Patrick Casey

This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Patrick Casey who currently writes for the Fox Cartoon, “Golan The Insatiable”. I met Patrick at a Henson Lot Mixer that some of my friends were throwing. Suffice to say, he’s an extremely funny guy who has some great insight into writing in the entertainment industry.

Ryan: So Patrick, what made you want to work in entertainment and specifically what drew you to writing?

Patrick: I’ve just always loved movies, TV, comic books and books in general – to this very day, I have a pretty much insatiable appetite for fiction. And since I loved it so much, it always just felt natural for me to do it too, from making my own comics as a kid to putting on little plays for my uninterested relatives and trying to force them to watch. As far as being a writer specifically, I started out as more of a writer/performer I guess, but nobody ever really seemed to want to cast me in anything… Though I am available to act in things! Call me!

Ryan: What has writing on a network cartoon taught you about yourself and the industry as a whole?

Patrick: Writing on a network show has been very educational. In film, or at least this was our experience (speaking for me and my writing partner Josh Miller), writing is mostly a solo thing. You write the script and there is collaboration with the producers and the director, but when it comes to actually writing the script, you do what you do – then if the producers don’t like it, they just override you and change it later, laughing all the while about how powerless you are!

Whereas in television, a lot of decisions are made with a whole group of writers in the room, blurting out ideas, and what the story actually winds up being or what jokes or scenes make it into the show is sort of a political process – but the final decisions are made by someone on the writing side, as opposed to in film, where the writers are sort of treated as the lowest rung on the totem pole outside of PAs.

Working on Golan, we worked closely with Matt Silverstein and Dave Jeser, who created “Drawn Together” for Comedy Central and have been around the block a few times as staff writers on lots of other network shows, so I really learned a lot from them in particular about how to navigate this collaborative process.

Ryan:  Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

Patrick: Everywhere! A writer is always listening, always watching. Not to put that stuff into a story (I don’t do that very often) but to let it inspire you to think WHAT IF it was like that other thing BUT with this crazy twist! I also like to mine the past – read novels written before World War One cause a lot of those ideas were totally abandoned by society and never get used anymore so they can feel really fresh when you bring them back (with a new twist, of course). And I like to watch a lot of Turner Classic Movies – cause movies back in the day were so much more story-based, and reliant upon the script and plot twists and clever dialogue, rather than just car chases and explosions. As for where I find the inspiration to actually sit down and get it done instead of just dreaming up new ideas all the time, I would say it comes from “desire for money.”

Ryan: What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Patrick: I’ve got a few. Set out to succeed. Young writers that I speak to often run into similar problems. One, for instance, is having some sort of moral qualms about writing an entertaining movie or giving the audience what they want. Don’t be afraid to let the hero get the girl at the end. Having an ending that will satisfy a real-life viewer is not the same as selling out. Just put a fun twist on it so it feels fresh. But it’s not your job to completely reinvent the concept of what a story can be – your job is tell people the kind of story they want to hear.

Here’s another one: If you’ve been working on the same script for longer than six months, set it aside. If it’s a horrible grind, just stop for a while and write something new that excites you. It’s never going to be easy, but it can be easier if you let it. If a project is absolutely killing you, abandon it, move on, and then come back to it months later and the solutions may present themselves because of what you’ve learned in the meantime, or because of what you’ve forgotten in the meantime, who knows.

Also FINISH STUFF. Don’t keep meddling forever. Just finish the thing and start the next thing. At some point you’ve got to let it go. Maybe it would get better if you kept rewriting forever – but maybe it won’t. And maybe the next thing will be better than that first thing was ever going to be. The more things you write, the more you’ll improve.

Ryan: If you had enough money what would you write about?

Patrick: Enough money. This is America, man. There’s really no such thing as “enough money,” is there? I’ve been writing in an attempt to make money, for sure. I don’t have some kind of other back-up career where I can make decent money like some people (ex-lawyers-turned- writers or that sort of guy).  I am committed to a lifetime career of writing because I have no other marketable skills and I like living under shelter and having food to eat and this is the only way I know to provide myself with those things.

But even if I had all the money I could ever need, I think I would still be doing the same sort of thing, which is trying to write stuff that I enjoy that has a chance to be a hit or a cult hit – not so much for the money I guess (because I already have as much as I’ll ever need in this hypothetical) but because I want to make stuff that people see, that people will remember, that affects the culture, and that will be part of people’s childhood as they watch it growing up. I don’t have any particular urge to turn all serious or to be taken seriously. But a writer is an entertainer, in my mind. I want to entertain. So even if I had all the money in the world, I still think I would mostly write comedy and genre comedy and the kinds of things that I personally like to watch.

Check out Patrick’s writing skills on “Golan the Insatiable” which will be coming back to Fox for a second season soon.
Also follow Patrick on twitter @Pat_Kc