Now Entering Anytown, USA: Where do your ideas come from?

(Darek Kowal) #1

Hi! I’m Darek Kowal, creator of the comedy/horror web series ANYTOWN, USA! My show tells the story of an every-day, All-American, modern family … of cannibals, living in suburbia and dealing with rude neighbors the best way they can … by eating them. Our first 10 episode season is available at our Official Site and Episodes 1 &2 are streaming on Amazon Prime!

It’s the dead of winter in Anytown, USA. It’s too cold to be outside, too hot to be comfortable in the house and, sometimes, the only thing to do is sit and think. It may be a bout of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or just living in the current Hellscape of our reality, but every time I open my laptop, it leads to a flood of bleak, stark, harsh, miserable material. Like a storm cloud hanging over me, my creativity is cloaked in darkness.

When writing season 1 of Anytown, a process that took a little over a month in the spring of 2016, I would wake up, something would piss me off, and I’d write about it. Bing. Bang. Boom. Even when dealing with a subject that angered me, there was an inherent hopefulness in every episode. Most episodes had a cathartic moment of violence and a happy resolution. Maybe writing in the spring, when everything is coming back to life, helped keep the hope alive in my brain. Whatever the reason, that hope is gone, and everything is despair. The world around me is dying and it’s seeping into my work.

I’ve seen posts on this site from people asking whether they feel a need to be political (everything is political) or add social commentary in their work (if not, what’s the point?). It helps that I typically rip a story idea from a social issue that’s been on my mind, or a news story I just can’t ignore. Lately, I’ve hit a wall of “news overload” where everything sounds the same and each update is more depressing than the last. It’s clear that our current apocalyptic climate is inspiring ‘The Tide’, and this made me want to know:

Where do other people get their story ideas? The news? Friends? Family? Every day life? What gets your creative juices flowing in a way that DEMANDS you turn it into a creative piece?

Have you ever set out to make something with a certain tone, then watched it become something completely different?

How does your world inspire/change your creativity?

(Bri Castellini) #2

Most of my ideas come from me being obsessed with a thing and then finding a funny new way to think about it or a weird twist on it. Take Brains for example- that was developed (the original version, at least) when I was in a zombie phase and obsessed with zombie board games and Warm Bodies and Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead and I thought… “why when people pretend to be zombies do they moan ‘braaaaaains’ if in all this zombie media, zombies seem pretty flesh agnostic?” And I was already interested in psychology so I basically developed Brains to answer my own question in a way that appealed to my sense of humor and my other existing interests.

Sam and Pat, my new show, was inspired by a really funny conversation I once had with my friend Chris (who is my costar in the new show) in which he literally said to me… “I think I’m depressing my therapist.” Which is an amazing thing to say (though perhaps not to live through) because the whole point of a therapist is to let them help you with your mental health, but if you start worrying about THEIR mental health it kinda defeats the purpose on all sides. And then I realized he and I had had a ton of conversations about how weird therapy is and so I decided to write a show that’s essentially a loosely connected series of sketches about different therapy topics from the perspective of two depressed (but wise-cracking) roommates.

I try to find a story in every interaction I have, in every experience I participate in, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but I’m always thinking “how can I make this conversation into a show/film/etc” and when it sticks, hey, new project!

(Ghetto Nerd Girl) #3

My ideas come from my life experiences. Basically I take a memorable, traumatic, or funny event in my life and try to recreate it to fit my plot. So far we have been pretty accurate and as a result we’re creating relatable content. I also like taking interesting people I’ve met in my life and making them characters in my work. I’ve met odd people and done pretty outrageous things in my life that will leave me with a laundry list of different things and people I can write about.