Ep 68: TNT's The Last Ship Creator/Showrunner, Steven Kane
Steven Kane is nearing the end of an incredible run with his very successful post-apocalyptic drama, The Last Ship. But the path to being one of TV's "lucky ones" was anything but smooth. A native of New Jersey, who went to UPenn undergrad, Steven thought he had it made when his USC film school Master's Thesis, a short film entitled Heroic Symphony, garnered awards at film festivals around the country.
Not so much. While he wrote plays (his collection of One Act plays, Out of Your Mind, had a successful run in Los Angeles at the GuerriLA Theater) and made his first feature film (The Doghouse, won him Best Director at the NY Indy Film Festival) nothing really moved the needle. And, despite getting early attention from legendary director James Cameron, when he was making Hollywood history with Titanic, Steven was eventually forced to pay his rent making corporate videos for a significant time.
But like so many guests of 10,000 "No"s, his ability to frame that "opportunity" planted the seeds, and introduced him to people that he would later use as consultants on The Last Ship. Before this juggernaut, he gained a reputation for delivering quality scripts on many hits shows before landing a long-running gig as a writer and producer on The Closer (for which he received an Edgar Nomination). A chance encounter with an old colleague led to step in a different direction, as a higher-level writer on the hit comedy American Dad as well as writing an episode for cultural icon Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm.
In 2016, Kane was given the Distinguished Public Service Award, the US Navy's top civilian honor, for The Last Ship. He learned many lessons about leadership and productivity from the Navy, and many more from the hard knocks he's sustained along his journey. And he shares these valuable life lessons with us here.
“One of the things that’s a testament to how things work is that you just don’t give up. If you don’t give up, you can still be here to give your story”, (00:26). “You have to do the hard work to prove to yourself and others that you can actually deliver. Do your homework and groundwork”, (12:25). “It’s easier to say no. Finding people to say yes because they believe you is the hard part, but if you can get past the ‘no’s’ internally as well, you can do great things”, (13:08). “Don’t let the no’s stop you, adapt and find another game plan”, (16:35). “Just take the 10,000 “No”s and file them away and say you’ll see, it’s easier said than done however”, (17:50). “If you have faith in yourself, things will come your way”, (32:53). “Everything is useful even if it feels like it’s awful”, (1:11:09). “My story isn’t that unique, it’s really just a quest of not giving up”, (1:11:38). “Life is long, you may have not become what you thought you’d be or you may be disappointed, but if I were now 25 listening to myself, I'd be inspired by the idea that it’s a journey that takes different paths. As long as you love what you’re doing and stay optimistic and keep your eyes open to opportunities and don’t be afraid to take opportunities when they come your way, great things will come your way”, (1:11:55). “The word NO means I don’t understand you”, (1:13:34).
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