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Co/Create Winner Profile: Writer Michael Lewen

Cover image for Co/Create Winner Profile: Writer Michael Lewen

Michael Lewen started his career in Hollywood working for comedy legend Judd Apatow, learning the tools of the comedy trade from the creator of comedy classics like Superbad, Anchorman, and The 40 Year Old Virgin.

This invaluable education and experience served him well in his own aspirations to write and direct feature films, directing his first feature for Netflix last year (Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between starring Ayo Edibiri), and is currently developing a feature for Seth Rogen’s Point Grey Pictures.

Michael brought his deep understanding of how to develop character and narrative with a comedic lens to the “Marcus Rhoder Backstory,” crafting a heartfelt and heart-wrenching story to set the table for the other two creators to “build off of” with their own forms of creative expression.

Michael's Creative Process

Michael views starting from the blank page as the scariest stage of the screenwriting process. For that, Michael practices the "shitty first draft” theory, checking his ego at the door when writing a first draft just to get words on the page as quickly as possible. This first pass catalyzes the rest of his writing process as he builds off of those initial ideas to chip away at a more polished narrative. Beginning by “babbling,” as he calls it, from an honest, unselfconscious place and seeing what comes out is what works for him.

In terms of Michael’s specific approach to writing the Marcus Rhoder Backstory, he was inspired by the great Lionel Boyce. Michael is a fan of Lionel’s prowess as a performer, specifically in the warmth he brings to his characters - especially Marcus. Lionel exudes heart, so Michael thought it would only be fitting to give him a love story. Additionally, among a ship of hard core scientists, Michael liked the idea of someone who explores space through a more abstract, romantic lens.

Michael's Co-Creation

Below are the first 3-pages of Michael’s completed Co-Creation - a short script chronicling Marcus’ undergrad days at Stanford and his nascent relationship with his college sweetheart, Jackie:

To view Michael's artist statement and his full Co/Create submission, click on the link below:

Looking Ahead

Marcus’ Backstory is the first character backstory to be fully conceived with several different co-creations pieced together to build a coherent visual narrative “Story Branch.” While there may certainly be additional Story Branches off of this initial backstory for Marcus, there will also be many other character backstories similar rendered with an initial story, and brought to life via original community art and performance.


To learn more about Co/Create and view all the current Co/Create opportunities, visit Story.co/create.

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