Jason Katims Interview: ‘Rise’ producer

“You fall in love with your characters,” reveals writer/producer Jason Katims in our exclusive webcam interview (watch the video above) about the secret to connecting with an audience and making them feel something. “I know these people, these are people I have come to know and love,” he explains. “That’s a combination of what you do in the room and what the actors bring to it, and that’s the alchemy of it. When you fall in love with them, things naturally start to become emotional.”

Katims has a long history of writing and producing TV series about everyday people in familiar situations that tug at the heartstrings, whether that be as a close-knit family in “Parenthood,” or a high school football team in “Friday Night Lights,” or his new show, “Rise,” which focuses on a Pennsylvania high school’s theater program, and explores the lives of the embattled drama teacher (played by Josh Radnor) and the students he shepherds through their staging of “Spring Awakening.”

For Katims, the key to bringing these stories to life is to keep them as real and truthful as possible. “It starts with breaking the stories in the writers’ room,” he explains. “Obviously we have these incredible actors who bring so much more than you could ever imagine to these stories, but I think it starts there and it’s the approach to storytelling about what would really happen here, what would somebody really feel here. To look at every character in the scene, not just the one that is driving the story forward, and not giving yourself the permission to say that character just needs to say this so that the other character can say that. You observe everybody and hopefully make it feel real.”

In developing “Rise” for NBC, Katims was also conscious of emphasizing the importance of the arts and of creativity in every day lives. It is an undercurrent throughout the first season of “Rise,” where students and teachers have to prove their worth in a high school typically more interested in football than drama. “Theater in high school,” he explains, “is a way of expression, it’s a way of figuring out who you’re going to be. It’s a really important part of becoming an adult,” Katims declares. “This isn’t a story of people who are in a high school theater group who necessarily are going to become Broadway stars. They’re just people who are going to grow up and maybe go to college, maybe get a job, and … [how this] enriched their lives and made them feel their lives could be a bigger version of what they expected.”

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UPLOADED Apr 30, 2018 3:06 pm