Ben York Jones
(’06)  and Michael Mohan (’02) have successfully landed a new project – “Heartbeats” – at Starz, making waves across
The Hollywood Reporter
, and other major industry news outlets recently.

“Heartbeats” is an intimate glimpse into the constantly intersecting and diverging lives of Bobby and Kristen; two down-to-Earth individuals who would be perfect for each other, if only they had met at a different time. “Heartbeats” will explore their story with an episode format that focuses alternatingly on Bobby and Kristen.


Universal Cable Productions and Hypnotic’s Doug Liman and Dave Bartis’ romantic dramedy “Heartbeats” has found a love connection with Starz, the cabler announced today.

Written by Ben York Jones and Michael Mohan, the half-hour scripted show follows the lives of Bobby and Kristen — two individuals who would be perfect for each other, if only they’d met at a different time. Episodes will focus alternatively on either lead. Liman and Bartis will serve as executive producers and Jones and Mohan will co-executive produce.

The concept of romantic entanglement is nothing new to Jones, who co-wrote Sundance darling “Like Crazy,” and Mohan, who co-wrote the Lizzy Caplan-Alison Brie commitment-themed film “Save the Date.”

Starz is seemingly ramping up projects as of late; they recently announced they’re developing “WonderWorld,” an hour-long period drama starring Owen Wilson.

Chapman Alum Ben York Jones

Michael (left) and Ben (right).

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Roohani.

Ben was kind enough to answer some of my questions; read on to see what’s on his mind:

Jared: Why the change of focus from film to TV?

Ben: I actually don’t feel it’s much of a change in focus. I mean, both Mike and I plan to keep writing and making features, but the idea for “Heartbeats” just lent itself to a serialized from of story-telling, so TV was the medium we pursued. And it’s such an exciting (and expansive) new playground for guys like us, who’ve worked almost exclusively on independent films.

 Did you take any T/BJ classes while at Dodge?

I started to take a TV history class once, but switched it up for something else. I wasn’t very into most TV programming when I was in school, but the landscape has changed so much. I think I’d be far more inclined to take a TV course now than I was then.

What do you think of the difference between working in the two industries?  Of writing for them?

Well the great thing is Mike and I are super green when it comes to the TV business. We didn’t know very much about the pitching process or general TV protocol before we really started digging in, and in a way I think that lack of knowledge has really worked in our favor. The folks calling the shots in the TV world are looking for new perspectives, and that’s just what we wanted to give them.

How much involvement will you have over the show itself?

Should it go to series we’ll write and hopefully direct (respectively) most of the episodes, though the idea of having other independent movie director friends come in and take the reigns for an episode here and there is also really exciting to us. We’re also Co-Executive Producers.

Any thoughts for students on the state of digital/film/indie/studio distribution industries?

Kevin Spacey gave a great speech on the subject a few months back. You can find it on YouTube. It’s fantastic Spacey gravitas, but it also hits the nail on the head to my thinking. At the end of the day, it’s all just story-telling. If you really think about what you’re trying to say, the ideal medium will present itself. Maybe it’s a movie, maybe it’s a TV show, maybe it’s both… “Scene From a Marriage” was a miniseries that was later cut into a feature. So was “The Trip.” It’s all about your unique perspective and determining the best way to communicate that perspective.

Interesting stuff.  Here’s hoping the series goes into production soon!  Congrats to the team!