AMA with Driving Arizona co-creators Joe Ahern and Dylan Tanous

(Joe Ahern) #1

JOE AHERN & DYLAN TANOUS met their freshmen year of college while playing on an ice hockey team in the middle of the desert. Joe is a native Bostonian while Dylan hails from Carmel, CA. Joe works at Amigos de Garcia Productions as Greg Garcia’s assistant. He co-wrote the Season 1 finale for THE MILLERS. Most recently, Dylan was the Script Coordinator on LAST MAN STANDING where he wrote episodes for seasons 5 and 6. He’s currently the Script Coordinator on Showtime’s KIDDING starring Jim Carrey.

Areas of expertise:
Micro budget webseries production
Writing for a webseries VS writing for TV
New England Style IPAs (Joe)
Going over budget during production and in your personal life

We've got an AMA for that!
(Bri Castellini) #2

@alwaysafilmgeek @ghettonerdgirl @OSTSG @barbaramcthomas @afbarbag @dj_tilney @ronVceo @movieguyjon @mintypineapple @SnobbyRobot @filmwritr4 @idgafwebseries @ZackMorrison18 @mkatiehunter @DarekKowal @Brad_Riddell @RDRICCI @Offbeat @whoisjonporter @jonathankyall @JonSosis @shrutesnladders @Ian_David_Diaz

(Bri Castellini) #3

Hey guys! Thanks so much for being here today! First question- When did you both get into filmmaking, and into web series in particular?

(Meg Carroway) #4

Hey Joe and Dylan! This is awesome!!! I definitely would like to hear about “Writing for a webseries VS writing for TV”!

(Joseph Steven Heath) #5

How does one transition from web series to TV? I would really like to get a job writing for television, but have no idea where to even begin to work towards that.

(Erik Urtz) #6

Do you see your web series production as a means to getting green lit tv projects, or is there something about the medium that you prefer?

(Jane) #7

Do you have tips for co-creating/co-writing projects? How do you split up the work and keep things moving forward? I’m actually starting a partner project with a friend and I’m a little worried about how to deal with arguments and stuff.

(Joe Ahern) #8

Hey Bri!

We both got into filmmaking during college and moved to Los Angeles right after we graduated. We immediately started writing scripts together, and before we knew it, we were making our first post-college short film (one that we were actually not that embarrassed to show people). After we had made a couple shorts together, we came up with the idea for our web series Driving Arizona. We foolishly thought driving around in a van would be something that would be easy to shoot, but we were sorely mistaken. But we had a blast doing it, and hope to continue making more episodes in the future.

(Jaime Lancaster) #9

Hi Joe& Dylan!! Aspiring producer here :slight_smile: What’s your low budget, high quality secret? What do you prioritize in your script, budget, pre-production, etc?

(Bri Castellini) #10

Awesome! What do you recommend to others with car scenes who might not realize the difficulty of it? (short of “don’t write car scenes” haha)

(Ollie R) #11

Is your web series just on Stream Now, or is it other places too? Youtube vimeo etc

(Meg Carroway) #12

And how did you connect with Stream Now in the first place? Did you submit to be considered or did you know of it before you made your show?

(Dylan Tanous) #13

Hey Meg!

When you’re writing a webseries you don’t have to think about or really take notes from a larger organization/financier like a production company/studio/network. The stories that you get to tell and how you tell them are totally at your discretion. Writing for TV, at least on the network side, is a much more layered process. Usually it starts with an outline which then goes to the studio and/or network for notes, you adjust according to those notes and then you move on to writing drafts which will then get notes at each level from the studio and network which you’ll have to adjust accordingly. Then there are notes from the studio and network that you get on the episode once it’s been shot and edited.

So that’s a long winded way of saying you can do whatever you want when you’re paying for it yourself, but that’s not the case when someone else is paying for it.

(sam lockie-waring) #14

hah yeah my question was also gonna be about filming in cars. very curious how that works on an indie level

(Joe Ahern) #15

Hey Erik,

We wanted to make our web series first and foremost because we thought it was a solid premise for a show and relatively inexpensive to shoot. But yeah, after we made the first episode, we submitted it to the NYTV Festival and it was named a Finalist in the Comedy Central Short Pilot Contest, which was some nice validation for us. And we began to think that we might have something relatively decent on our hands. So we made a few more and started to get more eyeballs on it. We actually did write half-hour pilot script for the show in the hopes of getting picked up by half-hour cable or streaming network. We had a close call with Crackle, but they backed out pretty late in the process. But we’ve had a ton of fun making them independently because we’ve got no one to answer to but ourselves.

(Dylan Tanous) #16

Our show also lives here:

We decided we wanted to put it up with vimeo rather than youtube because at least in our own estimation, it would bring viewers who might be more inclined to watch at 10 minute episode. Something that was closer to a story than a sketch.

(Ron Valderrama) #17

Late to the game. What up gents?

(Ollie R) #18

What do you gain from not being on YouTube/Facebook as well? Is there a reason you wouldn’t want to be in all the places at once? The whole indie distribution cycle is a mystery to me

(Joe Ahern) #19


We’ve been lucky enough to work on shows as writers’ assistants and showrunner’s assistants, but getting hired on a show’s writing staff is very difficult. Your sample scripts have to be very very funny and get the attention of the right person. Although we’ve been in writers rooms, we’re both still trying to get hired on writing staffs ourselves. My best advice, and what I tell myself: keep creating content and keep writing. The more you do it, the better you will get. I know that sounds simple and straightforward, but it’s a cliche for a reason. Hope that helps.

(Dylan Tanous) #20

Joe and I tend to replicate the model of a TV writers room. We put the script or outline up on a TV and take turns typing as we work through the Final Draft document. There are definitely teams that divide up scenes and we’ve done that at times, but what seems to work best for us is being in the same room and working together scene by scene. This is probably the least time efficient way to do this but… it’s worked for us.

In terms of arguments – the best idea should win no matter whose it is. Sometimes the best idea isn’t obvious so you do it a few different ways and when you come back to it with fresh eyes the next day/week, you can see which way works best and it doesn’t matter who came up with it because at the end of the day both of your names are on the script/webseries.

Also, Joe and I focus on pitching fixes to problems and not just pointing out problems. This helps keep the process moving along if you’re both constantly working toward making your project better and not just pointing out what doesn’t work.