A Jericho4Kids Interview with Matt Federman

Matt is a writer for Jericho.  It was awesome to meet him at Jerichon and even kcooler to get the chance to do this interview.  Thanks to Matt for being the kcoolest writer and person!

~ Shelby ~

First, I am wondering what you wanted to be when you were a
 kid?  Did you always want to be a writer?

As soon as I knew I wanted to be anything, I knew I wanted to be a
writer.  That happened in High School.  Before that I was fairly
terrified because I didn't seem to be good at anything and also knew
a 9-5 type job would never work for me.  So homelessness was looking
like a real option.

Are you from LA, CA or did you grow up somewhere else?

I grew up in Philadelphia.  I've been out here for 7 years.

Can you tell me a little bit about what you have to do when
 you write
 something (like the steps you go through from start to
 finish)?  Does
 someone ask you for an idea or does someone tell you they
 need a story about
 something specific?

It all depends on what I am writing.  On staff we (my writing partner
Stephen Scaia and I) will generally pitch an episode idea to the room/
showrunner and if it is accepted we go write an outline which we then
get notes on.  After the outline phase we go to script, more notes
and a few drafts later the episode is shot.  If we are not on staff
and have no specific world to be working in, Steve and I are always
reading stuff, discussing new ideas.  If something gets us excited we
might just write it, or we might pitch it to an entity such as a
studio in hopes of getting paid to write it.  The thing that never
changes, from TV to features, etc. is throughout the entire process
of notes and writing and rewriting, you need to remember what it was
about this story that first got you excited enough to want to write
it, which can sometimes get lost.  It's helpful to have a writing
partner because one or the other of us can get bored and we realize
we are off track and need to clear away the clutter and get back to
the basics of what once worked.

Do you have to go to college to do your job?

No.  All you need to write is good ideas, discipline, drive, openness
to criticism and and be willing to develop your craft.  But writing
is generally not something people do professionally before their 20s
at the earliest, as life experience is necessary to do it well,
usually.  So college gives you a few extra years to ripen without
fear of paying rent, etc.

Whats your favorite part about you job?

Hard to pick one thing.  Going to work every day with some of the
smartest, funniest people I've ever known and hanging with them in a
room is a great start.  But I guess the one thing that is present in
all writing is the requirement of learning about other people in
order to convey them accurately.  I love doing research and getting
to vicariously live multiple lives simultaneously through what I read
and who I meet and then getting to tell those stories.

What was your first official writing job?

Our first staff job was on Judging Amy in it's 6th and final season.
Jericho was the first time that we didn't kill a show, though we did
our best.  But you people had to come along.  :-)

You work with a writing partner, can you tell me a little
about that and
what it is like? Is it easier to have two people writing or
just one?

Well, I've touched on this a bit.  I don't know that having a writing
partner works for everyone.  I actually never expected to have one
but the benefits became clear very quickly.  If you find the right
person you augment and broaden each other's vision and make it likely
that it will appeal to more people.  The bar is certainly raised when
both of us need to get excited about an idea.  Having a writing
partner is kind of like being married; we are literally tied together
financially, as well as emotionally and artistically.  That can be a
lot of pressure.  Therefore we need to make it work and need to think
of ourselves as a unit in the long term, which I think can be healthy
for a writer as we tend to be individualistic by nature, sometimes to
a fault.  So there are all of the annoyances of having another person
to answer to, but we are better for it.

How did you get your job working on Jericho?

We had worked with Carol Barbee on Judging Amy.  She said if she ever
got a show where stuff blew up she'd call us.  And she kept her word.

Have you been in any of the Jericho episodes?

No, I am allergic to being photographed. There are rumors of
Vampirism in my family.

Steve did play a decent sized role in our first Judging Amy episode,
as an actor got sick at lunch and couldn't perform the doctor role.
If I had been the one on set that day, a lucky extra would have
gotten the job.  Or the show would have shut down for the day.  So
Steve either saved the show a lot of money or cost an extra a big
break, depending on how you look at it.

Which episodes did you write or help write for Jericho?
What is the
favorite thing that you wrote for Jericho?

Steve and I wrote Rogue River, Semper Fidelis, Condor and Sedition.
It's always hard to pick favorites but I think from script to screen,
Semper Fidelis may have been my favorite of the group, probably
because it was a more difficult story to wrangle and came together
when all was said and done.

What character on Jericho is your favorite and why?

Hawkins.  He was my favorite to write for since the key was how much
of his psychology and intent was unspoken.  Instead he spoke volumes
with action, and Lennie did a great job of saying a lot with a look.
Also, not many characters can go from kissing, to an armed stand off,
to fighting an ex lover to the death, to tears at the dissolution of
his family all in one episode the way Hawkins does in Semper Fidelis.

Are you a Emily/Jake fan or a Heather/Jake fan?

I respectfully take the fifth on this.

What did you think when you found out that the fans have a
convention in Oakley?  What was it like to come to Oakley
and meet the

My first thought was "That's awesome!" then "Where's Oakley?" then
"Oh, it's right where Jericho is!" to "Oh, that's far..."  well, it
kept going in that way for awhile, I won't bore you with specifics.
But I obviously got over the distance issue and made it.  Jerichon
was a great experience all around, the people, the place, the 5
legged steer at Prairie Dog Town.  What more could a guy want? A 6
legged one?  They have that too!  I have pictures!  So it was a great
time -- despite the extreme weather in the area.

Have you ever been to such a small town before?  Does going
there give you
kcool ideas for your writing?

I went on many driving vacations with the family across a lot of the
country as a kid, so I've been in many small towns, but hadn't been
in one as small as Oakley for awhile.

You're never quite sure where an idea will pop up in your writing.
Could be the next script, could be in ten years.  That's part of the
fun of seeing as much different stuff as you can, you never know what
might prove useful.  But if you ever see a story called The
Adventures of Shelby and Her Six-Legged Steer you'll have an idea
where it came from.

Jericho has changed history for television by making
networks take a
looooooong look at a show before canceling it, how has
the Jericho
experience changed you? I know it changed me, because I
learned that every
single person can make a difference and not  just for TV
but for the troops
and for people who need help.  I think my entire family has
learned a lot
from Jericho and made some really kcool new friends!!

Jericho changed us in many ways, from making friends on the show that
we'll work with the rest of our career, to the experiences we gained
producing, to the sense of what is possible when a dedicated group of
people are passionate about something.  I first learned that from the
crew who always went above and beyond to make the show everything it
could be despite the budget constraints.  And then the fans took that
idea to a new level.

If you could say something to the fans what would it be?

Thank you for everything.

Are you working on any new shows? 

Steve and I have some other logs in the fire, if anything becomes
official you'll hear about it as soon as possible.

Just wanted to let you know that I think the writers of
Jericho are AWESOME
and I appreciate you taking time to answer these questions.

Well, we think you're awesome too, and thanks for all the time you
guys put into giving us jobs last year.