Do you have any interest in writing and directing a television show? 

Yeah, yeah. I would do something long form. I don’t see how I’m gonna avoid it. One, it’s really an interesting challenge as a writer. It’s just where things are going, so yeah, I’ve got a couple of ideas for that stuff. Okay, here’s a statement. I’m getting a little pissed off because everybody’s like, “Oh, it’s the golden age of TV. It’s the golden age of TV. Streaming and service and stuff, feature films are dead.” It’s like, “Well, kind of. But half this shit isn’t that good.”

[Laughs] That’s very true. 

What it is is they got a really good premise, and I’m not gonna go into detail, but they got a really good premise, so you’re like, “Oh, I’m curious about watching that.” And then they have cliffhangers at the end of every one. It’s designed for binge-watching. I find myself watching these shows, and in the middle I’m checking my email, I’m reading the news on my phone. And I’m like, “This writing is not that good. It’s almost like they gave them too much time.” What do you got, 10, 13 episodes? And it’s like, you can do this shit in 75 minutes. It’s not great TV if all you’re doing is making me want to watch the next episode, right? That calculus is too easy. And the thing is, they’re really good at because I watch the next episode, because inherently you want to know and you want to finish, but I think there’s gonna come a time where people are gonna be like, “Now wait a damn minute.”

And to be quite honest, some of these things that are really good, like these longer format documentaries that are four part or six-part thing, they need to be three parts. They give them too much time. Hopefully there’s a recalibration coming of like … Yeah, I know you can have that much time, and I’ll watch because naturally, as a human being and a viewer, I want a conclusion to the story, but that doesn’t mean you’re being a good shepherd of my time and of the storytelling unit. Whatever that unit happens to be for the six episodes, two hours, an hour and a half.

I think that’s why people like Game of Thrones so much, and it sometimes suffers from what I’m talking about, but not that much. I think where it really succeeds is you feel the mind of that author, but also those two creators. Not creators, those two executive producers that make you go, “Oh, they’ve been planning this shit for a long time. They plotted this from the beginning.” And that’s really satisfying, you know? It’s not like traditional sitcom faire where you’re like, “Oh, well there’s always more story. We’ll just create it when they pay us to.”

For me, it’s much more satisfying, short form or long form, feature or series, to see a creative mind doling out their story to you in a very specific way. That interests me very much. Hopefully, there’s a temperance that’s gonna come, because this idea that all this shit’s great… Bullshit. It’s not. But when you find it, when you find it, it’s amazing. Like Atlanta, you’re like, “Those guys are on another level.” It’s hard for me to even understand what they’re doing, but I like it, you know? So I don’t know. But yeah, if I can ever get finished with Alien Nation, yeah, there’s a lot I want to do [Laughs].

[Laughs] Earlier you said how you want to express your point of view on life with your work. You haven’t made a movie since Loving, which came out in 2016. The last two years have been a terrible time for our country, so with everything going on, has it deeply affected your point-of-view and the stories you’re writing? 

Totally. How could it not? Just wait until you see Alien Nation. My thing is, I kind of think we’re having fundamental conversations about the society that we want to live in. Everybody seems kind of focused on partisanship and are you on the right or on the left? And politicians and just political conversations, it’s like there’s a centrifugal force going on in it. It’s pushing everybody to the outside, which is never good.

I don’t profess many political views, but I know fanaticism is not one that ever ends well for anybody. So whenever I start to think about it in my work, it very quickly kind of like ratchets up to much bigger questions about what kind of country do we want to have? But then you even bounce out of that one, what kind of society do we want to be a part of? I think as a storyteller, you want to look at the world and not just judge it, but just try to see it. See it for what it is, and see people for who they are and try to understand their points of view.

And so I come from the south, which is obviously currently pretty right-leaning, and I’m in an industry that is completely left-leaning, and I am certainly somewhere in the middle on a lot of these things. And it’s not so much about what my politics are, it’s more about where people are. And I’m trying to understand people that voted for Trump, and not just completely dismiss them. I’m trying to understand where all this anger came from, and where it … It’s easy to see where it’s coming from now because it’s just being stoked, literally, by the person in the White House. I think on purpose, that is a very calculated move.

But where did it come from before that? And now you’re getting so much anger from the left because they are on the losing end of things currently, and I’m just trying to understand what people want and what they’re going for, and trying to think about as human beings, what kind of society we need to function. There’s a reason why there are two different sides to this, there’s probably even more. But there’s a reason why there’s two … Why there are two political parties, and there’s a balance there. And there is a beautiful balance in governance set forth. Anything that infringes on that balance kind of freaks me out.

It kind of scares me, and it feels like that balance is being messed with a little bit. Not just by the government, but by citizens. But also I’m writing a movie called Alien Nation, and I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions about what it means to be a nation, you know? And the social contract that we have with one another that supposedly makes that operate. So you know, that question is actually very much pointed toward my next project.

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