Categories Billions Podcast

PODCAST & TRANSCRIPT: Billions Co-Creator Brian Koppelman Says Everyone Knows How to Tell a Great Story But Few Get the Chance – July 19, 2018

Koppelman Calls the Hit Showtime Series His “Dream Show” and an “Absurd Privilege”

by Eric Johnson | Recode | July 19, 2018

Source: Showtime

On the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka, filmmaker and writer Brian Koppelman talks with Kafka about co-creating the hit Showtime series “Billions.” He talks about his writing process, the show’s intense commitment to detail — including its frequent visits to real-life New York restaurants — and whether he thinks the viewers of “Billions” are watching for the characters or for “wealth porn.”

Below, we’ve posted a lightly edited full transcript of the conversation.

Peter Kafka: I’m here at the “Billions” den of Brian Koppelman. Hi, Brian. Thanks for having me here.

Brian Koppelman: Hey Man. Pleasure. What’s happening?

This is. This is where the magic happens. This is where you co-create “Billions.”

What would we say if there were never an MTV “Cribs,” what would we say? We wouldn’t know to say, “that’s where the magic happens.”

Is that where that came from?

I think so.

All I know about MTV cribs is that’s where you go to see what someone’s empty fridge looks like-

Yeah, but-

… when you’re a temporary millionaire.

… the meme before we had memes, in the same way.

I didn’t realize that’s what I was citing.

The meme was that people would, the first time someone would walk into the bedroom and say, “Here’s where the magic happens.” And then on every episode, someone said it. And then people would say it about their fridge or the game room. Now there may be, and I’m sure there will be a cite of something earlier, but that is when that expression became really part of the Lingua Franca.

See, I brought a pop culture knife to a pop culture gun fight. So I should just stop now. Thanks again for having me here Brian.

So happy to have you man.

We’re just going to skip my standard intro, because you know, if you like the show, you should tell someone else about it. That’s all we ask. We’re about a month after the last episode of season three.

That the last episode aired. Yeah, I guess so.

So where are you in the cycle now for season four?

We are writing season four. My creative partner, David Levien and I, and our writing staff, are writing season four. And we’re prepping season four. We start shooting in September. So we are a couple months out from beginning to shoot the next season.

So explain how this works to people who don’t know how TV works. Will you have complete scripts done in September?

We will have written six of the 12 episodes before we start shooting and we will know the story of the second half of the season, too. Some can, I guess, begin their season without understanding the end of it. But David and I don’t understand how to do that.

Plus you guys make seasons where the beginning — I mean, these are little jewel boxes of shows, sometimes.

Yes, these things have to, what we are starting toward… We have to know what that ending is so that we can, you know, zig and zag and find our way there. And so, we will understand the architecture of the entire season. We already do actually understand the architecture of the whole season. And so the process for us is, we start talking about themes. These aren’t themes we talk about in public, but themes that we want to explore in the season. And we do that for a few weeks.

And that starts in the spring, while the-

The show is ending and we take a couple weeks and then we start. And this year we didn’t even really have a couple of weeks, because we just decided to keep the momentum going. And so we start to really break it out into episodes. And so we have now written… the first episode of next season’s written.