So for this assignment I chose to do the informational interview with someone from the media arts field. My uncle, Adam Armus, is a writer and producer for TV shows, so naturally my mind immediately jumped to him. I’m going to be honest, I’m not great at interviewing. I have no idea where to start, what questions I should ask, or how to respond to people’s answers to my questions in other ways besides “oh okay. Good answer.”…to every single question. It’s safe to say that if I ever make it in this field, it will not be me having a talk show.
Anyway, now that I have successfully discredited myself, here’s the interview:
Name: Adam Armus
Profession: TV show writer and Exec. Producer
Notable TV Shows: American Odyssey, Heroes, Xena, The Following
So, tell me a little about your job:
Essentially, I have an overall deal with Universal Studios TV. Universal owns my work for the next 2 years and during this time from I help sell tv ideas to networks and get assigned to produce and write for existing TV shows. Most recently I was assigned to work on Heroes Reborn and just finished with American Odyssey.
I came in halfway through the current season and my job was to help guide the rest of season. It was a bit of a challenge because I was not hugely happy about where it was going before.
Before that I was working on American Odyssey. I was the co-creator and executive producer. I was in charge of the writing, production, post production, and marketing. Essentially I was in charge of everything that had to do with the show, from scripts to costumes to editing. I loved it. I got to go in any direction I wanted to, it was my vision and I got to see it play out which is really cool. It was also a lot of pressure because my decisions were the ones that were up on the screen. It was incredibly gratifying seeing all the episodes make it into the season. Not all shows get that opportunity.
What got you interested?
I wanted to be creative. I was working as a lawyer before this and wasn’t feeling inspired. I really liked TV and was a way to quickly get things seen by a lot of people.
What was the first step that go you where you are today?
I went back to school and took classes on television writing. I knew I liked writing and I thought I knew how to write, and I did, but not for tv. It’s a completely different style of writing than what I was used to. I got to learn how to write different genres. From there was I selected into the WB writer’s program. It was the right situation at the right time and I would consider myself very lucky.
Was it difficult moving your way up? What were your biggest obstacles?
It definitely wasn’t easy. I put in years of work and worked on a lot of different shows, some good some bad.
My biggest obstacle proved to be working on the show Birds of Prey. I was assigned to this show and was pretty much told what to write. There wasn’t great writing on the show and agencies would associate my work with this show and it made it tough getting hired for the next year. I had to write myself out of the problem. So making sure I was doing writing for any show that I could and proving that I was a quality writer so I could re-market myself.
Favorite show/project that you’ve worked on so far and why?
By far my favorite show to work on was my own show — American Odyssey. With American Odyssey I had creative freedom and was involved in every aspect of the show. Definitely the most gratifying. That and I really enjoyed Glory Days. That was just an overall fun show to write for.
What part of production takes the longest? What about the fastest?
When creating a whole tv show, the fastest would be production. The actual shooting of the script. It has to go fast because its a lot of money to make the show. It involves hundreds of hundreds of people on a tight schedule so the entire show is usually finished filming in about 7-9 days. Pre-production, so creating scripts, doing casting, building sets, and finding locations — takes the longest.
As far as Post Production goes, so final cuts, effects, sound mixing and editing, takes 2-4 weeks for each episode.
What do you like most about the industry? (or specifically your job?)
A lot of the people I’ve met. I’ve come into contact with lots of creative, interesting people. It’s a very tough industry and very competitive and sometimes fickle. Although there are some negatives to being in this industry, the people I work with are wonderful.
Biggest tips for those looking to go into that field?
For sure: go and study the craft. A lot of people think, “I know how to write a tv script that doesn’t seem that hard,” no. Learn the craft. It’s a lot different than you might think. Also, keep practicing and crafting and get involved. The more you do it the better you become.