NYCC 2012: Jeff Davis Teen Wolf Interview

At the 2012 NYCC, Jeff Davis was interviewing for Teen Wolf. Here is his interview as follows, and you can even watch the video below.

You talk a lot about how you’re very hands-on, how you’re the show runner and you run the shoots. Do you think you’ll maybe take the next step and direct an episode?

I might- it all depends on the writing. If the writing is done, and I‘m struggling to finish and killing myself, I might. I may direct an episode especially since we have 24 now, and I’ve been talking about it with other producers, the actors and everybody liked it- it’s just flexing a different muscle. But I really do enjoy doing certain scenes like I directed the love scene in episode 6 between Scott and Alison in the car, because the stuffy Brit and the gay Aussie didn’t want to direct it [chuckles] so I said I’ll take it. But it’s fun, but it mostly depends on the writing.

When you watch the show, since it’s so totally different from the Michael J. Fox movie, were there concerns that that was going to be a problem- with you sharing the name with the movie?

My only concern was the same one they had with Battlestar Galactica, whether they would be given a fair chance because of the name. So I was hoping people would give us a fair chance and learn to love this show as much as my generation loved the Teen Wolf movie. I do think it’s a different generation, and our fans have probably never seen the original movie, my actors have never saw it until I sat them down and watched it, but I think we’re a different feature now. I wouldn’t compare us to the quality of Battlestar Galactica that were treated as separate products.

Since you’ve been working on this for years, have you found your experience to be any different or more flexible than when you were before?

Absolutely, it’s hard to say I’d never go back to broadcast TV because the freedom with cable is huge. I get to tell a serialized story line with 12 episodes, and I still would be able to do that with the 24, and the amount of freedom and creativity that the network gives me is phenomenal, they really turned into partners on the show and it’s hard to do that in network TV when you kind of feel like they just go for a line drive down the middle and there are certain things on this show that I care to have a lot pushed back with what we’re trying to do.

Do you think cable is what made your show reach its large popularity?

Yes, I think they definitely – because you have to hit a certain “leesh” number, a certain demographic- that’s what’s most important. I know that the broadcast networks are very important- 18-49, but the landscape is really changing because of DVR I think . You’ve read all these articles about how DVR is in 50% of the households now or something like that. I think cable, especially a network like AMC, which literally tells its writers to slow down, definitely has more patience to find an audience. Although, on a network like MTV, which is building it scripted, I think if you don’t have the numbers right off, you better start getting those numbers somehow.

Seeing how many show runners tape different shows at different times, do you think you’ll be able to do that and take right off?

Teen Wolf is very much my world especially since I do so much of the writing. The voice of the show is very much my voice, I do a lot of the drafts, it’s partially just the way I work. If it were to say procedural, I would say I would be more inclined to take another show. I have certain deals waiting for me when I want them, but right now, I kind of just will concentrate on Teen Wolf and hopefully giving A+ entertainment to its viewers.

Do you ever run into story ideas that you want to put into play but your budget doesn’t leave much room?

Not really. The stories we’ve come up with- I’ve gotten very good at training my brain to work in a budget. You know there’s going to be tons of night-shoots, there are certain special effects that you’re never going to get to create because of our budget-it is a cable budget. So I work very much within the role I am able to create-it would be nice to have bigger sets, huge locations, but we’re actually working on developing that through green space technology- things like life-raft and creating virtual sets. It may actually get bigger on its own, and it’s all about things that are portable technology. I wouldn’t mind doing a 200 million dollar movie- I just watched The Avengers and I thought, “My God, they wasted so much money.” The watch something like the last Transformers and I’d think, “My God, they wasted so much money.”

There’s a live discussion about  how much bisexual relationships are portrayed, do you find that your show is not being viewed as sort of a representation of that community, like how you have relationships like that in the show now do you feel like it’s your responsibility to that community?

I always feel like my first responsibility is to tell a great story, so that’s what we go for. If we can remain socially conscious, that’s great too. It’s a balancing act, I think, because you don’t want to get into a situation where you’re suddenly preaching, and I don’t Teen Wolf to become a show where it’s hammering the audience over the head about the message. So long as it builds out of the story naturally and is a great story line for the characters, then yes, but as a gay man myself, I am always looking to represent more of the stories in ways that I don’t really see or haven’t seen as a kid. I think there are a lot of great shows out there with great representation.

What were some of the sub-themes you faced?

I would say one of the most important themes is growing up in different families. You’ll notice that most families in Teen Wolf are either divorced or single parents, very much like my own experience. I think families in the real world are very different now. I like to be able to explore that on TV. I think a lot of the themes of the different kinds of romantic buds- whether it’s first love turning into adult, mutual love, whether it’s a different kind of a romantic friendship- I think there are a lot of different themes.

I want to know your writing process- when and how do you write?

I find that I work best in the mornings when I’m heavily caffeinated. My day is very much get up in the morning, I either work out or sit down at the computer and write for hours. Then I work with the writers for 6 hours, and then I come home or go to the gym, eat dinner, and then do a few more hours of writing if I got any energy left. So when it comes to production, writing during production I write all into the day and I try to get as much as I can done.

Because with Teen Wolf, it really feels like you guys try to bring back to the horror of the actors’ emotions, and do you find that hard to stick in the script and for it to work? Where do you usually find it?

I love the horror of the bowels, finding scares in ordinary things, the stuff that Stephan King does brilliantly- like a long hallway in a old hotel. Scary. So we try to do stuff like that, I remember coming up with this idea that Lidia would open up the shower and she would suddenly find herself in the middle of a field and all the audience in the bleachers were cheering to her while she was being mauled by this werewolf- it was the scariest thing. I love that stuff. It’s funny because as a kid, I absolutely hated horror movies. I completely get off on them. What we’re going to do this season is really try to bring scares back to the show. We’re calling it kind of this haunted house season where Beacon Hills comes to superstition as its own supernatural stuff comes.

So the new season of Teen Wolf will have 24 episodes, so is there anything from last season that because of the budget or anything like, won’t be coming back?

Actually, I think we managed to do quite a bit. I think we really pushed the limits of what our budget is and what our schedule is. One of the hardest things to do is make the show on the schedule we have planned. We shoot it in about 7 days, an episode, and we’re all about going back and picking up little things to reshoot to make it better, which is one of the nice things about cable is that you have a certain couple of months before the season actually airs. In broadcast TV, 3-4 weeks later, it’s on the air- if you miss something, there’s not much you can do about it. I would have to say that one of the nice things was we created our cinema creature with a tale which could be measured. We had a guy in a rubber suit running around a lot and we’re sitting there thinking, “My God, is this going to work and look good?” I think that it got comparisons to the lizard in Spiderman; I think our creature looked better, and they had a gazillion dollars to create that big scene with the monster. So, I am constantly shocked with what we get away with. But we’re going to try to do more things; one I did wish we had is that I wish we could have more stars on the show. Sometimes we have to limit it to only a few speaking roles, but I wish we could fit in a lot more.

You mentioned earlier with shifting landscapes, and with the way that young adult pictures has gone these days, do you think that show could have only succeeded now, like do you think that now is the only time that is really great for your show?

There is something about tapping into what’s popular and what grabs people’s attention, and I definitely credit things like Harry Potter and Twilight for leading the way. For me, whenever you’re able to get genre right, whenever you’re able to scare people, it always comes back to genre. Stories have been told for decades in film, TV, and in books, novels. I think this genre is always as popular as it’s going to be, so if you write a good story like Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, Dark Shadows- there’s always good stuff. I remember watching Friday the 13th series and every reiteration of the ending-all the shows, the horror shows, its genre to me.

What do you go through when making the final cuts to the episodes, like the film score, with Dino?

I let the editors bob the show with them. I’m very involved in picking out the tempt music to the point that I’ll go home at night and listen to scores that I like. I write the scores, so I’m a huge score fan. He (Dino- Dino Meneghin, the show’s composer) knows I love his entire Batman stuff, The Dark Knight Rises is constantly on replay on my computer right now, and I’m just thinking it’s just such a good score. We’re very glad and I love Dino- he scores every episode like it’s a movie. Phenomenal. A lot of TV shows end up reusing huge amounts of scores they’ve already done, but he does every scene like it’s the movies. I really appreciate that about him- he works day and night so just phenomenal.      

 

 And here’s a trailer to the opening of the2nd season. Why? Well because they didn’t make a trailer for the third yet.

Catherina has been writing since she was 14 years old- screenplays, movie reviews, sports stories and anything in between. Living in New York City, she can tell you any fact about any movie. She writes screenplays in her free time and is a huge Kevin Spacey, Tina Fey and Quentin Tarantino fan. You can contact her at catherina@theyoungfolks.com
  • Lizzy

    It’s nice to read that Jeff Davis puts so much of himself into Teen Wolf. It seems like he truly cares about the show, and I like that his main focus is a good story. He did such a great job of storytelling last season, so I can’t wait to see what he does now that he has 24 episodes. I started watching this show last season at the suggestion of a coworker at DISH. She knew I loved the horror genre, and after watching one episode, I was a fan. To cope with the wait for it to return, I have been re-watching episodes recorded on my DISH Hopper. It helps that I have 2,000 hours of recording space, so I have plenty of room for all of my other favorite shows. I also love that I can fast forward through commercials on my recordings, making the experience even more enjoyable. Watching the seasons again it’s clear that Jeff Davis has a talent. He has created a show that really proves that a big budget isn’t necessary, as long as the story is worth telling.