Friday, February 1, 2008

"For Erica Messer, TV Writing Is A Hit" ~2007

Since moving to Los Angeles 10 years ago, Erica (Cramer) Messer ’95 has written for a number of hit television shows. This season,viewers could catch her most recent project when the third episode of the Criminal Minds series aired.

Titled “The Perfect Storm,” the episode aired in October. She wrote the episode, which featured the FBI profile team’s search for suspects who sent DVD recordings of a series of murders to victims’ families.

Before scripting an episode, Messer and her writing partner Debra Fisher research a real-life story that piques their interest. “For this episode we looked at why and how two sick minds can talk each other into doing these things,” Messer said. “Long before Bonnie and Clyde there were killing teams.”

She said she finds the work fascinating. “In terms of chasing serial killers, there’s so much psychology involved ...” Messer said. “Typically, in every story Deb and I do the underlying tone is that the killer is the last person you’d expect it to be. We like to tell the ones where it’s the good looking guy who can have a job and a family, but has this dark side.”

Messer got hooked on television production while taking related classes at SU. “I enjoyed every step of it,” she said. “I loved writing, directing, editing—I was truly happiest when I was involved in a project like that.”

Communication arts professor, Dr. Frances Kendall described Messer, a former student, as organized and creative. “She was marvelous from the beginning, you could just tell,” Kendall said. “At one point they had to do a commercial in class and it was supposed to be live and Erica did it for Freedom Rock (a madeup band) and had a CD and cassette and she created her own covers. It was great.”

Kendall said Messer returned to SU one semester to talk to students about the experience of moving to Los Angeles cold, without knowing anyone except her boyfriend, now husband, Kenny Messer ’96. “You are 23 and you think well I could go to New York or go to LA,” Messer said. “We said ‘let’s go, let’s try LA and we’ll give it a couple of years.’” Messer’s first break was landing a job in a FOX office, followed by work on the Party of Five series. Before Criminal Minds, Messer wrote episodes of Alias, Charmed and The O.C.

Another Criminal Minds episode written by Messer and Fisher aired on November 15 and she hopes to do more in the future after returning from maternity leave.