The Blacklist’s Dave Metzger Talks About Writing For The Show.

My interview with The Blacklist’s Dave Metzger on Music, writing & how an episode is created. Dave Metzger is a Writers’ Assistant on The Blacklist, he recently co-wrote the “The Architect” episode #414. In my interview with Dave, he breaks down very clearly, the process of creating an episode from start to finish and talks about the kind of music he counts as being amongst his favourites.

PC: Where did you grow up? Were you a typical, regular boy?

 

DM: I grew up all over the western United States. Colorado, Texas, Wyoming. I moved to Oregon when I was in Junior High, sixth grade, and went to high school and undergrad there. I was pretty typical, I guess. I was maybe a bit precocious, very outgoing, with both kids my own age and adults. I was always a happy kid.

 

 

PC: At what stage in your early life did you realise or recognise the pull towards writing?

 

DM: Not until I was an undergrad in college, around my Junior year. I was involved in theatre much earlier, acting in plays and things like that. And of course, I did creative writing here and there, mostly for school. But it wasn’t until college that I started writing seriously, every day.

 

 

PC: After you finished school, to getting your big break, can you walk us through the path you took, that led you to becoming a writer?

 

DM: When I first moved out to Los Angeles, I had a series of great internships that helped me ‘get my bearings’ and start to understand how the film and TV business works. Eventually, a close friend from school encouraged me to apply for a job working as an assistant to a prominent film producer, John Davis. I got that job, and ended up working as John’s assistant for about two years. In that time, John’s company, Davis Entertainment, began developing The Blacklist as a TV series, so I had a front row seat as the pilot was being conceived, written, filmed and edited. When the show was picked up to series by NBC, I interviewed for and got the job as the Writers’ Assistant on The Blacklist, an incredible opportunity. Then, in the show’s third season, I pitched an idea for an episode that was approved, and with great guidance and mentorship from the other writers on staff, I wrote that episode, #315 “Drexel.”

 

 

PC: Were you watching a lot of films or were you more interested in reading books in your late teens?

 

DM: I’d say both. I loved reading, especially classics. I had a few great English teachers in high school, particularly a guy named Lee O’Banion. Through him, I found a ton of books that had a real influence on me. And I was deep into theatre back then, so I was reading a lot of plays. Shakespeare, in particular.  At the same time, I was watching a lot of movies. I’d always watched movies growing up. But when I was my late teens, I started buying movies on DVD and watching them on repeat. That was a real education.

 

 

PC: Looking back, at what point did you feel confident enough with your success to state your occupation as: ‘writer’?

 

DM: Very recently! Although I did a bit of paid work over the years, I guess it wasn’t until I wrote Blacklist episode #315, turned it in, and ultimately watched it air on TV.  At that point, there’s no denying it!

 

 

PC: You have said that anyone with aspirations of being a writer should write every day: what sorts of things were you writing before becoming part of The Blacklist team?

 

DM: I started out writing features in college. Just script after script after script. All terrible. There’s a saying I heard somewhere: every writer has a certain number of bad scripts in them, there’s no way to know how many, and your job is just to write them out until you get to the first good one. Most writers I know have followed a similar pattern.  So I wrote a small pile of terrible features. Then I went to film school, and I just wrote a ton of short films, for myself and other directing students. Some were pretty bad, some were pretty good, and one was something I was really proud of. (And, Paula, you’d be interested to know that last film was a musical.)  In those two years, I was focused more on learning, directing and production than writing, though I think my writing did improve quite a bit. After school, I wrote a few more features and then started really focusing seriously on becoming a TV writer. I wrote a few spec episodes of existing shows (a really bad Dollhouse, a funny but unproducibly insane Big Bang Theory, and then a pretty solid Sons of Anarchy), before finally starting to write my own spec pilots. By then I’d been writing seriously for about 7 or 8 years, and that’s when I finally started to work at what I’d call ‘the professional level’.

 

 

PC: Which other writers have influenced you in your approach to writing?

 

DM: Oh my god, this is such a daunting question. Everything I watch has influenced me to some degree or another. I think it’s hard for a TV or movie writer, or anyone in a related field, to ever finish watching a show or movie, and not immediately think: what worked about this? What didn’t work about this? If I loved it, why did I love it? If I was bored, at what point did I become bored? What factors contributed to that?  And on and on. For me and my writer friends, we’ve all been obsessively discussing these things since at least high school, and we never get bored of the questions – because these questions cut deeply into what makes us human and how we understand the world. And by thinking and talking and going to your own writing, and then repeating that cycle over and over again every day for many years, that’s kind of how you start to form your voice as a writer. I will say I’ve been blessed, early on, to have several wonderful writing teachers and mentors. Sabina, J, Crickett, and Victoria – along with all of the terrific writers on The Blacklist over the years.

 

 

PC: As an assistant to film producer John Davis, what sort of productions did you contribute to?

 

DM: I was there during different stages of Chronicle, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Victor Frankenstein, Devil’s Due, and Joy. But my primary responsibilities were getting coffee and keeping track of the bills.

 

 

PC: Have you been involved in any side projects while working on The Blacklist?

 

DM: A few! But they are still under-wraps. Hopefully coming soon to a TV screen near you!

 

 

PC: How do the writers and show runners on The Blacklist ensure that the scripts presented to the actors translates onto our TV screens in the way they were intended, since the writers’ room is in Los Angeles and filming takes place in New York?

 

DM: I think since you posed this question, Brandon Sonnier has done a great job of answering it in his own interview. But here’s a little more information: the first lines of defence are James Spader and our producing director, Michael Watkins, and the department heads in the crew. Spader is not just the lead actor on the show, he’s also an Executive Producer, a role he takes incredibly seriously. He’s meticulous about understanding every line of the script – whether Reddington is in the scene or not. He’s great at what I’d describe as ‘stress-testing’ a script – asking careful, smart questions about anything and everything that might be unclear. That’s a tremendous help for us as writers; it also ensures that he’s discussed everything extensively with us for weeks before the episode is shot, and everyone is on the same page on every detail.

Second is Michael Watkins, the producing director. He’s got a great understanding of the tone of the show, its feel, what Jon and John like, etc. That’s balanced with a very clear nuts-and-bolts knowledge of how to create the show given the time and budget constraints we operate under, trying to create 22 different hour-long episodes each year. He has a great relationship with cast and crew, and is a great guide to and coach for all of the incredible directors that come in to help us tell this long, winding story. So that’s a huge asset.

Then, finally, the crew – and in particular, the heads of each department. They’re all veterans in their fields, all super smart, and great at bringing our vision to life on set and on screen. We always have long, extensive phone calls, several for each episode, that typically last for hours. We go through every scene of the script, sometimes every word, and everyone on the crew asks questions and gets clarification on things that are unclear. They do a really wonderful job of figuring out how to make all the crazy things we come up with real.

Regarding the actors, specifically, it’s actually not as challenging as you might think.  We’re blessed with an incredibly talented group, and each is sort of the ‘guardian’ of his or her own character. So, often, it’s not a matter of us communicating exactly the performance we imagined to the actor so they can imitate it on screen; but rather allowing the freedom for them to take the words and actions we’ve written, and then breathe life into it by interpreting the script through the lens of their understanding as artists. So often I write a scene I’m really happy with on the page, and when I see the performance the actor gives, there’s so much more to it than what I initially pictured.

More humour, or gravity, or a different rhythm. It’s a wonderful gift to be able to be surprised like that, time and again. It also feels, as a writer, like you’re working with an incredible safety net, and you’re free to take some bigger chances with the characters – you know that even if you write something that’s less than perfect, the actors will be there to ‘catch you’ and make it work.

 

 

PC: When creating an episode of The Blacklist, beginning with how the thoughts and ideas are hashed out, to the actual airing of the episode: can you describe the process you would follow as a writer? 

 

DM: I’ve shared an album (URL below) of captioned images that document some of the process. It’s very collaborative. We start with a small germ of an idea, maybe just one sentence, an image, or an intriguing article in the news. And then we start to discuss some ideas of how it might become an episode of the show. The trick is to find a criminal or situation that feels big and consequential, but also would make sense as something Red would have a unique insight into that the FBI would be unaware of, or have the wrong understanding of. So we go through many ideas that might seem great on the surface, but don’t ultimately make sense when we get down to the details.

 

http://imgur.com/a/UALEB

For the ideas that do withstand that scrutiny, we eventually start to talk about the structure the episode would take, what the scenes would be and what order they’d come in (TV writers refer to this as ‘breaking’ the episode). We sit in a big room with a whiteboard, and we write a summary of each scene, constantly revising and updating. The trick there is, how do we lay out the investigation, so it’s both unexpected and exciting, but also makes logical sense moment-to-moment and overall? And, how do we make the episode exactly 44 minutes, not 40 minutes or 48 minutes, but exactly the right length?

Finally, we have all the beats figured out, and we turn that into an outline that the studio, network, and other producers can read. When the outline is approved, we start to flesh it out into the script. At that point, we’ve been talking about the story in detail, full-time, for at least a few weeks – often longer. So actually writing the first draft of the script can go quickly, often in less than two weeks. Then the showrunners and other executive producers (including James Spader) read the draft and give feedback, so it can be revised.

After a series of drafts and polishes, the episode is ready for production. The team in New York gets the script, and gives us feedback on what challenges they’ll face having to shoot the episode over just 8 or 9 busy days. We make adjustments if needed, and they prepare everything from locations to props, costumes, set dressing, video playback – the prep goes on and on. The actors read the script and sometimes give us feedback. Then they bring it to life, shooting the episode in a mad dash for 8 days.

Next, the footage from the shoot is sent back to LA, where the post-production team edits the episode and puts together the visual effects. They go through several ‘cuts’ or drafts of the episode, usually trimming more and more each time until it’s the exact length to air on TV, perfectly timed for the commercials etc. Then, on Thursday nights, the writers and editors get together to celebrate with each other and watch the episode live on the East Coast (and Live Tweet!).

 

 

PC: How do you cope with rejection as a writer? For example: if you’re having a brainstorming meeting and you have been working on a great idea but, after pitching it, your idea gets shut down?

 

DM: Learning to take feedback and criticism gracefully is one of the most important skills any writer or artist can develop; and that’s especially true if you do something along the lines of TV writing, where you’re pitching tens, or even many hundreds of ideas every day. You said a ‘brainstorming meeting’, which might imply that we have a few such meetings every so often; in reality, we might spend 35 or 40 hours of a given week talking about a story as a large group. Sometimes, it’s not just a part of the job – it’s the entire job.

In those hours, every writer is suggesting a new ideas, angles, takes, whatever, every few minutes. And with that volume, they’re not all going to be winners! But, generally speaking, writers at this level are not making suggestions that are silly or useless. Almost every idea has stuff that’s good about it, and stuff that’s maybe not so good. But generally you’re not going to hear total nonsense. So if you suggest something that doesn’t work, it’s not because you said something stupid – it’s usually because you are getting closer, but aren’t there yet.

I think the broader point, though, is a little more philosophical. You have to care passionately about your work, and think it’s important. But you also have to keep in mind that your pitches, your stories, the things you create – none of those things are you. If you come up with an idea, and someone says, ‘That doesn’t make any sense, that’s bad,’ the temptation as a young writer is to interpret that as ‘I am bad.’ That’s human, it’s natural. But you’ve really got to just fight through that and recognise that it’s an illusion. No-one is good or bad based on the ideas they come up with. You aren’t being rejected – just the idea is. And wrong ideas are part of the process.  From that perspective, it’s not so bad.

Then, I’d say, to do this for a living takes a lot of time and practice. It’s very unusual for people to be great writers in the first 5, 8, even 10 years they start working at it. And, as they say, writing is re-writing. No-one writes truly great, original ideas their first go-round of their first script. So by the time you get to this level, you’ve failed far more times than most people have ever attempted. You’ve hopefully learned that failing is a necessary part of making something good. No mud, no lotus. Live through enough examples of that, and it becomes much simpler to deal with.

 

 

PC: You previously mentioned that the executive producers and show runners read the draft of an episode and give feedback: can you give some actual examples of issues that they felt needed revising?

 

DM: It’s hard to think of specific examples at that stage of the process, because it really is a give-and-take, organic process. It’s kind of like a conversation, rather than formal notes. And, rather than big memorable changes (which would generally get worked out earlier in the process, before the draft is written), it’s 100 small notes rather than 5 big ones. Just constant constructive feedback on specific words and lines, slowly making the script better an inch at a time.

 

 

PC: It seems obvious to conclude that James Spader draws on his own personal life to influence Red’s dialogue, for example: we know James is a massive music fan and is a regular to the Village Vanguard in New York. It is mentioned in one of Red’s most revered monologues in the line ‘One more night of jazz in the Vanguard’ from the “Anslo Garrick” episode. How much freedom and opportunity is James allowed to suggest that a certain venue or a particular restaurant be mentioned?

 

DM: Spader is an Executive Producer on the show, and takes an enormous amount of ownership over the content of the episodes. This includes Red’s dialogue, and also the show as a whole. The phrasing of your question, how much freedom does he have to make suggestions, is a little misleading. Spader, along with everyone on the writing staff, has unlimited freedom and opportunity to make suggestions. However, the focus is never on, ‘what would be a fun shout-out to something that I like?’ But instead, ‘what is the right choice for this scene, this character, this moment?’ I will say that Spader’s instincts are incredible in this regard, and his feedback is always considered with the utmost respect.

 

 

PC: Many fans think James ad libs on those monologues, is this the case or is it more of the result of great writing, direction and his fantastic ability to deliver them in such a way, that just makes it seem like that?

 

DM: I don’t want to speak on Spader’s behalf or put words into anyone else’s mouth. I will say that ad libbing or improvisation is very rare on The Blacklist.  Conversations and suggestions about dialogue (or anything else) are extensive, and nearly always done in advance. If Spader or anyone else in the cast’s performance makes you think they are just coming up with the words spontaneously as they speak, it’s a testament to their performance and ability as actors. Chances are they are delivering the lines as written.

 

 

PC: A sizeable majority of fans express the desire to see Aram involved in a romance and even Red himself said much the same thing to Cooper (albeit with a little less of a ‘romantic’ take on it). How is it agreed or decided in the writers’ room what direction a character will take?

 

DM: All of the writers are free to make suggestions and pitches about story and character at any time. Some things we know long in advance, and have stayed about the same in our minds since the start of season one. Other elements have evolved over time as the characters grow and deepen, or as we’ve seen the actors interpretation of their characters. So it’s a give-and-take. But ultimately as we approach a single episode, we discuss the options at length, and come to a consensus based on what the showrunners decide is the best route to take.

 

 

PC: Can you talk further about the process for making an episode fit into the exact length of time allotted?

 

DM: It starts in the script. As we come up with the story, based on experience, we can feel on a gut level if we are running short or long and adjust accordingly. Every episode is divided into six acts, and we have a sense of how much story can fit into each act (around 9 minutes worth, a little more in act one and a little less in act four or five) so as we talk through we are always thinking about if we need to add or subtract to get the right ‘feel’ in terms of time.

Then when we write the script, we’ll see if we’re running long – which we almost always are – and if so, by how much. We know that one page of script works out to about a minute of screen time, so that’s a useful guide. And then, if we’re running long, we take the opportunity to reassess and ask: what’s fundamental here and what could we do without? Generally speaking, script cuts are painful, but ultimately result in a leaner, better finished project.

Then, after the episode is filmed, the editor and post staff has a lot of control over how long or short every moment plays, which can have a profound effect on the length of the finished product. So it’s always a careful balance in editorial, as they carefully choose the moments to compress and the moments to linger on, as they dial in to that final time as set by the studio and network.

 

 

PC: From a purely self-indulgent point of view I would love to see more episodes set in London or elsewhere in U.K: is this ever likely to happen?

 

DM: We did have some scenes this year, in #409, that took place in the UK. We didn’t shoot them over there, so we didn’t get the chance to really see the city. But because we are a global show, and because Red’s reach spans every continent, literally any city is possible if it’s right for the story!

 

 

PC: Do you have to think like a criminal, in order to write this show?

 

DM: I don’t know! I definitely think to write compelling characters, you need to have tremendous empathy for them – even if they are killers or monsters. So in that sense, yes – it’s vital that you put yourself in the shoes of a criminal, and look at the world from his or her point of view, in order to make them feel real and three-dimensional, in spite of the sometimes extraordinary circumstances we come up with on our show.

 

 

PC: Sometimes, when I read a newspaper article, I think, ‘Wow! That would be interesting to explore as a Blacklist storyline,’: how often do you see potential in situations or in something you are reading?

 

DM: Just speaking for myself personally, I’m a voracious reader of news. I read at least the front section of The New York Times most every morning, in addition to monthly magazines and politics blogs. One of the great things about the world of The Blacklist is that, while some of the criminals seem fantastical or even bizarre, everything is set in a backdrop of politics and global affairs that’s pretty grounded in real life. So in that sense, yes, I find reading the news a great source of inspiration.

In terms of coming up with specific storylines or Blacklisters, speaking for myself at least, I usually don’t read something and think about it in terms of, ‘how could this fit into The Blacklist?’  Instead I mostly think of interesting players that might populate Red’s world or orbit, and then try to drill down on: what might this person want that would really cause problems for the world and our characters? And then we kind of grow it from there.

 

 

PC: Do you have a favourite Blacklister?

 

DM: Taylor Martin, Marisa Tam and I were just rewatching a bunch of episodes from Season One, and every episode brought back really wonderful memories of writing and camaraderie with my friends.  So when I think of favourite Blacklisters, I’m really thinking of episodes we had a lot of fun writing – and there are so many! It’s really impossible to choose. Even in season one, there are like a dozen I can think of and say, ‘Oh, THAT’S my favourite. No, wait, THIS ONE is my favourite!’

I think the show really started to gel with “The Stewmaker”, that and “Wujing” were when the room really started to understand how to put an episode together, and what a ‘Blacklist episode’ was supposed to be. “Frederick Barnes” was an early one that really had an emotional ‘A’ story, which was really influential on future episodes. ”Anslo Garrick” was a great character, and a really fun episode to write and watch. “The Good Samaritan” was The Brandon’s first episode, and that was very special.  Obviously “Drexel”, “The Architect” and “The Thrushes” were episodes I had a heavy hand in, so those are fun to re-watch from the perspective of, ‘look how that transformed from a single little idea to this great actor embodying a living, breathing character.’ So, no, I guess I don’t have a favourite!  I love them all!  Cop-out answer, but it’s true.

 

 

PC: Are there other shows past or present that you admire for the quality of writing?

 

DM: Sure, hundreds!  Off the top of my head I’ll just rattle some off, but this is hardly an exhaustive list – my biggest inspirations are The Simpsons, The West Wing, Sports Night, Buffy and Angel, Firefly, Cheers, Frasier, The Wire, Parks and Recreation, Friday Night Lights, Friends and M*A*S*H. Current shows I’m loving include: Rick and Morty, Fargo, Atlanta, Sherlock, The Americans, You’re The Worst, Luther and True Detective.  Also, every time I talk to my sister (who is also a TV writer) she encourages me to watch Gravity Falls, so that’s probably what I’ll be watching next.

 

 

PC: What’s next for Dave Metzger? Where do you hope to be with regards to your career as a writer in say two years or even five years?

 

DM: My short-and medium-term goals are the same: to keep writing TV that is fun and challenging, and to always get better at my craft, day-after-day, year-after-year. In two years, five years or fifteen years, I hope I’m either working on the writing staff of a show I love, hopefully for one of my awesome friends; or running the writing staff of a show I created. Either would be terrific, as far as I’m concerned.

 

 

PC: There are a lot of people trying to make their way as writers. What is the most helpful piece of advice from your own personal experiences you could share to help them achieve their goals?

 

DM: A take on the old adage, in my experience it’s both: it’s both what you know and who you know. What you know, meaning: you have to work hard to become the best writer you can possibly become. A big part of that is writing every day, and doing a large volume of work to really ‘close the gap’ between your potential talent and your actual ability.

Who you know, meaning: you optimise your chances for success by creating a strong professional network of contacts. That’s why becoming an assistant is a better day-job for writers than waiting tables or driving an Uber. There are so many talented writers trying to get their foot in the door, and it’s incredibly helpful to be in a position to demonstrate that you are hardworking and easy to get along with. To get a good assistant job, you can start at the mailroom at an agency or big management company; or do as many internships as you can find, and work your way up.

 

 

Music questions

PC: Thinking back to the first album or single that you acquired, why did it appeal to you?

 

DM: The first album I ever bought on my own was, I think, Rush’s Power Windows (1985). I think a lot of teenagers, maybe some of the nerdier ones, were, like me, super into Rush. And  the musicianship, the thought-provoking lyrics, and just the sheer volume of sound put out by these three Canadian guys – it’s a pretty attractive package to a teenager growing up in the suburbs.

 

 

PC: Certain songs just have to absolutely be played at full volume, do you agree? Do you have a song that you must blast out?

 

DM: Man, yes, absolutely. But not just one song specifically. When the mood strikes, I’ll listen to anything I really love at a high volume. Especially, I’d say, really driving indie rock, like The Hold Steady or The War On Drugs, or contemporary hip hop like along the lines of Run The JewelsBig Boi’s solo stuff, and Chance The Rapper. Or something a little more alt-country, like Wilco or Band Of Horses.

 

 

PC: Music can be a great healer. Which song or album helps sooth your troubled mind or heart?

 

DM: I have a playlist that’s called “In Case Of Emergency Break Glass.” It’s not necessarily happy songs or sad songs. It’s mostly hip-hop that is so beautifully written, it makes me happy that I exist and get to listen to it. MF DoomMos Def, The Roots, Tribe Called Quest, and Graduation -era Kanye.

 

 

PC: Last year I finally began taking piano lessons, do you play an instrument? If not, which instrument would you like to learn?

 

DM: I played trombone in the high school jazz band and orchestra. I actually played a lot in those days. I was no good as a soloing, but I was an okay section player. I think it’s really helped me to understand music, and of course especially jazz, to have played it live for so many years.

 

 

PC: Which song or piece of music would you like to be played at your own funeral?

 

DM: There’s a great tune by Brett Dennen called “Dancing At A Funeral,” which is all about positivity and celebration in the face of death. The chorus goes, ‘Now’s not the time to be so sad and mournful / We are going to the funeral and we’ll be dancing the night away.’ That’s what I want people to feel when I go!

 

 

PC: Which concert have you been to that you would consider to be the best? What was the most recent one you attended?

 

DM: The most recent concert was Brett Dennen at the El Rey, where he and the band played “Dancing At A Funeral,” and I thought: ‘Wow! This is the perfect answer to Paula’s question!’
My first concert was Rush, and it was an incredible show. At that point they’d been together for about twenty-five years, so they could have phoned it in if they’d felt like it, and we’d have been happy. They played for four hours, doing two long encores, and it changed my life.

I can’t say what the best concert I ever attended was. I’ll give you a top five, in no particular order: Tame Impala and The Flaming Lips at The Greek in LA, Arcade Fire and The National at the Atlanta Civic Center, Wilco at The Moon in Tallahassee, The Hold Steady at Club Downunder in Tallahassee, Father John Misty in the tiny, intimate El Rey in L.A.

 

 

PC: Do you enjoy a particular movie soundtrack? Is the movie as appealing as the music?

 

DM: Probably the soundtrack that had the biggest impact, both on me, and on my circle of friends, is for the film Hackers (1995). It has tracks from the big names in early ‘90s Electronica that were big in the UK but were not being played on domestic radio stations, at least in my hometown. Listening to that soundtrack obsessively connected me and my friends to that whole genre of music that was exploding at the time. Acts like Orbital, Underworld, The Prodigy and Leftfield were all new to us, and opened the door to a lifelong love of/obsession with that kind of music. Other soundtracks I’ve loved, and these are all kind of obvious, but Lost in Translation and The Virgin Suicides, both of which heavily feature French pop from Air and Phoenix. The soundtrack to Pulp Fiction. The soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou? Finally, not to be ridiculous, but of course Magical Mystery Tour, Help! and A Hard Day’s Night are technically ‘soundtracks’ and are, of course, incredible records.

 

 

PC: Three pieces of music you adore or three styles of music you are drawn to?

 

DM: The styles of music that I listen to most are probably hip-hop (defined as broadly as possible), indie rock and folk/rock, and classic rock.

 

 

PC: Is there a song that you think particularly compliments a certain episode or scene in The Blacklist that we have heard in the series so far? If you were given the opportunity to choose a song to be included in an episode of The Blacklist, what would you choose?

 

DM: I’ll answer these questions together. We had an early cut of one episode (I won’t say which) where we used the song “Lost in the Dream” by The War On Drugs. I love that song, and was really excited to see it in the cut. But eventually, we decided it wasn’t emotionally right for that moment. I hope we can find another moment to use that track someday, though. It’s a great song, and it ‘feels’ like our show to me. I also loved the use of “No Comprende” by Low in episode #312, “Can’t Leave the Night” by BadBadNotGood (one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite bands) in #304, “I Will Be There” by Odessa in #205, “Somebody Sweet to Talk To” by She & Him all the way back in #107. And of course, all the Johnny Cash songs for when Red is on a warpath, especially “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” when we took down the Director, and especially “The Man Comes Around” back in #110 (a classic tune in an episode that is near and dear to my heart overall).

 

 

Final three questions I ask everyone I interview

 

PC: What is your favourite or most used word?

DM: Can’t choose!

I have a reputation in the office, especially in Season 4, for using the word ‘robust’ too often. As in, ‘this Blacklister has a pretty robust plan for dealing with the FBI.’ I say it a lot and it’s become sort of a joke.

My favorite word is probably ‘yes.’ It’s additive and constructive and suggests people working together.

That’s not a fancy word, though – and I do like fancy words. Some favourite fancy words I use maybe too often: obfuscate, synecdoche, gestalt, beatific, archipelago, illicit, denouement and cromulent.

PC: How would you describe your perfect day?

 

DM: The morning is quiet time with people I love, drinking coffee and listening to music. The afternoon is a long hike somewhere beautiful. The evening is filled with friends, great food, great beer and spirits, and a lot of laughter until the wee hours of the night.

 

 

PC: Finish this sentence: ‘I cannot possibly live without…’

 

DM: I don’t think there’s anything I can’t live without. But I’m very glad I don’t have to live without family, friends, music, stories, and the ability to make things I’m proud of.

 

Thank you Dave!

You can find Dave Metzger on Twitter here, and be sure to follow The Blacklist Writer’s Room on Twitter too!

 

One Comment:

  1. Heather Macdonald

    Thank you so much for this informative article. I certainly enjoyed Dave’s “insider story” about all the years of hard work and study to become a writer for television. Also liked reading about all the steps they take to produce a script for TBL. In my opinion is is the best writing ever on television. And no wonder with the many idea sessions and open writing forum….it is not just a “one-man show” for sure.

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