Carr Bros WIN Scriptapalooza! INTERVIEW!!
The following is an interview with Yours Truly and co-writer/brother Jeremy re: our TV Pilot "The REAL Deal" which was recently awarded 1st Place for Best Original Pilot on Scriptapalooza TV:
Scott C. Carr & Jeremy Carr
Scriptapalooza TV 1st place Winners
Original Pilot: The REAL Deal
How did you come up with your story idea?
Scott: I've always been a fan of reality television. Well, let me clarify that: I'm a fan of reality TV in much the same way that I enjoy infomercials---not because I'm in the market for a new bread machine or Bowflex, but because there's some dynamic there, some strange cultural appeal that's almost indefinable. I've worked in reality television (Sr. Writer on TLC's (The Learning Channel) show Dead Tenants and I was head of development for a successful Reality TV production company). But more poignantly, I've noticed a real polarity in the fans of the genre: people either love Reality TV or they hate it. I wanted to capture that essence in fiction, in dramatic comedy (Jeremy hates the term dramedy), or more accurately, the new pseudo-hybrid improvisational fiction that people like Larry David and Fred Goss are pioneering. Good Reality TV combines the irresistible draw of the train wreck with the mind-thumping hypnotism of a tent revival, tempered with the "I knew that" and "I could do it better" appeal of Millionaire's "final answer." And so The REAL Deal was born. I came up with the ever-on-the-verge-of-catastrophe TRN (The World's first all-reality television network) and Jeremy helped fill it with interesting, eclectic (and perhaps most importantly) dysfunctionally loveable (and hate-able) characters. From there, the stories just seemed to write themselves...
Jeremy: Yes. And how.
S: I came up with the concept about two years ago, pitched it to Jeremy, and we let it germinate (or, as we call it, Jeremy-ate) for a while. Once we started writing, I think we had the pilot, treatment, and first season episode outline done in about four months.
S: Yes. In other words, it took me about a year and a half to convince Jeremy to co-write the damned thing. And it was well worth it.
Is this your first script that you have written?
S: If only the world worked that way: you write your first script, mail it off, and win first place in Scriptapalooza. Unfortunately, no. And Jeremy'll tell you the same. As for me, I've written countless scripts. Scores of features and pilots. Dozens of full treatments. Hundreds of one-pages. Toss in an uncountable number of short stories, articles and a few novels. Some have sold, some have been published/produced. Most have not. But every single one was well worth the time and energy it took to create it: both for the realization of the story I needed to tell, for the practice of the craft, for the experience of having written, and for the doors (however small) they might've helped inch open.
J: I wrote my first real script when I was 16. And that was... a long time ago.
S: It's not even the first script that we've CO-written: Probably not worth mentioning, but Jeremy and I came dangerously close to placing an original "X-Files" script a while back, but it only ended in fiasco. We then moved on to parody script-writing (stuff written for our own amusement, in our spare time, to keep our sense of humor finely honed). Among other things, we wrote a second "X-Files" script "X-Files: The Zombie Gambit" which satirized our first and has achieved a strange sort've cult status---after nearly twelve years, fans and ex-girlfriends discovering the comedy still crawl out of the woodwork, e-mailing us and begging us to complete the cliff-hanger story... We wrote a few episodes of "24: Season 24" featuring an Alzheimer's-ridden Jack Bauer, an alcoholic Kim Bauer and Tony Almeida as Santa Claus Most of these satires (i.e., scripts that we could never, ever do anything with professionally) are available on our website: http://www.brotherscarr.com/
On a more serious note, we've collaborated on several documentaries (one on
Roswell, and another that involves three generations of a family living on and running a junkyard in upstate ). We've both had scifi stories published (once even together in the same trade paperback!). Among countless other projects, I'm pitching a documentary idea about following a gang of Russian bikers through the abandoned highways of New York . And this weekend Jeremy's screening his film "Nuclear Winter," which he wrote and directed and which is quite possibly the funniest thing either of us has yet done. But back to the point, we write a lot. A Chernobyl LOT. Together and separately. And Jeremy directs, too. And I've actually produced an episode of network TV.
Have you entered other screenwriting competitions?
S: Dozens. And film competitions. And story competitions. And novel competitions. And I play the lottery regularly, hoping against hope for the money needed to buy the time to spend even more time writing and the cash required to enter even more competitions...
J: You've gotta be in it to win it.
S: You gotta be in it... As appealing as it might sound to be that undiscovered genius whose landlady happens upon his decrepit corpse and hundreds of unpublished manuscripts in his apartment---post-mortem publishing just doesn't hold the grandeur of actually getting out there and working in the field. We write and write and write, and submit and submit and submit, to one purpose only: working our way into bigger and bigger projects and productions, and getting more hands-on, in-your-face work and creative input. It's better to play with others than to play with yourself.
If so, have you been successful?
S: More successful that
1st Placein Scriptapalooza? Well, Jeremy has certainly had much more experience and success in the festival/contest circuit than I have. My own success can be measured in the experience I've achieved, the connections I've made, and the film and television projects I've been fortunate enough to work on and write for.
J: I've won awards from Slamdance and Fade In Magazine and my scripts have placed well in The Nicholl Fellowships, The Austin Film Festival, Storybay, and The Scriptapalooza Screenplay contest. "But what I really want to do is direct."
S: I once won an additional week's salary and dinner for me and my wife in the NYC restaurant of our choice from the executive producer of TLC's "Dead Tenants" for successfully pitching and producing an episode that no one thought would make the cut (and which went on to become arguably the best episode of the season). But I guess that's not the sort of competition youre talking about...
Why did you enter Scriptapalooza?
S: It's the most respected contest of its type. And one of the few that's open to television pilots.
J: It seemed like the thing to do.
S: And apparently it WAS the thing to do.
Advice to other screenwriters?
S: First, the obvious: Write. Write a lot. Dont stop writing. Next: Tenacity to the point of insanity. Send your stuff everywhere. Dont stop submitting. Never tire of querying agents and producers and rich relatives with your projects. Third: Have confidence in your work and sell yourself. There's no room for self-doubt and no one's gonna read something that isn't handed to them on a silver platter. Present everything that you do, from pitch to project, as if it's already a done deal and is the greatest thing since Star Wars. Finally, and most importantly: Network, network, network. Make connections. Everyone you meet (and if you religiously follow the first three bits of advice, you WILL meet people), from receptionist to producer is an important and viable contact. Meet everyone that you possibly can meet, send them well-wishing e-mails on the holidays, thank them for looking at your work (even if they hated it, even if they didnt even read it), and never burn bridges. Networking is the name of the game.
J: Also, convince your parents to give you a brother.
How did you feel when you saw your name as one of the winners?
S: Thrilled and excited. Looking forward to seeing what new doors are opened. To be honest, Jeremy and I both had a good feeling about our entry ever since we noticed that Scriptapalooza announced a reality television category for the next contest---we thought this could only bode well for our parody of Reality TV. And I guess we were right
J: I was confused. Alphabetically speaking, my name should have come before Scott's.
S: But I was born first.
If you could write for any TV show, which one would it be?
S: "Star Trek" (any incarnation). Or "The X-Files." Or "Lost," "ER," "24," "Northern Exposure," "Big Love," "Red Dwarf," "All in the Family"... There are just so many shows that I love and have loved and would kill to write for (or to have written for)---it's the reason I got into writing for television in the first place. That said, I would most like to write for an original series which I created or helped develop. Anything Scifi. I wrote and co-produced a post-apocalyptic scifi-comedy pilot "The NUKE Brothers" (think "Laurel and Hardy" After the Bomb) several years ago (and the tie-in comic book)---I'd love to write for a series like that... To be even more vague, I simply want to write good dramatic fiction. No more Reality TV. But then, I look at the fiction I've written lately (hybrid-improvisation parodying Reality TV) and I realize that its certainly meaningful to remember your experience and remain true to your roots. The odd pendulum between reality and drama is swinging, and your guess is as good as mine as to what surprises the next evolution of TV holds in store us, both as writers and viewers
J: "The Honeymooners." "The Twilight Zone." "
Twin Peaks." I guess I was born in the wrong decade.
S: Jeremy and I have a deal. Soon as he'll sit through the entire run of "Star Trek: Deep Space 9" with me, I will sit with him and watch the entire run of "
Twin Peaks." So far, we've been too busy writing to compromise. As little kids, we were both very inspired by the Canadian film "Goodbye, Pork Pie." Our Dad didn't get HBO like all the other kid's families---instead, we had something called WHT. Very strange movies. And no MTV, they just had one music video: Golden Earring's "Twilight Zone." And "Goodbye, Pork Pie." Has anyone seen this film? We watched it religiously, over and over as kids.
J: Couldn't get enough of it.
S: Then recently re-watched it as adults, and, well...
J: It was awful.
S: To put it mildly. There's no accounting for impressionable young minds. In fact, when Jeremy and I aren't debating the finer points of Sleestaks and The Dharma Initiative, we're actively doing archival research for a behind-the-scenes fictional exposé about "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark."
J: Possibly the most horrific and downright terrifying two hours in television history.
S: A 1970s horror TV classic. It scared the hell out of us. I can't believe our parents let us watch it. If you saw "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark," you know exactly what we're talking about, and if not, don't take our word for it: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069992/usercomments
What is your favorite film or TV show of all time?
S: "Dark Star." Hands down, the John Carpenter and Dan OBannon cult classic student film is my all-time favorite example of pure dramatic fiction, philosophical dalliance and slapstick comedy. As for TV shows? I suppose it's a tie between the "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" episode of "The X-Files" and the last episode of "M*A*S*H."
J: Can I count Woody Allen's entire body of work as one film? No? Then I'll go with "Fight Club."