Monday, March 12, 2012

Interview with Supernatural Writer's Assistant and "Out with the Old" Co-writer Jenny Klein

Beware evil ballet slippers in this week's episode!
Today I have a special treat for all of my Supernatural aficionados! A friend of mine from our days at USC agreed ever so kindly to do a quick interview about her upcoming writing debut on none other than the aforementioned Supernatural. Jenny Klein has worked as a writer's assistant on the show for some time and has even had some story credits in the past ("The Curious Case of Dean Winchester" and "Caged Heat"). Her writing debut comes this week with "Out with the Old," which she co-wrote with Supernatural executive producer Robert Singer. Just what is the difference between a story credit and a writing credit? You'll find out below.

You've had two story credits on the show before, how was the experience different this time as a co-writer?

My experience co-writing "Out with the Old" was different from my experience on "The Curious Case of Dean Winchester" and "Caged Heat" in that with "Out with the Old", I was involved from start to finish-- from pitching my idea, to breaking the story with Bob and Sera, to writing the script with Bob, to being on production and studio & network notes calls. With the story credits, I pitched the original ideas that became the episodes, but didn't get to write the actual dialogue you hear the actors say, though it was still pretty cool to see my ideas come to life.

Did you get to be involved in the editing process at all?

When I found out Nicole Baer was going to be editing the episode, I was ecstatic because we're buds and she is crazy talented. She was cool with me sitting in with her while she edited, but I know from my own editing experience how annoying it can be to have somebody over your shoulder while you're still piecing things together, so I abstained until the director of the episode, John Showalter, came in (he was SO nice!), and a director's cut was finished. Then Nicole invited me to join her and her awesome assistant editor, Nancy Hurley, to watch the cut during the DVD output. I was kind of giddy because here were all these scenes I had written, suddenly existing in a form I could watch and hear and follow. I also recorded some background chatter at the ADR stage, so you might hear my voice in the episode, too. 

What was it like to get to see some of your words acted out on screen?

It was surreal. Jensen, Jared and the guest cast really knocked it out of the park. It's kind of a relief, too, hearing lines said in the way they were intended to be conveyed, and at the same time delightful when the actors surprised me by bringing something new and interesting to what we had written.

What is your favorite thing about working on a show like Supernatural that you wouldn't necessarily experience on another show?

One of my favorite duties as the writers' assistant is to do research for the episodes. I'm a total myth junky. Reading about cryptozoological creatures and Greek mythology is what I used to do for fun when I was growing up, and now it's actually part of my job! On what other show does your boss ask you to come up with a weapon that "shoots biblical plagues"?

Do you have any advice for aspiring TV writers that you've learned through your experience as a writer's assistant?

Write as much as you can! And if you're looking for a writers' assistant gig, I've found that having a strong handle on dramatic structure and being able to type really fast are both valuable skills, because a lot of my job is keeping up with the conversation in the writers' room and organizing the story breaks in a way that will be useful to the writers when they look at the notes.

What are some of your other favorite shows on TV?

Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, The Simpsons, Louie, Eastbound & Down, Ringer, The Office, Workaholics, South Park... and Adventure Time!

And you know I had to throw in some less than serious questions...

Sam or Dean? 

Haha, sorry, I can't choose. They're both awesome in their own ways!

Your favorite episode?

It's a three-way tie between "Clap Your Hands if You Believe", "Changing Channels", and "Abandon All Hope".

Barring any future spoilers, what is one monster you would like to see the Winchesters face at some point?

Man, I so would like to see them fight a giant ground worm like in Tremors, but I doubt that will ever happen.


Thanks again to Jenny for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions! You should also check out her sketch comedy group Big Game Hunters. They do live shows in LA and also have a bunch of videos you should definitely watch.

Don't miss "Out with the Old" this Friday, March 16th at 9pm on The CW, directed by John F. Showalter and written by Robert Singer & Jenny Klein.

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