A lot of people want to be writers, but many of them don't have the courage to actually put themselves out there and see what happens. That's what Adam Gaines did. Wanting to show Hollywood what he can do, Adam self-published a collection of one-act plays called Mixtape, and put the ball in everyone else's court. BFTV snagged some time with Adam recently to chat about the e-book and what it's like to be a writer on the brink of a breakout.
His beginning isn't that different from that of countless other hopefuls. "I went to NYU six years ago, graduated, moved out five weeks after graduation. A guy from the Honda dealership actually picked me up and took me to sign for [my] car because I really knew nobody," Adam explained. He eventually landed as an assistant at J.J. Abrams' production company, Bad Robot, and spent two years there before becoming a writers' assistant on the Abrams-produced TV shows Fringe and Undercovers.
For those of you who don't know what a writers' assistant does, "I'm not a writer on any of these shows," Adam continued, "but as a writer's assistant, I'm in the office, in the writers' room, taking notes as they break story." He's currently a writers' assistant on the new FX drama The Bridge.
But he doesn't want to be someone else's assistant forever, and unlike many would-be writers, he decided to do something about that. "This was my trying to make some noise," he said of the decision to publish Mixtape. "I try to write a one-act play in between writing a pilot, as a writing exercise, as practice. For the most part, they were just kind of sitting there. That was the impetus to sort of put them to good use."
The content is based on Adam's own personal experiences and writings, so why go the play route rather than something more direct, like a personal essay? That's because it allows him to play to his strength. "I did it like this because I'm a screenwriter, I'm a TV writer, and I feel dialogue is what I'm best at," he said. "One-act plays are basically dialogue."
Many writers are highly self-critical, so we asked him if he can read the collection without nitpicking. "No," he admitted with a laugh, then added, "but I wouldn't have taken this big a step, went to the trouble of hiring a publicist, self-publishing an e-book, if I didn't have confidence about the project."
Since arriving on the West Coast, Adam has had a few career highlights, including attending the premiere of Star Trek and getting to write two issues of the Fringe comic book. "After the first issue we got to go to [San Diego] Comic-Con and sign it and stuff," he said, calling the experience "pretending like I was at the next level even though I'm not. It was a really cool glimpse of the future."
Yet while he appreciates those moments, there's still so much more he wants to achieve. "I've never gotten paid for my writing," he told us, adding that in the long term he'd also like to produce and have his own production company. He's hoping that Mixtape will leave people saying he's a "fresh new voice and I can't wait to read more."
And he's not counting solely on the book to make that happen, either. "I'm on hiatus now from The Bridge and I'm writing and directing an indie movie [called] Prepaid. We're hopefully going to shoot in October in New York City," he said. "I'm not going to let anything stop me. I'm not going to look back anymore." With his combination of talent and ambition, he shouldn't have to.