Showrunner Beau Willimon’s House of Cards

House of Cards with Kevin SpaceyIn today’s new world of internet series, first time showrunner Beau Willimon discusses the evolution of creating House of Cards with David Fincher.

With the advent of new distribution channels like Netflix, the opportunities for creative screenwriting and storytelling are numerous. Now, screenwriters who might usually stick with feature films, can dive into creating series which would not necessarily be broadcast on free TV.

Having several projects in various stages of development, originally seen as series and limited opportunities, this author now sees having a better chance at producing new projects in this new paradigm of filmmaking.

“There can be a lot of pressures on you coming from a lot of different directions not least of which will be your own self-doubt and second guessing. You have to find a way or a strategy to not lose your voice, to not succumb to the pressures, internal or external, and to be absolutely ruthless with yourself as far as what belongs on the page and what doesn’t.”
– Beau Willimon on advice given to him as first time showrunner

Willimon states what just about every screenwriter goes through in self-doubt about the creative workflow process in writing. In fact, I would argue if you are not having these internal episodes with yourself, you are doing something wrong.

“The most important one is not to write what you think people will want to watch but what you’re passionate about. If you write something that you’re passionate about and care about and that only you can write about in that particular way, it will stick out from the crowd. There’s no better salesmanship than good work. I would encourage people to write about the things that mean something to them not what they think will sell.”
– Beau Willimon’s advice to writers

Now while Willimon had great backing from Fincher and, of course, casting Kevin Spacey, this should not be a barrier to creating your own series which you are passionate about.

With YouTube and Vimeo, just to name two distribution channels, filmmakers can create, write and produce their own projects at the very least. Even if you produce just the first episode, or the first few scenes from your project, you stand a better chance at getting traction and notice from those looking to produce new content.

There are legions of junior agents out there whose only directive from their higher-ups is to find new talent. That does not necessarily mean you have to be a first-timer. It means you have no excuses now to getting your creative endeavors out there to find an audience.

“You need to surround yourself with people who encourage and support you, and you need to give back that encouragement and support as much or more than you receive it.”
– Beau Willimon’s advice on how to survive the industry

This is the single best advice I can echo. Surround yourself with like-minded filmmakers. Find a team of collaborators who want to achieve the same goals in creating content.

You might have team members who come and go in your world, but if you do not start by creating a team, you will find yourself alone in a tough industry.

Keep creating! Never give up on your vision.

– Stan


Read entire article: Beau Willimon’s House of Cards | Creative Screenwriting Magazine