TBM Podcast: President Obama Staffer Talks Screenwriting

President Obama staffer turned professional screenwriter, Pat Cunnane @patcunnane speaks about his time in The White House and creating great film/tv scripts.

Pat Cunnane was President Barack Obama’s Senior Writer and Deputy Director of Messaging at the White House where he worked for six years in many roles. Following the 2016 election, he transitioned from writing for the real White House to a fake one on ABC’s Designated Survivor and he has worked as a TV and screenwriter ever since. He’s sold pilots to ABC and Comedy Central and wrote a memoir, WEST WINGING IT, which was published by Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster). Pat’s first feature AFFAIRS OF STATE made 2019’s The Black List. Since then, he’s sold multiple projects that are in development with various studios and production companies including A24, Paramount, 3000, Star Thrower, Anonymous Content, and the New York Times. He’s written articles for The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and POLITICO Magazine.

Episode Breakdown:

00:00-03:21 – Working in the President Obama Whitehouse.

03:22- 06:23 – Whitehouse roles and and day to day responsibilities.

06:24-09:12 – Hopeful inspiration from working in the Whitehouse and President Obama’s response to staffers after the 2016 election.

09:13-13:10 – How taking Rob Reiner on a tour of the Whitehouse led to a career in screenwriting.

13:11-16:54 – Organizing time as a creative screenwriter.

16:55-22:08 – Writing in short bursts, pausing and coming back, can be super helpful in writing. And driving/running is the best creative inspiration. Need more than just a good idea. Finishing something. Writing is Re-Writing.

22:09-24:20 – How making it on “The Blacklist” can help your screenwriting career.

24:21—27:10 – Breaking in to the film industry as a screenwriting without any contacts. Writing a great script is step #1.

27:11- 30:12 – The Pitching Process for screenwriters.

30:13-32:44 – The changing film/tv industry/upcoming projects.

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