What advice would you offer to aspiring screenwriters?
Just write it. Don’t go back and rewrite along the way, just get to the end. Don’t put on your
editorial hat. So many people get stuck endlessly writing the first act, then bottom out in the
middle (which is always the hardest section). When you’ve finished a rough draft, set it aside
for a week or two. THEN, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. We often go through 5 or more drafts of
each episode of Foundation in the writers rooms. Find trusted people around you to give good
Another piece of advice is to think about your strengths. Do you gravitate towards story
structure? Or writing dialogue/characters? The best rooms are often composed of people from
various backgrounds, with distinct talents. I liken writers rooms to baseball teams. Understand
your strengths, and you can know where to focus, practice and improve.
Make a sacred space to write. Create a routine. I don’t have a phone where I write and I turn off
the internet. Every session I start with 20 minutes of meditation. Then I drink an espresso and
make some green tea. It’s all about creating a ritual. And I write even if I’m not feeling the
To all aspiring creators – Read, watch, and consume the world around you. But don’t just watch
the world, participate in it. The best writing is informed by lived experience. Travel as much as
possible. Get out of your comfort zone. Be curious, always.
What’s your favorite movie?
The Man Who Would Be King, directed by John Huston and starring Michael Caine, Sean
Connery, and Christopher Plummer.
Do you have a favorite project of your own?
Foundation has been a particularly rewarding project to shepherd onto television. The books
offer some unique challenges for adaptation – something Robyn Asimov, one of our Executive
Producers, and I have spoken about in depth. Wrestling with these challenges has lead to some
really gratifying solutions – like the creation of the Genetic Dynasty. And I’m aided, of course,
by my incredible team of writers, our visual effects crew, the art department, our directors, and
our magnificent cast. Many of our crew will tell you that this is the hardest show they’ve ever
worked on – but also their favorite.
The Foundation books were given to me by my father on my thirteenth birthday. My mother
was also a fan. As I gained a foothold as a screenwriter, my father started pestering me to one
day adapt Foundation. And although both my parents passed away before the show was
realized, it’s a special thing to know that I get to work on a series that was held in such high
regard by my family.
Who are your mentors?
There are so many people I look up to in the industry. I try to learn from everyone I work with,
whether it be Christopher Nolan and his method of doing as many things practically (in-camera)
as possible, or Stephen Norrington and Guillermo de Toro on the first two Blade Movies. Or
James Cameron, whom I’ve had the privilege of working with twice now. In my early days at
USC Film School I was a teaching assistant for Nelson Gidding, a venerated screenwriter who
collaborated with Robert Wise on many films, including The Haunting and The Andromeda
Strain. Nelson probably informed my current work ethic the most. He and his wife, Hildy, were
What do you do when you’re not working?
Family. Adventure travel (Iceland, Patagonia, salmon fishing, the Inca Trail, etc.). A stacked
reading list. Live music. Yoga. Good food. And catching up on sleep!