Author: BY Rachel Miller, Brooklyn magazine
“The challenge to me,” says Chris Poindexter, creator, writer, and producer of Brooklynification (Portlandia with brownstones and gentrification jokes), “is to get the Kevin Hart and Noah Baumbach audiences laughing at the same thing (maybe even for different reasons).” It’s working: BRIC just greenlit season two. Chris is also full-time general counsel for an AdTech company, sits on the board at Reel Works (a Brooklyn nonprofit that teaches teens filmmaking), and is father of two six-year-old twin boys—that means the writing process is more a matter of what sticks, over time. “And then I sit in front of the computer and get it out as fast and furiously a possible.” Faster, Chris! Furiouser! The world needs more!
What is your writing/working process like? What does a day look like? A week?
As a full time General Counsel of an AdTech Company and the father of six year old twin boys, I rarely get the chance to sit down in front of a computer and write for extended periods of time. Instead, I do a lot of observing and listening and jotting down notes of interesting conversation and everyday conflicts and awkwardness around me. I can kick around an idea for weeks, months, years even. A lot of ideas fade away but some stick around and grow in detail. Eventually, if the idea matures to a fully formed story in my head, I sit down in front of a computer and try to get it out as fast and furiously as possible. I like the actual writing phase to be quick and almost unconscious because usually my first take on language and phrasing is the most natural and funny and if I spend too much time on the writing part I overthink it and drain all the humor and naturalism out of it. Then I like to put it down and not take another pass on it for a couple of weeks. When I return to it, if I still think it’s funny. I am happy with it.
How will your approach to working/making/directing change this year?
The first season of Brooklynification was written in a very Pre-Trump election world. The stories are very light and optimistic and we purposely avoided politics because we didn’t want the work to be dated by references to the election. Now that we are living in a Post-Trump election world, I think avoiding politics is a political statement in itself (I can’t help but side-eye those friends who manage to talk about everything in conversations and on Facebook except what’s going on in the world). The second season will have to reflect that we are now living in a Post-Trump election world, even though I am not entirely sure what that looks like.
How would you describe your writing style?
As a comedic screenwriter, my primary goal is to create characters and conflict that are so natural and relatable that once the action is set in motion, the story takes a life of it’s on. We use a lot of improv actors with Brooklynification, so when I have set up the situations properly, the actors are able to step right into their characters and immediately have ideas about where to go and what to explore with them. If the script can trigger authentic moments for the actors and the director is able to capture that, the result can be that elusive movie magic we are all looking for.
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What aspect of your job do you find the most fulfilling? The most challenging?
Of course I do it for the laughs but what is most fulfilling to me is to get my cross section of social networks laughing at the same thing. It might be easier if I were just trying to just get my Williamsburg artsy friends laughing but if I can’t get my parents and my West Indian aunties laughing as well then I’ve failed to some extent. The challenge to me is to get the Kevin Hart and Noah Baumbach audiences laughing at the same thing (maybe even for different reasons). If I can sprinkle in a little social commentary as well, my work is done.
In the future, what do you hope changes or improves (or continues!) in your field?
While the technical barriers to filmmaking have certainly lowered (You can make a movie on your iPhone!), I still think the only way to get the know-how to make good looking, quality work is to work with experienced filmmakers, which isn’t easy to do for people of certain backgrounds (i.e., people of color, economically disadvantaged, people outside of NY and LA). Reel Works, a Brooklyn based non-profit I am on the board of, attempts to bridge that gap by giving young filmmakers one on one mentoring with filmmaking professionals. Last year I executive produced Reel Works first feature film 72 Hours: A Brooklyn Love Story, which used a mix of professionals and kids for crew and talent. Reel Works is doing great work but it is just one organization in Brooklyn and we need more filmmakers making it their duty to train diverse filmmakers in the craft.
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