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Greg Berlanti Shares Path from Puppeteer to Prolific Producer

LOS ANGELES — Greg Berlanti currently has six network series in production — upcoming shows Blindspot on NBC, Legends of Tomorrow on The CW and Supergirl on CBS in addition to returning shows Arrow and The Flash on The CW and The Mysteries of Laura on NBC.

During a keynote session at PromaxBDA: The Conference Tuesday, the uber producer (and creator and writer and director) explained how he does it all.

“Everybody has to do multiple things,” he said during his “Flash Forward and Create with Greg Berlanti” conversation with Lisa Gregorian, president and CMO, Warner Bros. Television Group at the JW Marriott in Los Angeles. “Segmenting my day helps me.”

Berlanti is at his most creative early in the morning, so he wakes up around 5:30 or 6 a.m. and writes until 10. He’ll head into the office soon after.

“I become more and more of producer during the day,” he said. “By the night time, I sit in post and edit shows. It’s quiet, but I’m doing it with other people.”

Social media was not around when Berlanti was cutting his teeth writing for Dawson’s Creek in the late 1990s; now it is everywhere, and an increasingly important part of television.

“You’ve got your own focus group,” he said. “It can be really informative of what story twists and turns you think might work or not work.”

While he didn’t expect to be working in the television industry — much less running six shows — Berlanti was destined to do something in the entertainment business. He worked as a puppeteer as a kid, putting on puppet shows for neighborhood birthday parties.

“I would work on stories, just planning out beats and events and mapping out arcs for characters,” he said.

Now he’s doing the same thing now, but instead for a bevy of superheroes on network television. He tries to keep character at the center, blurring drama with comedy and everything else. “My advice is, what is the show if you take the super out of it?”

When mentoring younger writers and producers, he tells them there are two trains for their career: The train they image is going to come to the station, and the one that actually comes.

“If you’re so focused on the train you think is supposed come in, you’ll miss the one that’s there,” he said.