. So I watched that. I thought that was a lot of fun. And there was a sequence that was really laugh out loud. Funny. So that would be like a one hour drama, but it was more of like a drama day or whatever that I could watch. You know?
Michael David Wilson 32:04
Yeah, yeah. Would you ever get into the comedy space yourself? I know that's fairly outside your house? And yeah, well, yeah.
Glen Mazzara 32:15
You know what? No, no, no, no, no, no, no, actually, I you know, it's funny, because when I do write comedy into shows or whatever, people like, Oh, this is funny, or oh, I don't get it. You know what I mean? So that's, so I would like to do that. The thing is, though, I think my reputation is so hard, or so intense that if I went in with a comedy, people were like, I don't get this, what is this guy doing here? If I went in to pitch to the TV executive, they'd be like, we're okay. What? Like, what, what are we doing so, so I don't know if my name means anything. So I think what I would have to do is kind of write a piece that was funny, or produce it or direct it or do something to prove myself, you know what I'm saying? I think anyone's looking to me for a comedy. So I would kind of have to prove it and surprise people and do it. So I would consider doing that. You know?
Michael David Wilson 33:09
Yeah. Yeah, it's probably not quite the right terminology. But then do you find as a writer within TV, you kind of get typecast into a particular type of show? It's like, you know, you're the kind of gritty dark crime and thriller guy with like, elements or horror and so yeah, trying to do anything in a different vein, is is somewhat challenging. I mean,
Glen Mazzara 33:40
well, I would say this, that, I do, see how that could happen. But then I would put it on the writer of you need to push out, you know, so I always like to, you know, go back to what what do you love? You know, what did you love when you were 14? You know, what did you love? You know, when you were a kid, and but you know, it was just like a childish thing, you know, you were kind of it was something that you were starting to develop your tastes. And so if you think about I think I've kind of reinvented myself a few times, you know, so I did that cop stuff, you know, I did, I can do hospital stuff. You know, I developed some hospital stuff and I did a hospital show. So I know how to do that. I've written episodes of other dramas, and hospitals. But then you know, I've I've you know, I've done I've done a obviously HARO, you know, with Damien and Walking Dead and, and then you saw it, you know? And now fortunately, I think people consider that I could do these big complicated projects, I think Dark Tower even though it didn't go, you know, it was it was well shot, you know, it was a smooth operation. So it was so so I think people see, you know, I get calls like, Hey, would you consider working with this? Right are developing this this big kind of epic IP. So, you know, Dark Tower. You know, I was, I was once in a writers room for a halo, you know, for one of the seasons of Halo. I'm doing beacon 23, you know, which is a big, like, you know, kind of a space opera that I was talking about starring Lena Headey from from Game of Thrones obviously. So, you know, so, you know, I'm fortunate that I get I get, I get a lot of different kinds of stuff off offered to me, you know, some of the stuff I'm developing, you know, like, this is one true crime thing. I'm interested in those this other thing that's kind of like a, you know, a horror, Western, you know, kind of contemporary horror West, you know, there's, so there's a lot of different. So I think you have to kind of put prove yourself, you know, what I'm saying you have to prove yourself, you know, and right now, I would say like, say with comedy, like there was one time that was up for animation. You know, I was, I was, you know, I had had conversations about doing a spin off of Castlevania. You know, I was interested in that I tried to, there was a thing, you know, there was a, you know, Michael Moore Cox Elric, I tried to develop that both as live action, and then I wasn't really you know, connecting, because the Witcher was out and Game of Thrones, so it seemed like that kind of live action was already out. So then we looked at maybe doing an animation thing. So I would consider doing animation, but right now like to do a comedy. I will consider it but I just don't have a comedy that I would do. I don't have one in mind, you know, but you have to kind of, I think you have to, you have to, you have to whenever you go out to sell a project to develop a project. I think you have to it's probably like this with any work. You know, what is it about me? What is the question within me that I need to answer through this work? You know, why am I telling this story? What, you know, what is it and I kind of tried to write from the inside out. So, you know, I mean, so I tried to find a heart of every story. And I feel like I need to have some emotional connection, not just I want to tell a story, because I think it's interesting, but it's some type of therapy, because you're going to live in that world, hopefully, for years. So you have to put yourself into that right? Then if you answer that question, and then when you and you find some real passion for that project, then when you go to meet with producers, or TV executives, you can say, well, this is why I'm the right person for the job, or this is why I'm that and they get that. So I think that's a step of the work. You know, why am I telling this story? You know, when I meet with writers, you know, I do a lot of work, like on the inclusion front of mentoring a lot of writers and, you know, kind of helping people and, and talking about getting more women and writers of color, and LGBTQ and writers with disability and getting those folks, you know, and those stories into the writers rooms and all of that. I've been doing that for a long time. And so when I meet with writers, because sometimes they'll ask me, you know, okay, well, you're old, or let's say, senior, a veteran, writer, producer, you know, would you attach to my story? I always ask, Well, why do you want to tell a story you can tell 1000 stories? Why are you invested in this one? What does it mean to you? And if they can't answer that question, then I just, I just want I have no interest in, in working with them. You know, I mean, just because Oh, it's cool. Or it's interesting. That's not going to get you that's not going to help you break a story at 2am. When you know, you have a script do in the morning and something fell apart. You know what I mean? You have to have that emotional investment.
Michael David Wilson 39:03
Yeah, yeah. And, I mean, I wonder to go really kind of bare bones. What exactly is involved in breaking a story?
Glen Mazzara 39:19
Well, when you break your story, right for a script, okay, you're coming up with basically a list of scenes that then you're going to write you're coming up with what is the skeleton? What is the outline? Of what what is that that story going to be? So, so you have to pitch that story, you have to kind of figure out, you know, okay, in this episode, you know, we're going to do this, we're gonna go here, and so you kind of worked out a little bit of the plot. But for me, what drives that plot is what is the character what are what are they trying to do and what are the complications that they're hitting? And then how are they going around? All right, you know? So before we talked about, we talked about an episode in which, you know, Shane and Rick, want to kill this guy, okay, they have this guy and they drive him out to a crossroads. And now they're going to have a debate that we let him go the week Hello. Oh, Shane wants to kill him. And Rick doesn't want to kill him. So that's great. So we have two characters in their in their in their in a conflict, right? They want mutually exclusive things. So now what would be some of the things that could happen? They could be attacked by zombies. Okay, so then the question is, would Shane rescue the hostage? Probably not. Would Rick rescue the hostage? Probably. So therefore, if the hostage is being attacked by a zombie, and Rick goes to save him, and Rick gets attacked by a zombie? And Shane's in conflict? Would Shane, let the zombie kill? Rick? That's a good question. So now we so we have mutually exclusive. And so now we're starting to develop that story. I don't remember if that's the episode, but probably, but you see what I'm saying. So you're starting. So now you're figuring out a couple of scenes, and now you're figuring out the interstitial thing. But what you need to have is you need to so I always start at the beginning of what does my character want? Why can't they get it or what's going on, and you work your way toward the back. What happens I think a lot of times in Hollywood is people try to work on the ending, they try to come up with a big ending, and they work backwards. And in Hollywood, they call that reverse engineering, which I think is asinine. Because I can't find any schools in the world that teach reverse engineering, it's just engineering. But Hollywood's constructed this thing that it's okay to work from the back to the front. So I don't know why anyone is doing that. It's okay to have an ending in mind. And you can build to it, I get to it, but you still have to get to it organically through the character, you know, through the character steps. If you're strictly working backwards, well, I need this to happen. So I need this to happen. Why does this happen? Oh, it only happens because I need that for this piece, then this is false. This is not emotionally honest. It's contrived, the audience knows it's contrived. You know what I'm saying? And it doesn't work. And so So I, so I'm very clear as to and I do this in my editing rooms, I do this with my arranger, and I drive people crazy. But it's like, Okay, what does my character want? What are they doing to get it? What happens if they don't get it? You know, other questions is, what are they? What are they? What do they think they want? What do they really want? You know what I'm saying? You know, so, so, so, let's go back to the Rick Shane thing. What is what is Rick say he wants in that situation? He wants to Shane, to agree with him. Right? What does he really want? He wants Shane to apologize for sleeping with his wife. But he hasn't maybe accused him of that. So you see, so the subtext so now I'm angry at you. So now let's flip it. Now. Okay, you're sleeping with my wife. Now, what if the zombie attacks Shane? Does Rick who's willing to save the life of a hostage, let his best friend get and therefore and just go back to his wife and go, Oh, he got eaten by a zombie. But you know, I'm the one who really loved you, you know what I'm saying? So does Rick have a signal? So so now we're breaking story. Now we're saying, well, we could do this. We could do this. We could do this. Okay, I've just pitched out several versions of that episode. I again, I have to go back and think about exactly where that episode, how that episode broke. But you can see how we're breaking the episodes and we're having a discussion. And so now if becomes the showrunner. You guys are clear on what a showrunner is when I use that term, or should I clarify for the audience?
Michael David Wilson 44:20
I may not. I'm clear, but I think it would be quite useful to go through some of the terminology. I mean, particularly I mean, this is something we did get into a little bit with Jordan Harper, but you know that there's so many roles from executive Story Editor, Executive Producer, supervising producer. So just like a quick rundown on the times, I think could be helpful.
Glen Mazzara 44:47
The showrunner is the writer and executive producer who is tasked by the studio, not the network by the studio, the funding company to deliver the show. Okay, and so their show runner Is is both the the chief creative officer, the top writer, you know, you get to, you have pretty much final cut on the on the edits, you're the one who has the final say on the thing, even though people are given notes and suggestions, you're the one who's, who's given the final thing of this is the script, whether you write that script or not. Or if somebody else writes the script, you can rewrite the script. So you're the chief, creative. But you're also the chief executive officers, you're responsible for the budgets, the schedules, all the logistics, and you have people working for you, but you're kind of running the whole show. So So this stuff is difficult, and some show runners are very good writers, some show runners are very good managers, you know, and, and it's, it's a difficult job. It's a taxing job, you know, it's an exciting job. And, and, but what I find is key for the showrunner and to get into the breaking the story is, the showrunner is the keeper of the tone of what does the show emotionally feel? Like? What is the emotional impact that I want the audience to have? You know what I mean? So the questions that I'm posing, right, is do is it better to have the zombie attack? Rick, and have Shane decide whether or not to let the zombie kill Rick, or have the zombie attack, Shane, and have Rick faced a moral choice, right? That would be a show run a call, like a writer could figure that out or whatever. But a showrunner they, they're two different episodes in a way. So the showrunner might say, well, we want to do this here, because it could build to this other thing. But I, you have to decide what is the show, you know what I mean? And that's going to be the show runners, the show runner can define the essence of the show. And sometimes it takes a long time to find that I find shows, like little works of art sort of reveal themselves to you, as you go along. I'm, I'm a big Rewriter. I've mentioned that many times on this podcast. And so I very often, you know, my writers are very often take their scripts and rewrite them and keep their name. Yeah, you know what I mean? When I'm a showrunner I pretty much right? Almost every word that I'm, that's, that's whether or not my name is on that script. I'm writing because I'm learning about my show. I'm learning about my show, I'm learning about the characters, particularly in a season one, you know, so I'm sort of, you know, so so when I was doing Dark Tower, we would hopefully getting ready to be picked up, I wrote the pilot, we shot the pilot my writers had had wrapped, and then I took their scripts, and I completely rewrote all of those scripts. And if we had been picked up, you know, I would have kept our names on the scripts or whatever, but they would have been like, what are we you know, because I would have, because I just kind of found, you know, I saw different things on the set, I learned about the show, you know, the more time you spend with the show, the more you understand it. So, um, anyway, so, so that's a long way of getting to breaking story. It's constantly I think it's constantly questioning the material, questioning what's happening, and then material and trying to find ways to propel your characters through your world in a way that ultimately gives the audience some type of story that has hopefully an emotional impact.
Michael David Wilson 48:42
Yeah, yeah. And you've mentioned a number of times the Dark Tower series. Is there any chance that we might see that was the kind of state of play with that at the moment?
Glen Mazzara 48:59
You know, we, we, yeah, that was a heartbreaker, because I was really proud of that show, you know, and, you know, Amazon, and it was MRC was a production company for Amazon. So MRC lost the rates. I think Mike Flanagan has the rates, you know, he and I had emailed at one point, you know, on the fan of Mike's work, and I and I, you know, offered I was like, Hey, if you ever want to see this and he was like, No, I want to do my own thing or whatever. And I do think he's the right guy to do that. So I hope I hope he does. You know, that that's, it'll be interesting because there were certain things built into developing that material that I I spent years thinking about, okay, how does this translate into a TV show? You know, you know, that's the question. Okay. You can tell that story, but how does it translate into a TV show that then that each season guarantees a season pika So you can tell the entire epic. Okay, so So I came up with certain answers. So if Mike does that show, I'm gonna be looking, because I'm gonna know the questions. So I'm gonna be I'm gonna be, and he's a super talented guy, and I love his work. So I'm going to be very interested to be like, Okay, how would you handle x? How would you handle y? I'm going to be very, very interested. I don't want to say what those questions are. But there are, there are very particular questions that I am very interested in and seeing how he handles. Yeah, I have faith that he can handle it. I want to be clear, I have faith. But it's, that's a tough one. That's a tough one. Yeah,
Michael David Wilson 50:51
yeah. I mean, how, how do you kind of mentally deal with and how do you, I guess, like protect your own health, your mental health, your anxiety, your disappointment, when you're, you know, you're in a career where you can put years of your life into a story, and then it just might not be picked up? I mean, there's there's obviously, or not even just not picked up, but it might be picked up. And then you know, the option isn't renewed. I mean, what, what kind of things are you doing? Do you just have to ensure that you're kind of built in a robust way? And then I suppose LinkedIn to that as well, you know, you, you said that after your first job, you then spent two years without a job. So I imagine, you know, that there had to be a lot of, I suppose mental fortitude to be able to, you know, even keep putting yourself forward for these things and to continue writing.
Glen Mazzara 51:58
Yeah, it's, it's, it's, it's challenging. You know, it's challenging. You know, I think a couple of things, is, I really am very, very proud of my show, Damien. Okay, I think we had a great cast, I think it was well done, I think it was well shot. And the and there's a number of people who reach out to me on Twitter who's like, you know, I've seen their show, you know, a dozen times and, and you know, and so, you know, and every filmmaker has, you know, the one the thing that didn't do as well when the time came, but it holds up or it has a life afterwards or something like that, right? So the thing is, but when that show, and I had a very, very tight five year plan for that show, and I put everything I had into their show, and I think it showed, but you know, that was the show that Annie, you know, got out of the scripted business, they just changed their business model. And they stopped, you know, they were wrapping Bates Motel. I think they put the show on and went one season, and they just, you know, they haven't made one hour dramas since that since I'm not sure it was on in 2016. Right. So, so so. So I was talking to my agent at the time, and I said, you know, it just kills me. I mean, I feel like I did everything. Right. And, you know, and I'm really proud of it. And he just said it's out of your hands. You know, and I was like, right, it has nothing to do with me, the material is good. I feel it's good. You know, but it just, it just didn't, it just didn't find an audience for whatever reason, you know what I mean? And so, so that's out of my hands. So when I was doing Dark Tower, you know, there were a lot of people around me were like, oh, you know, the show is going to be picked up, it's definitely going to be picked up. It looks so great. And it's, you know, I mean, it's really looks like an epic. I mean, it's really, really cool, you know? And I was just like, Yeah, you know, maybe they're gonna pick it up or they're not. And so when they called when, when I got the call from the president of MRC, and she said, Listen, you know, Amazon's not going to pick up the show, I was with my son, we were in a parking garage, we were picking up some Indian food at this place. And, and he was really upset, you know, and I was like, I felt bad for the cast and crew. And I felt bad that I was not going to work with that cast and crew because I really did love them. And I love that cast, that cast was really outstanding. And I felt bad that they weren't going to be a part of my life, you know, and that I wasn't going to tell that story. But I didn't feel like I didn't feel like it was a personal thing against me. I couldn't have done more on that show. You know what I'm saying? You know, so it's about to me it's about like doing that work. So so right now you know Oh, I'm working with my cast and crew, you know, putting together you know, beacon 23 I think that's fantastic. I think people are gonna like it. I think it's weird. I think it's interesting. I think it's, there's no way the audience is going to be able to say what's coming. You know what I mean? I think it's really kind of cool. I hope people see it, I hope, I hope people, you know, and I only say that because, you know, you hear about people working on shows, and then shows get dropped or things or, you know, on HBO Max, and then it gets dropped or something like that. Yeah, I'm not saying it's fine HBO Max, but, but you get what I'm saying, like, the business is so bananas right now, that you just kind of have to realize that, you know, you can only do your work. You know what I mean? You can only do your work. And so, you know, during the pandemic, you know, I had a number of things that I developed that did not go you know, I developed a truck when Diggs wanderers. Oh, yeah, which, which, you know, and I loved working with Chuck, and we had a very tight plan. And, you know, it was a pandemic, you know, and people like, oh, you know, it's too soon, or whatever, you know, and then, you know, station 11 comes out, and it's, it's, like, proves them wrong, you know, what I'm saying, but, you know, we would have had a good little show, you know, I had a number of, you know, I had something where I had a big star attach, you know, that ended up busting, you know, because the executive left the network went to another network, and they wiped her slate clean. You know, I was working on a big IP, a huge IP, that, you know, they said, Oh, no, we're going to do this as a movie instead of a TV show or something like that, you know, I mean, so it's, it's just, it's out of my hands. So, so what happened was last year, I'll be honest, I last year, I had a number of shows that I was up for air show runner that I was passed on, you know, I just, it just didn't bounce my way. You know, one was a big sci fi thing that I had that somebody had talked to me a couple of years prior. There were a couple of things, you know, one was like a crime thing. These are shows that are shooting, and things just didn't bounce my way. And I was just like, you know, what, I'm just gonna will myself into existence, I understand. I'm getting rejected, you know, it was a few months, I just, you know, got rejected. And then, you know, I just kind of, you know, started consulting on one show, I started consulting on this other show, I ended up taking over showrunner. And I just constantly, you know, hit my desk and, and, and was just like, Okay, I believe I know how to tell a story. I believe people like working with me. And if it's not my time, it's not my time. You know what I mean? And that's okay. You know, and I just but, but one thing I do that I think one thing I do, and it's part of my personality is I show up, you know what I mean? Like, I show up, I do the work, you know, and I think I work hard. I've had people say, you know, okay, yeah, you're really intense, you're kind of hard to keep up with, it's, it's fun to see. So I bring that. But getting back to something we were talking about before. I do feel that there are certain there are certain stories that I don't trust Hollywood to make. And so those are the ones that I want to write, you know, as pros, those are the ones that those are for me, you know what I mean? I don't give a shit if somebody if somebody likes it, or somebody thinks it's going to sell, or somebody's going to do this. No, it's you know, I kind of have a many stories that I just want to put down on paper. And if nobody wants to publish them, I'll self publish them in their mind. And, and, and I hope people enjoy them. And if nobody reads them, that's okay. I wrote them down. Maybe they'll read them in 100 years or whatever. But like, those stories have to be different from the TV. Like, I love those stories, and I care about those and I kind of want to protect them from the inscrutable entertainment industry. You know, if that makes sense. Yeah. You know, so that's been a that's been a shift of my, my, my thinking about about because, because I feel like, Listen, you know, I do worry, I do worry that one day You know, I'm gonna drop dead. And it'll be like, oh, yeah, he worked on a couple of good shows. But I didn't really tell the stories I want to tell. You don't I'm saying or I don't want, I don't want to have a big pile of unpublished scripts. You know what I mean? I'd like to have a couple of books out there in the world, you know, and that's something that I've been wrestling with. And I just kind of have to, you know, I just, I've just read right now, it's a slim, slim little book, you know, Walter Mosley is this year you write your novel, you know what I mean? I just, I just picked it up the other day, you know, and it's just a matter of just kind of, you know, I know if I told you what that novel is, and what happens on it. You'd say that sounds awesome. And if I told it to a TV executive, they'd be like, wait, what? What happens? It's too crazy. So anyway,
Michael David Wilson 1:00:55
ya know, no. So is that is I was gonna say, is that something you're actively writing now? But it sounds like if you just picked up the wall, or mostly book that you gonna be working?
Glen Mazzara 1:01:10
I know. Yeah, I think I think yeah, I have, I have chapters written I have I have the whole thing outlined, you know, I just kind of, and but I've written these different chapters, but over different different periods of time. So I think what I have to do is just kind of what I was planning on doing is just, I write by hand, you know, I handed in no books, and then I, I would, I would, and then I get to a certain point, and then I type and I rewrite as I go. So I don't know, I don't know what the process is for writing something so long. So I think I just have to kind of just start and just go and just block out certain amount of hours in the morning. You know, like I said, Before, my day becomes too convoluted. Yeah, and just start, you know, and just kind of right. And so I don't, I don't know, however long it takes, it takes like I see it, I see what the story is. So I just kind of need to get into it. I'm sure the minute you put word down it changes and stuff, but I already have some of that written, but I'll probably just throw that stuff out. You know?
Michael David Wilson 1:02:20
Yeah. Yeah. I'm certainly intrigued and yeah. Looking forward to when that comes out into the world. We don't have to. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Love that. Yeah. That, you know, definitely a win rather than an F. Yeah, there's a novel will materialize.
Glen Mazzara 1:02:48
Oh, yeah. And I have to, I have to well, that into existence, like every novel, we work, you have to will that into existence. So that's what I need. And that's, that's okay. Because I feel, to be honest, I feel like I've, you know, I feel good about my TV career. Finally, you know, what I'm saying? I mean, you know, because you're only as good as your last show or whatever. But and so I think there's, because there's such a Hollywood is such a, a tricky place, you know, you can feel like, Oh, I'm gonna, I'm gonna be out of the business, or I'm not gonna have any relevant, though, you know what I'm saying? And I'm less worried about that. You know what I mean? I'm like, Okay, it's, I'm not worried about that. I feel like I can hopefully find work. When I need work or whatever, you know, I feel like, I feel like I have something to offer on that front. So so now it's about like, Okay, after 25 years, I finally feel like that base is covered. Now I can expand and push myself as an artist and now do something else or reinvent myself or, or go on to the next phase or something like that.
Michael David Wilson 1:04:03
Yeah. Yeah. Why not? Is something you've spoken about as being a kind of terrible thing to happen in the writers room? Is there when people bring the Logic Police into the room? So I want to speak to that? Yeah.
Glen Mazzara 1:04:23
Well, I think what happens is, it's kind of a safe thing. So it becomes, and this is something that I think a lot of executives ask, okay, so So there used to be a model of TV, in which there were a couple of stations and the work was very similar, okay. And if you were watching a show and you got confused or you didn't like something, you can click over onto another show, and you could easily jump into that show. So I still think that people think that people are going to shut off TV if they don't understand something, you know, if something's you might shut something off if it's boring, you know, or if it's particularly triggering, but I think people understand right now that when TV is made that you're going to pose questions, and hopefully those questions are going to be answered by the end of the episode or the end of the season, or you know what I mean? So, so you feel like those questions are being imposed? And there are answers, okay. And so, so I don't think people really get jerked around by TV shows of like, oh, I watched a whole show. And then they didn't answer that or something like that. I don't think that happens today. It's happened in recent history. But I don't think or maybe you found the ending of a particular show unsatisfying, but I wouldn't say that, that people, you know, it ended up meaning nothing or something like that. So anyway, so you have these questions. So I find that a lot of the executives feel that if the audience is uncomfortable, and this is just executives, in my experience produces that, that if the, if the the audience is confused, that you're going to lose the audience, okay. And I think the audience likes mystery. I think they want to lean in, they want something that's, that's interesting. How is this going to play out? I'm not sure what this means right now. But I want to know how this plays out. So, so a little bit of question is okay, I think the audience wants, you know, so So, but you can end up having a type of storytelling in which everything has to be explained at exactly the moment is presented, so that the audience doesn't feel confused. Okay. So so you so you end up with writers sometimes working out logic, and I'm, I'm listen, I really do pay attention to emotional logic. Okay, the we have to understand why why why does a, because people are irrational. So why is this person doing this? Why is this character doing this? Why? Why did what do they think they're doing? What are they really doing? You know what I mean? And you kind of most of the drama I watch is the characters are their own worst enemy? I'm watching beef now. Right? Beef is a one hour drama, or maybe, yeah, it's, it's even less than an hour. Yeah, I think it's about 36 minutes. Yeah, it's very intense. But it's very, very well done. And I love that Stephens doing that. You know, I worked with Steven on Walking Dead. Very well done. I'm only four episodes and don't tell me what happens. But it's very well done, right. But those characters are their own worst enemies, you kind of want to see them ruin their lives, but you don't do that, you know, you should not be doing you know what I'm saying? Right? So it's that kind of a show. That's why it's compelling. Well watch that. So, so, so you could have writers in a writers room somehow channeling the executives, like wondering too much about logic, instead of putting something out there. That's like a big swing. You know what I mean? Okay, so so an example that I've given a lot is, for example, in North by Northwest, okay. Okay. So in that movie, the famous crop duster scene, okay. And I have read that when Hitchcock it's a director sequence really pitched out to the writer, Ernest Lehman, Lehman thought it was terrible idea. You know, why? Why does the what? Why does the how does the plane know where he is? Why does he run out in front of the plane? Why does he get killed by the bullets? You know, why does the plane crash? Right? So logic, kills that scene, but it's an iconic scene, and cinema is that scene, if the Oscars are showing clips, they're gonna show that scene. They're gonna show that scene year after year after year. It's what cinema is, it's just an exciting sequence. You see what I'm saying? So when I have writers in the writers room, I want to hear those big ideas. You know, I'm saying I want to hear that imagination. You know, who can generate that stuff? Solder So Kurt solder can generate he's, he's got big ideas. Okay. I think I have big ideas. You know, there's a number of writers that I've worked with, you know, who have, you can go for those big swings, a lot of writers in the rooms, they're kind of like, oh, well, how does the guy you know, get the phone call? Who cares? Work it out when you gotta you know, that's not what the writers room is for. So so, you know, working out when you're back in your office, and you go, Oh, I gotta patch this little hole or whatever. You know what I'm saying? Like, come up with the big ideas. So so maybe I'm hard on that kind of stuff, but I want it Want that movie magic? You know, I think that's what the especially when there's 500 shows, the audience has to show up and they have to watch something that's surprising, they have to watch something that that they haven't seen, not something bizarre that's off putting, but something that's feels fresh, you know, that feels a little different. That pushes it a little bit forward. You know what I'm saying? And so, so. So that's what I talked about when, when about the Logic Police and I find that logic, too much logic just kind of takes away the mood. Like, for example, you know? You know, on Damien, okay. Damien is, you know, kind of their evil spirits around Damien that we feel go back to the devil, right? So so, you know, sometimes you might get a note like, Well, why is the devil doing this? And and how does the audience know the devil is doing this? You know what I'm saying? And should we have something where someone is speaking for the devil? And I'm like, really? Do you really think that that's going to be good? That the audience so if, if, if suddenly, you know, someone's trapped in a, you know, one of the mouse trap type death traps? That would? That's consistent with the Omen, right? Okay. Okay, so let's say let's say it, let's say in the movie, The Omen, the priest, the priest runs through the park, the wind starts whipping up, off, and the thing comes off of the steeple, and pierces the priest, right? Would that scene be better? If someone said, I think that devil is really going to be angry at you, there's no place that safe except the church, go for the church, and then the, you know what I'm saying like, but you might end up over explaining it. And then you take away that magic. Very often, when I write something that has some supernatural element, you're asked to explain the magic. You're asked to explain the magic. And I'm like, but it's magic. Like, do we need to explain the magic and so therefore, so you see this on shows where they actually explained the magic 10,000 years ago, we did this. And now, you know what I'm saying. Like, like, we don't need that the audience, the audience goes along with it, you know, and particularly genre audiences, they don't need shit explained to them, they really don't, they just, they just want it to be good. They just want it to be good. They just want to know, you respect the material, you're a fan of the material as much as they are. And you're trying to tell a story that is up to their level of passion. That's how you appeal to a genre, fan base, you respect the material as a fan. And when you start explaining stuff, and explaining all the way the magic, you're stepping on what they love about it. And so you can tell I feel very passionate about this. So you don't want to confuse the audience and jerk them around, I get that. But a little bit of logic goes, I think a little bit of logic goes a long way the audience will kind of go along with you, as long as you stick the landing. And so that's what you need to do. And you stick the landing, by making sure that you're emotionally honest that your character has interesting set pieces along the way. And then you can stick the landing and if you stick the landing, the audience, they'll feel that those worth their time. And whatever gaps and logic you may have, they'll forgive you. Yeah, I spent a lot of time thinking about this. And I'm sorry, if I'm coming out kind of strong. But that's, that's my approach. You know.
Bob Pastorella 1:13:53
It's like if you spend if you spoon feed the audience too much, they eventually just taste the spoon. And, you know, you lose that you lose that that flavor, you know, and that's I'm big. I'm big on that, too. It's, you know, even come across a story I catch myself going, why does this happen? And then I'm like, going, you know, it doesn't fucking matter. It's It's Supernatural. It doesn't matter. That's, that's the scariest thing about it is the fact that it doesn't matter.
Glen Mazzara 1:14:20
Yeah, no, listen, there have to be certain rules that we follow. Oh, yeah, he's playing those or whatever. And the way and the way that I think you explain those is, you know, you explain those by your character discovering that if you have an information dump, you know, that is only there to explain to the audience that keep them up. You know, name an information dump scene that we all love, you know, name a, you know, I'm saying I mean, that's, that's not why we go to movies. We don't go to movies for information dumps, you know, we go to movies to see, you know, I mean, so, so there's elegant ways to do them. And sometimes they're worth doing, you know, sometimes they are worth doing. But, but But I guess the thing would be to dramatize it, you know, so So it's probably better instead of somebody just saying, Hey, watch out for this, this is how this works. You have somebody, you know, discovering it, or failing to discover it at a time that they need to discover it, you know, what I'm saying? So, so, I don't know, let's say you had a story, you know, let's say I was creating a story about a wizard. You know, and, and he needs to use a magic item to summon something, and then he doesn't realize how to how to use it properly. And then and then he ends up in hot water or something like that. And then, and then he has to kind of figure it out, you know, trial and error, and then he gets it right. And then you know, what I mean? Something like that, you know, you know, so that it plays more like organic like, yeah, yeah, exactly. And if you put that in some type of sequence, where the audience's, like, hurry up, you know, I mean, so that it feels like, you know, he's trying to figure out how to use a wand, and it kind of plays as like a gun as jamming, and the monsters coming right at him, and he's trying to, you know, get it to work, get it to work, and finally, he gets it to work. That's kind of interesting. And then the audience will understand how it works. You know, you kind of have to put it up on its feet. You know, like, like, we did that and Walking Dead. We did that and Walking Dead. Where we here's a good example, you know, everybody on Walking Dead is infected with the virus. Right? So how did we say that we didn't we, we, that was, you know, our decision. You know, that happened in my season, one of my seasons. And, and we had, you know, call shoot Shane, and then Shane comes back as a zombie. Right, even though he had not been bitten. Right. So that's how we reveal that information, you know, in a scene, and it's all of a sudden, it doesn't make sense. And all of that now, how does that make sense? And now we're trying to figure it out. That's a good way, I think, to kind of work out that, that. That piece of information that logic, so anyway, I don't mean to belabor the point. But but that would be a way that I would I would push writers in a writers room to kind of how do we dramatize this at a moment of crisis, so that it plays as scary or as dramatic as possible for the, for the characters and therefore the audience?
Michael David Wilson 1:17:49
I mean, I wanted to talk a little bit about your, your work with other writers and working for the WGA. And I understand that that strike action potentially happening at the start or next month. So could you tell us a little bit about that? And kind of what's going on at the moment?
Glen Mazzara 1:18:14
Yeah, well, I've been I've been very involved in the guild for a long time. And even outside the guild, you know, I do work with a lot of writers and I've always been a big proponent of, of, you know, more women and people of color and LGBTQ plus, and writers with disability, and just, you know, you know, older writers, you know, just trying to kind of have those writers rooms be more inclusive. So I've been doing that for, you know, maybe 20 years, or something's just kind of been, really, that's important to me, I think that's the value of me. And so that's been, you know, and that comes out of the shield where we had a lot of, you know, white male writers kind of writing a very inclusive, diverse cast. And so I was worried about the show not being authentic. And then when I went to kind of find that bring more writers onto the show, whether or not on to staff or to give them freelance assignments. You know, it was, I found a lot of people didn't have representation, it was a little harder. And that's how I kind of uncovered that. It's how I started to experience that. That was my experience with that. So. So there's a inclusion and equity group that Shonda Rhimes and I are the co chairs of, you know, we've been doing that, I think, I think 11 years now, you know, and we've been, you know, really kind of, it's kind of a think tank within the Guild, and I think we've, you know, the culture has changed and people now, when we first started having this conversation, people like, why are we having this conversation? You know, and now I think everybody realizes that inclusion is good, you know, it's good. Yeah, the product is good. It's it's fair, you know, and nobody should be excluded from these jobs and that kind of stuff. And we so so I feel like we've seen some progress there. So. So I feel like I feel good about my participation there. With the with the contract negotiations. I'm not involved in the negotiations, I was on a negotiating committee in 2017. And so what happens is that the all of the writers, because you bop around from you know, you work for Disney, one job, and you work for Fox, the next job, and you work for Warner Brothers. So, so you don't have one company you're working for you, all of these companies pay in those certain things that they agreed upon. So they pay into a pension and health for the writers, and you can walk, you know, Bob around the industry, right. And so there are certain ways that they pay us that are negotiated by the Writers Guild, okay, collective bargaining action. And so all of the so the writers go represents the writers under their contract contracts coming up. It's been negotiated, it's expires on May one. And if we don't reach an agreement, it's very likely that the writers go could call a strike. And then we when I was on strike last time, in 2007 2008, that was 100 days, nobody wants a strike, you know, these companies are making record profits. And we're not really asking for a huge cut, we're just asking for something that what we're asking for. And I won't get into the particulars of the ads, but we're asking for just a reasonable increase in our pay, that reflects the increase in their profits. If you guys are making more profits, everybody should be making a little bit more, that's fair, because we're generating that work. But also, there are certain practices in the way that shows are made right now, that are depressing the way that the income of writers and the way they make money. So let me give you an example. When I started on Nash Bridges, I talked about that staffing season. And so you would, you know, basically start working in June, and you would work on 22 episodes, and you would wrap in February of March, and you'd come back. So you get, you know, two months off, or three months off, if you were a producer, and you were still editing, but you got paid. So you got paid an episodic fee, times 22. And you made your year, okay? Well, now, if you are making six episodes, or eight episodes, okay, and it takes you two or three years to make that show, okay? Do the math you're making, you know, instead of 22 a year, if you've taken three years to make it and you make in six episodes, you're only getting paid for two episodes per year, you can't make a living. And so what happens is some of the some of the shows, you know, you're waiting around to see if the show is going to be picked up. So you can't take another job or something like that. So the business models have changed. And, and it's tougher for writers. So so there's a minimum that you can pay a writer per week, and a lot of writers including showrunners are working for that minimum right now. So it's, it's it's kind of threatening the industry. So so it's a tough negotiation. I've been in that room, not this year, but again in 2017. And, and a couple of things that I want people to know, is that the negotiations are very tough, okay, the people on the other side, their job is to keep costs down. Okay, so it's not about is this right? Is this fair? It's, we want to keep costs down, and the writers want those costs to go up. Okay, you know what I mean? So we're saying we're making a case of how it can, how they can afford it. So we have that. Okay. The other thing is that the business is very, very, very complex. Okay. And so these negotiations, I've read some really sloppy stuff online where people like they should just be willing up their sleeves and negotiating. Well, first of all, a lot of these negotiations are regulated by the US labor laws. So there's a particular way you have to negotiate because if it doesn't work out, you could end up in court. So a lot of it is will present a legal document, they present a legal document that goes back and forth, you know, what I mean? So So, but also the formulas that, you know, when I saw this in a negotiation where we were saying, well, we want to increase this part of this formula. X. And they were saying, Well, no, that's not even in that formula. It's this. And we literally had people pulling out rule books like, what is what are we arguing? Like, it's, so I realized, there's no one in Hollywood. There's, it's too complex. There's no one in Hollywood, that can tell you how every residual works, how every formula works. However, the payment works, it's too complex. It's too, you know, Byzantine. So a lot of that stuff. You have to agree on on what is the point being discussed? You know, that's something I haven't heard anybody really say, but I've seen it. And I thought that was interesting. So I'm one of the few people that I've spoken to who is hopeful that we're going to avoid a strike. Okay, I'm hopeful. I think we're all prepared to strike. You know what I mean, really, we had a strike authorization vote, and it was the largest percentage of membership voted that had ever voted. And it was the largest percentage voting yes, that had ever voted. Okay, well, we went out on strike in 2007. It was a 90%. Yes, we should. The strike authorization vote just means can the negotiating committee, if they feel they are not getting anywhere, at the contract expiration term? You know, when it expires? Can they call a strike? And so an authorization is like, yes, you have the authority to the call a strike. In 2007, it was a 90%. This was 97.85%. So almost 98% of voting writers, again, a higher percentage of voting writers than ever before, was like, Yeah, we're ready to strike. Because people feel that the, the, the companies have record breaking profits, they're making more than they've ever made in the past. And yet, when it comes time to negotiate, they cry poverty. You know, so, so that's the issue, you know, and there's a number of issues, but it's complex and everything, but, you know, I really hope, you know, a strikes a devastating thing, it just, it's people, it's like, well, going into the pandemic, you know, people stopped working his no job, are you going to pay your bills, that kind of stuff, that's the money's just stopped the revenue stream stop. And, and, and, and then it has a, you know, the production shutdown. So you have cast and crews not working, and you have all these ancillary
industries, you know, delivery people, you know, catering all of that they shut down. So it really affects, you know, who doesn't suffer there in Australia, the executives, the executives keep getting their salaries. So, so I just hope that the stuff can be negotiated fairly fairly. And I think the Writers Guild has done a good job of explaining what the terms are, what the issues are. And and we're not asking for anything they can afford. And if they wanted to avoid the strike, they could they could make proposals that move it along that result. So that's, that's my thought on a pending strike. But I I choose to be optimistic because it doesn't get me to be negative, you know, but going back to what we said it's out of my hands. We're either gonna strike or we're not. I can't I can't do anything about it. You know? Yeah.
Michael David Wilson 1:29:03
Yeah. Well, fingers crossed that it gets resolved swiftly and yeah. meet the demands. I guess we'll know in about a week or about a week out now.
Glen Mazzara 1:29:19
Well, strike would be called the contract expires on May one so a strike if there was a strike it would begin probably may 2 Unless they decided to work without a contract because they will make headway they have that option to Yeah, but you know, like, like, you know, if I'm working on a show, as a showrunner even though I'm not technically writing, you know, me approving certain, you know, visual effects shots or music use, you know, there's still a certain amount of creative creativity there. And the the, the guild would want all show runners to stop producing their shows, you know, some people might think, Well, I'm only editing, I'm not writing, or I'm only doing this, but you would have to kind of leave your show. You know, and, and, and so imagine that imagine you're, you know, you work your career, you know, you finally get a show on the air, you're working hard for that show. And then you're told you can't you can't go to your own set. You know, they're gonna, they're gonna shoot scripts that you haven't polished, you know, it's not going to be as good as you know, and if they shoot it, they're going to edit it without you. And all of that. So it's, it's, it's difficult on all people, you know, it's difficult on show runners is difficult on the mid level writers, it's difficult on the younger writers who, you know, probably don't have anything in the bank. It's, I really hope they can resolve it. I really hope so.