Aaron Denius Garcia, Screenwriter & Author, on New Book - Gene. Sys., Writing for the TV Show - Leverage, & Life in Hollywood.
February 12, 2015
I was born in Virginia and spent my childhood splitting time between Virginia and Venezuela.
"I was always a bit of an outcast in both places because I was either the only gringo or the only Latino, depending on where I was."
I was also picked on quite a bit in school because I was small. I hadn’t even grown to 5 feet when I started high school. I still managed to play a lot of sports including golf, baseball and boxing.
After high school, I went to Virginia Tech to study dentistry. That lasted less than a semester and four long years later I found myself with a degree in Theater.
I moved out to Hollywood less than a month after graduating college.
First Experience with the Entertainment Industry
My first experience in the entertainment industry was probably not what you would expect. I had been taking meetings with modeling agencies and on one day this other guy and I happened to be ending up at the same places.
So he invited me to join him for a fitting for a runway show, so I joined him and was hired on the spot for the show. After that I went with him to a party that turned out to be nothing but debauchery.
It made me wonder if I really was in the right industry.
"Welcome to LA!"
When did you start writing?
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. It was always an escape for me. It wasn’t until I had been in LA for about 6 years before I realized that writing was truly my passion.
Acting and modeling hadn’t been fulfilling so I took a screenwriting course and realized that my life purpose was to tell stories.
That’s when my professional writing career started.
Writing for the TV Show - Leverage
Leverage was an amazing experience. I learned so many things about writing and I had a blast as well. One thing I wasn’t aware of going in to working for the show was how fast TV moves.
"We would be breaking stories in one day and sometimes have to have the episode written in a week."
I think what was most amazing about working on Leverage was the people I got to work with, and I’m not just saying that. I don’t owe them anything.
They really were amazing.
We all seemed to have the same sense of humor and we never really butted heads. Our bosses put together a well-oiled machine. It was a shame we were cancelled because I would have loved to keep working on that show.
How did that job come about?
Some people might say that what happened was luck, but I don’t believe in luck.
"Luck to me is when opportunity meets preparedness."
I had been working as a golf instructor for kids and was hired to teach one particular kid privately.
His father was one of the creators for the show Leverage and over the course of a year we got to know each other and he graciously offered to read some of my stuff.
When the opportunity to interview for the show came up he asked if I would be interested and I didn’t hesitate.
"Sure, the situation I found myself in was unique, but had I not been writing diligently and making sure that my product was of high quality, he would not have asked."
I find it hard to pinpoint any particular people as influences because I constantly find myself being influenced by someone new. Jim Henson will always be near the top because of how innovative he was.
He created a work of art that was groundbreaking and from the heart.
"I admire people whose works are more popular than their name, or at least on par."
Those who will influence people for thousands of years after they pass. Shakespeare, Disney, Henson, Dali, etc.
The interesting thing about social media is that it’s relatively new. When I first started in the industry 13 years ago, there was no Facebook or Twitter or any of those.
"Now you have to be involved in social media."
It has become a tool for the artist, not only to build an audience for their work, but also to entice those who might hire them.
In a battle between two unknown actors, the producers will lean toward the one that has 50,000 Twitter followers and 10,000 YouTube subscribers. It’s a built in audience.
What it has also done however is give people direct access to their favorite celebrities. If you have a question for Justin Bieber, You can ask him directly and he just might answer.
"Gone are the days of fan mail."
Top Moments in the Entertainment Industry
#5. Getting “arrested” at the Oscarsin my nicest tux. A family friend had given me the tickets and since my name didn’t match the name on the tickets, they thought I had stolen them.
I was released with a warning, but I did get to walk down the red carpet, sandwiched between Jennifer Garner and Will Smith.
#4. Filming my first commercial as an actor for a Japanese sports drink called Pocari sweat. We shot the commercial at the bottom of the deep end of a pool.
#3.Playing Rock Band with Ron Howard during lunch on the set of the movie Angels & Demons.
I honestly have loved all the projects I have worked on; I love the art of storytelling. I’m not particularly drawn to one genre or one style of writing.
"All that matters to me is that the story is good, unique and creative."
How has your mindset or approach to working in Entertainment changed since you arrived in Los Angeles?
What has probably changed the most since I moved out to LA is that I have become more flexible and adaptable. You have to change with the industry and those who are afraid of change will get left behind.
As Bruce Lee said, “You have to be water”. When I first moved out, headshots were still black and white hard copies. Now they are color and digital. All casting happens online.
"It’s a brave new world out there."
The biggest piece of advice I could give to someone entering entertainment is to not do it. Find a secure job that will pay the bills and don’t move out to Hollywood.
It’s insanely hard and you will have to work 80 hours a week to succeed.
If after reading that you still want to come out here, then stand in front of a mirror every day for 30 minutes and say this word over and over, “NO."
It’s the most commonly used word in LA, so you need to toughen up your skin because you will hear it a lot.
It’s all worth it though for that one time you hear “YES!”
Gene. Sys. is the first book in a young adult dystopian trilogy by the same name. It follows 12 genetically engineered teens that were created to restart humanity after the scientists that created them set of a nuclear apocalypse.
Though it could be categorized with The Hunger Games and Divergent, my book differentiates in that it takes place right as things are changing towards the dystopia, not after it has been created.
Where can our readers pick up a copy of your book, Gene. Sys?
Currently you can get both the paperback and the eBook version on Amazon.
I am working on making it available in more stores, both online and traditional brick & mortar.
I would like to encourage people to continue supporting the arts. This isn’t just limited to seeing movies or concerts. Go see a high school play, visit a local art gallery, but above all support those who wish to pursuit as a career.
"The US is one of the few countries in the world where people who want to pursue the arts are looked down upon as dreamers who are wasting their time."
Encourage them, let them know that you will support them whether they succeed or fail.