Sarah Wise [Interview]


Today’s interview is a real combination of aspects of the world of entertainment that I seriously enjoy just so much. One of them is brilliant writing, as we have showcased several times in the past. Another would be the exhilarating television show that has developed a very unique and deserving popularity, From Dusk Till Dawn. And on a more important note: I love to hear stories of bad ass women who are killing it in the world of television writing.

And as I mentioned, today’s amazing interviewee is involved with or excellent at being ALL of these things! Sarah Wise is an amazing young woman who has paved her own way in the world of television, and is absolutely amazing at what she does. Fans of From Dusk Till Dawn will definitely know what I am talking about. And what a story she has! On a proverbial wing and a prayer, Sarah made a courageous jump to reach the level she is at now.

And I will get to letting her tell you all about it! So ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy some great words from the amazing writer, Sarah Wise!

How did you get into the world of television, and more specifically, television writing? What made you want to get into this way of life?

I’ve always loved writing and television, but it wasn’t until after college that I considered writing for television as a possible career path. I was working at The Walt Disney Company in Internal Communications during the era of Lost, Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives and decided to try my hand at writing a spec script. At the time I thought I wanted to be a comedy writer, so I took a stab at writing a spec of How I Met Your Mother. Ultimately I quit my cushy, regular, old office job and took a job as an Office Production Assistant on Raising Hope.

My next job was as a Writers’ Assistant on In Plain Sight, followed by Writers’ Assistant jobs on The Client List and From Dusk Till Dawn. I wrote a pilot script that was a good sample for From Dusk Till Dawn and gave it to our showrunner, Carlos Coto, to read. He liked it and promoted me to Staff Writer the following season.

You’ve been working on the television adaptation of From Dusk Till Dawn for a while now, and it is some of the best television I have seen in quite a while as well. And to most of us, it is obviously the writing that makes it so great. What is the writer’s dynamic like on this show? What you believe it is that is happening behind the scenes that makes it work so well?

First off, I have to give an immense amount of credit to Carlos Coto for fostering a wonderful space for the writers to create and for always driving us toward brilliant character moments and storylines. The original film was so unique and engaging and it gave us a lot of material to expand into a bigger universe.  I think all the writers on the show felt passionately about the characters and the Dusky world they inhabited and we always strove to put those characters in dark, challenging, funny and fresh circumstances. It was a very open room where every writer was allowed to voice their opinion and make suggestions to improve storylines.

When you are working for/with a person like Robert Rodriguez who happens to run the network in which a show will air, does it feel a bit more freeing than working for one of the major cable networks? Is there a noticeable difference?

Robert Rodriguez is sort of the tastemaker of the El Rey Network. In a regular major cable network, I don’t think you write as much toward one person’s preference, but you write a show that hopefully fits the brand of the network, and the network executives are there to help you hit that mark. Our showrunner got notes directly from Robert so we got very specific feedback if a story we were working on jived with his sensibilities.  It definitely streamlined the process to have a direct line to Robert.

It certainly feels that although it is 2017, and times should have changed, that women are severely outnumber and underrepresented in the world of film and television when it comes to writers, directors, cinematographers, and more. In your professional opinion, as someone who is actively working in this world, what do you believe it is that is continuing to guide this old school “Boy’s Club” mentality? What needs to change?

Oh man, I wish I had a punchy, smart answer for this. I think people tend to gravitate toward people who are like them, and there seems to be a lot of older men in entertainment mentoring and hiring younger men that remind them of themselves. That’s why it’s wonderful when someone like Ava DuVernay has an opportunity to hire directors for her series, Queen Sugar, and she hires a bunch of “untested” female indie film directors. There’s a self-perpetuating cycle in Hollywood where you can’t get hired to work on a project unless you have experience, but obviously you can’t get experience unless you get hired to work on a project.

People have been aware of this underrepresentation for many years now, but clearly awareness is not moving the needle in a significant way. I think a proactive move to give more opportunities to female creators might start to nudge the door open. That doesn’t mean mandating that 50% of all films or TV shows should be written and directed by women (though that would be nice), but I’ve heard anecdotes of studios putting together potential director lists for upcoming films that don’t include a single woman. If you don’t even give a woman an opportunity to interview for a job, she’s clearly not going to get the job. That absolutely needs to change.

What is next for you? Any projects you can tell us about and that our readers should be looking forward to?

I’m shopping around a TV series concept – I can’t speak to specifics at the moment, but hopefully I will have some good news soon!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I finished the first draft of a new pilot this morning!  After many weeks of eating, breathing and dreaming in that world, it’s an incredible feeling to have a completed script.

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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