Screenwriting 101: Kyle Killen

February 19th, 2013 by

screenplay“Usually it’s about hiding whatever you wrote. The first time through people tend to tell each other what the scene is about, and in life we don’t really talk that way. We talk around things, at things, and about things, without ever overtly stating them. Life has a subtext. Most first drafts don’t.”

— Kyle Killen on rewriting a first draft [GITS interview, May 10, 2011]

Written Interview: Kyle Killen

November 3rd, 2012 by

An interview with screenwriter and TV writer Kyle Killen:

You’ve spoken before about your approach to pilots. You said that the pilot of “Lone Star” would become clear to viewers in the final moments, but you wanted the pilot for “Awake” to have everything the viewer needed presented in the first ten minutes. How has that trajectory played out with “Influence”?

In network, I think it’s probably pretty important for people not to know everything, but if they understand what kind of show they’re watching before the first commercial break, then you’re probably [better off]. The thing is, all your rope is shorter in network. You’re not gonna get a season, you’re gonna get a certain number of episodes before you’ll get canceled. I would watch Twitter when the shows would premiere, and it’d be like “I watched ‘Lone Star’ for like 30 seconds, I wasn’t really feeling it, so I flipped over to ‘The Event.’” So I get 30 seconds?

You just have to know that people are investing in it differently. A lot of times with a cable show, they’ve made a decision to watch the show, not to sample the pilot briefly but to say, “I’m in for this until something happens that makes me decide I hate it.” People approach network TV differently. So yes, I’m still of the mind that the sooner you can communicate to people what it will be like to watch this show, the better off you are.

For more of the interview, go here

Q&A: Screenwriter & TV writer Kyle Killen (“The Beaver,” “Awake,” “Lone Star”)

March 20th, 2012 by

I have been following the career of Kyle Killen almost since the start of this blog, introduced to his writing with his original screenplay “The Beaver” which topped the 2008 Black List. Therefore I was quite pleased when Kyle agreed to do a GITS Q&A back in May of last year. Some background on Kyle:

Kyle Killen began as a fiction writer, winning the John Steinbeck Award For The Short Story in 2005 and going on to have his work featured in numerous publications including, McSweeney’s, and The Mid-American Review.

His script, The Beaver landed on top of “The Black List”, a compilation of the years best liked screenplays and went on to become a Jodie Foster/Mel Gibson feature film. Previously, his series, Lone Star was named the best new series on television by the likes of USA Today, NPR, and Variety.

He is currently working on his new series, “Awake” for NBC. He lives in Austin, TX.

Here is the interview:

Part 1

Part 2

Be sure to watch “Awake” which airs Thursdays at 10PM on NBC.

Series Debut Tonight: “Awake” from creator Kyle Killen

March 1st, 2012 by

Another reminder that the new NBC 1-hour drama “Awake” debuts tonight at 10PM Eastern / Pacific. Here is a THR feature on series creator Kyle Killen. An excerpt:

Raised in a small town outside Dallas by a graphic artist mother and a stock broker-turned-photographer father, a young Killen fancied himself a movie junkie. He was as enthralled by such blockbusters as Back to the Future as he was by small-budget films like Before Sunrise. That his passion could double as a career only became apparent when Killen discovered USC’s film school. But after a series of Hollywood internships at such companies as Disney and Douglas Wick‘s Red Wagon — along with an overnight shift pulling newswire tape at a stock brokerage to pay the bills — Killen soured on Los Angeles and packed up his car.

“It was really hard to want to be a writer in Los Angeles, because every time you opened your laptop anywhere you were aware that every other laptop was potentially generating the world’s most brilliant screenplay,” he says. “You were face to face with your competition in a way that in Texas, or anywhere else, I was the only idiot writing a screenplay, so I just had to beat myself.”

On the advice of a professor, who told him, “Writing is like a heroin addiction — if you can quit, you totally should,” Killen tried to get out. He dabbled in everything from tech support to constructing prison laundry rooms, but with each new gig he’d find a way to write about it, a clear sign quitting wasn’t an option.

An early screenplay titled Taste of a Tuesday, about a severe sleepwalker who is anti-social by day and gifted by night, got him representation; trips to the major agencies disguised as a courier got the script read. (His reps at WME and Anonymous Content are still hopeful the film will get made. In addition to the buddy comedy Scenic Route, starring Josh Duhamel and Dan Fogler, other Killen films in the works include an untitled Daredevil reboot.) A well-received but ultimately passed-over TV pitch about a brilliant 16-year-old college student came next, but it was The Beaver script that in 2008 landed Killen on the industry’s coveted Black List, the annual collection of the best unproduced screenplays.

Here is an interview with Killen and “Awake” co-executive producer Howard Gordon (“24,” “Homeland”).

Here is the series trailer:

TheWrap calls “Awake” “the best new show of the season”.

“Awake”: Thursdays, 10PM on NBC.

You may follow Kyle on Twitter: @killen8.

“Awake”: Full pilot online for screening now!

February 19th, 2012 by

You can watch the entire pilot for the new NBC 1-hour drama “Awake” here.

Created by Kyle Killen, whose screenplay “The Beaver” topped the Black List in 2009.

IMDB site

Official NBC site

Series premise:

After a car accident takes the life of a family member, a police detective lives two alternating parallel lives, one with his wife and one with his son. Is one of his “realities” merely a dream?

Series debut: NBC, March 1 and airs Thursdays at 10PM.

I’ve read the pilot script and screened the pilot, both excellent. You should definitely check out the series.

Video: “Awake,” New NBC series [Thursdays, 10PM]

February 15th, 2012 by

From HuffPo:

NBC’s “Awake” (premiering Thurs., Mar. 1, 10 p.m. EST) is the most ambitious new drama on any network. Even with a complex premise to set up, the pilot is a compelling, well-acted hour of television and HuffPost TV has the exclusive sneak peek at the show’s first seven minutes (and 55 seconds).

Detective Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs) is in a tragic car accident with his wife and son that fractures his life into two competing realities. In one, his wife is dead and he has to learn how to be a single father to his teenage son, Rex (Dylan Minnette); when he “wakes up” in what appears to be another reality, his son is dead and he and his wife Hannah (Laura Allen) are dealing with the aftermath.

Hit the link to catch the first nearly 8 minutes of the pilot episode.

The pilot script by Kyle Killen [@killen8] is one of the best things I’ve read in a long time. The premise sounds like a fascinating way to bring new life to the rather stale arena of police procedurals.

Watch the video and see for yourself. And mark your calendars:


Here is a promo for the series:

Update: “Awake”

February 4th, 2012 by

File this under “Blatant Pimping”:

NBC has announced the premiere date for midseason entry Awake.

The dual reality drama starring Jason Isaacs will launch on Thursday, March 1 at 10 p.m., taking over for struggling series The Firm, it was announced Friday by Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment.

Be forewarned. I will be promoting “Awake” over the next month as it’s one of a handful of network pilots I’ve read in the few years that I really liked. In fact I’ve been following the progress of the series since Kyle Killen sold the pilot script he penned [originally titled “REM”], then picked up for series.

Thursdays at 10PM on NBC starting March 1. A tough time slot, so the series has a challenge on its hands. If you’re looking for entertaining TV with a smart premise and compelling characters, you should give “Awake” a shot.

For more of the Hollywood Reporter article, go here.

Audio Interview: Dan Harmon, Kyle Killen, Chris McKenna, Charles Murray

January 22nd, 2012 by

Today’s interview is for all you interested in TV writing. It is a roundtable discussion with: Dan Harmon (Community creator’s return engagement!); Kyle Killen (creator, Lone Star; co-creator Awake); Chris McKenna (Community; American Dad); Charles Murray (Castle; V; Criminal Minds). Recorded October 16, 2011. Presented by Nerdist Writers. You can access the podcast here.

For my exclusive interview with Kyle Killen:

Part 1

Part 2