My cousin Ian has been writing scripts since his cast was made up of cousins and our costumes were whatever we could find in our grandmother’s trunk of old clothes. He went on to study Media Arts at Sheridan College and graduated in 2007. Now he is up for an award from the Writers Guild of Canada for writing an episode of Todd and the Book of Pure Evil.
A couple of years ago, Ian was recommended to the producer of Todd and the Book of Pure Evil (T&BPE), Andrew Rosen at Aircraft Pictures, by a writer he had worked with on a previous show. She heard Andrew was producing T&BPE and he was looking for a young writer to work as ‘Story Coordinator’ on the first season. “She recommended me, I interviewed with Andrew and (showrunner/co-creator) Craig David Wallace, and the next thing you know I had the job.”
But cuz, how did you go from fresh grad to TV series writer? “I co-wrote three ‘screen stories’ with Craig and Charles Picco (the other co-creators) really early on in the process. B.Y.O.B.O.P.E. (at that time titled It’s My Party And You Can Die If I Want You To) was one of them. Craig was going to write the ‘screenplay’ himself, but he asked me to co-write with him, I suppose because I was already familiar with the story. It was a huge honour. I really admired Craig’s writing and to co-write with him was really exciting. It’s one of those things that came completely out of the blue. Now here we are.”
I watched the nominated episode B.Y.O.B.O.P.E. and I got the impression that the show is super quirky and not trying to follow the rules of mainstream TV. What’s up with the quirky style of this show? Is that your personal humour showing through?
“Craig and Charles were definitely the keepers of the comedy. Everything about the tone of the show came from them. I’m very comfortable with genre storytelling — I love sci fi, I love horror — so I like to think I fit in pretty well with them. We made each other laugh at lot. The quirky humour of the show is 100% Craig and Charles, though. Those guys are hilarious.”
Their work earned them a nomination to the Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Awards, in the TV Comedy category. I asked Ian how it feels.
“I really feel great about being nominated. How could you not? It’s such an honour! The best part is to be recognized by other writers. It means you’re doing something right.”
Now Ian is working at Degrassi: The Next Generation, another and more well known Canadian high school TV series.
“They’re not that different,” Ian explained. “They’re both about teenagers wanting things, going after those things, and then paying the consequences. They’re both about how high school can be hard. In one there’s emotional demons, in the other one there’s actual physical demons. There’s also more blood on T&BPE.”
I asked Ian if there is any advice he can give current students about entering the work force.
“What a tough question. I don’t really have any advice. I wish I did. I worked a lot of odd jobs before I landed my first gig in a writers’ room. I suppose that’s one thing I can say: Don’t fret if you don’t get a job right away. It’s going to take time. Keep meeting people and eventually somebody will hire you. Inspiring, right?”
The 17th Annual Writers Guild of Canada Screening Awards will take place on Monday, April 22nd at UNIUN Nightclub, 473 Adelaide Street West, Toronto.
Click here to get tickets:
York/Sheridan third year design student Aloke Pillai has won a $10,000 prize for his mobile interface design in the international 2013 mWomen Design Challenge. The competition – sponsored by Australian Aid, US AID, Qtel and GSMA – challenged designers to create a smartphone interface that first time users can understand quickly and easily (more about the competition here: http://tinyurl.com/aj3ng2u). The challenge was launched in response to studies that suggest that giving smart phones to resource-poor families in Asia and Africa is socially empowering.
Aloke was informed about the competition by his father from Qatar – who like the best of fathers saw the word “design” in an article and clipped it to send to his aspiring designer son – and he spent his two week Christmas holiday developing the platform for Android. This was not the first time that Aloke had confronted the challenge of designing technology for social empowerment. In high school in Qatar, Aloke worked with AMMA charity, which focused on job creation in developing regions through computer-driven skills development.
Aspiring designer no more, Aloke can now call himself a pro, after beating out professionals from around the world to achieve optimal functionality through design. We at Sheridan College’s Faculty of Animation, Arts and Design have high hopes for what he will accomplish after graduating from the York/Sheridan Bachelor of Design program next year.