If you’re a fan of Millennial comedies, you’re sure to be watching the hit series The Great Indoors.
But maybe you’ll be even more of a fan when you learn that one of the writers on the series is none other than Leasider John Blickstead, who is now an accomplished Hollywood screenwriter. Although he works and lives in California, the writer still thinks of Leaside as home.
John was born and raised in Leaside. His family have lived in the same house on Heather Rd. all his life. Like many kids growing up in Leaside, John was a part of a number of sports leagues. He played hockey at the arena every year and softball, even though he would tell you he was an awful player. His father was even a coach for the hockey team.
“My dad likes to call himself the winningest coach in Leaside hockey history,” he told me. “If there’s any truth to that, it’s no thanks to me. But I had a blast.” He remembers the summers in his Leaside neighbourhood, “cruising the streets en masse with all his friends on bikes and rollerblades, the least intimidating posse of all time.” He even met Wayne Gretzky once, and had an opportunity to play ball hockey with him.
After completing his education at Upper Canada College and Harvard (not in writing, but in biology – planning a career in environmental science), things changed for John. For him writing had been a hobby, not a career choice. But somehow his dreams took over.
He’s a great example of someone who follows his passions and makes what he loves to do into a career, even though it was not what he went to school for. So many of us are bogged down with the expectations of following a line of work based on the degree we studied. However, John has proven once again that whatever you put your mind to is possible.
That is not to say that things were always easy for him. He paid his dues and went through the tough trials of a slow start in Hollywood once he made the move there. It was his perseverance and the support of his family which allowed him to stay the course, and after six months of back and forth to Toronto, John was signed on as a writer for the NBC television network along with his business partner Trey Kollmer.
“My family has always been incredibly supportive, but my brother Michael’s always been my biggest cheerleader. I actually got my first ever LA job offer while I was at lunch with Michael the week of his business school graduation, which I’ll always remember as a nice bit of timing.”
In addition to his screenwriting, John has also co-written a travel guide to Ireland. But most of his experiences with writing have been on the job, although he did attend a single screenplay course at Harvard University.
We asked John about his inspiration for becoming a writer in the first place. He answered honestly that it was growing up watching a lot of television series that spurred him to turn his pastime into his full-time career. Now he can say that all the television he watched growing up was completely justified. “I’m loving writing for The Great Indoors, which was created by Mike Gibbons. We have an unbelievable writing staff and a flawless cast. Being able to write for Stephen Fry has been a career highlight.”
We are likely to hear even more about this Leasider. John is currently working on an animated film with producer Mike Drake of Nightmare on Elm Street fame. The project is a King Arthur story that asks the question, “What if you were the only person with a slightly modern point of view in a hyper-violent, hyper-sexualized Game of Thrones-type world?” Can’t wait!