The Judd Apatow Interview, Part I

Episode Report Card
Heathen: A+ | Grade It Now!
"I Realized I Was Eric"
[At this point, a truck backs out of a nearby parking lot, beeping a poisonous din that blocks out some audio on my tape -- inconveniently, you're missing the part where they sang a special Ode to Heathen, fashioned me an Emmy™ out of salad, and gave me Charlie Hunnam as a token of their esteem. So, sorry you missed the fun -- take it up with the truck.] H: It seems like you're all so comfortable with each other. When you write, do you just sit back and bounce ideas off each other, or is it a more solitary process? KB: It's a good combination of both, where we all work on story a bit together and then the writer goes off, writes it alone, comes back, everyone gives notes, and then the writer goes off and the back-and-forth starts over again. JK: We're not, like, all in this room twelve hours a day. H: Do you storyboard everything, figuring out the general stories and then assigning them to specific writers? JA: In pre-production, we try to have some sense of what the arc of the episodes is going to be, but then most of that goes out the window based on what's working or not working. We try to get most of the stories down before we start -- we have a list of potential stories, and as people are breaking their episodes, they say, "Oh, I can steal that from the list." And then people go off and write. Our intention is not to table too much, because then we have to sit in a room for hours and hours, which none of us really likes doing. I prefer to read drafts, give notes and have the other writers give notes. At some point we'll probably sit as a group and punch it up. It's the opposite of how most of the other comedy shows do it and I guess it's mostly due to our lack of attention span [with meetings]. JK:: When I first started and we came in to meet with Judd, and we didn't know exactly what the show would be, Judd had us sit with a yellow pad and hand-write thirty ideas in a few hours. Just, you know, our college stories. And we still have those -- the writers' assistants typed them out and made a big book of our "lazy stories," so we can always go back to those [if necessary]. JA: My idea was, if I made every writer put down forty story ideas every day for a week, by the end of the week we'd have several thousand stories. JK: Plus, you hit a wall that you have to get past, and then the ideas get pretty crazy. AR: We'd come back with thirty ideas and he'd say, "Okay, go write thirty more."

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