MICHAEL KELLNER - 11 Questions
10 Questions from the November 2014 TV SPEC Screenplay Winner.
1. What is your TV SPEC screenplay about?
Rick and Morty go head-to-head with a variety of space gangsters to raise the capital to build Rick's latest invention, the Interplanetary McGuffin. Each act sees them take on a different subgenre of gangster film: first the underground gambling variety, then the Italian mobster type, and finally the heist film.
To balance the A plot's look at gangster movies, the B plot deals with the mundane, scarring reality of crime in the real world. Jerry gets mugged at knifepoint, and suffers a breakdown from the trauma of the event. Beth and Summer try to help him through it, but their efforts do more harm than good.
In the end, the two plotlines ram together in a hostage situation/shootout at the Smith residence.
2. How does this Rick & Morty script fit into the context of the show?
In the penultimate episode of the first season, the show reveals that there are infinite timelines, with most of them having their own Rick and their own Morty. The characters that are the protagonists of the show are the Rick and Morty from Earth Dimension C-137.
The episode also reveals a timeline where Morty is secretly an evil genius. My episode is based off of the assumption that Morty of Earth Dimension C-137 has within him the potential to become that evil Morty. I give him a taste of power, and he loves it. I also give him a moment where he confronts his own morality, and he isn't sure he likes what he sees.
Beyond that, my episode gives the show a chance to explore Earth Dimension C-137, without having to rely on the portal gun to go to different dimensions. The episode also gives Beth a chance to be the hero, and shows Rick's genuine affection for Morty.
3. What is your all-time favorite TV show?
I don't have a single favorite show, so I'll take the cop-out answer and mention a few of my favorites. Arrested Development, Archer (Frisky Dingo was great too), It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, and Rick and Morty (obviously). I also need to mention The Simpsons, since I started watching it when I was six and it definitely had a huge influence on my tastes. And of course Seinfeld is an all-time favorite.
4. What movie have you seen the most in your life?
In Bruges. I went through a long period of watching it at least once a month. I'm probably due to see it again...
5. What artists would you love to work with?
Dan Harmon, Adam Reed, The Always Sunny crew (Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton, and Charlie Day). Basically, any of the people who write the shows I love.
6. How many stories/screenplays have you written?
Including this script, I've written one short, two spec episodes, and I'm currently working on a pilot.
7. Ideally, where would you like to be in 5 years?
I'd love to eventually be the creator and writer of my own show, but my current goal is to become a staff writer. I'd be very happy if that's where I was at in five years.
8. Describe your process; do you have a set routine, method for writing?
I should start by acknowledging that my process is still developing, but this is what it looks like right now:
When I start a new project I brainstorm ideas on paper. I end up mashing my favorite few ideas together, and that becomes the concept for the episode. I then do a couple runs at an outline before ever opening up Final Draft. I also have a great editor who takes a couple passes at my work once I have completed drafts. On the off chance that anyone who's reading this is looking for an editor, his name is Simon Lansberg-Rodriguez, and you should hire him for that thing you're doing.
My process also involves a fair amount of pacing and some muttering.
9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
My love of consuming TV and movies is what got me motivated to try to create it, so watching shows and films probably ranks first on my list of passions. I also really enjoy cooking and playing video games, but I think the line between 'passion' and 'hobby' is pretty blurry there.
10. What influenced you to enter the WILDsound Script Contest?
I wanted to enter my Rick and Morty script in a couple contests, and I was intrigued by WILDsound's table read concept. It set it apart from the other contests.
11. Any advice or tips you'd like to pass on to other writers?
It's far from original, but the advice that got me started was something along the lines of 'if you want to be a writer, start writing.' I talked about wanting to write for a while before I actually put in the work. Eventually I felt that internal pressure of 'put up or shut up' and that made me sit down and start working. That pressure still motivates me to write.