With only a few aired episodes, Supernatural Season 12 has already shown viewers that this long-running series is still fresh in presenting stories that test the Winchesters’ character and endurance to survive while they fight the good fight. In order for a show to grow it must be willing to accept change while still keeping what viewers have come to expect and love about the show.
In Supernatural Season 12, there are some new writers who have joined the show and added their creative talents to the Supernatural canvas. One of these new writers is Davy Perez. He wrote the recently aired episode “American Nightmare” which has already received praise from fans. Perez, who has written for the series American Crime, brings his love of different types of genres and his many interests to his writing.
I spoke with Davy Perez about Supernatural, his episode “American Nightmare”and writing in general. He had some fascinating insight to offer. Read on to find out what he had to say.
Were you familiar with Supernatural prior to writing for it?
“Yes of course, I was very familiar with Supernatural. It’s such a big show on the landscape for awhile. I remember when it came out I watched some of that first season live and then over the years I tried to watch when I could. Specifically the area when I would come in to take a meeting I would sort of binge watch a lot. I did a lot of research. I went into the fan sites and tried to catch up on what was important for the fans and anything I might have missed. I was very targeted with making sure that any gaps that did happen were filled in very quickly.”
What’s your favorite episode of Supernatural?
“My favorite episode. Now that mine aired, can I say mine? (laughs).
(Laughs) Besides for the one you wrote
Besides for the one I wrote, the episodes I like tend to be the ones that Andrew Dabb wrote. It was kind of a very cool coincidence when I got to work here and meet him. One of my more recent favorites would have to be Red Meat. I know that some people don’t like it and some people love it. For me, I just like that they were taking a situation where we see the guys (not in the middle of a situation like usual) in a situation at the beginning. There’s alot going on and unraveling that story from a new perspective. That’s the kind of storytelling that I like to do with my own writing so that was one that I really enjoyed of the more recent episodes.”
Congrats on the success of the Supernatural episode you wrote ‘American Nightmare.’ How did you come up with the idea for this episode?
“The American Nightmare idea…that actually started with an idea that Bob Berens had in the initial pitch session that we had. He wanted to sorta explore this space of this family living a rustic lifestyle that was up to no good or a little misguided. From that they handed to me because Bob was writing another episode and I was new on the show and they said make this your own. I computed it with the whole Catholic stigmata not just rustic but uber religious, fundamentalist, non descriptive. These are people who have really taken a point of view to the extreme. So I kind of took the basic idea from Bob and I dug in. I used a lot of my influences to shape the story. A lot of people rightly pointed out that Carrie heavily influenced the writing of it. That’s one of my favorite Stephen King works and also one of my favorite films. To be able to do my spin of that was kinda awesome.”
Walk us through your script writing process for American Nightmare. Did it take you a long time between drafts and revisions and the final product that we saw on screen?
“Not really that much time. In here it’s a very accelerated pace because we have 23 episodes to write for the whole year. It took me about 4 or 5 days to develop an episode pitch based on the original idea. Then I had another maybe 10 days I think for the outline and during the outline process for me when I have time I use alot of index cards and I sorta think that’s going to be a very cool moment or this is going to be a really cool story pitch. And then I take all of those index cards and lay them out in a way that’s more sense. That gives us the outline. The writing was about another 2 weeks so it’s about a month all together..The writing process is about the creative pieces falling together and how can you make something really interesting. Since it was my first one Andrew guided me in alot of ways. I did have to do some revision afterwards which is normal. It was a little more heavier than my ideas the second time around. I was still trying to find the show. But he really pointed me in the right direction. I was very happy with the end result.”
Although American Crime and Supernatural are different types of shows, any similarities to your approach in writing them?
“The similarities would have to be that I still go to the well of my personal experiences and my world view. On American Crime, it’s a more grounded, socially conscious, highly serialized show so the way we’re telling the story and the kinds of stories we’re telling might be vastly different but a lot of the emotion, experiences, that has to come from the writer so the similarity is there. Just like I said my Catholic background gave us a shade for American Nightmare, the first season of American Crime, I was a teenager who was a well meaning kid who did some bone headed things and that definitely colored the character Tony and how I wrote him and the situations that he found himself in that first season of American Crime. In Season 2, there was this beautiful dance sequence that John wanted us to include in the episode that I wrote and the perspective on that: as a high school kid, I was really into all of the arts so alot of that leaped into the writing of that particular scene. That entire episode you want to put as much of your personal experience as you can.”
What advice would you give to people who want to write for a television show?
“For anyone who wants to specifically write for television, I would say, watch a lot of television, try to read television scripts if you can get your hands on them. But ultimately, just to really write your own spec pilot. They used to say try to find a show you like or love and try to write an episode of that and that will show that you can write for television. But nowadays, people want to hear your original voice and they want to know that you can self create interesting television. It’s a way to show all those personal experiences. Not to make things autobiographical, but if you’re true to the work, you want to include your personality to show that you’re working from a genuine place. The script that I actually got noticed for first and got me signed and moved my career forward was this film noir detective mixture with other worldly demons and it was much a mishmash. I used to have nightmares as a kid and that fear of the unknown, that fear of the darkness influenced that script. A lot of people who would read it would say that I can tell that this is coming from a genuine place and it’s fresh and original and nothing like this has ever come across their desk. That’s the kind of work, whether it’s a drama or love story or horror, that’s the kind of work you want to strive for and deliver it in a 52 page drama or a 27 page comedy and you’ll get noticed.”
Did you always have a passion for wanting to be a writer?
“I would say that I wanted to be in the creative arts since I was a kid. That took many forms. I was a musician. I played in band. I was an actor for a minute. But I was always writing. I wrote poetry. I kept a journal. It wasn’t until I was older and I took this self assessment that I realized that the thing that I most wanted to do that brings me pleasure and joy is write. It’s the thing that come out of me naturally so I focused alot of my energy on making that my primary creative focus.”
Without giving away spoilers, what can you tell us about the next Supernatural episode you wrote?
“I can say that the next episode is inspired by the kinds of films that I love particularly one director. I think when you watch the episode you’ll get right away which director that was. It’s going to be an episode I think people won’t want to miss because I have a feeling that the things that will occur will resonate. I can’t say too much about it but stuff happens. It’s a hybrid episode (stand alone and current mythology). It’s definitely impacts the season as a whole but there’s a self contained story there. Much like my last episode, there will be things that if you watched Supernatural throughout the years, you’ll know the meaning of them and if you’re new to Supernatural, you will also get the meaning and the impact that something like this could happen. It’s going to be Episode 12 , one of the episodes after our mid season break. It’s one that I’m particularly proud of and I hope that the fans enjoy it.”
Are there any other projects that you are working on that you can share with our readers?
“There’s a personal thing in hiatus that I will be working. I’m going to self direct a short. As a creative person I used to do a bunch of shorts for friends. I had a small camera. Now that I’m a little more seasoned and slightly established, I decided to do another short but this time put in a little more thought and effort and quality. I’m somebody who just loves to create. It’s going to be fun and hopefully when it’s all done, I’ll send it to places and people can see it at a film festival or something.”
Any interest in someday writing for a comedy?
“Oddly enough I used to be in a sketch comedy group. I tried to write some sketches and some of them were funny. But most of them were really dark. Do I have interest? Sure, if some comedy show needed dark humor or sardonic voice on it. As far as being the primary comedic voice, I think that it would be one really sick comedy (laughs). I don’t discount any possibility. For me, I think that comedy is very hard to write.”
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My interview with Supernatural writer Davy Perez.