Exclusive Interview: Mark Schwahn and Joe Davola, executive producers of One Tree Hill
Exclusive Interview: Mark Schwahn and Joe Davola, executive producers of One Tree Hill
The first of the final six episodes of One Tree Hill's fourth season hits the air tonight, and in honor of this much-anticpated event (for One Tree Hill fans, at least), we sat down with Mark Schwahn (creator/executive producer of One Tree Hill) and Joe Davola (executive producer of One Tree Hill) to talk about the show.  This is the second time we've talked to Mr. Schwahn, and a lot has happened since we last spoke.  In this interview, we discuss the show's future (which looks pretty good, fans), the proposed four-year jump ahead for season five, and what's in store for the remainder of season four.

Below you will find both the written transcript of the interview, as well as the full mp3 audio.

How’s it going, guys?

Schwahn: It’s going great, Oscar, how’ve you been?

I’ve been good.

Mark Schwahn: I wanna give you much love, by the way, first off for the great article you guys wrote about the skip ahead four years and for ranking that as one of your most anticipated TV events of next year.

Yeah, I mean, I’ve always been a fan of that idea and I think high school shows always have a hard time going into college and I think it’s a great way kind of around that and something new.

Schwahn: Well, I agree with you and, you know, we haven’t been given the green light yet to pursue that direction next year but we feel that—in house—we feel really strongly about it and I really feel that it’s the only way to write the show in season five so hopefully we get a pick up soon. We haven’t gotten one yet but hopefully we will and if we do I sort of feel—Joe and I—that it’s the only way to write the show so…

Joe Davola: Yeah we love it that you put it out there because the response that we’ve been getting on the internet for that idea has been overwhelmingly positive which is great for us because it fuels us creatively to move in that direction, a direction that Mark came up with earlier in the year, and as you know, it’s the only way to go with the show.

You guys talk about the renewal not really coming yet, but there’s a lot of positive buzz about that. The USA Today puts out those articles talking about which shows are on the bubble, which are saf, and they have you guys as safe.  Are you feeling good at this point?

Schwahn: I just feel good.  In fact. I actually feel better about the season five than I did about the season four in many ways. Season four there was so much that was speculative including the new network that we felt very tentative going into the CW in approaching season four, but what I told them in the room that day lobbying for season four was if you give us a season four you’re gonna want a season five. I really felt that we had great stories to tell in season four and I pitched them at the time and I really believe that, I still believe it. So, yeah, we feel really good, this may be the first season ever that we’ve written about as not being on the bubble in the history of the show, but at the same time, you know, there are a lot of articles in the first season that said we were dead in the water.   So I kind of feel like if you’re not gonna believe the bad ones, you can’t really believe the good ones either.

Davola: We were always below the…I mean, that’s the way it was, we’re a midseason show to start off with and our ratings started low because we were pushed ahead because the WB shows had morphed at that point and they rushed us on and as we slowly grasped and gathered an audience we became a big hit to our core demographic which was the demographic the network sells. It has always been touch and go, and it’s a little weird right now feeling like a positive vibe about going ahead when we’re usually feeling tentative and it’s a better way in a weird way for us to work and sort of live day by day because that’s how we’ve been living for the past four years.

Schwahn: What’s interesting about it, Oscar, I actually wrote a scene once about sometimes when you carry misery around with you it becomes like a friend and when it’s gone it’s sort of hard to convince yourself that you’re happy, and like Joe said, we sort of existed in a place where we’ve always been on the bubble.  We’ve always been fighting this uphill battle, so it makes us a little nervous when people say we’re a lock. It’s unfamiliar.

It sounds like that even if you do get picked up it might be contingent on not going ahead the four-five years.  Is it possible that you’ll come back next year but have the network want you to stay in college?

Schwahn: There’s a possibility.  You know, I was very passionate, I talked to the studio and the network, and they’ve both been so supportive of the idea. Initially, I think they were all afraid of it because it’s unprecedented and it’s brand new and it scared them a little bit because anything new, especially on a traditional sort of arena, like our show is fairly traditional, it scares everybody but my position was sort of your guy’s position which was that we’ve never been a rock solid hit so the risk factor isn’t as great as say, shaking up Friends at the height of its popularity.

So, they wanted to test the idea and they’ve done that, I hear that it’s testing very positively in favor of the jump ahead, but I think when you work for a machine that’s as big as the studio and network machine is, they wanna make sure that the fans are going to take that leap with us. My position—Joe’s position—was we’re eighty eight episodes into the show and as storytellers I can only tell you what excites me and what excites my writing staff about going into episodes 89 and beyond and what excites us and what gives us energy and really makes us want to get back in the writer’s room is the skip ahead. So, hopefully they’ll embrace that.

Davola: I mean, look, I think Mark is selling himself a little short here because the network and the studio really believe in him and I’m saying that because I’m his partner and I’ve been around for the last five years. Last year, he wanted to do the controversial gun episode, everybody was nervous about it, there was gonna be Columbine and they thought that there was something that was gonna go the wrong way, but Mark went into the room and sold it to the president of the studio and sold it to the president of the network and it went up being one of our highest rated shows and one that was highly regarded by the fans.

This year, they heard the idea and there was an immediate reaction to it, but once Mark goes into the room and lays it out with his passion, they seem to come on board which is great because they have belief in us and they have belief in the show which is a good way to go. We always look at the way we go on the show, which is sort of a no guts/no glory sort of role. You gotta go for it. And we felt like this is the only way I think we could maybe squeeze out a six or seventh season on the show, is to make this jump and you also have to look at the show. Our cast, their characters have been given wishful thinking positions. Brooke has her own clothing line. They’re basically getting things that people get in college, so they've lived this experience already, but now better to move on to the next experience so our audience can experience that experience together also, so that’s where I wanna go…that way.

Part 1 / Part 2

(Interview Conducted by Oscar Dahl)
(Image Courtesy of The CW)