What is your TV Spec screenplay about?
The logline is “Suspended lawyer Jimmy McGill endures community service at a high school where he meets an accused teen, while Mike searches for the distributor of Cheese, a popular new drug.” Going deeper, this episode provides viewers a better understanding of why Jimmy McGill cares about his clients, and particularly those over their head and in situations they did not anticipate. In a flashback, we see teen Jimmy (along with young buddy Marco) devising a clever money making scam but abandoned by older brother Chuck once caught. In present day, Jimmy identifies too closely with an accused teen as he struggles to find a way to defend him. We also learn more about the Hector/Gus rivalry as they make moves to expand from meth to a new heroin derivative that became very hot in this time frame.
How does this episode fit into the context of the TV series?
“QUESO” would be Episode 26 ½ (during Season 3 between episodes 6/7) and opens on Jimmy’s first attempt to satisfy his community service requirements following his suspension by the New Mexico Bar Association.
How would you describe this script in two words?
What TV show do you keep watching over and over again?
The show I’ve watched repeatedly over the years is “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Each of the characters are perfectly drawn and I admire the writers’ willingness to really push boundaries. However, the show that I currently admire most is “Black Mirror.” I have been focusing on one-hour drama and, as I work on my own pilot and series bible, the tone and structure of “Black Mirror” is what keeps coming to mind. If I could write for one show, it’s “Black Mirror.”
How long have you been working on this screenplay?
I will be graduating in a few months from New York University’s (NYU), Tisch School of the Arts, where I study Dramatic Writing and Producing in the Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television. I’ve written plays, screenplays and sitcoms, but this script, QUESO, is my first one hour drama spec, which I wrote over 12 weeks this past summer.
How many stories have you written?
I’ve always liked to tell stories – but mostly orally to my family and friends. About 4 years ago, I began dramatic writing in earnest so over that time I must have written 20-30 short stories, plays, screenplays, sitcoms and now television drama scripts.
What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)
Being a kid growing up in San Diego during the 2000s, I have to say “I Miss You” by Blink-182.
What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
I believe I’ve been able to capture the characters/dialogue and tone of “Better Call Saul” pretty well so the toughest part for me is to formulate the proper four act structure in a way that really communicates the right arc for the A, B and C stories.
Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
Music, definitely. My favorite escapes are listening to music alone or grabbing instruments to play with my buddies as loudly as we can. When I write, a soundtrack always is in my head.
What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
As I mentioned before, I’ve written a lot but this is my first drama spec so I was anxious to hear objective feedback. Some of the feedback I received was right on; some I think missed aspects of the script, especially when it comes to Jimmy’s motivation to help Bobby.
You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?
FilmFreeway has been great. My first experience with it was submitting a short screenplay, “NOTEWORTHY,” which won several festivals and is going to be shot in January. We hope to submit that completed short film to several of the best festivals next year via FilmFreeway because it is very easy to use.
Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
As painful as it is, I feel that you must create a full beat sheet before trying to write the script! Once that solid outline is in place, the writing comes much easier. It is tempting to write a fun standalone scene as soon as you think of it, but if you don’t have your structure in place you may find yourself spending too much time trying to wedge that scene into the overall story.
Genre: Crime, Drama
Suspended lawyer Jimmy McGill endures community service at a high school where he meets an accused teen, while Mike searches for the distributor of Cheese, a popular new drug.
Narrator: Val Cole
Jimmy: Noah Casey
Mike: David Schaap
Bobby/Nacho: Gabriel Darku
Talbot/Hector: Neil Bennett
Secretary: Clare Blackwood
Kim: Lauren Toffan
Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com
Director: Kierston Drier
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson
Camera Operator: Mary Cox