Once upon a cold, cloudy day the temperature slowly creeped down to freezing. Charlie did not like freezing weather. He always wore gloves, hat, thermal insulated coat, heavy boots and wool socks whenever he had to go out into the frigid elements. This day, Charlie needed to walk down to the corner market and get milk.

Reginald was a cold mass forming in the clouds high above ready to turn into a droplet, but it always dreamed of becoming an icicle. That was the equivalent of a legend, a “made man,” a god. As the air got colder and the moisture picked up, Reginald started to fall from the sky.

“Okay, this is my big chance. I can feel it. Today I can become an icicle,” said Reginald as it continued it’s journey towards the ground.

Meanwhile, Charlie hurried into the market and grabbed his carton of milk. The cashier wanted to make small talk. “Looks like it’s going to be a cold one, huh?”

Charlie was having none of it. As soon as his credit card was approved and the transaction completed he quickly took the milk and dashed out the store.

“You don’t want a bag just in case?” shouted the cashier.

“I don’t need it,” hollered back Charlie.

Charlie felt a droplet as soon as he exited the store and became worried. He picked up speed as more and more droplets fell all around him.

Reginald was fast approaching the ground still as a droplet. “Come on, freeze. Damn it! Freeze!” Then it happened. Reginald could feel it’s shape changing and becoming more crystalized. An icicle was born!

“Yay!” shouted Reginald as it zeroed in on Charlie. “I made it! I’m a somebody who will…”

Reginald’s thought was cutoff as it pierced the milk carton Charlie was carrying. The carton flew out of Charlie’s hand, crashed on the icy ground and exploded. Milk went everywhere. Charlie, shook by the suddenness of it all, lost his footing and slipped. He hit his head on a nearby tree and crumpled on the ground on top of his spilt milk. Dead.

Reginald melted into the milk and icy ground with pure satisfaction.

The market cashier came running out of the market, shocked at the sight. “You should’a taken a bag, buddy.”



Fowl Rain

Written by Cary Tusan

Once upon a time there was a righteous bird that loved taking a crap on people’s head. But it chose its victims carefully. It would wait, perched on a tree and listen to what they were saying or what they did to determine if they deserved a judicious pooping.

One five-year old boy gleefully dumped ice cream on his father’s shoes threw the cone at his dad’s eyes and laughed, so the bird took a big shit on the kid’s head. The dad laughed. Dumb kid.

Another time, an Influencer carved an obnoxious design in the bird’s tree to make it look special for her Insta Live. Just as she hit record, the bird took a massive crap that dripped all down her face and arms like a scene from “Carrie.” A digital moment shared with the world.

A day later, a dog owner walked by vaping up a storm in front of their dog. When the dog took a dump on the sidewalk the owner left the shit there and continued to vape in the dog’s face, causing it to cough. The bird followed the dog owner all the way home and just before the owner went inside their apartment the bird let fly the biggest shit storm ever, covering the owner in bird poop. The owner got pissed, grabbed a rock and hurled it at the bird, wounding it. Then 50 of the bird’s family and friends swarmed the dog owner and rained so much bird crap, it blotted out the sun. In an effort to escape the shit storm the owner slipped and broke his leg and his arm.

The dog took a long pee on him and barked with joy.

The moral of the story: Be kind, especially to birds.


Knowledge Baby

By Cary Tusan

Once upon a time there was a couple, Herb and Denise, who were in a deep conversation with their friends over dinner. Herb said, “I really want to just understand it all. We both do.”

One of their friend’s asked, “Understand what?”

Denise let out a sigh, “All of this. I mean what does it mean? Herb and I have the same routine, day in and day out. We get up at the same time, go to work at the same time, come home at the same time, have the same conversations, screw at the same time, and go to bed at the same time.”

“It’s like we’re robots,” said Herb.

One of their friends said, “Wait, you have sex like robots? What is that even like?” The other friend punched the friend in the arm. “Ow. What? I’m curious?”

“That’s what we are. Curious,” said Herb. At that moment the waiter served Herb and Denise their food and asked, “How curious are you?”

Denise looked the waiter up and down and replied, “Hey, don’t get inappropriate with us, buddy.”

The waiter gently bowed and said, “If you are willing to do whatever it takes, I can tell you of a place full of knowledge that will answer all of your questions and profoundly change you for the rest of your life.”

Herb and Denise exchange a look. In sync, they nod their heads.

“Very well. I will write down directions of where to go, but you must not hesitate. There will be a list of instructions. Do not deviate from them. Understand?” sternly said the waiter.

One of their friends laughingly said, “You two can’t be serious. We don’t know who the hell this guy even is. I’ve never seen him before and I’ve been coming to this place for five years.”

The waiter matter-of-factly said, “That is because you are blind to what is in front of you.” Then he scribbled three pages of notes on his order pad and handed the pages to Herb and Denise.

Herb looked them over and raised his eyebrow. “Who are the Knowledge Babies?”

“You will know when you find them. Remember, do what ever they ask. Good luck,” said the waiter before shuffling off.

“If we don’t see any Tweets from you both in three days, we’re calling the cops,” said one of their friends.

“We’ll be fine. And I bet we’ll have an interesting story to tell,” said Denise.

After travelling by plane, taxi, riverboat, and finally on donkeys, Herb and Denise reached their destination. When they arrived in the village they consulted their notes from the waiter and approached a young girl wearing bright magenta clothing. She instantly took them down a long alleyway until they came to a cliff. At the edge of the cliff was a rickety ladder. The girl pointed down and Herb and Denise obediently descended.

They found themselves amongst a row of hovels build into the Cliffside. They followed the path and knocked on a green door. A tiny three-year old baby in robes answered.

Denise looked around, confused, and said, “I’m sorry, I think we must be in the wrong place.”

The baby noticed the instructions on the note pad and spoke, “You’re right where you’re supposed to be. Follow me.”

“Whoa, you sound like an adult. How old are you?” asked Herb.

“All time is happening simultaneously,” said the baby as it guided Herb and Denise through the expansive cave dwelling. The couple noticed groups of babies all walking around like grown-ups, but there were no parents or adults around at all.

Denise whispered to Herb, “These must be the Knowledge Babies.” They both smiled in glee and quietly sang, “We’re going to get some knowledge. We’re going to get some knowledge.”

Finally, the three-year old took them to a massive chamber-like room with an empty table, two chairs, and a two-year old Baby girl in a robe sitting on a high chair drinking tea. Herb and Denise approached the two-year old, who said, “Please sit.”

Herb and Denise sat in the chairs. For a moment, no one said anything. Confused, Herb and Denise referred to their notes, but they were of no help.

“So…” said Herb.

“Are you going to ask me the knowledge you seek?” asked the Baby girl.

“Yes. You’re all just so cute. First, are you a Knowledge Baby?” asked Denise.

“I have been referred to by that moniker. I can tell you all about what is important in life. What matters, what doesn’t,” said the Baby girl.

Herb and Denise eagerly leaned forward, waiting for the answers.

“But first, you must do one thing for me,” said the Baby girl.

“Yes, what is it?” asked Herb and Denise in unison.

“Put your hands on the table,” instructed the Baby girl. Herb and Denise placed their hands on the table.

Then the Baby girl pulled out a big cleaver, “Each of you, chop off a hand.”

Herb and Denise were stunned, then looked at each other and shook their heads and said, “What?”

“Each of you must sacrifice a hand for the ultimate truth. Now!”

“We never told about a sacrifice. Naw, we’re good,” said Herb.

“Yeah, we’re outta here. Even though we travelled very far and are delusionally tired, there’s no way…” before Denise could finish talking, the Baby girl leaped out of her high chair and swiftly chopped off a hand each from Herb and Denise. The two of them started screaming in agony as blood shot out of their arms.

The Baby girl put down the cleaver and raised each of the dismembered hands above her head. Two other Knowledge Babies ran up to the table carrying hot branding irons.

“Brand your wrists if you want to stop the bleeding,” said the Baby girl. Herb and Denise let the two Babies burn their wrists and cauterize the wounds.

“You piece of shit!” yelled Denise. She grabbed the cleaver and stabbed the Baby girl, killing her. Herb yanked a hot iron from one of the Knowledge Babies and burned its face off. The other Baby ran off.

Herb and Denise, blood splattered on their wild-eyed faces, turned to the other Babies in the room and Denise screamed, “Get the fuck out of our way or we’ll do the same to you little maniacs that we did to them!”

Herb and Denise slowly backed out of the room with the cleaver and hot iron then quickly ran.

That night, both Herb and Denise sat quietly on the plane ride home. Until Denise said, “I can’t believe we did that.”

Herb stared blankly ahead and said, “I’m going to have nightmares forever. Let’s not tell anyone.”

“Yeah. Do you think we over reacted?” said Denise. Herb held up his stub of a wrist as an answer.

A week later, Herb and Denise arrived at the same restaurant to meet their friends for dinner. “So, tell us the knowledge that…” said one of their friends who stopped when she noticed that Herb and Denise were each missing a hand.

“It was not what we expected,” said Herb.

“Well, I thought it sounded crazy, but hot damn,” said one of their other friends. As everyone sat down at a table, the waiter from before came over to take their order.

An annoyed Denise shouted at the waiter, “What kind of scam are you running, huh?” as she waved her arms at him.

“I see you didn’t follow my instructions and do exactly as you were told by the Knowledge Babies,” said the waiter.

“We weren’t going to chop off our own hands. We’re not stupid,” said Herb.

“It was only a test. It was a show of your dedication for knowledge. If you said yes to the request then you keep your appendages and the Knowledge Baby would’ve told you the secrets of the universe. But if you said no, like you clearly did, then they forcibly take your hand and you leave with nothing. You failed,” said the waiter.

“Oh, I see,” said Denise.

“I will have to apologize in person to the Knowledge Baby for my lack of judgment in sending you morons all the way over there. I only hope she can forgive me,” said the waiter.

Herb and Denise guiltily looked at each other. Herb turned to the waiter, “We’re not ready to order yet. Can you come back later?”

The waiter nodded and walked away. Herb and Denise turned to their friends and Herb said, “Let’s eat somewhere else.”

“We don’t like the food here anyway. And the service sucks,” said Denise, as she and Herb brusquely got up and left.


Gingerbread Man

Once Upon A Time a group of friends gathered for an informal party during a cold winter night. They were having a good time drinking hot tea and eating warm pastries and enjoying each other’s company. When Roy opened the last ginger tea bag and dunked it in his mug of steaming hot water, he said, “Looks like we’re all out of the ginger.” He took a sip and remarked, “Too bad, because this is damn fine tea.”

Lisa nodded and licked her lips, “This is the best tea I’ve probably ever had. I feel invigorated. What’s it called?”

The host, Becky, examined the empty, ornate box that was covered in Gingerbread Man faces, and figures laughing and crying with tears of joy. “It says it’s called Gingerbread Soma. Huh, I’ve never seen this before,” said Becky.

Roy looked around the room, “Well, I’d like to thank whoever brought it and brightened our evening.”

A moment passed. All eyes gazed around, but no one claimed the honor.

Then, the bathroom door swung open with such force that it startled the group and the calm silence. Out walked a baby-faced man with wide, trusting eyes. The baby-faced man smiled and said, “Oh, good. You all drank the tea I brought.”

Becky looked at the man, trying to place his face, but could not. “I’m sorry, I realize that I don’t know your name. You’re new here?”

“Yes,” he replied without offering his name.

“Well, thank you for the tea. Is there some secret ingredient that makes it so delicious?” said Becky.

The baby-faced man smiled a wicked a grin and said, “Let me tell you about this tea.”

He sat down, took a breath and began his tale. “Once upon a time there was a young boy of nine years of age. He always got what he wanted from his parents and his friends. No one could say no to him, and he loved it.

One day he was at his friend Josiah’s house and saw a tin container emblazoned with Gingerbread Men. He asked Josiah what was in it and Josiah told him that it was the most amazing tea he would ever taste, but that if he removed the tea from the house, he would turn into a Gingerbread Man the next day. The young boy laughed, believing that Josiah was pulling his leg. So, the little boy drank the tea and it was as if he had tasted the nectar of the Gods.

He decided to ignore Josiah’s warning and stole the tea saying he wanted it and there was nothing Josiah could do. However, the next morning when the little boy woke up he looked at his hands and saw that he had Gingerbread hands.

He got out of bed, but almost fell down, as his feet and legs were unwieldy Gingerbread limbs. He pulled himself up and looked in the mirror. To his horror he was an entire Gingerbread Man. The little boy grabbed the tin container, sneaked out the back of the house to avoid his parents, and waddled over to Josiah’s.

When Josiah opened the door, the little boy felt weak and helpless and cried as he asked for help. Josiah took back the tin and placed it in the same room it was found. Almost instantly, the little boy’s body returned to his human self.

He asked Josiah where this magical tea came from and Josiah told him matter of factly from Gingerbread Land. The little boy had an idea and pressed Josiah to tell him where this Land existed. Josiah refused, so the little boy grabbed a lamp and mercilessly beat Josiah until he told him where to find the entrance.

The next day, the little boy packed up enough food and water in a satchel for a full day and set out on his journey. After hours and hours of trekking through the hills and woods, the little boy found a small door hidden behind the rock that Josiah described. The little boy went through the door and entered a magical land full of joy, happiness and laughter. He had found the land where Gingerbread people lived.

A beaming Gingerbread Girl approached the little boy and asked him what he wanted. He told her that he needed some of their magical tea. The Girl said she would have to take him to the Mayor of the Land and he could help him.

When the Mayor greeted the little boy, he told him that they couldn’t let any outsiders take their tea unless someone approved them. The little boy lied and said that Josiah had given him permission and that was how he found their Land. The Mayor was suspicious and asked for the secret coin that Josiah would give a friend. The little boy grew frustrated and demanded the tea. The Mayor told him it would not be possible, as they have limited quantities since the tea is made from the life-blood of the Gingerbread people once a week and is then distributed outside the land.

The little boy became furious that his demands were not being met, so he pulled out a baseball bat from his satchel and cracked the Mayor in half, then smashed him into pieces. The little boy picked up the head of the mayor and ate him. He turned to the stunned on-lookers and told them that he will do the same to anyone else who opposes him.

Over the next two days the little boy tortured the Gingerbread men, women and little children, draining them of their life-blood to make the tea that he so desired. Their screams echoed throughout the tranquil landscape. The little boy filled up a wheel barrel of tea, and snatched the mayor’s son, threatening to kill him if they vanished or stopped him when he returns for more.”

The baby-faced man leaned back and ate a cookie. Becky, realizing the story was finished sputtered out, “That’s a fucked up story to tell.”

Lisa said, “Wait, so are you saying you get this tea from a little boy?”

“No. That story is twenty years old,” said the baby-faced, 29-year old man as he smiled a wicked grin.

“There’s no way that story is real. No effing way,” stammered Roy.

It was then that the baby-faced man pulled out a mason jar from his pocket. Inside was a tiny, defeated looking Gingerbread Man that whispered, “Help me.”

The baby-faced man turned to leave, but paused to say to the group, “Enjoy your blood of the Gingerbread Man. Especially in the morning.”

Becky yelled through her tears, “Why? Why did you do this to us?”

“Because every week you assholes block my driveway without any care to have your special get togethers,” and with that the man took his Gingerbread tea tin and left.


Super Sad – A Tale

Once upon a time a trio of superheroes, Mercy, Locksmith, and The Judge roamed the city fighting for good. They were battling an ugly, smelly villain befitting of his name, Ogre, along with his ten genetically altered, diminutive henchmen, The Minis. The battle started like any other battle of super-beings; out in public where mass carnage can take place. Kind of narcissistic, but no one gets into the superhero or villain business to remain invisible, unless you are literally the Invisible Woman.

In the middle of the recklessly destructive battle a young boy in a t-shirt with a big tear drop symbol walked up behind the heroes. He stood there for a moment then shouted, “I am Crybaby!”

After a moment the battle halted as all of the superheroes and villains turned to look at this strange looking kid with the odd name. “Is he one of yours?” asked Ogre to the superheroes.

The Judge looked Crybaby up and down and said, “I don’t remember fostering a child.”

“I am Crybaby!” he shouted in the same manner.

Mercy bent down to talk to the boy. “Little kid, you should move away from here for your safety. We’re here to protect people like yourself.”

“Come on, I want to get back to pummeling you all and laughing while I do it.”

Crybaby lightly touched Mercy and said, “You are still upset that you left home when you were 15 and seemingly abandoned your mother who had a Whippet problem that eventually killed her four years later.”

Mercy takes a step back. “What? How did you know…?” Mercy starts to sob.

Locksmith puts a comforting arm around Mercy. “Look what you did, kid. Go home.”

Crybaby looks at Locksmith, closes her eyes a moment then opens them. “You regret that in 2005 when you had the chance to step in front of a bullet from one of the Minis, you choose not too and a five year old girl had her hand blown off.”

As Locksmith started to cry, Orge bellowed, “Hah! That was a good day. You were stupid, Locksmith.”

Crybaby walked up to Orge and touched his hand then said, “When you were in high school and puberty set in, you couldn’t stop your hormones so when you got in front of the class for an oral presentation and instead got a huge boner, everyone laughed, including the teacher. You felt humiliated. That moment haunts you every day and night. Your friends whose approval you sought walked away from you and taunted you as the Jolly Green Boner. That set you off on a path of anger and approval that will never satisfy you.”

At first Ogre looked at Crybaby stone-faced, then he too began bawling like there was no tomorrow. Soon all of Ogre’s Minis were crying as well, caught up in the river of tears.

The Judge looked around at the carnage around him turned to Crybaby. “Who the fuck are you? And how are you doing this?”

“I am Crybaby. My super-power is sadness and I want to be part of your team.”

“Or what? You’ll make me cry?” said The Judge.

“No. I’ll just kill you.” Crybaby gave The Judge a cold hard stare filled with overwhelming sadness.

“Okay, you’re in, kid.”

Crybaby shed a single tear of joy.


Who Took My Cheese?


Jared came home from a pretty crappy day in the 5th grade. Which is why when he opened the refrigerator door and looked for his Irish, 10-year aged cheddar cheese and it was not there, he yelled, “Who took my cheese?”

Jared’s mom came into the kitchen, concerned about Jared’s tone. Jared’s Mom said, “Jared, remember, we do not yell in this household. Now, what’s the problem, Jare-Jare?”

Jared took a deep breath and started to tell his tale of woe, “My day started out like every other day that dad drops me off in front of the school, embarrassing me with his ‘I love you’s’ and ‘Text me at lunch how you’re doing!’ It’s pathetic.”

“Hey, that’s your father you’re talking about,” said Jared’s Mom.

“I’m sorry, but hashtag truth hurts. So, after dad drove off to his hell-foresaken job, his words, not mine, I was promptly warned by Yasmine and Richie that I should expect a beating at lunch time. They hadn’t broken anyone’s bones in a while and needed to hear that crunching noise.”

Jared’s Mom quickly hugged Jared to see if he was okay. “My little boy got hurt?”

Jared squirmed away from his mom. “No. I’m getting to that part. I nodded to them and went to first period. It was ho-hum, until Becky came over to me and asked if I wanted to try French kissing in the bathroom. It sounded fun so I followed her to the girl’s bathroom after class. She told me close my eyes and stick my tongue out. I felt a wet, slimy thing on my tongue. I opened my eyes and was staring at a frog she held in her hands. His gross tongue licking mine. All of her friends were there and they took a photo to post online. I asked her why she would do that and she said, ‘I do that to all losers before Richie fights them. We’re a serious couple.’ I started crying as they left.”

“Oh, Jared. This Richie and his friends sound horrible,” said Jared’s Mom.

“Yeah, but he’s very popular kid at school. He can do whatever he wants. He could stuff the principal’s face in the toilet and people would still love him. Anyway, in my math class Mister Ulrich gave us a pop quiz and graded us right there, announcing our scores to everyone. He publicly revealed I got a D minus. Even the ADD kid, who missed half the quarter because of hives, scored higher than me. By the time it was lunch I didn’t give a crap about Yasmine and Richie. They came over to where I was sitting and asked if I was ready for a beating. I told them I would love it. I’ve been looking forward to blood and bones and that I hope my blood goes up their noses and they choke on it and die. They stopped for a moment and said, ‘Freak. We’ll just take your money.’ I gave them the five dollars dad gave me—“

“You’re father gave you five dollars? Why?” asked Jared’s Mom.

“I don’t know and I don’t care, but I was going to use it to buy a nose ring and lunch for Kylie, an older girl in the 6th grade who I like a lot. Now, she’ll never know how much I pine for her. Then at the end of school in P.E. class, Coach Gorgonzolavich forced us run the mile in under five minutes. I tried really hard to run that fast, but I was seven minutes over. As Coach G was berating me, I lost all function of my body and vomited everywhere and peed myself at the same time.”

“Oh, we need to get you changed’ said Jared’s Mom.

“So, you can imagine when I got home after a day like today and opened the refrigerator that I would be peeved that someone had stolen the last piece of my God-damn, mother-fucking cheese!”

“Jared!” said Jared’s Mom in shock.

Jared’s sister and dad rushed into the kitchen.

“What in the holy Hell is going on in here?” said Jared’s Dad.

“Jared’s in trouble,” teased Jared’s Sister.

“I’m very pissed off that someone took my cheese and I want to know who the fuck it was or will tear this place down! I will go room by room and destroy it all, you hear me, family?”

There was silence for a moment, and then Jared’s Mom calmly unzipped Jared’s backpack pocket and pulled out a nicely wrapped chunk of Irish cheddar.

“I put it in your backpack as a surprise since I knew it was the last one.”

Jared stared at the cheese in all its glory as his face turned beet red with embarrassment. Then he gently plucked the dairy product from his mom’s hand.

“I had not thought to check there. Thank you, Mom.” With that, Jared bit into the cheese. “Damn, this is good cheese.”

“That’s going to be your dinner, Son. Apologize and get to your room!” yelled his parents.

“I know. I’m sorry,” said Jared, as he shuffled up the stairs nibbling at his cheese.

“Where did he learn to curse like that?” asked Jared’s Dad.

“Not from us,” said Jared’s Mom.

“Probably the son-of-a-bitch internet,” said Jared’s Sister.



Bedtime Stories with Cary # 22

Slugs image

Once upon a time there was a slug. It loved to walk around the neighborhood on its lunch break. It would go around the block, leaving its slimy slug trail behind.

One day it came upon another slug. “You want to be my walking buddy?” it asked.

“Sure. I’d love to have some company,” replied the other slug.

The two of them started walking together everyday, spreading two slug trails around the neighborhood like railroad tracks.

While on one of their walks, a man came out of his apartment and stepped onto their dual slime. He slipped, tried to regain his balance, but fell. He landed smack on his head. CRACK!

The two slugs came up to the man, crawled over him, and left their trail on his body. “Sucks to be him,” they said. The slugs continued on their merry way. The man died.

The moral of the story: Look down before you walk. Oh, and slugs are heartless beings.

The End

Showrunner Advice with Cole Haddon: How to Get an Agent and Job Writing for Television

(Originally appeared in Scriptshark, March 2015)

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 4.28.29 PM

by Cary Tusan

Every working writer has their unique story about how they broke into the film and television industry. There is no one way to get your foot in the door and stay there. No matter how much the landscape changes, it all comes down to the written word. We spoke with Cole Haddon, creator/writer of Dracula (NBC), who has Nottingham in development at Sony TV and two features (Dodge and Twist and Leviathan) in development at Sony Pictures, about how he got started.


Q: How did you get your first job as a working writer?

Haddon: I’d been struggling to get represented for some time. The scripts I was writing, all features, just weren’t getting the job done for me. They were too art house, I think. The market at the time was looking for new franchises, which hasn’t really changed. I thought, “Why not write a spec that proves I can do that? Why not reimagine one of my favorite books (and films) as a child into something for today’s audiences?” That was KING SOLOMON’S MINES. Turns out I was stumbling into the first moments of a new zeitgeist in Hollywood, because a few months later all anybody was talking about was “rebooting” branded literature (this, by the way, is how my TV series “DRACULA” would come about a few years later). I unknowingly became one of the only people talking about this stuff. That would soon change, but for a moment, I think I was a bit of a rarity. Three months later I sold an ARABIAN NIGHTS idea, called THIEVES OF BAGHDAD, to Warner Brothers. I think the sale was a product of dumb luck, some creativity, and a deep, honest passion for the source material.

Q: How did you get representation? What is key to know about finding that first rep?

Haddon: It was my KING SOLOMON’S MINES spec that first got me represented. QUATERMAIN, as it was called, impressed a manager I met through my future sister-in-law. We were at a party and he asked what I did. He then offered to read something. Nobody does this. I have no idea why he did this. And then he actually read the script. Again, that almost never happens. He went on to help me find my first agents, help me take the spec out to the town (it didn’t sell), and set up THIEVES OF BAGHDAD at Warner Brothers. As for what is key to finding that first rep, I get asked this all the time. There is no key except being prepared when dumb luck leads you to one. I know very few people who got reps in any way that another person could recreate. Like me. I was at a party. My future sister-in-law introduced me to a guy. He actually read me. That’s not exactly advice I can give to someone. That said, had I not put the work in beforehand, had I not been writing religiously, had I not been ready when I was asked for a writing sample, I’d probably still be an unemployed, aspiring screenwriter. That preparation is the key, if there is one.

Q: For those who want to get on a show as a writer’s assistant, what tips (do’s and don’ts) do you have for interviewing? What have you or your show looked for when hiring someone?

Haddon: I didn’t hire the writer’s assistant on “DRACULA”. Our head writer, Daniel Knauf, brought her with him. I did, however, help hire our entire writer’s room and can speak to that. In general, I looked for scripts that surprised me. Procedurals bored me to tears. Hospital shows, cop shows, obvious shows. Instead, I looked for people who wrote things that nobody else was. For example, Becky Kirsch: I was sent her spec pilot about an 18th Century New England woman locked up in an insane asylum. Nobody was going to make this series. Nobody would probably buy it. But it was wonderful. It was different. It showed me someone who was going to think outside the box. But the writing was also solid, traditionally structured, and so I knew she understood what the inside of the box looked like, too. Again, this isn’t exactly clear advice for how to get a job. What I’ll say is this: every writer has to stand on his/her creative instincts and writing talent, and that means a writing sample should make both of those things abundantly clear. You have to succeed or fail on these things because they are your most valuable possessions as a screenwriter. Write samples that speak to that, not samples that you think will get you hired. The latter ones almost never will.

Q: Each writer’s room is unique. So, what was your first experience like in the writer’s room on Dracula?

Haddon: The “DRACULA” writer’s room was a wonderful experience. I made several friends I’ll know for the rest of my life. That said, it was also jarring for me. I came in as a creator. A producer. I hadn’t worked in television before. My experience was as a feature writer, and that’s a very solitary game. Suddenly I was contending with multiple other personalities. This quickly revealed strengths and many more weaknesses on my part. I think I weathered it well enough, but it was daunting for the first month or so. Playing well with other writers can be hard, since we’re so used to spending time alone in our own heads. But it’s a valuable skill set to learn, trust me. Essential if you want to work in television.

Q: When it comes to staffing a show, what was that process like for you? Did the unique subject matter and genre of the show play a factor in assembling the writers?

Haddon: I covered a lot of this a couple of questions ago, I think, but you’re right…the unique subject matter did also play a factor in assembling the writers. I’ll use women as my example here. I knew from the start I would be uncomfortable with any room that wasn’t equitable in gender composition, but for “DRACULA”, it was essential, more so than some other shows I think, that women, women of very different perspectives, were represented in that room to help me realize my ambitions for my show. Romance, sex, Victorian repression, a young woman struggling with her realization that she isn’t straight, another young woman trying to intellectually establish herself in a Men Only academic world. These weren’t conversations that I felt most male writers could contribute much to. And no single woman could cover them all either. Finding female writers who could come at this heightened period world from all sides was essential.

Q: How was the transition for you from film writer to TV writer? What spurred that decision?

Haddon: The transition was an easy one, since television allows me to use one of my strengths as a writer that is otherwise useless to me in features – world-building. In features, you’re only worried about what’s happening in a very contained window of time. Building out a world that we’ll return to over and over isn’t very useful to the development process if the number-one priority is simply to get one movie made. What’s happening around the corner, in the other room, on that other world, is irrelevant. I want to know what’s happening there, though. As for what spurred the decision to move into television, more dumb luck. I was asked about the character of Dracula during a general feature meeting. But not for films, for television. Almost as an aside. I reacted negatively at first, thinking the character didn’t suit the medium because of his villainous nature, but a few days later I figure out my way into the character. I had every intention of eventually moving into television, just not so soon. And then I was there. Dumb luck. It’s essential in this business.

–Thanks for reading.

Bedtime Stories with Cary #21

Wilbur the bird copy

Once upon a time there was family of birds that lived in the nook of an eave in an apartment building. One day, the three young birds, Brad, Gina, and Wilbur, were told by their parents to go out and find new twigs to build a new nest.

Brad, the strongest of them, said, “I’m going to go out and find the toughest material ever,” and he flew off.

Gina, the smartest of them, said, “I’m going to go out and find the most comfortable material ever,” and she flew off.

Wilbur, the most delicate of them, said nothing, and his parents looked at him waiting for his response.

Wilbur said, “I guess I’ll find something better than all of those,” and he flew off.

Brad searched near the garden and quickly pulled out a sturdy twig from the bushes. Wilbur thought, “I’ll show him and make our parents proud.”

Wilbur scoured around the building for materials, but couldn’t decide on what would be the best. Plus, everything he found was too heavy for him.

Gina searched near the garbage and found fluffy balls of cat hair, which she took. Wilbur saw this and sighed as he continued his search, still undecided about what he should bring back.

Soon, minutes turned into hours, and the sun started to go down. Wilbur was about to give up, when the wind blew something over to him. A nice thin strip of bark. “Yippee!” he shouted.

Wilbur picked up the bark and proudly flew back to his family. However, as Wilbur approached the nest, he saw a pack of raccoons walking away from the destroyed nest, scurrying down the side of the building. His family was dead. It was a massacre.

The moral of the story: Don’t dilly dally. Life is short. Oh, and watch out for raccoons.


Bedtime stories with Cary # 20

washing machineOnce upon a time there was a washing machine. It loved to wash the clothes of Barry and Linda. The machine got such joy seeing their faces every time they took out the clean clothes that it had washed.

One day, Barry got angry because of his job. The washing machine felt bad for Barry, and it broke down, getting stuck between the rinse and spin cycles. Barry fiddled with some knobs and latches and eventually got the machine working again. He was happy, and so was the washing machine.

A few days later, Barry lost his job and started crying. The washing machine felt bad for Barry, so it broke down again. Barry assured Linda he could fix it, and sure enough, he did. Barry felt better, and the machine felt good.

A week later, Barry’s life started turning around. He got a new job, and he and Linda seemed happy. Then the washing machine overheard Barry say to Linda, “We don’t need that broken down, second hand washing machine anymore. I’ll buy us a new one.”

The washing machine felt betrayed. It thought Barry and it had a connection. How could he do this? They were friends!

The next morning when Barry went online to order a new machine, the washing machine made a rumbling noise. It startled Barry, so he went to check it out.

Barry opened the lid of the top loader and peered inside. The drum started spinning, knocking into Barry’s face. Then scalding hot water squirted Barry in the eyes. He screamed in pain and tried to stand up, but the lid slammed into his head… over and over.

Barry was stuck. He screamed, but the lid wedged his head in the drum. Water filled up the drum and overflowed. Barry couldn’t breathe. He drowned.

Barry was dead. The washing machine completed the Delicates cycle, satisfied.

The moral of the story- if you’re an appliance, don’t get too attached to your owners. Oh, and one day the machines will rise up!