Evan Skladany was working at a market research company when he was laid-off due to the economic crash in 2008. He had taught English in Boston and France, before his days in advertising and marketing, and he always wanted to be writer. His lay-off was the push that he needed to make it happen. He decided to get a job waiting tables, instead of looking for another marketing job, so that he could pursue this life-long dream. He’s not sure if he would have ever made the leap had he stayed in that job – an amazing example that sometimes the experiences that feel traumatic and horrible, can bring us unexpected, welcomed and needed change.
Evan decided to start Trés Correct Productions, after taking writing and web series classes at Upright Citizens Brigade. He wrote, and wrote and wrote some more – getting critical feedback along the way. Each piece teaching him a little more about his process and focus. He realized that he wanted to focus on comedy and pull from his experiences growing up in Boston, MA. He constructed a character, Donnie Holland, “A scrappy city kid who wears the values of his tight-knit, blue-collar community on his sleeve…who loves his mother but ain’t afraid to fight,” and decided he wanted to develop a web series around him.
In August 2013, Evan ran a successful Kickstarter campaign raising over $6000 to finish the production of Donnie Holland. The web series is currently in post-production and the goal is to release the first set of webisodes this summer (2015).
We talk about what it means to take a leap of faith, how, when you get started, you have to be okay with putting out work that might be less than perfect and the importance of knowing yourself and being clear and honest about it, instead of chasing what you think you are supposed to like or be. Listen below to learn more about Evan’s Chapter Be story…
PODCAST POINTS TO REFERENCE
[04:55] Evan attended a networking event that helped change the course of his work, because he met people in the industry and showed him he could do it.
[07:50] The struggles of working on your own creative projects. For one, they end up taking way longer than you ever thought they would!
[10:15] The dream of being a writer vs. the reality of being a writer.
[15:15] Advice on how to deal with the administrative tasks that come along with following your creative passion and turing it into your job.
[17:50] The story of how Donnie Holland came to be.
[23:15] Evan talks about how he has been influenced by the many web series that inspired him and what their success means for him and the industry.
[25:30] How, if we are open, we can find what we need in unexpected places. “Things really do start to happen for you when you’re on the path. Your will is leading you in a direction and people see it.”
[29:30] Evan discusses how being let go from his job in 2008 was the push he needed, because “you don’t want to say ‘no’ to promotions and security.”
[30:45] “I’m in the stage of becoming something that I’ve always wanted to become, and didn’t think I could become for a long time…you gradually start to think of yourself a little differently, and I think that is half the battle.”
[32:45] Evan’s advice to those who want to be a writer – Meet people who do what you want to do.
[35:45] Producing work and putting it out into the world to be consumed and critiqued is an important part of the endeavor. You have to be okay with putting things out there that are less than perfect.
[37:15] “There is something legitimate about stalling…you really have to spend some time figuring out what you’re about. For artistic endeavors – that’s important.”
[41:45] Evan talks about the importance of letting go of the “shoulds” in our lives.
CHAPTER BE QUESTIONNAIRE…
What’s your favorite story to tell at a dinner or cocktail party?
Quote: Curly hair, curly thoughts. – Proverb
Story: Mario and the Magician by Thomas Mann
Fact: That mankind believed the earth was the center of the universe for centuries, then figured out it was not.
Worst work experience?
I was a waiter at a highway restaurant in France. I was the only foreigner and loved the people I worked with, and the experience of having a job some regular Frenchman would have, but it was insanely exploitative – the dark side of France’s socialist system. The waiters did everything in the restaurant, including washing dishes and cleaning the bathrooms. The shifts were grueling marathons, and on certain days I had to be there at 6am to serve croissants to motorists in the cafe, then go work a fancy lunch in the restaurant. I was vacuuming that fucking place one day and said to one of my coworkers, “I think I’m going to quit.” He replied, without so much as raising an eyebrow, “I often ask myself why I haven’t quit.” And so I did. It was the only job I simply up and left. It was that bad.
What is your definition of success?
Creating art that has something to say, doesn’t subscribe to any dogma, has a sense of humor, and, hopefully, takes the reader or viewer somewhere they haven’t been. And to do so while being good to the people who love you and work with you.
How do you tap into your creative energies – especially when you are feeling drained?
Sometimes you’ve got to shake yourself out. Going on runs and listening to music really loud helps me – ideas come and unhelpful obsessions fade. Music in general is huge. I can’t play it, so I’m even more amazed at its evocative powers. Also getting out of your routine and having fun. A little excess once in a while is good – as Somerset Maugham said, “It tonifies the system and rests the nerves.” He also said that the cure for writer’s block is writing, which I buy. Kafka supposedly had a sign tacked up over his desk that read, “Wait.” As you get older, you learn to accept that creativity involves a ton of watchful patience and endless tinkering.
What does “to be” mean to you?
It’s paradoxical to me. We’re always growing and changing, yet remain ourselves. I think it means something like fate or predestiny.
How do you spend your time when you are procrastinating?
Being an Internet victim (shopping, Facebooking, YouTubing, article reading), making elaborate lunches for myself, cleaning my apartment, filling out this questionnaire.
Ideal READING LIST – books, websites, blogs, podcasts, magazines, etc. that you would want on your Swiss Family Robinson deserted island?
- Great memoirs.
- Some big history works that I’ll never have a chance to plow through on the mainland. Suetonius. Gibbon.
- Maybe P.G. Wodehouse to keep my sanity?
- And perhaps my favorite 2 books of all time: Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson and This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff.
- Also the complete short stories of Chekhov and W. Somersett Maugham. Shit, I’ll take their plays too.
- American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis, to remind me to be thankful I’m not in New York;
- and the maxims of François de La Rouchefoucauld, to remind me of my frailty.
- Finally, in a similar vein, but also for nostalgia, Stuff White People Like by Christian Lander.
Favorite song with “be” in the title?
Be Thankful for What You Got by William DeVaughn
LINKS & RESOURCES…
- Donnie Holland Kickstarter
- Screen Actors Guild (SAG)
- Coen Brothers
- The Departed
- Gone Baby Gone
- Mystic River
- Kyle Mooney
- Inside SoCal
- Broad City
- High Maintenance
- Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB)
- Louie episode with Joan Rivers (S2,Ep4)
- Mitch MaGee
- Joseph Campbell
Images via Evan Skladany