Every night, I will write until I'm done. Until my eyes are burning and tearing, and I can't see the computer screen anymore, till I finish the script, till I get to the point where I'm happy stopping, till I get everything off my plate, because I hate going to bed with a full plate. It makes me very neurotic.
The way that 'Vampire' was born was over a lunch. We got asked to do the show. A week later, we were hired. A week later, we were writing it. The minute we handed it in, it was ordered. The minute we shot it, it was picked up. Then we started working. There was never any, like, 'OK, here's what this show is...' We had to figure it out as we went.
What's funny is, I was always certain that I couldn't be a director because there are things about the physics of camera and lighting that I fundamentally cannot wrap my head around.
'Ghost World' was such an incredibly difficult episode to find the right tone for. I remember at the time it was very divisive because some people hated it - they thought it was cheesy and hokey - and I loved it. When I saw it, I cried my head off, and I was so happy.
When you have an ensemble where characters pair off so easily, it becomes extremely isolating in the story world. You can end up with two actors who have not seen each other face to face all season long.
I work very hard so that I can be present all the time for what I do and then carve out little pockets of time as I desire for my personal life.
Don't do another show just because someone thinks that there's a dollar to be earned there. Do it because you love the characters, and you love the world, and you really, truly feel both the fans and you as a storyteller can benefit from having the second show.
I've always been a super-fan of television storytelling. It took me a while to figure that out in a career capacity, but certainly in a life capacity, I've been an avid viewer of television for decades.
I think that when you're exploring themes of humanity and what defines a hero and what makes us our best self and what makes us our worst self, you're going to stumble into territories of societal issues and that kind of thing. Sometimes you have accidents where you're not trying, but then the opportunity just presents itself. and you lean into it.
'Scream' was the first thing he'd ever written that had gotten made, and I'd been in Hollywood for less than two years.
There are a lot of things you do in a supernatural universe that can toe the line and cross the line.
In a non-supernatural universe, there's just character, and it's humanity and human beings and how they relate to each other.
I didn't get paid to write professionally until my first episode of 'Kyle XY,' which was the fourth episode of the first season.
There's something about two people coming together in the rain that is the ultimate expression of love in the minds of most audiences, I guess.
When you're dealing with long-distance relationships, it's a relationship played out over technology. When you're in high school, it's because you're not supposed to act on those impulses yet. So some of my favorite relationships in drama are based in people that can't really be together.
Speaking only for myself, the ideal finale to me is 'Friday Night Lights,' where you have loved and worshipped a show for all these years, you get to come back, celebrate the characters, finish up their journeys, and send everyone out with a feeling of, 'My God, I'm so grateful that I got to know these people.'
I've learned that I've just barely scratched the surface of knowledge of the profession, and I have deep envy of and appreciation for filmmakers who really, truly understand the physics, the design of filmmaking. They can do story and color and composition and geometry and math and science all at once.
I watched a lot of soap operas, when I was growing up, and a lot of those great serialized soap dramas.
Cynicism doesn't have its way in series finales. My emotional desire when I watch a series come to an end is to be crying and laughing and cheering as the final credits roll, feeling like I just got delivered the happy ending, whether the plot ends happily or not.
'The Reckoning' is one of my proudest hours. I love that episode so much.
I think, make it as beautiful as you can, and then rip it away. That's my sadistic thought as a storyteller.
'Originals' is a show that is not about struggling as a vampire but reveling in it. It's about embracing vampirism.
There's a lot of storylines over the years where you feel like it's maybe meant to be more important than it ends up being, and that's because we jump ship, and you gracefully extricate yourself from that as well as you can.
I had a moment where I wrote a movie script, and it was my first movie job, and I was very excited to do it, and my only goal was really not to get fired off of it.
To me, TV relationships work at their best when there is a deep longing and feelings and interest and sexual attraction that is unrequitable.
I'm a night owl; I could work until 6 in the morning without even thinking about it.
In junior high, when we got our first VCR, I used to tape four soaps a day. I was a diehard 'General Hospital' fan from when I was nine to 25.
'The Vampire Diaries' is a serialized drama. It deserved its final chapter.
The people I worked for before I was doing 'Vampire Diaries' were very generous to me.
TV is really, really, really hard work. You sacrifice a lot of your personal life, a lot of your sanity, just to do one show.
I do all these panels where people are always talking about the lack of female directors, and I have a lot of opinions on that.
I look at 'Friday Night Lights' as one of my all-time favorite series finales, and that is what you want. After all the roads you've traveled with these people, you just want to know that they're going to be happy. I'm a big believer in shows that make that choice.
God bless Hollywood and all that it stands for, but, you know, people tend to peak in their 40s, and then it's all downhill from there.
There's a reason a happy ending is called an ending. The trick of a television storyteller is to find all the rivers and mountains and valleys on the way to that ending.
The intensity of the story breaking on 'Vampire' has never been easy. Every week, you're starting with a blank board and trying to make a new movie. There's no formula; there's no franchise to hang your hat on.
If people love 'TVD' in 20 years the way they still love 'Buffy' today - on its 20th anniversary - I will be happy.
I talk all the time about how much I read growing up and how much I love Stephen King and how he impacted my work from a genre perspective, but Pat Conroy wrote some of the most magnificent stories about characters who had to deal with dysfunctional families and try to find a place of honor in their own world and the pain of loss.
As you live your life and accumulate friends, both IRL and on social media, ask yourself, are you a bully too?
We all have our own party fantasy that we've either lived or wanted to live in New Orleans.
I learned that getting a movie made in Hollywood is a near impossibility, and the process can be a wild adventure. TV is a lot more consistently productive - no offense to the beautiful world of feature film.
I read 'Tiger Beat' and 'Bop' from the time I was 9, 10, 11 years old. I loved movies. I saw 'E.T.' seven times. I used to yell at people who called me when 'L.A. Law' was on because they should know better. So I just have been so in love with the business of Hollywood since I can remember.
There is no definitive end to anybody's story when you're dealing with the fluidity of chemistry, because when it gets stale, you want out.
The one thing that always drove me crazy, especially on soaps, was when someone would have something they were hiding, and then six months later, they were still holding onto that secret, and the world has come to a complete, total end as a result of it. If they'd only just confessed!
The whole reason I like these virus movies is because I read 'The Stand' when I was in junior high and thought it was the greatest book I'd ever read.
You're supposed to be writing from experience - experience with people, with reading, seeing some homeless guy on the street and making up some story of him in your head. If you never see any of that or have those conversations or even sleep enough to have vivid dreams, then what are you writing about?