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BPS 030: Inside HBO’s Writers Room with Showrunner Daniel Knauf

Today’s guest is writer and showrunner, Daniel Knauf. Daniel Knauf had a couple of small credits to his name—a TV movie here, a stint on Wolf Lake there—when he managed to sell the intricate Great Depression-era genre show Carnivale to HBO.

The series, an intricate blend of meticulously researched period detail and secret-history fantasy, purported to tell the tale of what happened when the last two “Avatars”—superpowered beings of light and darkness—met in the United States on the eve of World War II. The series attracted a cult audience that remains devoted to this day, but a mass audience wasn’t sure what to make of the program, and HBO canceled it after two seasons, saying the show’s story was finished, in spite of Knauf’s plan for a six-season run.

We go deep inside the writer’s room, what it takes to be a showrunner and many of his misadventures in Hollyweird!

Enjoy my conversation with Daniel Knauf.

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Alex Ferrari 1:20
I like to welcome to the show Daniel Knauf. Thank you so much for being on the show my friend.

Daniel Knauf 3:53
Oh, I'm happy to be here.

Alex Ferrari 3:55
So first, first off, you have well you have a very impressive career and resume. So we're going to get into a bunch of the stuff you've done. But first and foremost, how did you get started in the film industry?

Daniel Knauf 4:06
Crazy story that? Yeah, whenever I whenever I do seminars, and inevitably, it'd be like, how do I break into film? Which is funny anyway, because it's like what, you know, because there's larceny is kind of hard baked into the entertainment business. And so the language reflects it. So it's like, you don't hear people say, Well, how do I break into accountancy? Or how do I break into plumbing or destruction? You know, it's like, we got to do A, B and E to get into this business. So that question will come up and in in, it's like, I'm singularly unhelpful in a way. I mean, I was insurance broker until my mid 40s. I did that for like 20 to 23 years I ran a business and And while I was doing it, I was, I'd always want to be a screenwriter. And I'd studied, I'd studied creative writing in college and grown up in Los Angeles. And so I kind of had, then I love movies. I mean, it just, it was my favorite thing in it, but I have three kids, I had to raise them and I had to make money. And there was a certain, you know, lifestyle, I wanted to have a house and you know, be able to pay my bills and that kind of thing. So I kind of set it aside. Um, around the time I was 22 and got married, it was like, oh, yeah, this isn't grownups do. And then, around the time I was, by the time I was 27, I was actually going insane. I mean, I was, like, like, literally, like, I was not a happy kid. And, and, and sighs going through this crushing depression, and I started writing. And it brought me out. And I realized, yeah, um, this isn't something that I want to do. This is something I kind of have to do. I'm just, my brains wired this way. And I need to be doing something creative in order to, in order to, it's like a shark has to swim, you know, I have to do this thing. And I mean, so when people come to me seek I've always wanted, right, I think, Well, I've always wanted to be a bird. It's like, I don't have any choice. So it's a so I started doing that. And I focused on really developing my craft and writing screenplays and reading books about screenplays, you know, Synbio, Syd fields, books, screenplay. And other books that were some of them were useful. So when we're completely useless, taking some seminars, going to UCLA, UCLA Extension here in LA has some great classes. And in just basically focusing on learning the craft, and, and I, getting some mentors, I had a, I had two very good mentors. My first mentor was Chad Fisher, who wrote the last voice we met when I was in a workshop at UCLA, and ended up writing some scripts together. And, and she kind of took me under her wing and really, really taught me a lot. And then and then I reached, I hit. Like, I hit my 40s. And I said to myself, and I put it off. You know what? I told myself, this isn't happening. By the time I'm like, 40 I'm just gonna do something else. I'm start reading how write novels because it's sort of a young man's game. And you know, breaking in is, is any 4040 Something year all you know, slightly overweight. Be an EEG, I'll tell you is probably a lot easier when you're in your 20s. And I, I come from a long line of like, really sore losers, like, we're the guys who flipped the Monopoly board, he throw tennis practice at people, right? Yeah, my brother, my brother always says, His fate, one of his favorite things is, show me a good loser. And I'll show you a loser. So I just said, yeah, it's gonna take one more real run at this, it created a website called movies.com posted the first acts of all my scripts that I'd written up to that point. And, you know, by then I'd had some success I had, I did sell a script in the in 1993. That ended up being a movie for HBO called the blind Cestus as a Western, but then, nothing after that. It was like, yeah, it was like, Dead was nothing. It was, yeah, it was kind of like, you know, check EEG or, you know, bouncing this x 15 off of the stratosphere, you know, it's like, wow, it's coming in too hot. And, and so, I was really, you know, the customer slump. So I, I just created this website and put the stuff on and I got a call from a guy, router kale BOD, who worked for a guy named Scott wine and in Scott was an Emmy winning director. And he had told Robert, you know, I'm tired of reading doctors, lawyers, and cops show me something different. And Robert found the first act of Carnival. And he contacted me say, I'd like to read the rest of your pilot, and I'm thinking what pilot and I remember Oh, yeah, you know, I I've taken this crazy 200 Page screenplay that didn't work and thought maybe this isn't a feature and I I collapsed, the first act of a pilot. And so I showed it to him and I met with them and they were very, they were very helpful and they told me I needed to do a Bible I didn't know the Bible was in a, I did this Bible for Carnivale. And then we took it to HBO and all sudden it was like, they bought it. And, and, and I was executive producing, and in writing an HBO series, so I started my career at the very top of the heap I came in. And, you know, it was weird because it was like, nobody worked with me, I'd never done another television show, I had no reputation in the business, I just came out of like, left field, and I'm running an HBO series, and they're, you know, they only would have like, you know, four or five shows on at a time, it was pretty, you know, kind of a high up kind of position in it for somebody who was really a nobody to be in. And I mean, I actually got to a point I remember reading on on IMDb, there was like a rumor going around that I didn't exist, and that I was under a pseudonym for David Lynch, which was like really flattering, but not good for the brand. And so I did the show for two years, and I really kind of hung on by my fingernails. So it was a it was it was, it was a kind of a terrifying experience. Because it's shark tank in there. And, and just to answer your question, it's like to, for me to give advice to someone on how to get in, I can't really say, I come in, you know, I was a baby writer for a while, and I got a story editor job on another show. And then I, you know, built that up and I went, I didn't do the same trajectory, as most TV writers do. I mean, I know what that trajectory is he graduated from film school, you pull every every favorite you can get, and you try to get into the into a writers room. Whether you're in there as a office, Pa and you're bringing coffee, or whether you're writer's assistant, you're just taking notes. And that's really the way into TV writer, it's in no TV writing, it's really very much. It's, it's very much like the old, you know, like, getting into plumbing issue making back. Joining the guild, it's, it's, you know, the mine, I just I broke right through it. It's sort of the top now that we're way down ever since.

Alex Ferrari 12:26
So you said it was it was a shark tank? Can you explain a little bit about what was about that experience? That was the Shark Tank? Because I mean, you have a very unique story. You're right. Most people don't start off running an HBO series.

Daniel Knauf 12:41
Well, I wasn't running it.

Alex Ferrari 12:42
I mean, I mean, but you know what I mean? Like, exactly producing it,

Daniel Knauf 12:45
The first year run was running. But well, really, the main reason what it boils down to is, is there's a lot of money on the line. And they were putting a bet on an untested talent. And that's kind of terrifying for a major corporation,

Alex Ferrari 13:07
it was, it was like 4 million an episode or something like that, right,

Daniel Knauf 13:10
is 3.75. And first season, as far as I know. And that was, at that time, the most expensive show on TV. And we had a huge cast, and we had extras and elements and a lot of outside days, and some special effects. And so it was it was a it was a hugely expensive undertaking. And they would have loved to had a season hand at the top. And that's what they kind of wanted to do. That it was like if we could find a guy who can take this this other guy's crazy idea and make it work. I'm sure they would have scraped me off at some point. But they found to their kind of their horror. And I'm not saying this, you know, Pat, myself on the back right here. This is what I've been told by other people who were involved at the time, they said, What they found was, nobody else knew how to write that show. So they were stuck with me.

Alex Ferrari 14:06
So you see you wrote yourself a niche.

Daniel Knauf 14:08
Yeah, I mean, really, what else? I mean, basically what I did was created it's like it's like sitting out creating a board game where everything you do well is something that wins that board game and it's custom designed for every single thing you do well and and they realized so I probably guessing to their abject horror that you know that they needed me and they couldn't get rid of me and it would have been easier to get rid of me because I was so green and from my standpoint, I didn't know the rules and we're getting into Hollywood and dealing with Hollywood people in the entertainment business is a lot like suddenly getting into Time Machine finding yourself in the court of King Louie the 14 and year there's a whole battery of sort of Kabuki like rituals and certain things that have to be said and how they're said and pecking orders. I remember my first I sent a memo out one time and the insurance business, you send a memo out and you just it's here it is here. Everybody hears what's going on. But you know, I got called by one of the executive producers who said, What do you think you're doing? It's like, what I mean, what am I doing? I'm setting up this memo, about, you know, some nothing. Oh, he climbed up my ass about, oh, you have to put this person's name first and this person's name Second, and this person's name third. And so it was really a lot about just learning these weird customs and rituals and expectations. I also didn't know, what was a reasonable ask, like, you know, was it a reasonable ask, you know, if I said, No, let's not do this. Yeah, it's pretty easy if you don't have a really strong knowledge of physical production. And I didn't back then, to step on the ant hill. And I did that pretty regularly. I learned very quick study, and I learned and I make, I generally don't make the same mistake twice. I just make every possible mistake, one. Fair enough. And so it was it was it was kind of a jarring, terrifying kind of experience in which I was kind of hanging on by my fingernails, you know, at all times. And feeling like a stranger in a strange land. But I, I did the full two years and in in those two years, I pretty much learned the lay of the land. And no, so after that, I knew, you know, exactly, how, how the sausage is made, and in how to I really had a love for physical production, and ask a lot of people who are very knowledgeable questions and learning about that. And, and so it was since then, that was Carnivale was kind of like film school. You know, it was like hell of a film school. Yeah, I mean, there's just there was a there was no, there was an immense amount of there was there was there was money and stature and everything riding on that. I mean, our The sad thing really is the expectations HBO had for the series were wholly unrealistic. And that's one of the things that killed us. If we went on the air on HBO now, you know, they'd be good. Consider. It's like an unmitigated success. But they were saying, Oh, we expect to score higher numbers with this show than the Sopranos. And when I, the day, I heard that I was going, Oh, God, we are so dead. Because the sopranos is mainstream drama. And whenever you get into genre stuff, even more so back then than now, where genre has kind of, you know, oozed into mainstream. Back then there were people where as soon as Ben heals a little girl at the beginning of the show, they're going to turn it off, and they're not going to turn it back on. Because that's not real, you know. And it's, there's some people no matter how well, it doesn't matter whether it listened to a super good jazz or really crappy jazz, they just don't, they can't differentiate because there's still like jazz or rap or country western. And for, you know, shows involve magic, or supernatural or whatever. If people aren't into that, no matter how good you you do, you're going to lose that audience.

Alex Ferrari 18:34
Do you think that carnival would have had a better chance in today's environment, like on a streaming service, like to have a longer run,

Daniel Knauf 18:41
I suspect we would have done our full run. If it came out. If it came out, I would say even if it came out, like, two or three years after we did come out, we were really on the bleeding edge of everything. And people just weren't really ready for that show. And it would have been easier to because allowed to a lot of what we were doing in the first season in the first season drags quite a lot. But a lot of it was about just teaching people the vocabulary of the show. So that they would understand and people is there never been anything online. It was just it was it was just a really weird thing. You know, I mean, it had kind of a cryptic aspects of Twin Peaks, but it was a period drama, and there was some historical aspects that were based on true, you know, situations and true events and other things that were that were made up and and so we really felt like we kind of had to handle the audience along for the, you know, the first first at least six episodes so they know what the rules were.

Alex Ferrari 19:49
No, can you you said, you said a term show Bible. For a lot of people who are listening. They might not know what a show Bible is. Can you explain what your process was being a newbie

Daniel Knauf 20:01
This so they don't feel you know it's there you know? So they're dumb or anything when when when Scott said yeah firstly you know we need to get a Bible and I'm thinking you're gonna kneel down and pray they buy it King James or the new American way what name your poison a show Bible is basically a document that goes into the, the mill you have, you know the world. First you start basically the logline, okay. You know, power is there is like a war between good and evil as far as in the man blasted landscape of the 30s, Dustbowl, or whatever. So you can't be your, your sort of three liner, or two liner log line. And then you start to elaborate on that you get into the world, the rules of the world, you know, the you might, like I like to put you images just to set tone and give you an idea of what things are going to look like. And you you, you talk about the history of all the backstory, you get into the description of the, you know, to full blown articulation of the bottom three quarters of the iceberg, and talk about the characters, character's history. You know, they'll descriptions of who everybody is and where they come from. And then, and then you go into, you know, first season, this is your first season arc that will be quite detailed by episode one, you do this, to this. And then, you know, later episodes, you're kind of, you know, increasingly shorthand and giving people an idea of where the, the thrust of the show is, what its destination is where, when the show kind of ends, if it fails, I mean, a lot of shows, and when nobody's watching them anymore, I mean, the most episodic dramas, and when people are just tired Watchmen, you know, but a serial, this is a serial. And is that's that's kind of what I put together for that matter. What I did was very complex thing to where people were looking at and going, Wow, is this based on like real people? Because I had, like, I got bored with it. I said, once I heard that description, okay, here's what you have to do. I got Sue, I started writing it now it's going cat. This is like watching paint dry. And if I'm bored, whoever's reading it, whoever's got the misfortune of reading this thing, it's gonna give you more I was, hey, can do so you know. And so I started going, let's have a little fun with it. And what I did is I created the whole thing, sort of, from the point of view of intrepid University professor who had heard about this carnival, and had done a bunch of research and gathered files about the actual carnival. And in it were fake police reports and fake newspaper articles and fake religious tracks and all kinds of stuff that he kind of gathered and put together, there was even an interview with Samson when he's like, 75 years old and old folks home, you know, and he says, this sort of, you know, angry karma Jim, you know, and, and, you know, just just like, you know, can be gone really suppose, you know, and so I just had a blast writing it in. So they saw Nick never seen anything like that. And I've done that since on almost every show that I've developed, because I always figure Hey, you know, why screw is success, but after a while you're doing it. I mean, it's like I'm getting I keep hearing different things. Some people say you need to come in with every dot, every i dotted every T crossed in man, you know, and in, you know, trailers, you know, you know, promos, you know, the shot, you know, whatever, you know, this whole thing, and then I hear other people saying the best best just to go in with a strong pitch. I don't know what the rules are anymore, you know?

Alex Ferrari 24:22
Well, yeah, that Netflix and Hulu, and those guys can throw everything off the wind as far as rules are concerned.

Daniel Knauf 24:30
Very much so. And he really you know, yeah, it's like it's they set up shop so far, you know, kind of upstream, that they wield immense thing in the world. And this isn't just in Hollywood. There's the golden rule, which is he who has the gold rolls in and in Hollywood that's very, very, very much operative. In you know, people I've met Netflix are sitting on billions. and billions of dollars. And they say, Okay, you get some and you get some, and you get some. And I don't know what they're, you know, which projects what, what makes them pick out what project or, you know, whatever. It's kind of, I mean, really, I mean, sometimes I feel it's like that there was this old show that was on, I think, in the 50s, before my time, but it was called the millionaire and it was about a guy who would just go out to random million million dollars you know, into buying island for a million.

Alex Ferrari 25:37
Now you can't even buy it. And then I came to buy a house in Burbank,

Daniel Knauf 25:42
me a four bedroom house and receiver. But the the, with a swimming pool. The sometimes I feel like that's what Netflix is now, you know, is kind of like, all of a sudden, boom, you know, you're gifted with it. So well, it's a very, it's a very chaotic market right now.

Alex Ferrari 26:03
It is pretty insane. And, you know, I've talked to, you know, I talked to a lot of people like yourselves who are in the business who were in the business before Netflix. And I've seen them just disrupt this entire industry. And now players like Disney are showing up with their streaming service. And Apple just talked, just said, Hey, we're gonna put ours in and Comcast or at&t, excuse me, they have one coming out. Like there's so many of these services coming out. And it's really just changing the way everything is done. Yeah. What's

Daniel Knauf 26:33
what's interesting, too, is the impact it's had on just the way people comport themselves. Like I think I don't know who it was, if it was Betty Davis, or one of those old actresses was quoted as saying Hollywood's the place in the one place on earth where you can get encouraged to death, you know.

Alex Ferrari 26:50
Very true. It's extremely

Daniel Knauf 26:52
true. Or, as I like to say, and when people say, hey, you know, it's good for exposure, and people die from exposure.

Alex Ferrari 27:02
I'm gonna, I'm gonna steal that line, I wouldn't steal

Daniel Knauf 27:05
a line on it. posit that he was exposed. exposure. So So you know, but it used to be that everybody was really super, super, super, I was talking to my wife about this this morning, I was just making this observation used to be the people were very, very sort of, sort of, sort of, sort of polite and genteel with each other. Mainly because you really didn't know whether this guy who was you just had every reason to believe it's a completely talentless hack, okay? Or just a straight up Bozo. For all you know, from your experience in six years, could be running a studio. He just didn't know or could be the guy that everybody wants to do business with. So people were generally very careful with talent relations. He didn't want to, he wanted to, you know, it will always be God will really love this, but it's just not right for us right now. We were developing something similar to it, or it's be always that kind of, there always be We love you. We think you're great. But my agent one time called me up. It's like the sixth thing that it's like, not sold. And he says, Yeah, well, they really love you. And I go, No, they don't love because if they love me, they would buy shit from me. I could wipe my ass on a piece of toilet paper and submit that they base it show on it. They'll tell me they love. But there was still that was sort of out of kind of out of out of not respect. I wouldn't say it's out of respect. I wouldn't say it was them being unkind. It's not kindness, it was out of fear. It was fear that the person who's sitting in this chair right now with us, maybe somebody we absolutely need to be doing business with later. So we don't want to burn any bridges. What I've found lately, in talking to other writers and stuff is Netflix. And maybe it's because I read a little bit about their, their internal culture of transparency, you'd say what's on your mind to be totally frank with people and that's the way we do things. Is there is a tendency for them to say, Huh, fuck off, we're not interested go away. I mean, it'll be just like, Fuck off, go away. What and you'll go What didn't you like? What? Fuck you we, you know, we didn't like it. You know? Some didn't work for us. So go stop out, you know, and, and they don't give you feedback. They don't say what they're looking for. They don't want a follow up meeting in and it's Curt and it's harsh. You know,

Alex Ferrari 29:39
I heard that too.

Daniel Knauf 29:41
And, and so it's like, it's like, it's like, Well, does that bode well for them? If they come sniffing around later, and you know, and they're not somebody I want to do business with. They're probably gonna Never throw more money at me to get me

Alex Ferrari 30:02
and they'll and they'll have it. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Daniel Knauf 30:16
Because they've got the money, but I just think, you know, guys, there's a reason why there's so much as kissing going on in Hollywood before you got here. And that's because you don't understand. Somebody who's at the very bottom of the game living out of their car this week, in six months can be picking up an Oscar, you know, I mean, that's the story of the guy who wrote Dances with Wolves. He was literally living out of his car. And a year later, he got an Oscar, he's got a basically treat people well, because people who maybe you don't need this week, you may need desperately in six months or a year and, and you know, but again, I mean, it's like, like I said, some sort of part of the chaos right now. I don't really care, it doesn't affect me, doesn't really affect my game. My game is I just do the best work I can and move forward. And I'm not a peripheral visionary. I just don't look at what everybody else is doing can't kind of do my own thing. And hopefully somebody responds to it.

Alex Ferrari 31:25
I've always wanted to ask you and also just someone like you will have that experience that kind of lottery ticket when with carnival. What was it like when you got the call? Or were you in the room? What was that experience? Were like, we're your greenlit, we're going to make this show.

Daniel Knauf 31:44
Oh, I can remember exactly what it was like when I sold the thing. You know, because I was set up I was my I was at my literally I was like, at my daughter's softball game. I remember where I was standing. I remember that. Looking at my my looking at her mother and going, Oh my God.

Alex Ferrari 32:04
Our life just changed. Well, it

Daniel Knauf 32:06
was like they're doing it. The The problem was, I just I've never tried to get into TV before them. And so I couldn't fully appreciate how amazing it was, you know, it was kind of like, of course they bought it. It's good. I guess that's my money. I was like, when I was like 17 He took me to Santa Anita racetrack. Right. And I just beginner's luck. I picked seven out of nine horses on the note. And I remember sitting there and I was thinking these $2 bets, but it's give me two bucks and then go make a bet. Go home with a couple 100 bucks. And I'm thinking maybe this college thing is overrated.

Alex Ferrari 32:51
The track the track just seems much more easy way back

Daniel Knauf 32:54
the girlfriend, you know, expecting to impress her and I didn't you know, it's like, yeah, they were like, you know, my horses is like they were shooting them out there. It was like, Oh, yeah. Yeah, I totally humiliated realize, Oh, my God. And there were a lot of aspects of Carnival that were like that I, I wasn't, I wasn't, I hadn't gotten beaten up enough to really fully appreciate it. In the market, I hadn't spent a lot of time and trying to network or sell things. What I've done is I've spent 20 years really honing my craft, you know, and that was good. And if I was going to do it another I'd rather do it that way than the other way. I don't think Hollywood's a good place to learn how to write in.

Alex Ferrari 33:40
So you see, you're basically training for a fight that you never knew was gonna come or not come. But when it finally came, you read Oh,

Daniel Knauf 33:48
yeah, I've been doing like Brazilian jujitsu for 20 years with

Alex Ferrari 33:54
in a basement somewhere. You know, no one knew who you were

Daniel Knauf 33:57
on. Yeah, it's like, you know, bring Yeah, just bringing guys in and breaking their necks, there'd be no fucking witnesses. So by the time I was fully evolved, I mean, I, I really was I had, I had honed it to a fine point. And in utter total obscurity is a lot of people you know, you get into it. The problem. I see what like getting into, you know, graduated for college getting that first job. You reached a point where you're pulling out a six figure paycheck. And you kind of go well, I guess I know everything I need to know about writing and your development as an artist just stops. The other thing is, I had 20 I had 25 Well, but my dad has had for decades plus of living I'd done and I I had a lot of experiences. And then, you know, I had a lot to draw on versus some guy who's 20 years old and he has I had a really bad breakup in high school, you know, it was at time I got kicked in the nards in seventh grade. Seventh grade. I mean, there's just, you know, there's not a lot of complexity to what you can look back on it. 22 years old, whereas it 45 I had three kids feeling. There had been the health, there'd been health problems. We've been, you know, a million, a million things. And so it's like I can draw.

Alex Ferrari 35:30
Now you, you also acted as a showrunner and a few shows. Can you tell us which shows you worked on specifically as a showrunner?

Daniel Knauf 35:37
I was never really the showrunner on Carnival. But I was kind of the showrunner by default on Carnival because the second season Ron went away to do Battlestar Galactica. And I was basically the head writer, I was doing everything a show runner does. But you know, but but at the end of the day, there was another executive producer was was handling most of the post production and calling certain shots. So I wasn't really appear showrunner. But I was making a lot of creative decisions. And a lot of the crew were making end runs around the other guy to say, hey, you know, we're trying to get a decision has, you know, and he's putting this one to committee. And we really need to know now and I'd say, just do this, you know. So, I mean, I know what a shoulders job was. And so I know that in the second season, I was the de facto showrunner.

Alex Ferrari 36:30
Now, what does the showrunner do exactly for the audience. So they understand. The showrunner

Daniel Knauf 36:35
is basically responsible for First of all, pretty much all the scripts and the trajectory of what's going on in the writing room and the story of what's being submitted to the network, feeling low notes to come back from the network, dealing with the production issues that come up, looking at, you know, drawings of sets that are going to be built and signing off on those, you're signing off on everything, you're generally, you're generally, you know, working directly with your key crew, in your, your line producers, to just make sure that everything's running and all the trains are running on time. And in doing what you can do to, to make their job, I would say, I would say easier, but sometimes I think just to make their job possible. It's, it's really, it's really it, this is this is pyramid building, you know, and you're building a new pyramid every week, and you're building each pyramid from the factory floor up and, and so there's a lot of details needed attending to, you're also you're delegating a lot. You can't be you can't have your hand in everything. You just have to make sure that the right people who reflect and understand your vision for things are in the slots,

Alex Ferrari 37:56
you know, now can you talk a little bit about the writers room and what it's like to be in that writers room for people who have never been in a writers room?

Daniel Knauf 38:03
Well, there's I've been in both I've been two kinds. There's really only two kinds of writers rooms. Well, there's there's lots of different kinds of writers rooms. There's writers rooms of work and writers rooms don't work. Where, you know, the shows that I've run, the shows that I've been in charge of the writers room, I take great pride in when when I'm running a room, it's running on all cylinders. And you have five or six writers in a room. And usually writers assistant taking notes. You have you using cards or whiteboards in your breaking story. Your job is to sit as a group and break story. And to me the key is first of all, everybody has to feel safe. You know, they have to feel like they're not going to be ridicule that they come up with something silly. One thing that I really like Ron Moore have brought this to our room and carnival. And in according to him, it's it's an old Gene Roddenberry a tech trick is thing called a stupid stick. And you designate something it can be anything, it could just be an object. And if you pick this thing up, and you hold it and pitch something, nobody can make fun of you. It's got supernatural powers. That's awesome. So and often it's the stupid stick pitch that really picks kids breaks the dam, like usually the reaction is that vacation picked up the stupid stick that's actually really smart. Or it'll be Yeah, that's stupid. But you know, if we did that which flot gets every it just breaks a logjam? And I mean, really the the key to me of successfully running a room and I think the best I love analogies that the best analogy I've found for a writers room is you know, you're drawing you're drawing juice, you're drawing story out of the ether as a writer. It's bubbling up through your story. Well, it's being informed by your own experiences. It's being filtered by your own experiences and interpreted by your own experiences. But that story comes from somewhere else. I truly believe the more I do this, that writers and artists, artists of all stripes are the only people on earth that are actually in daily, who in daily communication was with supernatural. I mean, I just, there's something else. I can't tell you how many times I've written something about where the fuck did that come from? Oh, yeah. Holy shit. Like that's, that didn't come out of me, you know. And it's nothing I've ever seen. And it's nothing I've ever experienced, for God's sake. And it's coming from somewhere else. And so you're, you're basically likable, and there's a power station down, down, down the street, I look at it is, you know, to keep the power station thing going is like you're driving through the desert here in California, and there's your route towards Nevada, and there's these solar collectors, that's, you know, hundreds of mirrors on the desert for all of those mirrors focused on a heat element at the top of a tower. That is, you know, moving turbines down below. And I look at it as good writers room is all the people are taking that, that Mojo that story Mojo that juice and sort of focusing it on, you know, on on the person who's running the room. And, and it's like, it's amplifying everybody there, you can't, if you have a good well, we're on writers room. Nobody can really remember who came up with what it becomes, it becomes it becomes a pure hive mind in I'm not just saying it because I like Star Trek, but it becomes it becomes a hive mind. And there's only one writer in the room. There really is only one writer in the room, but he's, he's the combination of you know, the, the four or six or 1212 writers that are all sitting in the room, focusing their mirrors at that center point, which is just, you know, forging the story. And it all kind of melts together, you know? And so it's not, you know, the 12 equals 112 creates one writer, you know, and that that takes him that immense trust. And, and in the process in and in. Measure generosity in more than that. Just making sure it's fun. And because because creation is play creation is play at a very high level. Yes. But it's nevertheless it's no different than, you know, like six kids in a sandbox. Try playing with trucks, your army man or something. It's, you're in a state of play, and you need to make people feel like, good.

Alex Ferrari 43:14
If not that place. Yeah, cuz if you if you if you're making kids not feel fun, they're not gonna play in that sandbox.

Daniel Knauf 43:21
What they're gonna do is they're gonna retreat to their corners and pound it. I've seen that happen in writers rooms. I mean, there's writers rooms where it's like, it's just everybody's just staring a hole in the whiteboard. And it's like, what if we, what? It's like, just show constipated? Right? This Oh, my God, I've been in rooms like that. And it's just like, and usually it's a function of people at the top. a trickle down effect of and of the way that ideas are received. Shows like that are not fun.

Alex Ferrari 44:05
Now, let me ask you a question. How do you deal with studio notes or notes in general from people who have not sat and bled on the paper like you are on your laptop to build that story? Well,

Daniel Knauf 44:17
first of all, you know, I keep in mind that everybody, everybody involved wants to make material good. Now, you'd argue there's probably a few people out there that just want to get their fingerprints on it. There's a good argument. You know, it's like they want to be able to turn to their wife and see, hey, see that sweater? I picked that sweater out because that actress or something? I don't I don't I think it's more the exception to the rule. Everybody is just dying to make something great. And, and and sometimes if it's coming from people who don't understand the process, like executives, it may not be as well articulated as it would be if you're getting it from another writer. You know, and thank God for that because if they weren't capable of articulating it as well as a writer they wouldn't lead. So that said, you know, I, I'd say, you know, I read every, every year I see some article and some basically on the internet or whatever, some bloggers, screenwriting magazine and be like those snippets, will you ever go as much or read about the delicious food or whoever got it to this day, I've never seen anybody write when saying, the smartest note I ever got. Because I can tell you for every really stupid note I've gotten, I've gotten one where I'm kicking myself in the ass on the way home going, Why the hell did I think that? Sometimes people come up with with things where it's like, oh, wow, you're absolutely right. I think the biggest problem is a lot of them notes. They have a lot of executives, they want to pitch a solution, they perceive a problem. And they, they tend to frame their notes as solutions to problems they proceed. So it'll be Hey, you know, do this and you're kind of going, huh? Like, it feel. And it's like, it's, if there's any executives listening or any future executives, the best thing to do is just frame the problem first, you know, what I mean? Oh, the second hack, or, you know, and be as specific as you can I'm, this really bumps for me, you know, this particular moment, or this, the second scene kind of drags where it seems like this one character disappears. And, you know, in the second act, and, you know, frame the problem, don't try to just pitch a solution. Because the solution, it's sort of like, you know, you got a doctor, there's only one doctor in the room, and then you got a bunch of people are standing around the room. And they bring a patient in, and he's bleeding from the ears. And everybody sits, for God's sake, put cotton in his ears and put some band aids on his ears is usually when you're going. Now, actually, that's indication of like, you know, that's intracranial bleeding. And we really have to get them into an MRI see what's going on with his brain, you know, and it's not a bandaid on the ears situation. So, you know, sometimes it's better just to point out, Hey, he's bleeding on the ears. Not, hey, put some band aids on his ears. Right? It's just better to frame the problem or point out the problem and then propose a solution.

Alex Ferrari 47:40
You aren't good at analogies. By the way, you are very good at analogies.

Daniel Knauf 47:47
I should open up a little store,

Alex Ferrari 47:48
you should just sell analogies. Now, what is the biggest mistake you see, first time screenwriters make

Daniel Knauf 48:00
the biggest mistake screenwriters make, I would say the biggest mistake all writers new writers make and even a few they're like, along the way, is not recognizing a lot of people go, you know, if I can get really good the first time it'll save me time on editing, you know, I can edit and write at the same time I can multitask. I can work with my iPad and watch TV at the same time. So I can edit and write at the same time. And then they sit down which is really editing is using a completely different part of your brain than writing it's a completely it's as different as the difference between Oh, I'm stuck to an analogy. But it's it's different is the difference between skiing and eating a banana. Nothing to do with each other. Now I suppose you could ski while you're eating a banana? Well, the thing is, the thing is, is like it's really they're they're they're mutually exclusive activities in and what I find is the effect is like, when people do that, and they go that way. That's where you get into the it was a dark and stormy night. Oh, no, no, no, that sucks. It was a shadowy and rainy night. Oh, that's worse. This is the recipe for complete writer's block and paralysis, where you're trying to make qualitative decisions about things that are just jumping out of your head, okay, you cannot do it. You cannot do that. You can't do it. It is like, like pegging the accelerator and the brake on your car at the same time. You're gonna make shitloads of noise and last smoke, but the car ain't going anywhere. Okay, and so it's like, it's like under stand that, you know, when you sit down to write, you write like you're being pursued through the jungle by a bunch of guys with machetes, you don't think about it, you go, you can be thinking, Oh, this is shit, I know it shit, but I've got to get through the scene, okay, I know what the next scene is gonna be. And just get through it, get through it, get through it, get through it right forward, don't wait. For Christ's sake, when you sit down to write, don't sit down and read everything you've written before you write it because now you're editing again, stuff that you just sit down to read the last few words and you go, Oh, yeah, that's where I left off, and you just pick it up. And you you have to write like, you're just in now. And then so okay, if you're, if you go off of your outline, that's all right. If something happens, and the character takes you in the direction, you didn't expect to go, Great, okay, you know, and sometimes those are great moments. And so go ahead, but as long as you get back onto your, you know, onto the path again, and arrive at your trajectory and arrive at your ending, but just get that first draft out and get it out as quickly as humanly possible. And, and I can guarantee you that the parts that you thought while you were writing them, which is shit on ice, actually, you'll reread I mean, go, well, this isn't bad. And the stuff you thought where you were, oh my god, I must be channeling you know, ug to you. It's just garbage, you know. And so it's like, it's like, you have no way of knowing how well you're doing while you're creating you can't be here. So that's another reason. So So my advice to writers is understand that process and understand editing in, in, in writing and editing, the creative process, and the editing process are two completely different things. And, you know, in don't try to don't try to multitask that it never goes well.

Alex Ferrari 51:54
I actually heard I actually heard a great analogy from a songwriter, and which I think is amazing analogy for writing. Which is like when you go into an old house and you turn on the pipes, and all you see is that mud come out. You just got to let it go and let that mud keep flowing out of the pipes out of this faucet. And then sooner or later, it's gonna start while it starts getting lighter and lighter and lighter to the point where then you're getting clear water that you can actually drink but you have to get through all that other stuff first, or else they won't you won't get to the good stuff.

Daniel Knauf 52:27
Oh, you just have it you it's like it's like it's it's it's an ugly, messy, smelly process.

Alex Ferrari 52:34
There's nothing There's nothing. There's nothing glamorous about being an artist a lot of times it really is it not that when you're real creative.

Daniel Knauf 52:44
You know when I'm, I'm I'm one of those I'm one of those rare birds. A lot of people are like, you know, a hate writing. Torture. They're sitting in front of their I've seen guys sitting there, sitting there frowning at their screens. And in this. I'm happy and giddy and stupid when I'm writing. I'm just like laughing I'm like, great. I'm just sitting here making basically no, go. Here this is so great.

Alex Ferrari 53:12
Well, you actually just said that. Right? When we got on the on the on the line. You're like I'm writing a ghost story. Like you were so happy about it. Well, you said

Daniel Knauf 53:20
that's because I love this process. I there's tons of love on the page. I just adore writing. I'm not one of those guys. It's like there's all I like having written Yeah, it's like, I like the process. I like I like doing it. It's one. You know, it's funny, there's that I forget what it is that some recent in one of those self help business type books. They made this prop proposal legal. If you do any endeavor for activity for 10,000 hours, yes. And yes, I okay. So if you want to be if you want to be a concert pianist, you just have to play for 10,000 hours. What he doesn't say is that if you didn't like playing the piano, right, you'd have to be the world's dumbest asshole to waste 10,000 hours of your life doing something you don't like doing. People who spend 10,000 of their happy hours of their life mastering some art or craft or science or whatever they master. They have to love it. You have to love doing that.

Alex Ferrari 54:33
But there's a lot of people that don't a lot of people who go to school,

Daniel Knauf 54:38
you have to love some aspect should you know. But you know, I mean, a lot of people fall in love with the idea of being a writer, you know, but I meet writers every day. They've never written a word. They're just natural. retcon terrorists are really good at telling stories. They're just and it's like, where I go for God's sake, or we should sit down write a book or something because you're really good, you know, and then I mean People who are writers, and they're making very good money. You know, I've worked with people who are writers, and it's like, they're not writers. They've worked out the craft, they understand what follows what but they're not really writers. They're just, they're just regurgitating things they've seen in putting a spin on everything to make, you know, to make it a little fresh enough to where everybody doesn't, you know, get scared. Oh, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 55:24
That's an interesting, that's an it's very interesting, because you sometimes you see these movies, or you watch these shows, and you're like, wow, it's just the same, the same stuff. And I've met writers, too. I've met writers and filmmakers, for that matter, who do exactly what you know, they understand the craft their technicians. But, but kidding, like, you know, I could put the paint on canvas, and I know how to do it. And I know the technique. But I'm not Vinci. I'm not, I'm not Van Gogh, I'm not, I'm not being brave. I'm not being you know, I'm not going out there without a net.

Daniel Knauf 55:58
Well, yeah. But that's, you know, maybe that's the cards that are dealt yet, you know, not everybody is, you know, I mean, there's probably guys painting pictures from, you know, photographs down at the mall, that, you know, from a craft, and from a from craft standpoint, as far as mixing colors and laying down pain are probably, you know, highly evolved, you know, but the, there's directors like that I won't name any names, but there's directors that are absolutely masterful, but it's just not quite substantial. There's a there's an, it's hard to put your finger on it, but it's like, there's a sense of a missing depth to my mind. The somebody like Kubrick brings to the party in our or Scorsese or, you know, where there's, there's something really to it. And

Alex Ferrari 56:53
there's something underneath that there's like 50 layers underneath. And you will only see it in 20 or 30 years of watching. That you'll Yeah, Kubrick Kubrick's my favorite.

Daniel Knauf 57:05
You, you know, he was aware of what he was doing and everything, but he was aware of everything he was doing. And no artists really is a lot of it, you're just doing your best and it's coming in that way. But you really have no idea. You know, how, how, why it works that way. You know, you're just focusing on trying to articulate your vision as well as you can. Yeah, I mean, I, you know, I take you go to college lit class, and he gets some clown, you know, up in front. He's your college lit teacher, and he's trying to tell you what was going through Herman Melville's head, right? You know, Moby Dick Or Steven cranes head when he's writing Red Badge of Courage. And yeah, he was thinking about this. He's working with symbolism over here. And I tell people I go, I can tell you what's going through Herman Melville's head when he wrote Moby Dick. It was like, I don't feed my family. And this is due in a couple of months. That's what was going through Herman Melville. Right. You know, right. doing the best you can, you're running through the jungle with the guys with the machetes feeling you that's what's happening.

Alex Ferrari 58:12
You know, it's funny, because Cooper Kubrick's one of my favorite artists of all time, and there's so much I mean, there's volumes libraries written about what people think he was doing in 2001. And in the shining, and, and, and all of those, and I just just see the documentary film worker. I know it's, it's his assistant. Oh, I didn't see that. Yeah, it wasn't a wonderful, wasn't it wonderful. But you hear him and he was the guy that was literally next to him for 30 years. And he's like, you know, the twins in shining? Well, that was me. I brought twins in and Kubrick said, Sure. I guess they're twins now, where everybody's like, in their twins, because back in the day, he shot some photos of twins, and they're putting up like, No, it just

Daniel Knauf 58:57
was. It was the first episode of the first episode of Carnival. It's called millbay. Right? Then I decided you know, when I first created the show, I wanted to name each episode every city they were in. We didn't do that the first year. We did it the second year, you know, but I titled the episode No, no. And the way I found it is I got a period period map of the decimal and sort of looked at dots on the map and found a little tiny dot name no Fe and I went along like that. And so that's what I titled it. So then we make it like two years later, it's on TV and people are talking about it on the internet and going back and forth with interpretations and stuff. And some guy says we you know, and mil Fe is an anagram for family and I'm going homogeneous. I couldn't have been thinking about that, you know, I couldn't have done I couldn't, I'm not going to be thinking about stuff like that. And when I'm making creative, because I'm making 10 10,000 creative decisions in the course of a screenplay, you know, 10,000 decisions to make, you can't be thinking on that level about everything money never finished, she'd still be writing the pilot today.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:21
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. No, so good. So when carnival came out, the Internet was definitely off and running is already around for a little bit. And but then the message boards and all that stuff was going on back then heavily. And I remember people just, you know, because it wasn't, there wasn't as much content flying around as there is today. Yeah. And they really delved into the deep, the deepness of Carnival, how is it as a creator, I've always wanted to hear this as a creator to go on. And just like, you guys have no idea what you're talking about, like what he was like, you

Daniel Knauf 1:01:06
know, because, like I said, people have different interpretations for different shots. That's just nobody does that when they're talking about CSI. Right? Are those like house, you know, they're, they're not even really doing stuff, like down on the soprano so much. But the minute they start to interpret stuff, symbolism, and so forth, but things really mean connections between different elements. As soon as people start doing that, you're taught now, that's what people do about art. Okay. And that means, exceeded, you've made art. It's not just a TV show, you've made art. And so that was the biggest thing. I mean, I'm not gonna say, Oh, you're wrong, because they couldn't be right. I mean, to me, it's, it's, it's there's a collaboration happening between the artists in the audience, if the audience draws something out of it that the artist didn't intend. Does that mean it's not there? Absolutely not. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:03
that's a great perspective.

Daniel Knauf 1:02:05
Well, yeah, why wouldn't it it should be if it's open to multiple interpretations, that's a good thing. It'd be that that's because you're reaching people, different people in different ways. It's almost like the story in the Bible of the apostles speaking tongues or something, everybody's different language. That's fine. That's good.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:28
Yeah, like go to go back to Kubrick, every one of his movies has been interpreted 1000 different ways, and will continue to be interpreted for them for decades and decades to come in different ways.

Daniel Knauf 1:02:37
That's because his work is hard. Which is, which brings me to my poetry, I should pitch my

Alex Ferrari 1:02:41
quote, please, please pitch your poetry. Well, I was gonna ask you what's next on your plate?

Daniel Knauf 1:02:46
Well, I'm doing a bunch of stuff. I'm, I mean, it's like I've been, I've been creating shows that don't go on. You can check them all out. I mean, it's a cool book will push you over. Anything since carnival, I was like, no one created like a bunch to show. And for I don't know why I read a bunch of webinars saying this is good. This could go tomorrow. I don't know what the deal is. But I've got a site called off TV. And you can see it's unusual, because you can see the actual pilots in their entirety on some of the projects. There's another thing called the Bible, which we talked about earlier in the show, and you very rarely get to see show Bibles on the internet. This will give you an idea of what a Bible looks like, like what a show by Oh, looks like. So it's a nice resource for new writers. And then, and then, and then there's these things we call decks, which are sort of like anywhere between an 11 and 15 Page version of a Bible like mostly sizzle, very little steak. Just kidding. It's kind of thing they call it leave behind, you might take it to a pitch meeting with you and leave something behind for the executives bass up the chain of command. So some of those two, so they're helpful selling things. And that's all on NOF KNAU f.pb.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:04
And I'll put it in the show notes.

Daniel Knauf 1:04:07
The other thing, the other thing is, I recently I got I started writing poetry, I wrote it, I wrote poetry and first started writing. As you know, when I was an art major, and then I flipped over to creative writing and, and I was drawn to that I did a lot of poetry and worked with a lot of really great, had a lot of great poets and teachers. That was where I sort of cut my teeth in. I started writing again, about six, seven years ago, and for like, five years, I was writing these these poems and just post them on Facebook. I would just post them on Facebook. And because it's like, who gets paid for writing plays What am I get submitted to?

Alex Ferrari 1:04:49
Poetry Poetry Magazine?

Daniel Knauf 1:04:51
Yeah, yeah, poetry. Yeah. jogs

Alex Ferrari 1:04:54
poet she the jugs of Poetry Magazine.

Daniel Knauf 1:04:58
So we we He may still even exist. I don't know it's so. So I just post them in is this this woman was actually collecting, and she contact me. So I've got, you've got like 35 balls in. And I thought, Wow, maybe we should do a book so called another person I knew is a publisher and she said I would love to publish poems by you. And so, we did this thing. It's called Noho glomming. If you go on the if you're on my Facebook page or Twitter, you'll find it. If you go on the net, you want to find it, just put it in Clash books is the publisher. CLA see UCLA sh books. And the book is no Whoa, in Oh, H O. glomming. GL o am ing. And there's links all over my, my web, my social networks, and so forth. And it's a, it's about as pure, I mean, it's like, when you do TV guy, like, we're not meant to know process is this your your vision is mitigated by a lot of people, you know, it's very rare, where you get really the raw stuff up, because it takes so many people just to make these damn things, you know. And, you know, everybody's, you know, it's gonna waver from the way you might have imagined, you know, down to props and camera angles. It's all in the myriad of details. And it was so nice to return to a form where I'm creating the end result right there on a page. And so it's very approachable. It's not, it's not poor, if you don't like, like, if you think of poetry the way I think of mine. And you're allergic to poetry. It's not this precious stuff. It's very relatable. I believe that if somebody I believe people read it, and they'll connect very deeply with it. There's one poem at the end. It's an epic poll. That's just crazy and kind of funny. And it's, it's the story of a guy in the witness protection program. It's not I mean, I'm not writing about ravens, and angels and, you know, dead king trees, right? Yeah. Writing about stuff like Citgo gas stations, right? My influences were Charles Bukowski, and this whole Los Angeles, brown broke school. And it's very down to earth and sort of grounded straight up stuff, and sometimes abusing and sometimes moving. So I urge you to check out my poetry if you like my TV, don't really like that.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:51
Awesome. Now, I'm gonna ask a few questions. I asked all of my guests. What advice would you give?

Daniel Knauf 1:07:58
The actor saying?

Alex Ferrari 1:07:59
Yes, yes, yes. Yes, exactly. Exactly. Just like we actually do

Daniel Knauf 1:08:02
odd types. Don't do that.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:06
If you were a tree, now I'm joking. What advice would you give a screenwriter wanting to break into the business today?

Daniel Knauf 1:08:14
I would say the best thing you can do is skip film school and just start shooting film. Because you can do that. I couldn't do that when I was starting out

Alex Ferrari 1:08:24
as a filmmaker as a filmmaker. Yeah, I would

Daniel Knauf 1:08:27
film school you will learn everything you learned in four years of film school in five days on a on a set, pretty much no, it's a film schools the world's biggest waste of money unless you go to UCLA or NYU or USC. And otherwise, if you're going to some other college to get a communications degree or film degree or that you're totally wasting your time. If you want to be a filmmaker, take take shit take 25 Tell your parents say okay, I want to take 25% of what you would spend on a college and I want to make a movie with it. Just make movies write them get your friends together. Sony has a good I make him the director now just make go out and start making movies in and you know, you might not mind that but you'll get from here to there much faster than you will if you go to film school.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:22
And how about screenwriting

Daniel Knauf 1:09:24
for screenwriting? You know, I think the most important thing I would tell a writer who wants to be a dramatist, which is a very specific kind of writing. People think novelists think I could not I can adapt this to a script. They usually can. It's very specific. Shakespeare was an actor before he was a writer and I really I didn't really learn how to be dramatist until I studied acting and I studied acting by accident. I thought I want to be a director. And so one of my second mentor who is really important in my development was a guy named cliff. Ozma was acting as an acting coach. He was Armand De Santis, kind of, you know, acting consultant. And I, I met him on a set. And we got to be good friends. And I said, I want to take some of your classes because I'm going to learn about the process so I can interact with actors as a director. And what I did was I ended up learning how to write, I really learned I was really good at pack in the trunk, and I knew how to, to break a story and in and figure out what follows this and what follows that when it came to my character work, I was faking it until I studied acting, and you'll learn. One thing you learned in acting is, is to act in the moment. Now if you still get stage fright, I have terrible stage fright. When I'm playing somebody other than myself, I can get up in front of a zillion people being Dinafem Yeah, but if I'm playing a character, it's scary. And, you know, I just can't build that fourth wall. But when I'm alone in a room I can in I'm writing in the moment, I'm mostly my scene work feels like, I'm just taking transcription. I know my characters, so Well, I know what they're saying. All I'm doing is just trying to keep up with them while they're while they're talking. Going through a scene. I never am going, hmm, what would he say there? Hmm, what would she then say? Another thing? I'd say the young actors or younger young writers is that sort of? So attached to that, is if you're going to a place like that, and you're going, what would I say? If I was in that situation? What would I say? If somebody said that to me? Is nobody really gives a fuck what you would say, Okay? Because you're really not interesting. Actors, aren't doers, actors, or watchers, if you're borings, just boring, boring people, and so nobody cares, what you'll see. You have to understand your character, and what the character would say. They all have to have different voices, they have to be real, you know. So, again, I would really strongly suggest studying spending at least a couple of years, you know, in any way you can, and whatever resources your town or city has. Getting up and studying, acting and doing scenes and seeing how hard it is. And it also helps you develop a really strong respect for your for the actor, and how hard they're, and that's something that's sorely lacking. With many writers in Hollywood, we're all here on guru Aegis sucks, and it's like, has it occurred to you that, you know, you're writing shitty stuff to say? No, there's no way to make work well,

Alex Ferrari 1:12:48
if Meryl, if Meryl Streep was saying, and it wouldn't have worked.

Daniel Knauf 1:12:51
Yeah. I mean, if you can get to where you write it, when you're there, you're doing you're working with actors, you know, actors, you get to understand the kind of stuff the actors want to say that the kinds of moments actors want to play. And if you know that, can you get them on your side? I mean, that's good. That's something that's gonna make you stand out.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:13
Now, can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Daniel Knauf 1:13:18
The biggest? The biggest impact on my life? Or my career or mean?

Alex Ferrari 1:13:24
Or on or? Or either? Or?

Daniel Knauf 1:13:27
I would say at this point, you know, I was late comer to because I think there's also so many

Alex Ferrari 1:13:35
whichever one comes to your mind. The Alchemist of course, I love the alchemist. It's one of my favorite books.

Daniel Knauf 1:13:43
It's an astonishing piece of work. It's like everybody should everybody should read it. It should be required.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:50
It should be required for everybody in the world, but especially those who are artists.

Daniel Knauf 1:13:56
I think yeah, but I think for everybody, I think I think it's a good it's about as close a thing to like, if Homo sapiens came with an owner's manual, it would be the alchemist

Alex Ferrari 1:14:13
Good answer, good answer. Not what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Daniel Knauf 1:14:21
Hmm. They are not always right. You know, that sometimes. I've been in situations where I'm absolutely sure something's not going to work in and in that person has a higher rank than I do. So once you get to call a shot, and I'm thinking he is gonna work, it's gonna work as well as the way I would have done it. And then often I watch it and it works beautifully. You know, and I go, You know what, I was wrong. You know, it's like, this is the way you're just because it's the way you Do it doesn't mean it's the best way to do it. In, in, in, in when it comes to a collaborative art, Passion Rules today, and you know what it boils down to is the person who's most passionate is probably going to win that fight. Don't get hung up on little stuff. If people want this change, the worst place you can go, the least productive, most toxic place you can go is to this place that almost every shitty writer goes, which is Detroit or read my work, you know? And it's like, yeah, they're dumping shitloads of money into this, and they just want to rack it. Because they don't like you. I mean, people should also come on forgot to say, you know, I mean, sometimes, sometimes another way does work. And sometimes it works even a little better than the way you had in mind. Just don't, don't think that you're ever going to watch something that is exactly the movie you had in your mind when you can see it and wrote it, it's always going to be a little different. Some parts are going to be better, some parts you might win sad. Hopefully, the you know, the former is more numerous than the ladder. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:16:18
they're good. And then the toughest question of all three of your favorite films of all time.

Daniel Knauf 1:16:22
How that is North by Northwest I love I love. I think I'm the see, there's a lot of I'm just gonna see what pops into my head of Catholic course. And I think it's probably it's probably it is it's really kind of a dead heat between China Town. And, and, and, and the shining.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:55
I really love this shot.

Daniel Knauf 1:16:57
I mean, it doesn't work. Of course. Those four

Alex Ferrari 1:17:01
Right, exactly. That just came into mind right now. I agree with you, 100% and

Daniel Knauf 1:17:06
everything but David Lynch can Does that count?

Alex Ferrari 1:17:09
Everything by Kubrick everything by

Daniel Knauf 1:17:12
every other movie by the Coen Brothers. It's like that.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:18
You're right, it is almost every other movie because but when they hit it, they hit it out of the park. I know. But when they strike out, it's but you know what, though? No, strike out. It's

Daniel Knauf 1:17:32
an interesting strike.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:33
I was about to say I was about to say even when they strike out at least they're going to places that is pushing them creatively in places that we might have never even been to. So for every other No Country for Old Men, there might be a lady killer.

Daniel Knauf 1:17:46
And you do do editing on this thing after you're done.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:49
I do not. You don't

Daniel Knauf 1:17:51
go straight through. I'm gonna say hi. I'm on the radio.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:00
Know, my audience is used to this. It's all good. Don't worry. And then where can people find you

Daniel Knauf 1:18:04
Just dropped personson the table probably sounded like the like a bomb.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:10
It's all good. It's all good. Now where can people find you in your work?

Daniel Knauf 1:18:14
People can find all of these things I've done at North TV. And then you can find my stuff. I mean, you know, I mean, it's, I'm pretty active in in on Twitter and the social networks. There's interviews, you know, just Google my ass. And you'll pop up. Daniel Ross, don't google my. There you can find me all over the place. And as far as what I'm doing right now. Right now I'm kind of I finished up a good three years in the blacklist. And I'm kind of been doing a lot of development. So I'm right now I'm kind of I'm, I'm I'm kind of up between jobs. Okay. As Henry and Eraserhead would say I'm on vacation.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:06
Your sabbatical. Sorry, you're on sabbatical.

Daniel Knauf 1:19:08
Yo psychics about

Alex Ferrari 1:19:11
Daniel. It's been an absolute pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much for being so kind and generous with your time thank you.

Daniel Knauf 1:19:19
I enjoyed it.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:22
I want to thank Daniel for dropping some major knowledge bombs on the tribe today, and sharing his experiences his unique experiences as a showrunner and a writer. And guys if you want to get notes to anything we discussed in this episode, just head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustlecom.bps029. There I'll have links and contact information, all that kind of good stuff on Daniel and his work. And if you guys haven't checked it out already, please head over to indie film hustle.tv and check out the screen writing section of the streaming service, it is amazing. We've got new lectures, new courses going up every month, we now just added season three of the dialogue, which has some of the biggest screenwriters in Hollywood working today, sharing about an hour and a half interview about how they do their process, the insides and the ins and outs of the business and so on. It's a great, great series, and I've seen all of the episodes and we'll be putting out another three or four seasons coming up in the months to come. But it's really, really great among other interviews and other lectures and things like that, that we have on the surface. So definitely check that out, guys. And that's it for another episode of The Bulletproof screenplay podcast. If you haven't gone go to screenwriting podcast.com And leave us a good review on iTunes. It really, really, really helps the show out a lot and gets it out there to more and more people. So thank you again for all the support guys and as always, keep on writing no matter what, I'll talk to you soon.


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