David Iserson- Writer/ Producer: Mr. Robot/ New Girl/ SNL/ Mad Men/United States of Tara
When did you realize you wanted to work in television?
I knew I wanted to write as a job somewhere around high school. I mean, as soon as I realistically knew it was a real job that people had. I wrote some sketch comedy at summer camp when I was about 16 and loved it. I went to college and majored in film and I came out to Los Angeles with the intention to write screenplays. I shifted into television when I got frustrated that none of the movies I wrote were being made and I missed being around people. I was at a point in my life when I thought it would be more productive to not wear pajamas while working (but I’m wearing them now, so, is that progress?) Also, I always loved television. Most of my childhood memories are related to television shows I watched. I watched pretty much everything.
What advice do you have for college students who are looking to pursue the television industry?
Write all the time, develop your taste, think about the kinds of shows you’d want to work for and ideas for shows that would be something you’d want to watch. And move to Los Angeles. You can work in television and live in New York but it’s a lot harder. However, you can’t realistically work in television and live in neither of those cities. I’m sure there are exceptions, but it’s very unlikely.
What was your first job in the industry? What did you learn from it?
I worked as a receptionist and assistant for a film producer at Miramax right after I graduated from college. The job was hard and I had to read a lot of screenplays in between doing office stuff, making coffee, filing things. So, what I learned was that most screenplays are pretty bad. It was a huge relief. Because, what I always assumed was that the entertainment industry was just teeming with all of this undiscovered talent. In reality everyone is so desperate for something, anything, to be good and they’ll be so excited when they find that good thing. So, when I eventually quit that job to try to write, my only goal was to write something that someone like me, someone reading ten to twenty scripts a week, would enjoy reading. And, if I could do that, then things would more or less work out. It’s not by any means easy. Writing a good script is incredibly difficult, but it was still freeing to release myself of any pressure outside of making my script great.
What is your writing process like?
It depends on the job, but when I’m writing for myself, I tend to write in cafes and libraries, often in longhand. I write fast and messy and refine and improve after I spit out a draft. When it comes easily, it’s more likely the scene or the idea works. If it’s a struggle, and it’s often a struggle, it usually means there’s a problem.
What is something you wish someone had told you about the industry?
If you have an idea and love it, write it. People will often dissuade you, tell you people aren’t buying stuff like that right now or whatever, but do it anyway. You can always tell when someone has written something they love and it’s always better.
What shows made you fall in love with television? What shows are you currently loving?
The Simpsons, Seinfeld, Freaks and Geeks, The Sopranos, The Wonder Years, My So Called Life, Friends, 30 Rock, Arrested Development, Mad Men, The Wire, Columbo, Cheers, CurbYour Enthusiasm, Gilmore Girls, Golden Girls, Six Feet Under, The Twilight Zone.
Now, I love: Fargo, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Master of None,
Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, Bobs Burgers, Broad City, Silicon Valley, Deutschland 83.