What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Dan Hartley and I’m from Santa Monica, California.
What are you working on at SPACE?
I’m working on a couple of things. An outline for a movie and a play that I have wanted to finish for eighteen months but have refused to dust off. I’m using SPACE as an excuse to finally finish it. I found it easier up here because at home you can betray your goals because you have things to distract you from them. But when you’re going to a destination for the specific purpose of writing—It’s a self-discipline thing and here you get the opportunity to face your resistance in a distraction free—you don’t get to use all of your tricks. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to rely on my out of control Diet Coke addiction to avoid finishing it.
How have you spent your time at SPACE?
I actually have been incredibly productive. What I thought would be a two-day restructuring of an outline I’m working on has ended up being a week-long endeavor. I grossly underestimated the time it would take to re-outline and was afforded the opportunity to think critically about what the bones of the piece actually are. There was a ton of rewriting. Almost to an unrecognizable point. So. I pretty much spent the week doing the thing that I thought I’d be doing in two days.
What is your process like?
There is only so much I can conceptualize on a computer when it comes to a story. A story is as interesting as all of its parts. Simple stories can be good too but this particular story is not a simple one. When I put it on paper, I print out what I’ve written and spread it out so I can visualize the whole thing. The way I access the story’s logic is by picturing the outline as a timeline. I can see spatially what the story looks like. I spend way more time on the outline than the script itself. I have what needs to be accomplished in every scene at the top of the page, and that helps it stay necessary and focused. I used to write these scripts with scenes where nothing happens and that’s like quicksand.
What’s coming up next for you?
My musical is going up in the spring, called The Harmonious Pimps of Harmony. It’s about – it’s very silly – it’s about a fictitious hip hop group that breaks up. They’re like the biggest group that has ever existed ever and they sing ridiculous rap songs that the world loves. It’s very exciting and has a happy ending.
If you were to be reincarnated as a farm animal what would it be and why?
That is the greatest question of all time. There are so many reasons I don’t want to be a farm animal. Every animal I think of I’m like, “nope, don’t want to do that.” … I’d like to be a goose. They can fly—you know, land, air and sea, no limitations. You’re always where it’s warm. And you have a crazy long neck. How can you beat that? Ultimate head mobility. They can strut their shit. Definitely goose.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
In my circle of friends who are playwrights, actors, and directors I’m the last dude to get to SPACE. So, I have seen hundreds of Facebook pictures, videos, heard stories. I walked in and though I hadn’t been here before I knew where everything was. It was like Ocean’s 11. Now I feel like I can finally fit in with my friends.
Interviewed by Marisa Brau