The Shipley brothers’ ship has come in! Actually their ship was more like a plane, and it didn’t come in, it crash-landed with a mighty explosion on a beach in Puerto Rico. Meet brothers, Justin and Jordan Shipley, the writers and executive producers behind the new TBS TV series “Wrecked”.
Premiering on June 14th 2016 at 10pm, Wrecked is a comedy show that TBS describes as “a bunch of nobodies who get stranded on a desert island after their plane goes down and all hell breaks loose.”
Hailing from Kansas, the Shipley brothers are polite, articulate, witty, and have a sweetness to them that is wholly endearing. Maybe it’s because they’re still unspoiled by Tinsel Town, this being their first show.
Jordan is the younger and more reserved brother, and confesses that he has been struggling to overcome his shyness. Working on the show has forced Jordan to step outside of his comfort zone. At first during big meetings, Jordan would whisper his ideas to Justin, who would then voice the ideas to the group. As the mouthpiece for the two, Justin, of course, got all the credit for the ideas. But, Justin is quick to add, he also had to take the fall for a few clunkers. Working on Wrecked has further taught the brothers to make rapid decisions. As Justin says: “We weren’t very decisive beforehand, but on set you have to make a million decisions. Now we settle things promptly.”
During the interview it comes to light that Justin and Jordan didn’t write Wrecked with the aim to sell it – they merely needed a writing sample to hopefully get them in the door to write for other TV shows. Their manager, Jesse Hara, suggested that they write something unproducible; something big and crazy. And along came Wrecked.
SoCal magazine sat done with the Shipley brothers for an interview:
Did you always know you wanted to write?
Justin: Yes, I did. I knew I wanted to write comedy for TV and film.
Jordan: (laughs) I still don’t know if I want to write. I did a degree in journalism, but I always knew I wanted to do something under the umbrella of comedy.
When did you two first write together – and what did you write?
Justin: I convinced Jordan to come and write with me.
Jordan: And Wrecked is the first thing we’ve written together.
(The brothers agree that having a writing partner is better because you have someone to bounce things off, and writing becomes active instead of being passive. Plus, there is someone to get angry at other than yourself.)
What has been the best experience while shooting Wrecked?
Jordan: Seeing our vision come to life… watching the plane crash on the beach, and things exploding- it was completely surreal.
Justin: Yes! Our manager had told us “don’t worry about production details or budget, just write”. We never thought our crazy ideas would actually be made, and even once we had the green light, we thought we’d have to tome down the action. But TBS was really supportive of the script. They let us crash a plane, light someone on fire, and crush a man.
What has been the worst experience?
Justin: The lack of sleep. During production, you work 7 days a week, 15 hours a day.
Jordan: And it was stressful. Being first time creators, we didn’t know anything. We were basically learning how to write a TV show while writing a TV show.
What was the most unexpected thing?
Jordan: How much the story changes through each phase, from script to production to post to finish. You think it’s done but then you rewrite in 3 different ways.
Justin: Also, we wrote a lot of animals into Season 1. For example, one of the stranded passengers befriends a little boar, and although the tiny pig was cute as anything, we didn’t realize what a headache that would be. Future seasons will have way fewer animals in. (They both laugh)
Which TV shows do you guys like to watch?
Justin & Jordan: Game of Thrones, Veep, Happy Valley, Catastrophe, Peep Show and Silicone Valley.
Is there a show/scene that you wish you had written?
Justin: There’s a scene in the 2010 film, MacGruber, where a van explodes (both brothers start laughing immediately). That scene is comedic gold. Also, South Park, Tropic Thunder and Team America.
Jordan: Or anything by writer/director Edgar Wright – Shaun of the Dead; Hot Fuzz.
Do you guys argue?
Jordan: Yes – a resounding yes! (Again, they both laugh immediately)
What have you found is the best method for writing together?
Justin: We have to be in the same room but with enough separation – so a big room. Jordan: We write every line together. We write on Google docs so we can see each other’s work instantly.
Do you call each other at odd times of the night with “ah-ha moments”?
Justin: We text each other all the time with thoughts and ideas. Like I’ll text Jordan at night; “Hey! I’ve cracked it, you can relax” – but in the morning it’s more like: “Uh…never mind”.
How has writing Wrecked changed your lives?
Justin: Our income improved, but for me it’s more about the validation. That’s huge – that we are good enough to be doing this.
Jordan: Before Wrecked I was working at Trader Joe’s and barely able to pay my rent. I was borrowing money from Justin every month. He had a better paying job than me.
Justin: We are very aware how fortunate and lucky we are. We know that it’s fairly unique to sell your first writings right off the bat.
Jordan: Yes, we may not have paid our dues – (he laughs) – but I paid Justin.
What does the future hold for the Shipley Brothers?
Justin: We’ve signed a first look deal with TBS, meaning any TV show we develop in the next 2 years, TBS has the option to make it.
Jordan: And hopefully there will be a Season 2 of Wrecked