Write On: 'Lawmen: Bass Reeves' Showrunner Chad Feehan
February 5, 2024
“I grew up as a huge fan of Westerns but the reality of the landscape at the time was that it was incredibly diverse. And we've rarely seen that diversity on screen. I feel incredibly fortunate and humbled by the opportunity to show what life was really like in Indian territory in 1875. That it was a melting pot of cultures and races. It speaks to the beauty of Reconstruction,” says Chad Feehan, showrunner for Lawmen: Bass Reeves on Paramount+. The show is part of the highly successful Taylor Sheridan television landscape, that includes shows like Yellowstone and 1883.
On today’s episode, I speak to Chad about taking on the historical figure of Bass Reeves (played by David Oyelowo), who lived during America’s Reconstruction period that is rarely depicted in film or TV. Though Chad and Bass come from very different backgrounds, Chad says he was able to write the character of Bass by focusing on the big emotions the two men shared. He gives this advice about writing people different than yourself:
“Tap into your deepest emotions and find a way to relate them to what the character is going through. I think a lot of times when, you start writing, you try to imagine emotions, right? But the range of emotions that we all feel is relatively universal. They just take different shapes and sizes, right? We all know what heartbreak is, we all know what joy is. Tap into that and then transpose it into a situation that the character is also experiencing, if that makes sense. I learned about sudden loss with my mom. I've learned about deep-seated overwhelming love through my children and that emotion is universal,” he says.
To hear more about Chad Feehan’s background, working on the FX show, Ray Donovan, and his overall writing process, listen to the podcast.
Written by: Shanee EdwardsShanee Edwards is an L.A.-based screenwriter, journalist and novelist who recently won The Next MacGyver television writing competition to create a TV show about a female engineer and was honored to be mentored by actress/producers America Ferrera. Shanee's first novel, Ada Lovelace: The Countess Who Dreamed in Numbers was published by Conrad Press in 2019. Currently, she is working on a biopic of controversial nurse Florence Nightingale. Shanee’s ultimate goal is to tell stories about strong, spirited women whose passion, humor and courage inspire us all.