Leaside writer hits Hollywood dream
John Blickstead is working on a pilot with NBC network
John Blickstead remembers the night he found out a Hollywood agent wanted to sign him.
“It was one of the greatest moments I’ve had,” says the Leaside script writer. “I was sitting in my office working late one night and I got this call.”
It was Dan Rabinow at ICM, one of the big Hollywood agencies. Through the grapevine, he had read a script Blickstead had started writing with a friend while at Harvard. Rabinow liked what he saw, and he wanted to try and sell it.
“It was the best call,” Blickstead says.
That was in 2009. Shortly after that, he handed in his notice at Alliance Atlantis, where he was working at the time, and decided to focus entirely on writing.
The risky move paid off. Blickstead, 27, is currently developing a pilot for NBC and has written the screenplay for a live action version of Mulan, set to start filming in early 2011.
Although the gig is a dream come true for Blickstead, it didn’t come to be overnight. Before he was dreaming of scripts, he was a humble Leasider, attending Rolph Road and Bessborough Public Schools while curling and playing hockey at Leaside Arena.
While he says hockey wasn’t his forte, he managed to stand apart in academics. Attending Upper Canada College for high school, he graduated with the highest academic average in his class.
From there he went on to Harvard, where he did a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and public policy.
At Harvard he joined Hasty Pudding Theatricals, a student theatre group that gave him the chance to learn about the business of entertainment and at least a couple of opportunities to explore comedic drama.
“I was a nun my first year, a fairy godmother my second year, I was a female buffalo my third year, and I was a 12-year-old Shirley Temple type my last year,” says the bearded, six-foot-plus Blickstead. “I kind of got pegged as a female character the entire time.
“I think they thought it was funny.”
But he also got serious, taking a stab at writing with “Terms of Frontierment,” a comedy show he wrote together with a friend in his junior year while he was vice president of the group.
“That was really the first thing I’d written,” Blickstead says. “That introduced me to the notion of comedy writing and I really liked it. That’s what got me thinking about actually writing.”
Taking that thought a step further, he began jotting down film ideas with his friend, now writing partner, Trey Kollmer. The pair came up with a list of 40 possible film ideas. It was one of those ideas that eventually became the script that would score the pair an agent.
Now he spends most of his days writing, sending material back and forth between Toronto and L.A., where Kollmer resides. The pair are working on a pilot for a new show about three half-brothers, each with their own quirks and issues.
“We’re trying to create the next Full House,” Blickstead says of the project. Having just recently turned over the first draft to NBC, the pair is already at work on the second draft and will find out in January if the show will get the go-ahead.
Though Blickstead acknowledges his career sometimes feels surreal, he says he’s in it for the long run.
“In 10 years I’d love to be writing movies and have a show on TV,” he says. “But I’d be happy with one or the other.”
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