We asked all of our writers some questions about their writing and their work on Wormwood. We’ve talked to the writing staff, and now we turn our attention to the series creators, David Accampo and Jeremy Rogers. First up, David Accampo shares some insight into how the show came into being.
Questions created by Rob Allspaw.
Q: How did Wormwood come about?
A: A few years ago, I was at a panel at a comic book convention where Mike Mignola was talking about the creation of his character, Hellboy. He said that he basically put everything that he liked into one character. Wormwood’s a bit like that. A mish-mash of all the things I’ve loved over the years. In fact, if you were to open up my personal writing files, you’d find elements of Wormwood going back maybe 12 years or more. I wrote a short story about the town I grew up in many years ago, and I put one supernatural element in the town. That element is now in Wormwood. Later, I worked with Christa Nahhas (Executive Producer on Bad Habits) on a series idea that became largely about a very strange town called Border. I’ve also dabbled over the years in various media with a detective character named Lilith Darke. Her home town was called Quarry, which is strikingly similar to Wormwood. In some regards, Wormwood feels like a story I’ve been trying to write for a long time.
>From a production standpoint, I was tired of sitting on movie sets for 3 hours, waiting for someone to light a scene that would amount to 15 seconds of film. The idea of audio recording sessions seem so much more…productive, just in terms of getting a story out there. It seems to be more directly about the performers and the writing.
And…I’ve turned into a podcast freak over the past few years, so the concept of a show you could listen to while at the beach or the gym or in your car really appeals to me.
Q: What was the process and what is the hope behind it?
A: Once I pitched him the concept of a podcast, Jeremy Rogers and I fleshed out the series bible, sending it back and forth, adding little bits as we went. We also started the script in the same way. We tend to write back and forth. Once we realized what we had, we decided to actively seek other writers. Our first was Jeremiah Allan, who jumped on board and immediately started spitballing ideas with us. In fact, the sample script he turned in as sort of an “audition” piece built on one of our initial ideas, and we liked it so much that it’s become one of the cornerstones of the series (with huge ramifications in Season Two).
The hope is to create entertainment on a low budget but with HUGE imagination. I’d love to have this be a must-listen-to download every week. Nothing would make me happier. And what’s more, I’m just in love with this world we created. I see so much potential for other media. I think it could also translate really well into an animated show or even a live-action TV show.
Q:Which character do you associate with most?
A: I think I associate with most of them on some level. Jimmy Details has a lot of my childhood and a lot of my joy of life in him. Crowe is all my angry sarcasm at small towns. Sheriff Bradley is the small town guy in me. And Brent and Jacob…shades of me as an adult and a teenager, respectively.
Q: Are there any characters you are struggling to understand?
A: I can’t say too much without spoiling anything. Let’s just say there are a couple of characters whose roles grow into something more…and understanding that progression may be a struggle. Also: Sparrow…we know her role in the story, but I still sense there’s something more we need to crack open on her.
Q:What aspects of the project and/or Wormwood do you find the most compelling?
A: I think it’s got to be the spark that comes from collaborating with so many writers. I really just feed off of that energy. And really, it goes back to my other answer, too. This series was intentionally built for me to throw in every cool thing I could think of. There are countless stories I can tell with this world.
Q: Within the project of Wormwood, what do you find the most challenging?
A: Sustaining the mystery. It’s silly writing this before an episode has dropped, but we know the bigger picture, and we know where it’s all going. So making sure we have a clear direction without giving too much away is a real balancing act.
Q: Within the project of Wormwood, what do you find the most rewarding?
A: I think I have to wait to see how people react first. But right now, it’s the act of world-building. I’ve just got so much to say about these characters and this town.
Q: What do you think about the added content on the website?
A: I love it. See my above response about world-building. It’s tricky, though. We don’t want to give too much away. That said, there are little bits and pieces in the text on the site that actually reveal elements of the mystery. So, if you read them, you come into the show with a slight different perspective. If you don’t, then no harm done. The show is still complete in and of itself.
Q: With the collaborative process of writing the story, you have six writers now, what do you find to be the most rewarding of this style and what do you find to be the most challenging?
A: From where I sit as one of the show runners, I have a little advantage: the buck stops here. So the rewards are that I get to collaborate with a bunch of writers, spinning ideas back and forth and watching them take shape. The challenge is that Jeremy and I have to make some tough choices about which ideas work and which ones have to fall by the wayside. We have a very specific vision, but we’re not so wrapped up that we can’t see the good ideas when they come. We just have to make sure that all the new ideas enhance the story rather than detracting from it.
Q: Where do you see the project heading?
A: 3 seasons, 24 episodes per season. Beyond that…there’s room for more. Or perhaps we’ll just expand it out into different areas. The concept of the show allows us a lot of lateral room. In addition to that: other media. I’d like to do novels or graphic novel with some of the characters. I’d love to do a movie with them.
Q: Give us a hint, what’s one thing you can reveal?
A: The first dead girl you find isn’t the one Crowe is looking for.
Q: What are some of your influences?
A: Growing up, I loved fantasy, and then horror. As an adult, I fell more into the modern literary trends, but I have an absolute love of genre, and more importantly, stories that blend genres. Wormwood is my love letter to David Lynch’s and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks, but it shares elements of Lost, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Carnivale, and The X-files. Comics are a big influence, like Mignola’s and DC/Vertigo comics like Swamp Thing, Hellblazer and The Sandman, as well as movies like Rosemary’s Baby, Angel Heart, The Exorcist, and The Ninth Gate.
Q:Share a little about you past writing projects and education. Any awards or publications?
A: My first published short story appeared in the SF State literary journal, Transfer. After that I did some advertising copywriting, and produced some material for a digital production studio, including a satirical entertainment comedy show called “The Barbed Wire.” Don’t worry if you didn’t see it; no one did. I also produced the LOAD Media News for them. Again, unless you had downloaded the LOAD video player software in 1999, you didn’t see any of this. Later, Jeremy Rogers and I collaborated on several scripts, two of which achieved finalist status in the Project: Greenlight competition. After that, Jeremy and I decided to direct our own short film, Bad Habits. That won a Remi Award at the 2006 Houston Worldfest Film festival and grabbed a best actor award at the 2007 Sacramento International Film Festival. Our second film, The Long Road, is in competition in the 2007 FAIF Film Festival in Hollywood.
Q: What made you want to write?
A: I honestly don’t know what first sparked it. As early as I can remember, I was writing stories…really bad Tolkien rip-offs in the third and fourth grade. I used to LOVE the segments of English class when we actually got to write our own stories. I think from the moment I could read, I wanted to make stories like the ones I was reading. However, I may not have settled on writing, except I had that one great junior college creative writing teacher, Susan Browne. You know the type – they just inspire you right when that’s exactly what you need. That solidified my path. I’ve always been a writer first and everything-else-second since then.
Q: Is there anything you wanted to add to let the fan base know more about you?
A: There’s a fanbase?
OK, which one of you has been going through my trash at night?
Seriously, those aren’t my dirty magazines.