When former Groves High School student Aaron Kaczander moved in 2007 to Los Angeles intent on a career in writing, he did so in the midst of a massive writers strike that crippled broadcast television.
“Moving out there, I didn't know anyone. One of the smarter things I did the week I moved to Culver City, and writers were striking outside of the Sony studios,” said Kaczander, who now works as a writer and co-producer on “The Goldbergs,” on ABC. “I walked over to the gates at Sony and picked up a picket sign and started walking and talking to people. I met a lot of people, including one person that helped me get an unpaid internship with (producer/director) Ridley Scott.”
Already having graduated from the University of Michigan where he studied english and film, wrapping gifts as an assistant might not have earned him writing credits, but it did earn him credit as a hardworking midwestern native willing to hustle and grab new opportunities.
“That led to another job, and another. I even crashed a (Writers Guild) event as a new kid from Michigan,” he said. “That all sort of kickstarted my journey from the people I met that helped get me a job at the agency.”
While working connections, Kaczander took classes with the Upright Citizens Brigade, eventually landing a production assistant gig for Sean Smith – then landing a job nine years ago with Adam Goldberg, creator of “The Goldbergs.”
A staple of prime-time programing, the show is an autobiographical 1980s comedic telling of Goldberg's childhood. The show was recently picked up for a seventh season.
“I grinded my way through and worked my way up. I took a bunch of classes and used my contacts from my years in Los Angeles to get an interview with Adam Goldberg,” he said. “Growing up, my family and parents helped me, but I understood that if I was going to do this I would have to work really hard and be very humble and patient, and willing to do anything. I knew that. That's probably the greatest thing I can commend my parents for teaching me, and being incredibly patient and supportive.”
Although The Goldbergs is based on the creator's life experiences, Kaczander has been able to weave in stories of his own childhood, including inspiration from his own father, Bruce.
“I gave him a heads-up,” Kaczander said about one particular episode where his dad's own experience was used as a basis for one of the show's main characters. “We also used his likeness in an episode several seasons ago where the dad goes to see a podiatrist named Bruce Kaczander.
“One of the reasons so many people watch the show and love it is, at its core, the stories are very relatable.”
Influenced by everything ranging from Seinfeld and Ghostbusters, to Woody Allen and Wes Anderson, Kaczander said he entered U of M from Groves without immediately knowing the path he would follow. Finally, a screenwriting class made it clear he would focus on writing.
“I've fallen in love with the TV process. I've always been interested in movies, but I'm proud to be part of something, and a network show since day one,” he said. “I'm a very loyal person. I love the idea of sticking with a project to the end."