Updated: Nov 15, 2019
Being a screenwriter is an exceptionally difficult path. Often fighting our way through adversity while over coming our own inner demons. To break out from the thousands of other writers and make your mark can feel like an impossible and daunting task. Jeff knows that struggle and he has defeated it. Jeff is a gifted and talented writer who has put the time in. This has led his work to read by top talent in the industry and his work being placed in big competitions. His career is only moving forward which is I am so excited to introduce you to this inspiring writer.
This is Jeff Bower…
A former professional mascot and assembly line summer intern, I earned a Bachelor’s in Mathematics from Binghamton University and an MFA in Theatre from Florida Atlantic University where I received death threats for performing the lead role in Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi. In Florida I was the Artistic Director of the resident professional theatre company RMP (Rude Mechanical Productions), while also being department chair for a performing arts high school, where The Jeff Bower excellence in Theatre Award is still given to a graduating senior to this day. I wrote several plays, including my adaptation of Pericles, which is published by Samuel French.
After moving to Los Angeles, I was accepted into the Advanced Studies UCB improv program and performed improv and sketch for over three years on the mainstage at iO West. I have won and placed in dozens of script competitions (ScreenCraft, Tracking Board, PAGE, Script Summit, Cinequest, Nashville Film Festival, Shores, WeScreenplay, Austin & others), and primarily write dark hour-long dramas even though I still hope to one day grow up to be a Muppet. I am incredibly lucky to be represented by Alex Creasia at Pathfinder and Paul Weitzman at Culture Creative Entertainment.
Personally, many moons ago I married my incredible wife in a private ceremony in a Deerfield Beach courthouse (much to the chagrin of friends and family alike) and we’ve been going strong ever since (Go Team Bower!). We live in the beautiful, eccentric Los Feliz with our two rescue cats that tolerate our existence…as long as the food bowls are full.
Q: How did you stumble upon screenwriting?
I was primarily a playwright/actor early in my career. When I moved to Los Angeles, I learned I needed to be writing screenplays in coffee shops like 94.2% of the population. But seriously, writing for television has always been a milestone in my career I wanted to achieve. I’ve always been fascinated with how a television show can bring people together. I love the deep, personal inspection into character that is afforded in the format of a television show over the course of a season, or (if lucky enough) several seasons. I also love that feeling of excitement when you leave the movie theatre after a wonderful film.
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Q: Who/what inspired you into taking this path?
I don’t know that any single person inspired me to be a writer. It’s just something I have to do. Storytelling is who we are. It’s how we know we’re alive. From the poor theatre actor who does a touring show for disinterested students during assembly to blockbuster writer’s like JK Rowling who inspired an entire generation….I think all storytelling is incredible, inspiring, and important. It’s the best reason to be alive.
Q: Who was the first person who believed in you?
My wife. Hands down, no-brainer, immediate response. Since the day we met (she sat on my back in an acting callback audition) until present day, she has always been the driving, motivating factor for what I do. I would not be even close to where I am in my career or life if it weren’t for her guidance, support, and belief in my abilities. Love you, Snarfdu!
Q: When was the moment you knew you wanted to be a screenwriter?
With my first taste of success, of course! After living in LA for a year or two, I was really struggling to find my footing in this wild and crazy town. I wrote a sitcom called BABY NOT ON BOARD with my former writing partner Matt Stabile, and everyone loved it. We placed in some competitions, got to perform it live at the Los Angeles Scripted Festival, and earned a meeting at Amazon Studios based on a cold submission. I paused, looked around and thought, “Oh shit, this is what I’m supposed to be doing!”
Q: How do you define success for yourself?
To be a showrunner some day on a project I create from scratch, not an existing IP. Extremely lofty goal? Yes. Am I setting myself up for failure if I don’t make this happen one day? Maybe. But if you don’t shoot for the stars then what the hell are you doing in your career/life.
Q: Give us a typical day in your life:
Are you an Early Bird or a Night Owl?
Early bird. I wake up with my wife at around 6 am to make her lunch and either drive her to work or see her out the door. However, I’ve had several jobs where I had to work at night or 2nd shift, so I’m flexible.
Do you have a morning routine or ritual?
Check my To-Do list. Make a morning coffee for my wife and pack her lunch. Drug my cat. Stop to breathe and mentally prepare. When I get to my coffee shop, it’s time to set up the laptop, pop on my HUGE headphones, and start banging on keys.
What’s for lunch?
I’m a sucker for protein shakes. Something I can sip while I work is ideal. However, while I’m out and about, I’m always down for a good rice bowl.
What do you do during the day?
Either writing on my current WIP or making money in my recording booth. I found the coolest side gig ever. I’m an Audible Approved/ACX Verified audiobook narrator/producer. I’ve done over 60 books and sold over 30K units. It’s a lot of fun. I basically get paid to read aloud.
What do you do at night?
Cook dinner and kick back. Usually TV watching and script reading to keep up to date with the industry.
Do you have a pre-bed ritual?
I usually check off my list from the day and write a new one for the next day. I like to fall asleep to stand-up comedy or Bob Ross painting a happy little tree. I think I know every single line in all of John Mulaney’s specials on Netflix.
How do you define a successful day?
I ask myself….Did you write in a meaningful way that day? I’m not a page count guy. I don’t set some weird number to define if I’ve had a good day writing. I’ve had a good day when I spent the entire day on one page of a script and a bad day where I banged out a ridiculous number of pages. It’s about the quality and thought behind the writing. It’s about putting in the time and reaching your 10,000 hours, ala Malcolm Gladwell.
Q: What’s been the most important skill you've developed on your path to screenwriting?
I think like most writers when I first started, I would only write if I was inspired. That is the quickest way to start and end your career. I’ve learned that when you go back to edit a script you don’t even remember which pages you were inspired to write and which you were banging out while thinking about sleeping in your warm bed. You just have to keep typing if this is what you want to do.
Q: What’s been the greatest challenge in your writing so far?
I feel like most of my career could be defined as close but no cigar. I’ve heard “We love the writing but have no idea how to sell this” more times than I can count. For example, my career skyrocketed after I wrote a pilot called HALCYON FALLS (the #1 all time TV pilot on Coverfly), about a town recovering from a school shooting. Anyone not in the industry reads the script and says “Holy hell, how come this has never been bought/made/optioned!” while everyone in the industry won’t touch it with a ten foot pole.
I’ve made tons of short lists for staffing but never made the final cut. I had an option for another script that we walked away from. It actually makes it a lot harder to keep going in some ways. It’s like, you can see your dreams, they’re dangling there in front of you for a day or two (this script is going to be optioned, you’re going to be staffed on this show, etc) and then they’re gone. Luckily, my weird brain will never run out of bizarre ideas, so I move on to the next one.
Q: What’s been the greatest reward in the choices you've made?
I mainly wrote comedy when I moved to LA. I did sketch, improv, basically my whole existence was about making other people laugh. And then, one day, for no particular reason except I allowed myself to do it, I started writing hour long dramas. It just clicked. It’s where I belong. It’s where I want to be. I love comedy, and maybe one day I’ll go back to it, but for now, it’s been very rewarding to explore the trials and tribulations of the human experience in the hour long, drama format.
Q: What do you want to learn from a community of your peers?
I want to see how other people create. I love to learn other writer’s processes and habits. There is no singular way to do this career. I want to hear how you do it. I want to hear your story.