Posts Tagged ‘Tom Schnauz’

“At the core of Breaking Bad is family. It is what impels the show’s lead character, the cancer-stricken Walter White, to parlay his knowledge of chemistry into meth production. He wants to ensure the well-being of his wife and children after his death. No sin too great, no hell too deep. This faithfulness to family is the lifeblood of Albuquerque. Everything that lives in the desert has had to fight to stay alive, and survival requires banding together.”
Madeleine Carey
Albuquerque Really Is Like Breaking Bad

“I don’t know where the idea [for Breaking Bad] came from specifically, but I remember the moment it hit me. I was talking to my buddy Tom Schnauz, a guy I went to NYU film school with—who is now a producer on Breaking Bad and written some our best episodes—we’d both been on The X-Files together which ended about three years prior to this conversation. We were kind of bemoaning our situation of being working writers who at that moment were not working. And I said maybe we should get into another line of work while the gettin’s good, and I think I’d be a good greeter at Walmart. I think I’d be good at that—say hi to people, you know, wave. Talked about working at H&R Block and then he said, ‘What if we just pool our resources and buy an RV and put a meth lab in the back?’ And I laughed—obviously he was not serious. But the idea—as we were talking on the phone just BOOM! into my head was the inspiration. I don’t know what it was, but suddenly I was intensely intrigued by the idea of a guy who’d do such a thing. Suddenly it struck me that what would be interesting to me as a viewer and a writer, would what if it was essentially me? In other words what if it’s a guy who’s never broken the law, or littered or jaywalked,  suddenly finding himself being a meth cook. Doing something reprehensible and illegal. That idea, just BOOM! is the middle of this phone conversation, kinda hit me full-blown. Which is rare because ideas are usually much slower in coming, they don’t usually come in eureka moments, at least for me.”
Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan
Interview with Jenni Matz on August 9, 2011

Part of the fruit of Gilligan’s idea during a slow time in his writing career is the 2014 edition of Guinness World Records listed Breaking Bad as the Highest-Rated TV Series. 

Now that the show has concluded its five year run it’s worth glancing back and asking if even though Breaking Bad was a gritty look at the meth industry,  did it some way glamorize the drug and even increase usage. According to the article Was Breaking Bad Good for the Meth Business by Brian Braiker the numbers actually indicate that there were far less meth users at the end of the shows run than before it started:

“According to the most recent data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 440,00 people age 12 and older were users of methamphetamine in 2012. That represents just 0.2 percent of the population and a significant drop from 2006, two years before ‘Breaking Bad’ premiered, when the number of users was 731,000. ‘The numbers go up and down and up and down over the years, but generally speaking, it’s never reached the 2006 levels,’ said SAMHSA spokesman Brad Stone.”

P.S. It’s a good thing Gilligan created Breaking Bad, because that Walmart greeter position he was thinking about became a casualty in 2012 when they first eliminated the 10 p.m. to 7 a.m third shift greeters and I’m not sure they have any greeters now. Or if they do their role has been diminished. Experts said it had to do with a mix of the down economy and competition from Dollar General stores and Internet shopping. If your options are to work at Walmart or create an Emmy-winning TV, go with the latter.

But if you do work at Walmart (or H&R Block) I’m sure there is plenty of inspiration surrounding you for at least enough material for one screenplay. Maybe you saw the photos that went viral this year that were supposedly signs from Walmart management to an employee named Shane.


Related post:
Where Do Ideas Come From?
Don’t Quit Your Day Job (2.0).

Scott W. Smith

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: