Known for his playwriting, Dano Madden makes his web series writing debut in Precious Cargo. A web series featuring his lovely wife, Lauren Singerman and fellow Rutgers alum Sasha Kaye and their experiences as sisters Sandy and Lisa helping tutor some of NYC's finest children. Check out what Madden has to say about all things Precious Cargo below!
netTVnow: Can you talk a bit about your background and how you became involved with Precious Cargo?
Dano Madden: My background is mostly in theater, I sort of started acting in college and at some point I realized I found myself being more interested in writing and directing than acting. It just felt like a better fit for me. I continued to pursue mostly playwriting, which is what I went to grad school for and met Lauren (Singerman). Over the years I’ve done a little bit of screenwriting, mostly screenplays in which I’ve submitted to contests and that sort of thing.
Precious Cargo is a first for me in terms of producing. This was a different kind of endeavor for me. Playwriting has always been the main kind of writing that I’ve done and this medium seemed like an acceptable way to actually produce our own work on a scale that we could manage. So when Sasha (Kaye) and Lauren started to have meetings about doing something, they pulled me in to write the script.
netTVnow: What was the writing process like for you?
DM: Lauren and Sasha had exchanged anecdotes and started to explore some fictional ideas and had rough outlines of ideas but they gave me a lot of freedom to just take these various ideas they had and run with it. Which I found to be really helpful. We all discussed what the relationships were and what the story it was we were trying to tell.
The original version of the script really focused on the tutoring and the sisters. Late in the process it was feeling a little to me like we needed to capture more of the world of the parents and that’s how those beginning of the episodes were born, which was added later on in the process. I needed more of the flavor that Sasha and Lauren had talked about and so that’s where openings came from. The script felt more complete to me once those were there and then hopefully the actual narrative with the two sisters and the whole journey for the Lisa character will pull us in.
netTVnow: What was it like working with the kids? Did it affect your writing process at all knowing you were writing for quite a few younger characters?
DM: I wouldn’t say that it affected my writing approach at all, I spend quite some time teaching and tutoring as well, so I like writing for kids. But I will say it is a little bit tricky once it came to casting and getting onto the set with the kids. In the actual execution of the script, it sort of seemed like certain kids were pros in a way and there were a couple of instances where it was a little more of a struggle. We had pretty good luck with getting the kids we did.
netTVnow: What was the process like getting the project off the ground?
DM: Being prepared and organized came a lot from us not really knowing what we were doing in the beginning. So I feel like there was a huge learning curve for the team. It’s one thing to say, “Oh great, I can write some scripts for this and Lauren and Sasha can be in it with and Ben (Simington) can direct it,” but it’s another when you’re in meetings and asking questions that you don’t have the answers for, like how were we going to find a DP, what people did we need. It seemed like every week we had more questions.
netTVnow: I've asked others involved on the series as well but were there any last minute changes that had to be made?
DM: In terms of the casting front we had someone who played the tutoring boss and two weeks before he couldn’t commit to our schedule. So we recast it and ran into issues with that guy and one we ended up going with was our third guy. What’s interesting to me is looking back at it, wondering how could it have ever been anyone else? He was so perfect for the part. It’s just funny that it went through this process of casting, recasting and finally finding him a week before we started filming.
netTVnow: What advice can you give to those looking into writing?
DM: I still feel like I’m constantly learning and figuring it out but I think for me, I just keep moving and keep making. Since college, through all of the various jobs I’ve done to make money and all of the various ups and downs, I just kept writing throughout it all. I feel like that’s been the best thing for me, that’s not to say that everything I’ve written has become this commercial hit, but I feel like the more I continue to write, the better I get at it. It’s been hugely invaluable to me to take more ownership in my own work and it really feels empowering to make your own work and learn from it.
netTVnow: That's great. Do you have any upcoming projects we can share?
DM: I'm actually gearing up to work on another web series. I was approached by another actress to co-write this series with her so we're getting ready to film that soon. And Lauren's working on that one too!