Jeff Davis on his career and his latest project, “Wolf Pack”

"...advice I give is that if Plan A is to be a professional writer, don’t have a Plan B. There’s no better motivation than starvation. Don’t have a backup plan. You’ll be forced to succeed..."

Jeff Davis has a career extending nearly twenty years. His first project was Criminal Minds, which went on to generate 16 seasons and two spin-off shows. After creating that monster hit of a show, he then developed the Teen Wolf series for MTV. His latest show is Paramount+’s Wolf Pack. Wanting to know more about this show as well as his career in general, I was able to interview Davis for ScifiPulse.

You can learn more about Wolf Pack by following it on Twitter.

Nicholas Yanes: Growing up, what were some stories you loved? Are there any you still enjoy revisiting?

Jeff Davis: There are some movies that I can watch over and over and never tire of them. For horror, it’s The Shining, The Omen, The Exorcist. I remember the first time I saw The Terminator. I remember standing in line for six hours for Return of the Jedi. I remember the first of numerous times I read The Lord of the Rings. The moment I picked up a copy of Dune after seeing the movie (which I loved), I distinctly recall slowing down my reading of numerous Stephen King books because I was enjoying them so much that I didn’t want them to end. I remember the first time I read Phantoms by Dean Koontz and being unable to turn the pages fast enough. These are the stories I always come back to, that inspire me and make me want to tell my own stories.

Yanes: You have been in the industry since 2005. What are the biggest ways entertainment production has changed?

Davis: Production has changed drastically with larger budgets, movie stars being indistinguishable from TV stars, longer episodes, greater creative freedom outside of the broadcast networks and cable, the rise of serialized television as opposed to episodic. The industry has grown by the number of scripted shows, but also gotten smaller by season order down from the peak of 24 episodes a season to 22 then cable sized 13, then 12 for streaming, then 10, 8 and finally 6 for the shortest seasons.

Yet the attention to filmmaking and production quality has made producing 8 episodes of television just as challenging as producing 12.

Yanes: On this note, what advice would you offer to people interested in becoming professional writers?

Davis: I always offer two pieces of advice to someone who wants to become a professional writer in Hollywood. The first is to write what you love. Write the movie or TV show that you want to see as a fan. Don’t write something because you think it will sell. Write the story you’re dying to see brought to life on screen.

The second piece of advice I give is that if Plan A is to be a professional writer, don’t have a Plan B. There’s no better motivation than starvation. Don’t have a backup plan. You’ll be forced to succeed.

Yanes: After your incredible run with Teen Wolf, what was it that attracted you to Wolf Pack?

Davis: I was definitely not looking to do another story about teen werewolves. But certain themes came about that immediately sparked my interest. One was the idea of the environment, specifically the California wildfires that seem to get worse and worse each year.

Another theme was disconnected youth and the question of whether or not teenagers or young adults could still find their pack, their group of friends, despite technology and pandemics. Once I found new metaphors by which to tell these stories, then I dove in and began writing.


Yanes: One of the many things I enjoy about Wolf Pack is the cast. All of them are bringing their A game. When did you know that the cast would work well together? Was there a specific moment in which you knew they clicked?

Davis: They became a pack as soon as they landed in Atlanta and began hanging out with each other before shooting. Young casts are always quick to bond especially when they’re shooting in an unfamiliar state, but there was a certain alchemy that seemed to happen. It’s part luck and partly being able to see that flicker of connection when you do a chemistry read. But they surprised me with how tightly knit they became even after I’d seen the same kind of bonding on Teen Wolf.

Then when Sarah Michelle Gellar and Rodrigo Santoro came on board, we had two experienced actors who could act as mentors to the kids. The respect and mutual admiration among them is something I truly hope lasts and grows if we’re lucky enough to earn a second season.


The cast having fun. L to R: Bella Shepard, Chloe Rose Robertson, Armani Jackson, Chase Liefeld, Tyler Lawrence Gray

Yanes: An aspect of the werewolf mythology in Wolf Pack I like is that the pack members can share abilities. How did this element develop during the show’s production?

Davis: Many of the elements of the show came simply out of asking the question how can we do this differently from Teen Wolf. One of my first thoughts when I sat down to write the pilot was that they would each have one power when they’re alone but share them when they’re together as a pack. It was all about emphasizing the idea that they’re stronger in a pack, stronger together as opposed to on their own.

Yanes: In regards to the show’s mythology, how much of it is pulled from real world werewolf folklore?

Davis: With Teen Wolf we always tried to take the folklore and turn it on its head, give it a twist somehow. With Wolf Pack, the way to do it differently was to go the opposite direction and go back to a more traditional myth. We wanted the creature itself to look like a classic werewolf.

Yanes: Over the course of developing Wolf Pack, is there an idea that took on a life of its own?

Davis: The voice on the phone, who we call “The Stranger.” I didn’t know who this was until about Episode 4 or 5 when it suddenly became very clear to me. I call this the subconscious writer. The part of your brain that, once an idea has been set in motion, picks it up and develops it without you even really knowing it. For a lot of twists and turns, I often have a feeling that only becomes more concrete later on.

Yanes: When people finish watching Wolf Pack’s first season, what do you hope they take away from the experience?

Davis: That they love the characters. That’s my first job. To make audiences fall in love with the
characters. But also, that they’ve taken in some of the themes and thought about them. Teenage anxiety, the destruction of nature by fire, parental alienation.

Yanes: Finally, what else are you working on that people can look forward to?

Davis: The next project is Æon Flux, an adaptation of the MTV anime series by Peter Chung. I have the first two episodes written, which I will also be directing.

Again, you can learn more about Wolf Pack by following it on Twitter.

Remember to follow me on Twitter and, and to follow Scifipulse on twitter at @SciFiPulse and on facebook.

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