Elan-Mastai
Elan Mastai | Biography

Quick Information

  • Full Name Elan Mastai
  • Occupation Screenwriter, Novelist
  • Nationality American
  • Birthplace Vancouver, Canada
  • Birth Date 1974 (age 47)
Author of Science Fiction Novel ‘All Our Wrong Todays’

Elan Mastai | Biography

Writer of the Romantic Comedy Film 'The F Word'

Mastai grew up to the position he is right now by starting and building himself from very scratch. While growing up in Vancouver, Mastai realized that his hometown was a frequent site for many Hollywood movie shootings, but no one from there actually tried writing for movies of those kinds. As a result, pursuing and excelling as a screenwriter seemed very far away for him as he didn’t know anybody in the business and had no connections either.  


Elan Mastai is a novelist and screenwriter from Canada best known for his screenwriting in the romantic comedy The F Word/ What If and as the  author of the thrilling science fiction novel ‘All Our Wrong Todays.’

Who is Elan Mastai?

Vancouver-based Elan Mastai is a novelist and screenwriter in his 30’s. As a person who was always delighted by sci-fi stories, Mastai worked on the edge-of-your-seat sci-fi novel ‘All Our Wrong Days’ and also had his hands on remarkable award-winning movies, and Tv shows such as The F World and This is Us.

Early Life and Education

Mastai was born in a Jewish family to a Canadian mother and an Israeli Immigrant father. He grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in a family of three siblings. 

Mastai family comprises people from diverse continents. Within just two generations, his family embodied people from four different continents. Though his mother was a Canadian, she was born in Chicago. Mastai is the first among the generation to be born in Canada. 

Mastai grew up reading strange stories and staring at the garishly painted covers depicting robots and rocket ships, mad scientists, and cutting-edge technology from the massive collection of old science fiction pulps his grandfather had from the mid-twentieth century. He thought that the figures and stories had no pragmatic realization, but he always wondered if it had.

Once, he was taken to a play called New Canadian Kid when he was a child. It was only through that play that he realized that humans’ works of art and entertainment could be a career one would want to pursue. Following this realization and passion, Mastai studied film at Queen’s University and Concordia University and completed his master’s in media studies.

Career

Mastai grew up to the position he is right now by starting and building himself from very scratch.

While growing up in Vancouver, Mastai realized that his hometown was a frequent site for many Hollywood movie shootings, but no one from there actually tried writing for movies of those kinds. As a result, pursuing and excelling as a screenwriter seemed very far away for him as he didn’t know anybody in the business and had no connections either.  

Mastai was very much open to whatever job came his way during his early career period. His friend from the university once helped him arrange a meeting with the producer with whom she collaborated. Through that successful meeting and the raw energy from the draft he submitted and re-submitted many times for that job, he got hired to write his first kid’s movie, MVP: Most Vertical Primate.

Then, from 2005, his work became relatively steady but what he mostly did was work-for-hire jobs. None of the works he did as a hired screenwriter gave him the feeling of personal ownership. 

Later, he started his first project, The F Word, in 2005, and there he pursued his voice instead of writing the version that someone was asking him to write. However, the project wasn’t a success.

Eventually, Mastai began writing The F Word in 2005, but by 2008 it got in The Black List, a survey of best-unproduced scripts in Hollywood. 

Though The F Word later got acquired by Fox Searchlight, it couldn’t make it through the studio. After the work remained in flux for several years, the movie took its flight after Daniel Radcliffe agreed to sign up as the lead. The movie would even win the ‘Canadian Academy Award’ and ‘The Writers Guild of Canada Award’ for the screenplay.

In addition to his most recent movie, What If (2013), also known as The F Word (2013), he also published his first novel ‘All Our Wrong Todays.’ 

Since 2016, he has been a writer and supervising producer on the Emmy-winning TV series This Is Us.  

‘All Our Wrong Todays’

Growing up, Mastai was well acquainted with wild scenes of aliens and foreign worlds, robots and flying cars, and all the technologies that the post-war generation was just certain would happen, thanks to his grandfather’s sci-fi collection. Simultaneously, he says he was well aware of the dissociation between the future people’s imagination of the future and what they actually had. Similarly, Mastai was deeply affected by the idea of what happened to the future we were all supposed to have, as depicted in the anthologies he read. This curiosity and interest grew over time, and he finally expressed it in his first novel, ‘All Our Wrong Todays.’

The novel follows a man from a dystopian alternate universe who becomes stranded in the real 2015 due to a time travel malfunction. Then he must decide whether he wants to make a living in this new world or return to the Utopian one from which he came. Like the 1950s and ’60s sci-fi inspiration, the novel showcased both social nostalgia and techno-determinist optimism.

Mastai believes he owes it all to his mother for his leap from a screenwriter to a novelist.

“I lost my mother at a relatively early age. I was in my mid-20s, and she passed away from cancer. Like my protagonist from ‘All Our Wrong Todays’, I was at a time in my life where I hadn’t figured out what I was going to do with my life. I knew I wanted to be a writer, but going from wanting to be a writer to actually being a professional writer seemed like such a huge leap,” he said.

In 2021, news conveyed that Elan Mastai was developing a series adaptation of his novel ‘All Our Wrong Todays’ at Peacock, collaborating with Seth MacFarlane as an executive producer.

‘What If - The F word’

Mastai’s first self conceptualized work, What If, is a candid, funny, and thoroughly modern comedy movie about love, chemistry, heartbreak, relationships, friendship, and the kind of once-in-a-lifetime connection that makes the mess all worthwhile.

The movie features actors such as Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Adam Driver, Mackenzie Davis, Rafe Spall, and Megan Park. 

Directed by Michael Dowse, the movie What If brought home the ‘Canadian Academy Award’ and the ‘Writers Guild of Canada Award’ for the screenplay written by Elan Mastai.

Development

 The movie went through quite a lot of trouble in its preparatory phase, sometimes due to money and sometimes due to schedules. To be eligible for U.S distribution, the movie even had to change its name from The F Word to What If, which Elan Mastai says is a price well paid.

‘This is Us’

Mastia joined NBC’s family drama This Is Us last season after its producer expressed his liking towards Mastia’s work. Already being a huge fan of the show, he moved to LA with his family to work on the show. 

He conveyed in an interview with the Canadian Press that the show comprised events that had happened in his personal life.

“Literally after every episode, my little sister calls me, and we go through the episode, and she guesses the things that were inspired by stuff from our life,” Mastai said. “And it’s not just my sisters, I get these texts after the episodes air from people like, ‘Was that from this? Was that inspired by this?”’

The show follows the Pearson family through decades, beginning with Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) as young parents in the 1980s and ending with their 37-year-old children, Kevin (Justin Hartley), Kate (Chrissy Metz), and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) quest for love and fulfillment. This grounded, life-affirming dramedy reveals how even the most insignificant events in our lives have an impact on who we are.

Wife and Children

Mastia is a married man in his thirties and has a daughter. He still feels heavy from his mother Judith Mastai’s death that happened back in 2001 and expresses his sadness in each of his interviews.

Did You Know?

  • It took Mastai 3 years to finally bring his novel ‘All Our Wrong Todays’ to market. He started writing his first novel in July 2014 and sold the manuscript to his publisher in October 2015. He then worked with his editors on revising it until June 2016. And it was published on hardcover in February 2017. 
  • He often uses music to get into a specific frame of mind. Thus, he assigns certain songs or bands he is listening to a character he is creating. 
  • If Mastai had to assign a song/band to himself, it would be an album of Ludovico Einaudi compositions covered by Ratatat.
  • He has said that he goes for a walk to think about how the character would see the world around them and plays a conversation within his head from the character’s point of view. Sometimes he even records himself talking like them and transcribes it. 
  • He is currently working on his second novel.

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