Amy Brenneman
Amy Brenneman

May 7, 2015

Recent Report: Part 1!

The Leftovers
Prepare yoursleves, the mystery unfolds.

It’s been a while since I wrote anything coherent, eh? I had such plans for regular writing in 2015, but here the “first quarter” (what am I, a financial analyst?) has come and gone. I wash up on the shores of May sputtering and stunned.


In my business, I never know when I’m going to work. Like any free-lance path, where half the time my work is stoking the fire, when the job comes, it comes suddenly and suddenly it demands every morsel of my psychic energy. That’s what happened mid-January when “Heart Matters” (now “Heartbreaker”) was picked up for production.


The same week my parents came to California for an extended stay.


As all of you know, when these new responsibilities and challenges arise, it’s not like any other responsibilities and challenges are taken away. Just — there’s suddenly more. February and March were an endurance test for me. Waking up at 5:30, getting the kiddos off to school (with all the expected drama therein), spending days on the phone or meeting with the brilliant Jill Gordon – writer of Heartbreaker extraordinaire and my partner in crime. Being a cabbie for my kids in the afternoon, making sure my folks were fed for dinner, then climbing back unto the computer until the wee hours at night.


I’m not telling all you working parents anything you don’t already know.


The thing about producing a pilot is this: at any time, the whole thing can disappear. There is no system yet, no film produced, no track record. There is an idea in my head – fortunately shared by Jill – and if I didn’t keep that idea crystal clear so that I could convinced a whole lot of other folks it was a winning proposition – well, it would’ve simply disappeared. I think of developing projects like gestating children. The first whiff of an idea is so tender – like the first few cells of a fetus. Sometimes that’s as far as it goes and that’s okay. But sometimes if enough people believe in the idea, then the idea gets stronger and stronger and then there’s a heartbeat, and then it has flesh on its bones and then actors are cast and then we are sitting around a table in Vancouver reading a script.


Then the real fun begins as the characters become flesh and bone and alchemically words on a page become speech in the mouth. And then we sit for two weeks in an editorial room – knitting and weaving the bits of film until it makes sense. And I fall in love with each actor, each character. And then we put music under it and then we spend a whole lot more time in post-production doing seemingly tedious things but those are the things that make this baby healthy, strong and unique. Like taking folic acid.


We passed in the pilot yesterday and now await our orders.


This was the first time I produced something I didn’t act in. I loved it. I produced side by side with my husband and I loved that too. We parent humans; we parent projects. The duty is similar: to provide a safe place to play, to guide when needed, to stay out of the way when not. We encouraged and planned and problem-solved. We were a sounding board and sometimes disciplined a bit. Just a bit. Because believe me, the Heartbreaker cast and crew are a whole lot easier to handle than our rowdy children.


As of this writing, the signs look good for Heartbreaker to be on NBC’s fall schedule – but if it doesn’t make it, I never said that. Whatever happens, it’s been an honor to be along for this ride.


Also as of this writing, I am diving back into the luscious waters of “The Leftovers” season 2. Diving back into actor-head, with no producer responsibilities. Thanks to Damon Lindelof, I get to indulge myself in Laurie Garvey – her tragedy, her strength, and her gorgeous badassar-y. I am a lucky girl indeed.


My take-away from the last three months? We never know what’s going to come our way – what people, jobs, challenges and gifts may be plopped without warning into our laps. That is the terror and the joy of being human, eh? Wowsie. It makes for a roller-coaster ride even my thrill-seeking son would love.