Tim Minear is a two time Emmy-nominated screenwriter/producer/director known for his amazing contributions to the Horror genre such as AMERICAN HORROR STORY and X-FILES, as well as other shows like FIREFLY, ANGEL and DRIVE. Minear has consistently re-defined horror content in regards to cable television programming. Blumhouse.com had the honor of catching up with him briefly to ask a bit about his work on AHS: ROANOKE.
BLUMHOUSE : In the most recent AHS season, AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ROANOKE, where did the idea originate from to use a documentary-styled 1st person reality television approach when presenting the characters in this season’s roll-out?
TIM MINEAR: This was Ryan Murphy’s brilliant concept to the season. He’d been enamored with true crime I.D Channel-like shows. He thought AHS could fit into the format — but the real brilliance was patiently unspooling that idea then blowing it all up in episode 6 with the Big Brother/found footage change up.
BH: Can you give us insight on what an average day as executive producer of AHS ROANOKE was like and what it entailed whole you were in production for season 6?
TM: It’s a combination of being in the Writers’ Room, breaking stories, writing scenes, meetings with directors or department heads, and hanging out on the set. And lunch. Much revolves around lunch orders.
BH: I know in previous interviews you’ve stated how sometimes the writers for AMERICAN HORROR STORY take inspiration from the actual cast for that season and that not all of the writing is pre-meditated before the cast has been filled. Did you guys take the same approach this year with AHS: ROANOKE & cast members such as Sarah Paulson, Cuba Gooding Jr, Angela Bassett, Lily Rabe, and Kathy Bates?
TM: Very much so. Adina Porter was a revelation to us and her gritty, emotional but unsentimental take on her character contributed a lot to the direction. Also, Cuba is such a fun joker, that we wanted to show some of that, and the second half of the season allowed for that.
BH: What made you and the writers decide to focus on the inner-workings of Hollywood as an executive producer, like the character Sidney and his development of “Return to Roanoke: 3 Days in Hell” in Chapter 6?
TM: All part of the idea of media and social media mash up.
BH: In AHS ROANOKE, the closest bonds when put under pressure broke from deception and lies. There were also plenty of scenarios where characters ran out on in each other to save themselves in the midst of danger. Do you feel that is a direct parallel to how people act at their core in today’s society, especially when presented with tense situations?
TM: I think that was also a part of the exploration of the narcissism of an age of social media. Also, when you’re writing a TV show you need to create tension and drama, so some of it can be attributed to that.
BH: AHS ROANOKE made AHS history in the production of this season by having some of the female cast also become set directors, for example, Angela Bassett. What was it like watching this unfold while writing such an impactful season?
TM: Well, Ryan made a very conscious choice to hire at least 50 per cent female directors — and as much as possible, 50 percent in all other departments. It worked great! We did the same thing on our show FEUD, and I love it.
BH: New additions to the cast were actors like Cuba Gooding Jr and Andre Holland. How did their casting impact the writing for AHS ROANOKE?
TM: As mentioned above, and maybe more so this season than others — because we exploded the concept in episode six and met the “real” people, by the time we go there who these actors were could help inform that transformation.
BH: In the Season Finale, how were the ideas of creating brief sub-plots that intertwined with the main plot such as the “Lana Winters Special” & “Spirit Chasers” created and executed?
TM: Because the show had been a mash up reality shows, it just made sense to make each act its own thing to tell each part of the story.
BH: Are there any real connections between blood moons and omens of death and/or apocalyptic ends?
BH: Can you discuss exploring and focusing on the impact on the media, pop culture, and idea of the celebrity within the charcters of AHS ROANOKE?
TM: Part of the concept this year was “what is reality,” with scenes commenting on other scenes, it just seemed like a cool conceit to have the show itself fold into that meta story.
BH: What was the most difficult challenge faced when creating/writing this season’s plot for AHS ROANOKE?
TM: Without a doubt, when we got to the part of the season where everything had to be found footage, it was a real trick to justify why anyone would be filming something — and to do it so we had enough editorial options. Hence everything from the Big Brother house cameras, to iPhones, to video cameras, to security cameras, to those wild game hunting cameras. We had to keep that all straight in the writing process.
BH: Was it a conscious decision early on in the production/writing process that Ms. Sarah Paulson would be playing multiple characters in this season of AHS Roanoke?
TM: The working theory of AHS is always: “The more Paulson the better.”
BH: How does it feel to know AHS ROANOKE Season Finale ratings up went compared to HOTEL?
TM: It’s astonishing, really, that going into a sixth year the show continues to grow.
BH: And you have a new show called FEUD in the works, correct? Anything you can tell us?
TM: Just that I hope everyone tunes in for FEUD on FX this March. Making this one has been the most fun I’ve had in ages.
Check out the trailer for Minear’s newest show, FEUD, below.