The Snoot Letter - Try Again
The Snoot Letter
Season 2 · Issue #1 · April 13, 2023
It’s been a long time
I shouldn’t have left you
Without a dope tweet to step to
Let’s just get this out in the open: it has been almost three years since the last issue of the Snoot Letter!
When we last spoke, it was the early months of the pandemic. I was finishing up One Night In Miami for the Fall Festivals™, and looking forward to some down time to reset and spend a few months focusing on development and catching up on the backlog of various corporate and personal tasks that had taken a backseat during the mad rush to make a fully independent movie with the scale and ambition of One Night In Miami.
But the week after I sent that newsletter, I got a call from our Lionsgate exec (the brilliant Scott Herbst) saying that Starz wanted to rush up the start date of the Blindspotting TV show. About six months earlier than we expected! From that moment until the end of last year, my life has been consumed by all things Blindspotting.
The second season of Blindspotting starts airing this Friday on Starz, and I hope you get a chance to check it out. The first season was us learning how to make a TV show, and the second season is us learning how to make a TV show sing and dance and do tricks. On top of the increased ambition this season, Jess and I were also hired as writers on the show, from breaking story through to on-set rewrites, and I’m sorry for burying the big news: Jess also directed two episodes this season!
Blindspotting, as a film and as a TV show, has been the dominant creative project of the last decade of my life, and I couldn’t be happier to make this show with this marvelous group of collaborators. Thanks to the encouragement of Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs, it’s also the project that finally dragged me and Jess from the perpetually nebulous space of “creative producer” to actually screenwriting and (in Jess’s case) directing again for the first time in years.
Back when we last spoke, my primary outlet for creative writing was Twitter. In the 2010s, I was generating multiple bad-books-worth of quips, observations, and nonsense on Twitter. Now here we are, witnesses to the death throes of a platform; the poor blue bird strangled by its biggest frenemy. And I couldn’t be happier about it. I have come to realize that Twitter was a trap for me. It was funneling my creative writing into a useless endeavor, creating value for a corporation that gave me little back. Shaping my creative output into bon mots for a vacuum.
While I am professionally a film/tv producer, I have always considered myself a writer first. It’s part of my identity, and I found my artistic voice on the page. I started in film as a writer, optioning my first script to a director who wisely never made the film. But I went to grad school for motion picture producing, and producing felt more like a career I could jump into immediately. A way to combine my creativity with my understanding of how to make things, manage people, and massage spreadsheets. My voice as a writer ended up shifting online, to blogs and twitter and this occasional newsletter.
Going forward, I’m trying to be more judicious about where I put that creative energy. I will be focusing on screenwriting more alongside my producing, and yes perhaps some directing too.
I’m also bringing this newsletter back for a whole new season: let’s call it Season Two. One issue a week for the next eight weeks. After that, we’ll go on another hiatus until I decide it’s time for Season Three of the Snoot Letter. I hope you’ll stick around for the ride.
This last week, I have been reading “City of Quartz” by Mike Davis, and the book is a must-read for anyone who lives in Los Angeles. I have learned more about the city I call home from the first few chapters of this book than from 20+ years of living in LA. Los Angeles and the film industry exist as a perpetual war between capital and labor; each side trying to construct the fiction that will shape reality into its own form. And if I am choosing who I want to write my fiction, it will always be the writer and not the executive.
Consider that my stance on the upcoming WGA negotiations. And my lens on the press coverage of the process.
Thank you for sticking around. I’m still figuring out what I’ll be talking about the rest of this newsletter season, so please let me know if you have any topics you would like me to address.
— Keith Calder
This Week’s Recommendations
- 📖 As mentioned above: “City of Quartz” by Mike Davis
- 🎶 This morning, I heard “Paris 1919” by John Cale at the local coffee shop. There is such joy to be found in hearing a beautiful old song for the first time. A reminder that you can always discover new gems in our cultural past.
- ☕️ The aforementioned local coffee shop was Omotesando Koffee in London, and their coffee is wonderful.