Sheri Elwood Interview, Part TwoComplications Ensue
Complications Ensue:
The Crafty Screenwriting, TV and Game Writing Blog


April 2004

May 2004

June 2004

July 2004

August 2004

September 2004

October 2004

November 2004

December 2004

January 2005

February 2005

March 2005

April 2005

May 2005

June 2005

July 2005

August 2005

September 2005

October 2005

November 2005

December 2005

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010

April 2010

May 2010

June 2010

July 2010

August 2010

September 2010

October 2010

November 2010

December 2010

January 2011

February 2011

March 2011

April 2011

May 2011

June 2011

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

January 2012

February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

May 2012

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

November 2012

December 2012

January 2013

February 2013

March 2013

April 2013

May 2013

June 2013

July 2013

August 2013

September 2013

October 2013

November 2013

December 2013

January 2014

February 2014

March 2014

April 2014

May 2014

June 2014

July 2014

August 2014

September 2014

October 2014

November 2014

December 2014

January 2015

February 2015

March 2015

April 2015

May 2015

June 2015

August 2015

September 2015

October 2015

November 2015

December 2015

January 2016

February 2016

March 2016

April 2016

May 2016

June 2016

July 2016

August 2016

September 2016

October 2016

November 2016

December 2016

January 2017

February 2017

March 2017

May 2017

June 2017

July 2017

August 2017

September 2017

October 2017

November 2017

December 2017

January 2018

March 2018

April 2018

June 2018

July 2018

October 2018

November 2018

December 2018

January 2019

February 2019

November 2019

February 2020

March 2020

April 2020

May 2020

August 2020

September 2020

October 2020

December 2020

January 2021

February 2021

March 2021

May 2021

June 2021

November 2021

December 2021

January 2022

February 2022


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

More of my interview with Sheri Elwood, creator/showrunner of CALL ME FITZ...

CS: Why shoot in Nova Scotia?

SE: They simply had the best tax incentive. I know it's a big taboo to say that. But it was a cost benefit analysis. We looked at Vancouver, Calgary, Hamilton, Halifax. Nova Scotia had the best incentives.

I mean, I own property there, and I pay taxes there. I shot my movie there, and I know the crews, so it made sense.

Of course, they give to you, and then they taketh away. Nova Scotia just yanked some of the incentives we've been relying on. It's unfortunate, you spend all this money trying to set up local infrastructure, to train a pool of technicians, and then you don't maintain that.

CS: The famous Canadian habit of punishing success.

SE: Right, if you're successful, you get less money. But we had lunch with our local Minister of Culture last season trying to impress on him and his people how much money we’ve brought into the community, so hopefully we'll get some of that back.

CS: It seems to be set in North America. Did you have pressure from broadcasters to make it more American?

SE: It's sort of an anywheresville ugly suburb. In my head when I wrote the pilot, it a suburb of Atlantic City, so if anything there was pressure from the Canadian side to make it nonspecific, for the sake of the funding.

CS: On CALL ME FITZ, your characters are compelling and fresh and sometimes outlandish. But they’re not what you’d call likable. (In fact, Jason Priestley's Dick Fitz is a right asshole, always looking out for number one, and proud of it. And Ernie Grunwald's Larry, who announces that he's Fitz's “conscience” and is out to save him, is self-righteous and incompetent.) What attracts you to writing characters you wouldn’t want to be your friends?

SE: I think at the end of the day it's calling it like I see it. These are people I know, and then I'm amping the volume up to 11. My brother's a used car salesman--

CS: So this is your family?

SE: I'm taking shades of what’s there and looking at it through a funhouse mirror.

CS: I notice that cable seems to be the home of unlikable characters. Do you think that's because there's encouragement to have characters and situations that can only be on cable? Or does every writer secretly long to write characters who are awful people, and only cable writers get to do it? Or are people actually like that?

SE: I think that everyone has a f***ed up family. So characters like these are infinitely relatable.

CALL ME FITZ was my writing sample for years. Everyone was interested in the writing, but we could never put him on network. They'd ask, “Could you get rid of the conscience?” “Could you get rid of the more unsavory elements of this guy’s psyche we don’t want to deal with?”

I think it's too general a statement to say that cable is allowing writers to be a little more truthful. Everyone’s flawed, and we're putting those flaws under a microscope. Cable allowed us to show flawed characters who say and do bad things – the things many of us would like to do and say, but are afraid to. Network is generally about selling ad time, and large corporations don’t want their products associated with degenerates.

CS: I notice that in episode 3, after two episodes which present Fitz in a completely uncompromising way, we meet Fitz's mother and we start to understand why he is the way he is, and sympathize with him a little. Another writer might have shown that sooner, and yet another writer might have never shown that. What went into the decision to hold that back until episode 3?

SE: It’s just how it played out - there wasn’t a science behind that decision. I would say that was the moment where we may have understood Fitz a little more, but it’s certainly not about redemption. Afterwards, he continues his downward spiral. Things just get worse. He does not learn his lesson. He does not become nice. And he doesn’t feel he’s done anything wrong.

CS: Larry’s clearly meant to be mysterious. On the one hand he appears almost miraculously during Fitz's accident. He knows things only Fitz could know. And he calls himself Fitz’s conscience.
On the other hand, he's no guardian angel. He makes mistakes, he gets involved in Fitz’s scams, and he tells lies. (Or I think he does.) Is “What is Larry really” a question you’re going to keep playing with throughout the series, or are you going to reveal an answer at some point?

SE: He’s horrible – he’s just as screwed up or more as Fitz is. I always intended that character to be mysterious. Is he Fitz's conscience, or is he just some psycho. It's about the shades of grey between good and bad -- is there really such a difference? That's who Larry is to Fitz.

That relationship is something I've arced out for the whole series. It goes all the way to the end. Once we know the whole story – the origin of Larry – for me, the show is over.

CS: So in an ideal world, how many seasons are there?

SE: It's a five season arc. At the same time I'm grateful that I've got this far. Season One I designed just to be a sort of a 6 1/2 hour art film box set. I'm thrilled we get to do a second season.

CS:  Thanks so much!

CALL ME FITZ airs September 19 on The Movie Network and Movie Central. Check it out!



Post a Comment

Back to Complications Ensue main blog page.

This page is powered by Blogger.