Category: Spotlight On

Todd interviewed by Bec Stafford.


1. Todd, you’re running a 2-day writing master class at the Gold Coast Film Festival. Who were your writing role models, and what would be the #1 tip you’d give an aspiring screenwriter?

Role model was without hesitation Stephen King.  Granted my influence was with his prose but also, writer’s write.  King’s ability to take everyday people and drop them into extraordinary circumstances had set him apart from all other horror writers and most  genre writers.  Plus he writes 362 days of the year.  Writer’s write.  That is the number one tip.  Stop planning.  Stop dreaming.  Write!  It’s easy to say I want to be a writer.  It’s easy to say I’m going to be a writer.  Get thee behind me, speech-maker!  Write!

2. Your first film, Jason X, was the 10th instalment in the Friday the 13th series. Were you a fan of the franchise before you got on-board? What are your favourite elements of the Friday the 13th story?

I was a fan of all horror.  I always leaned toward Halloween because I found that film was more believable and to be more disturbing.  BUT the Friday franchise had offensively in your face gore as well as fun.  Any movie that opens with Jason inside the James Bond opening wins my eternal love.  The F13 franchise could be both scary and fun.  And that has stuck with me through all my writing.

3. What is the greatest challenge about writing horror scripts and what is your favourite aspect of writing in the horror genre? Were you always a horror fan?

If you love and if you find beauty in the world then writing horror should be easy.  You simply write about what you fear losing.  As for a special challenge with horror, I think it’s the same challenge with any writing.  Your characters should be real.  They should follow their wants and desires rather than the wants and desires of the writer.  Ever watched a movie where the character does something completely out of character or simply dumb?  That act, 9 times out of 10 was to serve some needed purpose of the writer.  Not a fan of that.  And yes, I’m aware that some of the fun in horror is yelling at the screen telling the character, “Do not go out there!”  Then again, you don’t do that with JAWS or ALIEN or SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and those are horror in my book.  That said, every script could use a moron or two.  :)

4. How do you think horror audiences have evolved over time? Is it harder to shock contemporary horror fans?

I think all story is old or rehashed.  When I started it was just the main three: Michael, Jason and Freddy.  Then came SCREAM which did what I’d been told was forbidden and that was to make your characters self-aware.  100 million dollars later that rule had been tossed out the window.  A self-aware horror screenplay become commonplace.  Then came Japanese Horror with THE RING.  But even that wasn’t new.  It was an import.  That ran its course then it was torture porn.  That was pretty shocking but ran its course.  And that’s horror.  It’s cyclical.  Like life.  Fads come and go then return.  I’m still awaiting the return of bell bottoms.  Is it hard to shock?  No.  But the horror audience is smart.  Way smarter than the suits give them credit.  That’s what I like about them.

5. Which horror movies do you think have best stood the test of time and why?

Great Grandpa, Grandpa and Pa.  Great Grandpa is the classics.  Dracula, Wolfman, Mummy.  Grandpa is Exorcist, Oman and Rosemary’s Baby.  Dad is Michael, Jason and Freddy.  I really believe that most horror has those shoulders to thank.  In fact, you could easily make the argument that Freddy, Jason and Michael were simply the 80s versions of Drac, Wolfie and Mums.

6. What makes you jump, when you’re watching a horror film? As someone who understands the format so well, are you hard to scare?

I’m the easiest to scare!  I’m the BEST audience member because I go there!  I get in the mind of the characters.  My imagination tends to fill in the gaps.  I jump, cringe and cry out!  I think if nothing scares you then you likely should get out of the horror biz.

 7.  What are you working on at the moment?

I’m spread out within genres and mediums.  Just had a comic book come out.  Working on a couple of children’s books.  Pitching a TV shows based on a pilot I wrote with Patrick Lussier.  Working on a couple remakes, couple specs and the list goes on.  Hollywood can be frustrating because you have to throw a ton of mud at the wall to find something that sticks.  But writers write and as long as you embrace that then all is well.  :)

Todd is teaching a Masterclass at the Sofitel at Broadbeach, Gold Coast on Monday April 22 and Tuesday 23 2013 and is limited to 40 participants only.  During the two day session, there will be an allocated period where Farmer will hear all aspiring writers’ individual pitches and provide feedback to participants, which is invaluable to both aspiring and current writing practitioners.   

The master class fee is $444.38 (which includes GST and a $9.88 booking fee) guaranteeing that those people attending will be serious about learning the craft.

For more information please visit the festival website –

First of all, thanks so much for your time Martin.

When did you get the idea of writing House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Then Tell You the Time?

It was about my second year on the job, almost ten years ago now. I had been a TV writer before going to business school, so I was very much an outsider in the corporate world, and it just seemed to me that everybody talked in a kind of strange jargon. Like they said “pushback” instead of “response” and “leverage” instead of “use” and “deliverable” instead of “report.” The book started as a dictionary of consulting terms and grew from there.

How much involvement did you have with the adaptation of House of Lies to the small screen?

My role from the beginning has been to be the guy who paints the picture of the industry. I’m a consultant, ironically enough. Early on, I talked to the show’s creator, Matt Carnahan, and I went in and talked to the writers. I told them all the stories I could think of from my years as a consultant – and a lot of them turned up, in one form or another, in the show. But I don’t do any of the actual writing.

Are you satisfied with how your book has been portrayed?

Of course. I am literally the only person in America who has written a memoir that has been adapted into a prime-time comedy. It would be crazy for me to be ungrateful with those odds. I’m actually relieved the show isn’t more like my real life. If it were, nobody would watch it. Not even my mother.

How did you react when Don Cheadle won the Golden Globe for his role in the series? Did you get any involvement in the casting of the actors for the show?

Nobody asked me about casting. To tell you the truth, I’m not that up on pop culture. I’m a bookish kind of guy. My television is in the basement and it’s cold down there. I wasn’t even watching the Golden Globes when Cheadle won. My guess is any success the show is having – including getting renewed for season three – has a lot more to do with his talent than mine. He’s the man I wish I was. Seriously.

Who is your favourite character in the show and why?

I have a fondness for Jeannie (played by Kristen Bell). Not just because I’m in love with her. Who isn’t? No – it’s because she seems like the only sane person in an absurd world. She’s living in a parallel universe. I told Kristen that of all the characters in the show, she’s the most like an actual management consultant.

What book would you like to see adapted to a feature film or TV show?

My book Bad Dog. I need the money.

Would you consider working full time as an author, or do you like to keep your hand in digital marketing?

If my boss is reading this, for the record I love my career in digital marketing and analytics. If he isn’t, let me turn the question back on you: What do you think? Of course I’d like to be a full-time writer. I can’t afford it yet.

Can you tell the story behind the inspiration for Bad Dog: A Love Story?

It’s more serious than my previous two memoirs. It’s the story of an alcoholic who hits bottom and has a dog who is out of control. His wife leaves him with this maniac dog, and he decides to step-by-step reform himself and his dog and get the girl back. The man is me, and the dog is my beloved Bernese mountain dog, Hola. It has a happy ending.

What is the most common question fans ask you?

Why I’m not rich. The answer is pretty simple: Book writers don’t get paid as much as you obviously think they do. Even if House of Lies runs for years, I’ll never retire off it. But the question says more about other peoples’ fantasies than it does about me. I feel lucky.

Do you have any advice for young Australian writers?

Quit. Right now. And if you’re the kind of person who won’t take that advice, then maybe you have what it takes. It’s a very long – a lifelong – project. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. You won’t know how it turns out until it’s over, like any good story.

Thanks for your time and we wish you a great 2013!

House Of Lies – Season 1 on DVD March 6.

Interview courtesy of our Creative Content Partner The Spotlight Report


Thanks to SBR and The Spotlight Report, here is an interview with actor Lucy Durack, who played the lead role in the highly successful Legally Blonde The Musical across Australia and is soon to be seen on the big screen alongside Laura Michelle Kelly, Ronan Keating and Magda Szubanski in Goddess.

LUCY DURACK: Hi there!

SPOTLIGHT REPORT: Hi, Lucy. How are you?

LUCY DURACK: I’m good. How are you?

SPOTLIGHT REPORT: Hi, thanks a lot for your time today.

LUCY DURACK: No worries at all.

SPOTLIGHT REPORT: So, let’s get to business. You display a lot of artistic talents. Do you have a particular passion for one of them? Do you prefer singing, rather than acting, or vice versa?

Rob Mills as Warner and Lucy Durack as Elle in LEGALLY BLONDELUCY DURACK: Um, no. I really like singing and acting together. And that’s why I guess I love doing musical theatre so much. Recently, I did a little cameo in a film coming out next year called Goddess. And that was just acting, and I absolutely loved doing that. And then, of course, I’ve already recorded my album, which is pretty much just singing, so I do love them on their own, but I also love doing them together. I’m very lucky that I get to do all three different variations.

SPOTLIGHT REPORT: Perfect. What is the culture like for emerging performers in Perth? Looking back, what was the factor that most helped you get where you are now?

LUCY DURACK: I think that I was very lucky that when I went through school, we always had lots of choirs and things like that. And I loved doing drama at school and then I got involved in the school musicals. I think that was a very big factor – getting involved in school and realising I had such passion for it. And I was lucky enough to have a really fantastic drama teacher. And he told me about WAAPA, which is where I studied (the WA Academy of Performing Arts). And that was such a fantastic course. It was a 4 year full-time, 3 year course.

I guess the combination of my school musicals, my high school drama teacher, and then of course WAAPA… That’s really helped me. And I guess, just having a positive attitude and persisting, and working as hard as I can… I guess that’s kind of how I’ve gotten where I am.

SPOTLIGHT REPORT: Beautiful. For people who haven’t seen the show yet, what can they expect of the Legally Blonde musical?

The cast of LEGALLY BLONDE (c) Jeff BusbyLUCY DURACK: Oh, well I think the show is literally the most fun show I’ve ever seen, and I thought that before I was in it. I was lucky enough to actually see it in New York and in London, and I thought that it was *so* much fun. So, I think that if you want to be uplifted and have a real moment of escape, and just go somewhere to feel really good, Legally Blonde is definitely for you.

SPOTLIGHT REPORT: Personally, are you a fan of Reece Witherspoon’s?

LUCY DURACK: I really am. I love Reece Witherspoon.

SPOTLIGHT REPORT: And do you know if she’s aware of the show and your performance?

LUCY DURACK: I don’t think she’s aware of my performance, but I imagine she’s definitely aware that there’s a musical version of the film. But I’m a big fan; I grew up watching her in this particular film and in a lot of other films. I’ve always been a huge fan of hers.

SPOTLIGHT REPORT: Perfect. And, speaking about your co-star: what’s your relationship with Rob Mills? How much work did you guys have to do to put the whole show together?

LUCY DURACK: Well, he and I are actually great friends. We were actually at the cricket today together. We’re really good friends and this is the third show we’ve worked on together. So, it makes it a lot easier, I think, to have an existing relationship… And an existing rapport with somebody you’ve already worked with before. It’s a lot more kind of relaxing and comfortable and easy. So yeah, we have a really fun time together.

SPOTLIGHT REPORT: Perfect. Also, we’ve noticed that you have a very strong commitment to performing in Australian works. So, how does it eventually work for you? Do you find the work, or does the work find you?

legally-blonde-review-bannerLUCY DURACK: Um, the work finds me more than anything. I was lucky… The people that I worked with at WAAPA are largely how I’ve gotten involved in working on Australian works, because they’ve created a lot of this work that I’ve worked on. And it’s kind of been an easy kind of relationship, I guess. And one of my best friends, who was 2 years above me at WAAPA: Matthew Robinson…  He’s a great writer and I’ve worked a lot with him. He always sees if I’m free to come on board and either workshop it or perform it or… We’ve done little concert versions of his music. And I’m a great fan of his, so I’m always very keen to help out wherever I can.

SPOTLIGHT REPORT: Perfect. As an actor, do you have any personal idols, or anyone you’d love to work with?

LUCY DURACK: Ah yeah, there are lots of people I’d love to work with. As an actress, I love comedic actresses and actors. I’m a massive fan of Steve Carell and Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. I think that they’re just geniuses. And then, of course I love Meryl Streep and Cate Blanchett and Jackie Weaver and Pamela Rabe. They’re some amazing Australian actors who I really look up to as well. So um, yeah, I’d love to work with any of those people.

SPOTLIGHT REPORT: And have you ever had the chance to meet any of them?

LUCY DURACK: I have met Pamela Rabe and Jackie Weaver, but I haven’t worked with either of them. Um, and the rest of them… No, I haven’t worked with any of the rest of them.

GODDESS-movie-posterSPOTLIGHT REPORT: Beautiful. Also, what can you tell us about your upcoming film, Goddess, and working with Ronan Keating and Magda?

LUCY DURACK: That was so much fun. Um, I have a small part but it’s a significant role. If you see the film, I’m not in it for until at least an hour into it; but then it is a fairly significant little part, and I had the best time. I was actually doing Wicked the musical in Adelaide at the time, and flying back and forth to film my little part. And I had the absolute best time. I loved doing it. And it’s a really lovely film. I got to see a family and friends screening of it not that long ago, and I think it’s a really lovely film that hopefully people will enjoy.

SPOTLIGHT REPORT: So, after that, will you be looking for another film, or more plays?

LUCY DURACK: I’d love to do both, definitely. I’d love to do more films and a bit more theatre would be lovely.

SPOTLIGHT REPORT: Beautiful. What’s your favourite part of the Legally Blonde musical?

LUCY DURACK: Um, it depends on the day. Sometimes I really love doing the number What You Want, where I get to be out in that sparkly marching band outfit, dancing with everyone. That’s a lot of fun. And then, I also love singing the number So Much Better, which finishes Act 1. That’s a really fulfilling song as a singer-actress. It’s lovely. And then I really enjoy doing the big finale at the end with everybody. That’s great fun.

SPOTLIGHT REPORT: Okay. Just to wrap up, we always ask these 2 questions of our interviewees: I wonder if you’ve ever had any crazy fan requests after a show, or whether you have any funny stories to share with us?

LUCY DURACK: Um, we do get asked fairly frequently to sign body parts, which I always find a bit disconcerting. Usually it’s just arms and hands, but there have been other random requests, which I always think are a bit strange… But most of the people who are at the stage door to meet us afterwards are very nice and calm and very normal. And it’s nice to chat to them, and they’ve usually enjoyed the show, and it’s very nice to hear that.

SPOTLIGHT REPORT: Perfect. And just to finish, do you have any advice for young Australian actors and actresses who want to start out in this business?

LUCY DURACK: I think just keep doing as many courses and learning as much as you can. There’s always more to learn. I continue to do lots of different acting and singing and dance classes myself. And I think… just to keep at it, keep positive, remember there’s always going to be enough for everyone if you just keep putting out the right energy. And yeah, just stay positive. Positivity and persistence are key.

SPOTLIGHT REPORT: Okay, beautiful. Thanks a lot for your time and this interview and congratulations on the show.

LUCY DURACK: Thank you. Bye

For tickets and more information about the show visit

GODDESS will be released in Australian cinemas on March 14.

*Legally Blonde The Musical Images (c) Jeff Busby


davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 





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