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Screenwriters Need To Hear This with Michael Jamin

Screenwriters Need To Hear This with Michael Jamin

Michael Jamin has been a professional television writer/showrunner since 1996. This podcast is meant to help aspiring writers learn the craft of storytelling from a working screenwriter. 

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053 - Producer Jim Serpico

This week, Producer Jim Serpico joins the podcast. Jim's career has included shows like Lie To Me, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, and Maron, where he worked with Michael. Dive into his history and a deep conversation about writers from a producer's point of view.

Show Notes

Jim Serpico on IMDB - https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0785351/

Jim Serpico's Website - https://jimserpico.com/

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-11-02
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052 - Screenwriting Questions A Year In

It's our 52nd episode, which marks one full year of Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. In this episode, Phil Hudson gets to ask Michael his questions after another year of progress in his Hollywood career.

Show Notes

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

Michael Jamin:

All writers en very few working writers that I know enjoy writing. We enjoy having written. So it's like, Oh, I just finished the script. That felt good cuz it was so hard. You're listening to Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jen.

Hey everybody. Welcome back to Screenwriters. Need to hear this, our podcast. I'm Michael Jam, and I'm here with Phil Hudson. Welcome back Phil. Thank you. It's good to be back. We, we have a special, It's good to be back. We have a special a special episode. Phil has been, you know, he's been doing co-hosting this for about a year now, and, you know, we've been handling a lot of stuff together and I guess these are your questions that you've had after a year of doing this. You know, I guess you have your own thoughts about what, what you wanna learn more, even though you're so close to, to me and we're doing it together. I guess you have more questions, so let's dig in. Yeah. Does that sound what I feel?

Phil Hudson:

Yeah, it's pretty close. I mean, I think it's, it's not even pretty close. It's basically what we're doing today. This thought came to me because, you know, I'm involved in the podcast. I go through the q and as with you, I hear all of these questions. I listen to a lot of your live q and as when you do them on social media. And then I look at where I'm at in my screenwriting world. I've taken your course, I've taken other courses. I got a bachelor's degree in screenwriting, you know, story development mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. and so it's really more the nuanced questions that I have about the craft and career and you know, looking at where I'm at now, six years into my Hollywood career, progressing from a pa doing an associate producer and mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, three seasons on a show, hopefully moving into

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. You've come a long way in that time. Yeah. It's come a long way.

Phil Hudson:

I know. It's, it's it's humbling to look back on it because it doesn't feel like it at the time. A lot of time it doesn't feel like getting that coffee or going on that drive in LA traffic at 5:00 PM for, because someone forgot to send an email at 12 noon. You know, it's kind of hard to remember that. And even very helpful as a mentor and a friend to kind of guide me and be a sounding board and talk me off the ledge when I'm super stressed out about all the craziness happening.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah.

Phil Hudson:

But it's been, it's been very helpful to, to have that opinion. And I think there are some of these questions that reflect where I'm at in my career. I think they'll be helpful to a lot of people at all stages. But for me, I think that, you know, you say there's no intermediate writing, it's all writing 1 0 1. This might be more career advice, I guess you could say

Michael Jamin:

Career 1 0 1. Sure. Okay.

Phil Hudson:

Sure. So, we'll, you know, we'll dive in and, and, you know, just kind of jazz. I'm not a jazz fan, but we'll jazz it a little bit about some of these questions. I'm not looking for anything specific, it's just more your thoughts on these things. Okay. So, you know, as, as we've discussed on the podcast, I'm a big fan of personal development

Michael Jamin:

And Yeah. More than anyone I know. Yeah, yeah,

Phil Hudson:

For sure. Love it. I love growing and, and developing and, and books are my number way of doing, one way of doing that. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, there's a really powerful book by a guy named Josh Waitzkin called The Art of Learning. And one of the things he talked about, he was the, you know, did we talk about him on the podcast? Does this

Michael Jamin:

Don't, The name doesn't, it's not familiar. No.

Phil Hudson:

So, Josh Wakin was the premise, the, the child behind the, the book searching for Bobby Fisher, which became a movie. He was a chess prodigy at like the age of eight, like an International Grand Master by 17. And then he left that and he became a Tai Chi push hands world champion in his twenties. And then he became a Brazilian jujitsu black belt. And he coaches hedge fund managers on on high level performance. And he's a, he's a foiler, you know what foiling is?

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, yeah. Like fencing?

Phil Hudson:

No. So this is, this is a little bit different. It's like surfing, but then there's a, a fin Oh, that goes in the water. And so you're actually above the water, so there's less drag. So you're going super fast

Michael Jamin:

Hydrofoils. Right, Okay.

Phil Hudson:

So he is, he is a professional foiler now too. And he's constantly mastering different things. One of the things he talks about, you know, he starts with fundamentals. You know, he says most people start with openings in chess or in juujitsu or whatever it is you're doing. He likes to start at the end, at the end game and really say, Here's where I'm headed. What happens if I get stuck in this position where there's like three pieces on the board? And he talks about you have to learn the fundamentals, and then after you've done it enough times, you get enough volume of repetition in, you get to a point where you start looking at the, making what he calls, making small circles, big circles, right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So you, you examine one position in chess or Brazilian jiujitsu enough, and then you can find a thousand ways out of that, where someone might only have one.

And, and in this, in a world of screenwriting, I think about, okay, here's story structure. Here are the three elements of story. Those are kind of the fundamental things you have to know to be able to write a script. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. But then there's improving dialogue, improving jokes, all those things. I'm just wondering from your perspective, where are places people can look for those circles? Like, you know, I said a couple of them, you know, act breaks, you know, making those pop jokes, whatever. Just wondering if you have any thoughts on that. What are those circles where we can spend more time and really develop? Or where have you spent time?

Michael Jamin:

Oh you know, sometimes you'll think of a, sometimes, we'll, my partner and I were writing, you know, we'll think of what's a bad story? How can, what's, what's a good version of a bad story? Or you'll see, you'll watch other shows and you'll, you'll see, okay, how are they doing this? And what don't I like about it? How could I, how could I do this? We do this all the time. We'll watch a movie or a show, and we'll talk about what we don't like about it and how we would've done it differently. It's just a thought experiment. We won't spend too much too long on it. And it's not because we're trying to bag on it. We're just trying to think, Okay, there must be another way around this. You know? It's very easy. I think it's very easy for new writers to think, Well, my first idea is that that's the one I'll go with. And that's so not often not the case. Usually before you start writing, you'll explore a number of different areas and go down and then, and then come back to the one, Even if it's the, the first one is the great one, you'll still explore other areas first just to make sure that you feel you're on good footing, That you haven't gone, that you're not just doing the first thing that came to your head. So that, I think that's one way to open your mind a little bit.

Phil Hudson:

That's awesome. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

And you can watch bad shows too, and learn a lot from bad shows.

Phil Hudson:

Got it. Do you have any specific writing exercises you've done over the year to improve specific aspects of your writing? Like again, joked joke telling or things like that?

Michael Jamin:

Well, that, I talk, I've talked about this a little bit where when I was on King of the Hill, we just got there and I was in the joke room that day, so it was like five, five of us, and we were assigned to punch up like a, a scene. And I was eager to impress everybody. So I start, I pitched this joke and got a big laugh in the room and then, and so I was like, Oh, that's the winner, right? So they sent me off to the short runners, were in a different room, and I pitched in this joke and they go, Oh, everyone's laughing. They're all, they loved it. And they go, Great, come back with five more. And I was like, I don't understand. I just, I just pitched it in a room, got a big laugh, I pitched it to you, You guys loved it.

You left. Why, why am I doing five more? I felt like busy work now. I was getting paid a lot, so I was like, I didn't say anything. I was like, Okay, I'll go back and do five more. But I was a little resentful of it. And I went back and I came up with 10 more. And of those 10, a couple of them were just as good, You know, they were just as good. I think I, I don't remember, I don't even remember which one we wound up using. That's how unimportant it is to be attached to one joke. It was, it really opened my mind to explore the fact that there's no one right way, and you can always do better and you can always top it. And all these jokes are disposable. And then I became really good at it. I really became good at joke writing when it was like, when I was less attached to any one of them. And then you really, and it was almost like, you know, showing off. You're like, Okay, I could do this again. I could do more. No problem, not a problem. I could do more.

Phil Hudson:

Hmm. Is that something that you drilled ever, or, I mean, that sounds like a drill almost, but does that something you ever said at home and just practiced?

Michael Jamin:

Not when I didn't do a practice, but I remember being in rooms with some of the staff writers, and we were in the joke room. This is at King of the Hill. And and they were on, so we're pitching on a joke. And then some of them, they were new, so they were pitching lines that weren't good yet. And I took it as a challenge. How can I make the line that they said, How can I make that funny and then use it and then give them credit? You know what I'm saying? It was more, it was like a, it really was just a test for me. Like, they'd pitch it and I go, Nah, that's not good, but what about this? And I twist their words around and I add it on a little bit, and then I get a laugh and I go, Good for you. So you did it. You know? And I give 'em credit for it. But that was part of me just I was really doing for myself. How can I, you know, it was more of a challenge.

Phil Hudson:

Got it. It, it seems to me from my conversations with you and the conversations on the podcast, that the real, and again, this is just speculation. It seems like the real place where you're getting in these repetitions and practicing this stuff is just sitting down with sea, your writing partner and just writing and writing and writing and writing. Would you say that's accurate? Is that,

Michael Jamin:

Is that the Yeah, I mean, we write so much. I don't even remember what we've written. Sometimes we'll revisit an idea from years ago and I forgot all about it. Or sometimes we're writing so much, I forget the names of the characters of a, you know, a pilot we're writing or, you know, Cause we do do a lot of it. You know, we're constantly working. And so yeah, you know, there's, there's always work to be done. There's always new stuff to come up with.

Phil Hudson:

I had that conversation with Steve Lemy. I was over at his house helping him with his internet and getting his stuff set up for posts for Tacoma fd. And I saw this stack of scripts just on his bookshelf. And I said, Yeah. Oh, are those your scripts? And he says, Yeah, that's, that's a bunch of 'em I've written. I said, That's fascinating. We started talking about where I'm at in my career and some of the other opportunities I've been offered to go down the producing route versus the writing route. And, and trying to get his feedback. And he said, You know, I'm gonna call BS on anybody who says that they took a producing job. And then that stopped them from being a writer. Because if you wanna be a writer, you can write and you can just write and you can just find time to write. Cause that's what you have to do. He said, You know, I used to work when I was waiting tables, I'd work two doubles so that I had five days of just writing time, and that's what I would do. Oh, wow. And he said, I wrote good 20 scripts. I've taken 10 out. Four of 'em have been made, says, so this, you just gotta keep writing and writing and writing, and if you wanna be a writer, you can make it happen.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. Yeah. So that's, he's successful. So there you go.

Phil Hudson:

If you had to ballpark how many scripts you've made, how many do you think you've done?

Michael Jamin:

How many we've written?

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. You and c written just ballpark.

Michael Jamin:

Well, are you talking about ones that have been produced or like ones that haven't sold?

Phil Hudson:

It's just specs. You've written

Michael Jamin:

Specs. Geez. you know, dozens. He's, I mean, I mean more than dozens specs that we've, I mean,

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. I'm not necessarily talking about like you're on staff and you get a script, but I'm talking more like you and Seabert sit down and you come up with an idea. You're not on a show and you're just writing and you're riding. You take it out, you pitch. It doesn't go anywhere. Yeah. Maybe it goes somewhere.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. you know, probably less than 50, but a lot. Plenty. Yeah. And, and some of them we've sold and some of them haven't. Most, well, most of them haven't, you know? Yeah.

Phil Hudson:

So just I think that kind of puts into perspective the amount of work you have to put out there to Yeah. Make it,

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. 50 may be a little high, but, you know, it's a lot. Yeah.

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. There you go. All right. So having known you and your wife for many years at this point, I think one of the things that I appreciate about you is that you really seem to have a really strong work life balance, Right? You talk about how you go on walks with your wife, you know? Yeah. You, you prioritize that alone time with, with her. You raised two daughters. You know, you've, you've got what, again, what I would say is pretty strong or significant work life balance. I'm just wondering how you prioritize things in your life, life.

Michael Jamin:

Well, I actually, I was thinking about this the other day myself, and I probably would've been a more successful writer had I worked the game, had I networked more, had I gone to more functions and soc been more social for sure. But it was just never my priority. I always want, I like being at home. I like being with my family. I think I'm extremely lucky that when my children were, were little, those, those years, you know, the, they go, they fly by those little, and I was always home that I worked. It was just, I was just luck that I was always home every night to give them a bath and read 'em a story. Because on most sitcoms at the time, maybe it's different now, but you know, you could work easily till 10 or midnight every single night. And I got lucky that I wasn't, I was on King of the Hill at the time and the hours were pretty good on King of the Hill. And so it just so happened that the hours that I needed to be home for my children were, they were the ones, it coincided with my career, but I always put my family above my career. And the only time, if there was any instance, it was only because I needed to do my career so that I could pay the bills so that I could, you know, But it was never the career. I just don't understand that like, you know, like Tom Brady's, I guess he's getting, probably getting

Phil Hudson:

A divorce. Yeah, I saw that today.

Michael Jamin:

And it's because he loves football. He doesn't need the money. He loves football more than anything else. Like, no, that's not, that wouldn't have been the case for me. My family comes first, so I, you know, it's so, it's shocking to me, but that's how much she loves football. But there are other writers as well, I know that feel the same way. You know, they, their career is more important to than anything else. Like, alright. And that's why I don't even put any stock in you know awards or Emmy's or whatever. I'm like, and Emmy would be nice and so far it would help you get more work and probably raise your quote. But the actual thing on shelf helds absolutely no appeal to me. It doesn't do anything for me.

Phil Hudson:

It's fascinating cuz I think a lot of people, myself included, we we seek those types of things. We seek acknowledgement and mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, I've heard other writers refer to as the the Good Boy syndrome. Like, you just want to be the teacher's pet and you want to prove that you're, you're capable of doing things. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So I know a lot of people who are pursuing those things and they're pursuing clout and fame. But that's something I do appreciate and respect about you. And it's things people don't know about you. I mean, you've taken time during your career to become fluent in Italian. I mean, I was, if watch you have full blown conversations with Italians and it's, I get it because I'm fluent in Spanish, You speak Spanish as well, right?

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. Right.

Phil Hudson:

Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

I just love that. I love languages.

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. You've got a beautiful, you've got a background in marketing. You're, you're probably just as competent as a marketer as I am, if not more. So you helped your wife with her business you know, you're a businessman. And, and I think that's a, a fascinating trait. Cause I, I wondered this because I wondered it, it almost seems like you have to be deeply obsessed with something in order to become extremely proficient, proficient at that thing in a way that we might consider the top 1% of the top 1%. The Tarantinos, the fros, the Rodriguez is the, you know, and those people, they just, they know every film. They know how cameras work, they know how lighting lighting works there. You know, Fros developed this new format for filmmaking with the void, right? He's he, he's taken gaming engines and used them to produce real to life lighting systems inside a contained environment. You don't have to be outside for like, it's, it's wild.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah.

Phil Hudson:

I wonder how you balance that in a family. I

Michael Jamin:

Really do. And that's the thing, I I, it wouldn't, like, I'm not that driven. I'm just not. And in terms of the stuff that I like learning, I, I enjoy learning. I've always, that's, I was a nerd in high school, so all that stuff is like, Oh, I can learn a language that sounds fun. I can learn this little skill set that's, I like learning, but I don't it's not the that the process of learning is more interesting to me than actually, you know I'm just not driven. I'm, I'm not as driven as I maybe I thought I would be. I I don't need to have you know, I don't need to be king of Hollywood. It just doesn't, As long as I'm doing my, I mean, I honestly, as long as I'm doing what I want to do, spending the day doing what I want to do, and I don't need to make a ton of money that's not, it's not the money that's driving me. It's the fact that I get to spend my days doing what I want to do.

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. Quality of life. And I think that's where I'm at right now. And, and we've had these conversations cuz I'm behind on many of the deadlines for the stuff that I want to do for your website and the things that we've committed to doing for the members of your course. And, you know, I had to take a step back for three weeks to have other guests. I would've loved to have been on phone call on these conversations with these guests that you had. But it just was a priority for me to step aside and just focus on other things because I'm so overcommitted in so many aspects of my life. I'm literally not doing the things I enjoy. Like, I enjoy doing this. And I told you this, I enjoy doing this podcast more than most things I do in my life. And I had to take time away from that to get thing's so that I could focus on those things.

Michael Jamin:

But you're also a pleaser. You enjoy helping people. That's your thing. And sometimes you bite off more than you chew and you can chew because you wanna, you, like, that's part of your, you get joy in helping people.

Phil Hudson:

Sure. I do. And it, but it's this balance aspect of, you know, if it's being detrimental to my time to write and I'm not writing, then why am I doing this for, Right. Why do I live in LA if I'm not writing? Why am I working as a, in post production on TV show if I'm not writing? And then it's that balance. And then at the same time, I've got a daughter that I just love to death and I've got another, a son on the way and another very shortly Yep. You know, six weeks out from this point. So.

Michael Jamin:

Wow.

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. So it's, it's fascinating and it's something that I just really appreciate about you is it seems like you have this work life balance and it's, it's, I would say that despite the fact that you're not, you're saying you're not driven. I mean, again, not always riding, always riding.

Michael Jamin:

Right. But I'm not doing the things and I have no problem with, I don't have any regrets, but I'm not, I'm not schmoozing, I'm not making the circuit. I'm not I'm definitely not like there are, and I know there are writers who do that, who are always looking, Ooh, how can that person help me? How can I spend time in their and their be in their grace to advance my career? I see it and it, it doesn't appeal to me. So

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. Really fascinating. So it kind of brings up the, the next question I had here, which is about relationships. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you know, you've got beautiful relationships from a career. That's why a lot of these people have offered to be on the podcast with you and you ask them, and it's not for personal gain. I mean just listening to the introduction to Rob Cohen on the podcast where you describe him as a friend, it's, it was a beautiful thing. And it makes me emotional thinking about that deep level relationship with someone you've worked with. Yeah. And I'm just wondering like, what do you do to cultivate and maintain those great relationships with these people?

Michael Jamin:

And that's another hard thing. Like other people would probably do more. I know other people would do more. So I've worked writers and have been friends with them, and then when you leave, the show gets canceled, you go on a different show, then you kind of, you kind of go your ways. And it would've been smarter of me to continue cultivating many of those relationships. But, you know, life gets in the way, my family gets in the way. I'd rather be with my family. And so it would've helped me more had, had I done that, but this is what I was willing to do. And so, but there are a handful of course that I still ta you know, maintain you know, a connection with, you know, your, the closest ones. So those are the ones that, you know, I hang onto.

Phil Hudson:

All right. So this is something that I think about a lot too. And I think one thing that I'm really good at is I'm really good at learning things. I'm really good at understanding things and conceptualizing them and reducing them down to a very simple to understand palatable process. I remember the first time I met you in person, I, I came out to a twirly girl at your wife's company in, in downtown LA And we were just kind of talking when I got there cause I was helping you guys with something and you were like, so do you have like a degree in computer science or something? I was like, No, I'm a college dropout. At the time I wasn't even in film school at the time.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. You knew a lot about a lot of different things for websites. I mean, like, you know, a lot,

Phil Hudson:

You know, and it, and it's just because that's just a gift that I think I have is I can take these things and I understand how to think about 'em and ask the right questions to the right people. And then I'll put in the time and I'll, I'll beat my head against the rock to figure out how to do it. Yeah. To the point where I can kind of guess almost like a principal of like how things are gonna work. But knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is the application of knowledge. Right. And I think about how much time I spent learning the craft of screenwriting and learning how to do this stuff and so little time doing the craft of screenwriting during that time.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. You gotta continue. Yeah.

Phil Hudson:

I was wondering if you had a ballpark ratio of how much time someone should spend learning versus doing. Because just doing doesn't mean you're going to be successful and you can continue to spend your time. But as we talked about on a recent podcast episode, just because you did, you you've done it doesn't mean it's good and you might need a pro to teach you how to do it.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, I mean, I think in the beginning I would, I would try probably say half and half. You'd probably have to study and then, and then continue to write. And, and, but writing is, that's how you, that's how you get better as well. I mean, even when I was putting together in my book I look at some of the early stories and I compare it to the ones towards the end of the book and I'm like, Oh, I gotta go back and rewrite the beginning ones because even while I was writing the book, I grew as a writer and I got better and I can see it. I can see, and that's only because Icontinue working, you know, writing,

Michael Jamin:

Hey, it's Michael Jam. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michael jam.com/watchlist.

Phil Hudson:

It almost feels to me, and if I could go back to 2008 when I started this I was writing because I didn't have the fear of what I didn't know. And then I quickly learned, I knew so little that I put a lot of fear and failure into me and it helped me back. And I felt like I needed to chase more knowledge and understanding so that I could do something good. The first at bat. And that's something you always said was writing is rewriting and, and what you the first draft, right? It's the, you know, part in the language. It's the shit draft or the crappy draft or the vomit drafts as I've heard are

Michael Jamin:

Called. And that's exactly what I just saw in this interview that Aaron Sorkin gave. And I was like, Yeah, he said the same thing. It's always about the second draft. It's like, yeah, it's, but that's not like, it's not, it's not, it's not me and Aaron Sorkin believe this. It's me, Aaron Sorkin and every other working writer believe this. So it's all the same.

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. But, but to to that point, it's, you have to get it out and you have to practice it. So if I could go back rather than obsessing about knowing everything, I think I would start and I would learn something and then I would practice that thing and I would practice that thing 5, 10, 12, a hundred times and then I moved to the next thing and I'd practice that thing over and over and over again. And I think what's beautiful about what you've done, and again, for anyone who wants to know why you have a screenwriting course I pushed you to, because I wanted that information outta your brain. And I think that's so beautiful about it is you've conceptualized from start to finish. Here is what you need to know and understand to be a professional writer, you need to understand these three story points.

They have to be, these elements have to exist in your story. And most of the time you have problems cuz you're forgetting one of these things or they're not. Plus they're not great. You know, they're just okay. Yeah. And you have your story structure, you have all those beautiful things in there that you can go in and just learn something and practice, practice, practice, then move to the next thing. Practice, practice, practice. And I just had a conversation with another another student in your course, Kevin, who I consider to be a peer at this point. You know, he's a script coordinator on another show and he's, we've been holding each other accountable in our writing to get better all year. And it's been really, really powerful in having that working relationship with someone. Yeah. But, but that's the conversation is like, I almost feel like I want to come up with 12 to a hundred different story ideas that could be plot, you know, stories, and then I wanna move to breaking stores and I just wanna break a hundred stories and then move to the next step and then move to the next step.

Right. Just so I can hone that skill to get it to some muscle memory

Michael Jamin:

There a hundred would be a lot to break, but

Phil Hudson:

Yeah, I know, I know that's an exaggerated number, but that's my ridiculous brain. But even 12, right? Do 12 of those, you know? Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah.

Phil Hudson:

So yeah, for sure. Anyway, I think I think that's the advice I would give people who are wondering what they could do to be more successful faster is just learn the fundamentals and practice the fundamentals and drill, drill, drill as much as you can. Mm-Hmm.

Michael Jamin:

<Affirmative>. Yeah. You know, you,

Phil Hudson:

You talk about the, the power of being a professional, which is you just show up and you're right, even if you don't feel like it. And I'm fortunate enough to have clients who are Navy Seals who wrote a bunch of New York Times bestselling books and one of those guys, Jock will, he has this saying, discipline equals freedom. And he's like, you think discipline will hold you back, but discipline will actually set you free because you're not mired in emotion and you're not dependent on motivation. It's just, this is a discipline and I do it no matter what because I am the master of my body or I'm the master of, of my, my not inhibitions, but your desires. And so you just, you do it. Do you seem to me to be very much that type of person you do it because it's a discipline? Do you Yeah. Ever look at rewards as a reason to do something? Like you have any boards you provide to yourself?

Michael Jamin:

Just when you said the other, just when you said this, I was like, Oh yeah, I went, I went for run, I run three days a week. I used to do it more, but three days, like now I do other stuff and then I run past the same guy Henry, he lives in my neighborhood and I see him almost always almost cuz he's outside his house almost at the same time. We always talk for a little bit and he is like, Boy, you really, you, it's like clockwork, you're always running. And I was like, I guess so I don't even think about it. I just, every other day I just go running. It's like I don't even, you know. Yeah. It's, there's the discipline, they just do it. There's no excuses, just do it. But in terms of the reward, you know, I am obviously I am, you know, you build, you'll never get to the reward.

Like I heard Stallone say, he said like, this is what life is. You build a, you build a mountain, you climb to the top and then you build another mountain to climb. So is there ever, do you ever get there? Now you'll never get there. You know, that's, but the, the journey is what's it, that's what it all is. It's just, that's all part of it. And even now I have things that I, I'm chasing, you know, putting on my, my one man show and making that bigger and, and taking on the road. But I see other people who are doing it more successfully than I am for sure. And I'm, that's, that's my hill I'm building, so, yeah.

Phil Hudson:

Got it. So for you, it's almost the, you know, the cliche, I would call it a cliche saying of the joys and the journey. Do you actually find that joy in the journey or do you have, you

Michael Jamin:

Know, you know, there's guy who was, is he talks about this he's a doctor, I think it's Arico maul or I think his, his name is. And he talks about when people climb Mount Ev Everest, it takes months and months and months of to training and, and acclimation. And then they get to the base camp and then they climb ever. And it takes more and more time. And then when they get to the top of Everest, what do they do? They take a selfie, they're there for about five minutes and they head back down. So the reward is not top of Mount Everest. If it was, they would spend their life there. The reward is the journey is the doing of it. And so yeah, that's that's pretty much it. If you're not enjoying the, if listening, if you're not enjoying the journey, you're not gonna enjoy the destination. <Laugh>, you're, you're not. So you have to enjoy if you, you know, do something else. If you, if you feel like it's really hard and, and you don't, you're not getting enough out of it.

Phil Hudson:

How do you reconcile that with something I've heard you say before, which is writing is not necessarily fun. And if you're having fun, you might not be actually writing. Oh,

Michael Jamin:

It's because that's easy because I, all writers, very few working writers that I know enjoy writing, we enjoy having written. So it's like, oh, I just finished the script. That felt good cuz it was so hard. So, and I, I get now, I guess you're saying, well is that the, that's the destination having finished the script? I, I mean I guess that's, to me that's part of the process as opposed to Sure. The deal or the show.

Phil Hudson:

You've sure. You know, it's, it's the high, the runner's high, right? It's you, it's a benefit that you get from doing it. It's not the thing you chase. Right? Yeah. You don't run to get a runner's high. It's just a benefit. And I think what I was asking about rewards, I think what I was really asking is like, do you ever set a milestone and say, When I do this, I will reward myself with that because, and, and let me preface this by saying I feel like I might be too smart for that system. It's like, you know, weight loss, like, oh, if you hit this bench start you can go get a pizza. It's like, but I could just go get a pizza. I could go do that right now. And, and so that system's never worked for me. And so it, what works for me more is not focusing on what I necessarily want to get out of it. It's what I don't want or don't want to continue to endure. If that makes sense. Yeah. That causes a lot of change for me.

Michael Jamin:

I I'm supposed to, I know what you're saying. I'm, I'm supposed to celebrate more. And I know Cynthia's always, my wife's always saying like no, we're celebrating now cuz you just did something great. And I'm like, but I haven't, I'm not, we're not there where I wanna be yet. You know, She goes, Yeah, but it doesn't matter. We you still did this, that what you did was pretty great. So I, she helped me celebrate those little things.

Phil Hudson:

Your your wife is awesome. Like that woman is a saint. She's such a wonderful person. Like we need mores in the world. And and I love that so much. Like, she makes you appreciate your time. My wife does the same thing. She's just like, Right, you should go get a new car. I was like, Why? So you deserve it. I was like, I don't deserve it.

Michael Jamin:

<Laugh>,

Phil Hudson:

My car works just hard. Did

Michael Jamin:

You get, did you get a new car?

Phil Hudson:

We just bought a new car last night for her

Michael Jamin:

For her. What, what did, what'd you get?

Phil Hudson:

We got a VW atlas. We found a 2019 is with

Michael Jamin:

Is that like, it's an suv,

Phil Hudson:

It's like a three row suv. It's like the biggest need need to, Yeah, it's based off of the, the Audi QR eight or whatever like that model, which I guess is based off of some Lamborghini. That's what the salesman was telling us. My wife was all print and you know, fortunately I could provide that opportunity to her, but I was I was in San Jose over the weekend and I was driving my mother-in-law's car and the engine blew while I was driving like smoke and everything. So we, we have an opportunity to, to do something nice for my mother-in-law and provide a better experience for my wife. So that's why we did it. Right. I am, I don't reward myself so much that I'm still driving my 2011 Kia Sportage with 238,000 miles on it.

Michael Jamin:

2011. Interesting. You know, my Jeep is 2005, 2005 film <laugh>.

Phil Hudson:

You love that thing though. You love your jeep.

Michael Jamin:

I do.

Phil Hudson:

Michael, I rodee in that Jeep. Once Michael took me like it was in LA and he took me to go get noodles. We got, we got far or something.

Michael Jamin:

Oh right, right, right.

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. Spilled all over my shirt. That's what you want when you meet. Someone you consider mentors is just spilling noodles all over your

Michael Jamin:

Shirt. Yeah, I remember that, right. Yeah.

Phil Hudson:

A funny, he remembers the noodles being on my

Michael Jamin:

Shirt. Not, no, I don't remember that. But I remember going, getting far or whatever. Yeah. Right.

Phil Hudson:

Well I got a couple, a couple other follow up questions here cause I know we're getting a little long winded, but you know, I appreciate this conversation because I think it's really helping me shape my, my mind around where I'm at at this stage in my, my life and my career. I'm wondering what you do in terms of outside influences and to preface this again I spend a lot of time breaking myself away from news and, and information that's mostly negative. I deleted social media, my, for my phone for a long time stopped looking at the news altogether. And I had a teacher in film school who got pretty angry with me. It was like, how can you be a good citizen of the world if you don't understand what's happening in the world? I was like, well, I had Twitter on my phone. It's one of the few things I kept and it keeps me up to date, real time with what's happening in the world from, you know, sources that I trust. But I'm just wondering what you do do. I mean, do you spend time looking in thinking about these things? And if so, how does that influence your writing?

Michael Jamin:

I, I do, I read a lot. I read a lot of David Saaris and so he had new book come on. I obviously devoured that the second I got it I'm reading another writer a book by a guy named Ocean Wong. And his, I love then his title, his book it's Unearth. We're briefly gorgeous. And I'm like, That's, that's perfect. Like that title on earth we're briefly gorgeous. Think about that. The rhythm is perfect on Earth. We're briefly gorgeous. And what does it say? It says, it says, but that's, maybe we're gorgeous somewhere else, but on here. We all have a moment to shine. We all have one and it's brief and it's fleeting. I just love like, man, that guy and just listening. I've heard him on a couple, not a podcast, but a radio interview and I'm like, and you know, he is young and I'm like, man, this guy's a fricking poet.

He is a poet. And so I'm reading him and I'm really appreciating the way he writes. It's, I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna use any of it. I'm not gonna use, it's not gonna influence my writing at all. I just appreciate there's no place for it in what I do, but I really have a strong appreciation for what he does. And so finding just looking for other ma you know, not other, but looking for masters and just seeing how they do it. Like David Zaris is a master of what he does. I just really, I enjoy that. I enjoy seeing other people performing, working at their best, putting their best out there, like man, cuz there are people doing amazing stuff.

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. That's awesome. Similar to this, you know, if, if that stuff's not affecting you, do you feel that it inspires you to do better? Like does it push you to, to reach for that next ledge, the next find to that next limb?

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, I mean I like, like I would just, it's so hard. But I, I would love, like, I would love that. I would love for people to look at my work, particularly my collection that I put in. I'd love for people to say, Man, that was really great. And I, that's for someone else to decide whether it is or it isn't. But that when I'm doing these shows, I'm like, I, I want someone to leave each show. Like the goal for me in good writing is not whether you're enjoying it at the moment, but how do you feel when it's over? How long does it stick with you? And if I can make someone get in their car after the each show, that's what I'm, that's what I'm going for. I don't know if, I dunno if anyone's had this breakdown or not, but just hesitate from 'em before putting the key in the ignition and just kind of just sit there almost like <laugh>, like they just need a moment alone.

Just before they get in the car, before they start the car. That's what I, that's what I'm always trying to do. And I always, I even think about that growing up I used to go with my dad into the city. Like, you know, he had an office job and sometimes I'd put on my little clip on time and go sit in his office for, you know, it was horribly boring, but that's what I would do. And during those train rides, my dad, he always did his head in a fricking book. And that's how, that's what it was. Everyone in that commuter train from, from where we lived to the city, everyone, this is before phones. And so everyone had a book and I, and to me when I'm writing, I'm thinking, can I get that person who's reading the book? Can I get them to laugh out loud? Cuz that seems to be a high, a high bar cuz they're in their own world. Can I get 'em to laugh out loud? And those are the people I'm thinking about when I'm writing.

Phil Hudson:

Hmm. That's beautiful man. I think it again, you know, as you said earlier, you're not, you're not motivated by golden statues. You're not motivated by for recognition. It's, it's about the personal touch, right? It's about how can you influence one person in a way that that impacts them to stop and think and separate and contemplate the things that you're putting out there. Which yeah. Yeah, that's, I think it's an admiral pursuit.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. Thank you.

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. Tie this back to what you discussed earlier about your runs. I actually have this written here. There's a great book that you probably haven't read called The Comfort Crisis by Michael Easter.

Michael Jamin:

No,

Phil Hudson:

You should check it out. Is basically he's a professor at U N L V, I believe University of Nevada Las Vegas. And yeah, he basically talks about why challenging ourselves and pushing ourselves to our limits for no other reason than just pushing ourselves to our limits is a well is an endeavor well worth pursuing. And culturally it's been done for millennia, but it's something that we no longer do, at least in American society. It's not really something that we push ourselves to do. But I definitely thought of you because I remember you telling the story about there's a hill by your house that you run almost every day. And I believe there was one time where you I think you tripped and fell and there was like a snake right in front of you. So

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, it was a rattlesnake. No, I didn't trip. I was climbing up this hill on all fours <laugh>. There

Phil Hudson:

You go. It's on the ground.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, yeah. It was a rattlesnake. I said, I'm taking the day off <laugh>. I went, Wards <laugh>

Phil Hudson:

Enough for you. But, but what, what pushes you to climb the hill? Like, and, and you know, and maybe we already answered this, but I think it's something that's fascinating because it's something I'm considering because there's a Japanese term for this he talks about in the book, and I apologize to everyone, I don't have it. You can, you can look at Michael Easter and I'm sure he talks about it, but it's, it's a ritual, a rite of passage that you do and you don't talk about it. It's not something you put on social media. It's not something you talk about to your friends. And except for the people who are doing that with you, it's not about cloud or versus signaling or, you know, show boating. Oh wow. Something you do in the privacy of your own home or by yourself, just for you and to me. Yeah. You know, I know about this cuz you published the fact that you, on social media, that you fell in front or you were, you had a rattlesnake right in front of you, which is something you promise, obviously. But why do you, why do you run the hill? What makes you run up the hill?

Michael Jamin:

Oh, you know, that's just my exercise, but so there's a number of just, there's a number of trails that I have and that's one of them in my neighborhood. And yeah, that's just one of the trails I do. And it's it's a, it's a fun one, but it gets so steep in that one section that you can't run it. You have to crawl <laugh>, you have to crawl up for a couple of, you know, in a couple yards,

Phil Hudson:

Right. But that you say that's your exercise, but other people are not running up a hill to the point where they have to crawl through the dirt. Right. So, so I don't, what I'm asking you is like, why do you, for your exercise, instead of getting on a treadmill and running an air, an air conditioned Jim, why do you find value in running, crawling up a hill?

Michael Jamin:

I

Phil Hudson:

Don't, as Michael Jam question. Not, not generally just you as a person. Because again, I thought of you when I read this book, and he's talking about like hunting caribou in the Alaskan Tundra for 40 days. The point where he loses 15 pounds of body fat because he's starving.

Michael Jamin:

Wow. Right. When I, at this one hill, when you get to the top, it is like, you're done <laugh>. I mean, that's a hard run. It's a hard climb. And then I have to continue, I still have to run a couple more miles just to get back to where I started, but why do I do that hill? I, it's a really, it's a very, it's really challenging and but you know, if the thing is I don't quit, I just, if it's too hard, I'll just go a little slower. But I never quit, you know, except for the day when I saw that rattlesnake <laugh>, the only time I ever quit. So I just go slower. But I feel like as long as I'm doing it, you just can't quit. I think that's like, the secret is life, just don't, as long as you don't quit, you are not a failure. You haven't failed, you just haven't accomplished it yet. The minute you quit, you're a failure. You know,

Phil Hudson:

I think that's kind of, to summarize the, the point here for me is so many of us are worried about failing and so many of us are worried about giving up or, or being disappointing our parents or looking like we couldn't do it. Or, you know, settling for less. You know what,

Michael Jamin:

I did a post just a couple days ago and a friend of mine, I, I, I basically said it was about artists and Oh yeah, but art, you know, Yeah. It a post about someone being, accusing someone of being a failed artist, a failed actor. And my post, this is not such thing as a failed artist. There isn't, unless you quit, then you're a failed artist. But, you know, as long as you're trying and doing it and then, and maybe you change your mind, you say, you know what? I because the art, I mean, I didn't wanna take that back. You're not even a failed artist because you may decide I have other priorities. I wanna buy a house, I wanna make more money. And those, your priorities have changed, but that whole time that you were making art, you're not a failed artist.

That's like saying Van Gogh is a failed artist because he didn't make his, he didn't be become renowned, you know, he didn't achieve any success or fame. He, you know, he died before all that happened. And he's arguably the greatest, you know, painter of all time. So was he a failed artist just because he didn't make the, you know, recognition or fame while he was alive? Of course not. And so when I posted about this, to me, it's obvious. Like to me it's simply obvious. No one's a failed artist. You know, the process of doing the art is the joy. That's what you, that's what you're getting out of it. Whether you get fame or success is a whole different story, but sometimes the two are not related. But you're still an artist. You are still an artist as long as you say you are an artist.

And then, and I posted this and a friend who is, I would you could say he's a struggling writer. He's not a writer yet. I know he's a talented writer, but he hasn't broken through. But I've, I've, I've, I'm familiar with his work and he's talented. And he was like, he, he texted me, he's like, Man, thank you. I needed to hear this today. And I was like, You did. Like, I, I kind of thought, this is all obvious, you know, I, I was surprised that he needed to hear it. I was like, Dude, you just haven't, you know, you haven't reached your goal yet, but you're certainly not a failure, you know? Yeah.

Phil Hudson:

Well I think that's a great place. And Michael, I think it kind of highlights what in essence I get from Michael Jamin, right? From everything you put out, all the content who you've been before you started doing the podcast, all the reasons I pushed you to do a lot of this stuff. It's I think you provide a lot of stoic insight, I guess you'd say to the screenwriting,

Michael Jamin:

I don't even know about stoicism, but okay, maybe we should look into it.

Phil Hudson:

It's, it's beautiful stuff. I mean, you talk about

Not running away from the problem earlier. I can't remember exactly what I was, but it reminds me of Ryan Holiday's book. You know, The Obstacle is the way he tells the story about the king who put a boulder in the middle of the road just to see who would move it along. And people would show up and they'd complain and they'd walk away and some people would walk around. And then one day a boy showed up and he's just like, man, like what is this thing doing here? And he went and got a stick and he use it as a lever and he popped the, the boulder out of the way. And there's a small fortune underneath it the king just watched. Cuz you know, it talks, it's a fable that oftentimes the thing we're looking for is right underneath the problem in front of us for whoever's listening to this.

That's your hill. That's the hill to climb. And maybe you can't sprint up the hill right now. Maybe you are crawling up the hill. Maybe you need to slow down, right? Maybe you need to retreat for the day because there's a rattlesnake there that's gonna get you if you don't. But, but it's, it's worth continuing, it's worth pursuing. And it doesn't have to be about the fame and the fortune and success. It's about the joy of the process and the achievement and making that new mountain like Sylvester still on set. So Michael, thank you very much for being that that inspiration for me and the example that I think so many of us are looking for, even though you don't want to be, that I think it speaks

Michael Jamin:

To the you are <laugh>. I'm glad, I'm glad I can be, helped some of health help in some service in some way, but thank you Phil. Thank you.

Phil Hudson:

A couple things. You have p Orchestra coming to Boston.

Michael Jamin:

Yep. Coming to Boston. And we're doing another show in la so Boston, November 12th and 13th and la will be the month in December afterwards. So for tickets, go to michael jam.com/live and it's a stage reading of my forthcoming collection of paper orchestra. It's about an hour and we have a q and A at the end. And and people really liked it last time, so I'm doing it again.

Phil Hudson:

You, you said you don't know if anyone stopped and thought in their car to think about what you said, but after your last performance series, we received plenty of emails from people raving about Yeah. Made them, It was thought provoking. It did exactly what you're hoping to do.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, it did for a couple, at least a couple. So I'm happy about that. I know people, Yeah. They told me afterwards that they, it changed them a little bit bit. So I was like, that's sweet.

Phil Hudson:

You know, So if you were looking to be changed, go to that. Go to paperwork for

Michael Jamin:

Show. Yeah, <laugh>, Thank

Phil Hudson:

You. Outside of that usual stuff, you got the free less hand michael jam.com/free. You've got the watch list. Michael jam.com/watchlist. Your Course, Michael jam.com/course. And Treasurer trove of beautiful information and social media at Michael Jam and writer, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook. You're kind of everywhere. And

Michael Jamin:

Go get it

Phil Hudson:

Everyone. Lot, lots more beautiful stuff coming out.

Michael Jamin:

All right, everyone, thank you. Until next week, next week for our next podcast. Thank you so much. Okay.

Phil Hudson:

This has been an episode of Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving a review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminwriter. You could follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilaHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep riding.

 

2022-10-26
Länk till avsnitt

051 - Q&A with Michael Jamin Part 6

It's time for another Q&A with Michael Jamin. In this episode, we answer questions from Michael's social media followers and his online screenwriting course members. Tune in for some great thoughts and insights about Screenwriting.

Script Notes

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

Phil Hudson:

You can get very distracted with a lot of different things. And there are a lot of people in LA who wanna be screenwriters. And when they say they wanna be screenwriters, I think that they like to put on and project that they are screenwriters. It's pretty low stakes. What do, what do you have to deliver? No one wants to read your script as it is. And so I'm working on the screenplay, I've been working on that thing, and it just goes on and on, and no one's gonna question it. Oh, he's a writer. You know, writers have their own thing. It's ethereal. There's, you know, I think what you showcase on your social media and definitely in the course is that the, there's a producer. You have to be a producer, or actually you have to be a professional. And the professional works every single day. They show up, they put in the time they put out work, they finish things, they move on. And those are the people who make progress.

Michael Jamin:

You're listening to Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. Hey, everybody, welcome back. I'm Michael Jamin, and I'm here with Phil Hudson. He's joining us again. Welcome back, Phil.

Phil Hudson:

I'm back. Thank you for having Me.

Michael Jamin:

He's welcome back. And today we're doing a q and a episode. You guys sent in your questions, so we're gonna try to answer them as best as we can. And that's it, Phil. Exciting stuff. What do you, is <laugh>, what do you hit? Hit us up, Phil, take us in.

Phil Hudson:

Sounds good. I, I mean, just so everyone knows, these questions are pulled from Instagram. We put up a tile, it's just, just a logo for the podcast, and we invite people to ask questions there. So if you're not following Michael on Instagram at Michael Jam Ryder, you can go there. And every couple weeks we put that tile up so people can leave their questions there that you're not answering elsewhere. And we got some good ones. I think this

Michael Jamin:

Oh, why you mention that before we dump, jump into that, by the way. So, yeah, I'm, I'm doing a show in Boston and November 12th and 13th. So if you're in the Boston era and you wanna hear this, go to michael jam.com/live and you'll get more information on that and I'll, I'll plug it at the ending one one more time, but Okay. Phil, hit us with those

Phil Hudson:

Questions. Sounds good. First question is a question that was asked during our last Q and a, but it was asked on YouTube, so I missed it. This is from Christina m she's in your screenwriting class. Oh, and I'm paraphrasing the question here. She asked it a couple different ways. Effectively, she said, We see heroes of the writing world like Hemingway, who who used alcohol as a writer's fuel, and people like Jordan Peel Oakley discuss using marijuana in the creative process. What role does out alcohol or other substances play in the creative process?

Michael Jamin:

<Laugh>, I, for me, none. I, I mean, it would, anything like that would put me to sleep. I've never been on in a writer's room where people were smoking or drinking. I, I not, you probably get sued for that now, but I don't know. I mean, if people do that on their own time, that's fine with them, but I don't know, to me it would, it wouldn't work. It wouldn't be a good combination.

Phil Hudson:

Got it. Yeah. For me, also, I abstain, so I have no feedback to give on this. I do know people who, who do participate, and it does help them. And, but I think that a lot of that is glorified and romanticized Yeah. As part of what a writer is. And I don't know that it translate directly to being a professional.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, you're right. Yeah, I agree with that. Back in the day, I think there was talk, you know, there was a time, I think maybe in the early eighties where drug use was not was, it was almost common, or at least not a lot common, but it, you know, it did happen in writer's rooms, but not anymore.

Phil Hudson:

I have heard of unseen photos of some of the desks on some of the studio lots. And then there's a random little tray you pull out with a mirror on it. Yeah. And it's like, Oh, I wonder what this random tray was, what a mirror

Michael Jamin:

Is for. And I've never witnessed that personally. So what do I know? But I'm not that old. I'm very young. Yeah,

Phil Hudson:

That's very young. Super young. All right, Christina, I hope that answered that question. Well for you Dave Crosman frequent flyer on the podcast, Crossman also member the course, he, he posted a question in the Instagram, There are grumblings at a lot of rooms, especially many rooms, can't, on streamers are upper level only, or very close to that, for emerging writers. What can they do to help their chances, chances at staffing, besides having a great script and experience as an assistant? Well,

Michael Jamin:

The, the problem he's talking about mini rooms, which I don't have any firsthand experience with. And that's gonna be probably what the next writer strike is over. And so, mini rooms are basically when the studios they, they don't pick a show up to series. They say, Well, think about it in the meantime, why don't you guys, here's a little bit of money. Why don't you guys write six episodes and here's a couple of bucks to put together some, a staff of writers. And everyone's getting paid a fraction of what they're already, what they should get paid. And then the studio, after reading these six episodes, decides what, what the fate of the show is, even though we're doing all, And I, again, I've never done this before, but know the writers are doing all that work. And honestly, I think it's, I think it's absolutely awful.

And I think writers are desperate and they're hungry for work. And so that they're like, they're really put in a position where, what am I gonna do? What am I gonna say? No. And it's, it's really, it's, it's abusive. If the stu in my opinion, if the studio decides to make a show, they incur the risks. That's the, that's what happens when you're in business. If you open up a taco stand, you incur the risks of going outta business. And you buy all the taco ingredients up front. Crossman's asking, So are these rooms staffed with high level writers or low level writers? I don't even know. I don't know what the, the tendency is. And so he's asking, Well, how can a low level writer, writer get into an abusive relationship with the studio <laugh> as opposed to just a high level writer?

I don't know.

Hopefully these things end and, you know, hopefully they're resolved. Cause I don't feel like it's, it's, I don't think it's a, I think it's a joke. The fact that they're making writers do this. It's a cost coving cutting scenario. And no writer's happy with it because you're doing all the same amount of work. So he is saying, Well, how can a low level writer break in? I don't really know. I, I, I can tell this though, from from my other experiences on other shows that are not many rooms they tend to be staffing low level. It's the high level writers that are having a hard time getting work because the studio says, Well, we have room for six writers. We, let's hire some cheap ones, you know, know as opposed. And so that seems to be the trend, but, you know, it'll change tomorrow. And, and maybe it's different from show to show. So I really can't speak, I can't speak to this question too. Well, <laugh>

Phil Hudson:

Well, I, for me, what it sounds like is this highlights the importance of the wga. Yeah. Right. And, and the reason why having that union or that, that that guild represent all of the writers to arbitrate credits and stand up for unified bargaining rights. I mean, all of this stuff is very important. Yeah. And imagine doing this is just literally someone who's not represented by a mass of people. So you have the weight of the top talent in the world stepping out from the production machine. And we can see that that costs millions and millions of dollars to these companies. And that's why people strike. So to your point, I mean, I've heard of this on major studio films. I've heard it kind of down the level over the couple years. So it'd be interesting to see what happens over the next year or two. Yeah. This topic, I mean, yeah. Hopefully, I'm hearing there might be a strike next next year.

Michael Jamin:

It could happen. It could happen. You gotta threaten strike. You have to threaten strike. If you don't, there's no threat of strike. You have no negotiating power. So at the very least, so.

Phil Hudson:

Right, right. Well, awesome. Okay. And here's another question. I'm sure you've, you've answered many times on the podcast and in your q and as, but I think it's important to talk about again Yeah. Not spelt Dylan on Instagram. What contests do you recommend?

Michael Jamin:

From what I understand, I've never entered a contest, but I understand that there are a couple of big ones that the nickels competition is worth it. Maybe the Sundance, maybe the, maybe the blacklist competition. Right? They have one

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. Austin.

Michael Jamin:

Austin. So they're a handful of big ones. But if this, if you, I suspect the smaller ones that you've never heard of. Some people are trying to get me to do a contest. I'm like, I, I'm telling you, I just told you, you know, you don't want the small ones, <laugh>, you don't want me doing a contest. That's, that would be just a money making thing for me, and it wouldn't help you. Yeah. We,

Phil Hudson:

And we dove into this in one of our earlier podcasts, like maybe episode of five, I wanna say. But in that episode, we talked about my experience on the indie side of this. I did a lot of indie film festivals and volunteered at things like Sundance. A lot of those contests are being read by the Phil Hudson's in film school making decisions and determinations about screenplays. Yeah. And at the time, I felt like I had a good opinion about what a good script was, but you know, flash forward seven years, I had no clue. Yeah. I had no clue what a good script was. And I'm sure I'm gonna think the same thing about myself seven years from now. Right. So those are the people making those decisions about the fate of your script. And so, I don't know that I'd take a lot of cloud or respect from, from the opinions of those smaller film

Michael Jamin:

Festivals. Someone asked me a question about coverage saying the same thing. Which coverage you guys coverage from three different is, I dunno, is that one of the questions you're gonna talk about? Also?

Phil Hudson:

It's one of the que it's again, something we've talked about before, but again, it came up and I think it's because your audience has grown pretty dramatically. So a lot of people have missed out on some of this early conversation we had almost a year ago. Yeah. and so, yeah, it's another one. Is it it worth getting script coverage?

Michael Jamin:

So this one guy I saw in particular, he's like, I got coverage from three different, I got, you know, and they're all, you know, contradictory. What do I do? Like, well, what did you expect? You're, who's giving you coverage? They don't know anything. They're not getting paid. Well, these are people who are not industry insiders. If they were, they wouldn't be reading script coverage. That's not, you know, so if you can find someone, this is what you get, what you pay for. If you can find someone who has maybe retired, who has a long credit history and now longer is working as a writer, if you can get them to read and, and give you coverage or, you know, script analysis, that would be worth it. But you have to do your due diligence and find out what their credits are and read some of their work. Read their work. If you don't like their work, why, why would you respect their opinion? And so, this is not the case with this guy. I'm sure he just I, I, here's a company. They said, here's some coverage. It's like, Okay, well they just took your money. So, but if you're gonna get coverage from somebody who knows who they're doing, it's gonna cost you. I mean, that's just how it is cuz you're paying for their expertise. Yeah.

Phil Hudson:

But I would interject and say that a lot of these other coverage services do cost people, and I don't think it's an exchange of value that merits the, the ticket price. Yeah. you know, when I was first diving into this stuff, 2008, 2009, that was a common thing in the threads to do is go get script coverage or have a script doctor read and give you notes. And you pay $500 to some of these people to do that. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

And $500,

Phil Hudson:

What's the value? Wow. Yeah. What's the value there, man? Yeah. There you go. Michael. There's your next business venture. Just go read a bunch of scripts and pay people

Michael Jamin:

For Yeah. But I would, I would charge, you know, I'd trust more than $500. Cause you gotta think about it. It's gonna take you it's gonna take you a couple hours to read it and then type up notes and then you know, a conversation. And you're not paying for, Well, I'm not, I'm not in the business. But you know, of, of doing coverage, but you're paying for their years of doing this. You're not paying for, they're paying for their expertise. You're not paying for the, the, the two hours that they took to read it. Sure. But okay,

Phil Hudson:

Sure. So last October or November when we were recorded that podcast episode where we talked about this I had some friends from film school that were working at a pretty high level, well known script coverage service. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> that is now defunct. They are outta business. Oh, yeah. And those two friends do not work in Hollywood. They've never pa a day on a Hollywood set. They went to film school. They have the same degree I did. I've offered to get them jobs in the industry. They, they don't want to take them. They are doing that job. And honestly, they'd probably get paid more as a PA than they would doing that job. But I think it feels more like I'm a writer and instead of feeling like I'm a coffee fetcher Oh. But those guys are talking about starting their own thing now. And, and, you know, kudos to them for being entrepreneurs. But I just wonder how much value you can actually get from a service like that when that person's never set a down set. Yeah. Like a real set. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

I, I don't, you know, be, do you have to do your due diligence as anything?

Phil Hudson:

Yep. Okay. All right. Now we'll give credit to that person when I find his question or their question down here. All right. At Dean Molina 37 15, what is a common way screenwriters get fired?

Michael Jamin:

Oh well, TV write, I, well, let's talk about TV writers. I would for, if you, if you're at a movie and you sell it, and a director is gonna size to make it, you've already been fired because they're gonna hire another writer to do the rewrite, or maybe the director will do it. You're, the minute you get your paycheck, you've been fired. I mean, it's unusual for the, for the original writer to work all the way through a project. Usually hire like tons of writers. But in tv the way you get fired is a, you could have a bad attitude, but also your, your scripts could not come in. Well, you know, in, in professional shape. You could be argumentative Often it's just like those people disappear. You really, you know, you don't have a lot of time to hide out.

I was actually thinking about this earlier today. It's like, if real, the, the industry has changed. This is not an answer to the question, but I think it's kind of interesting. The interesting has changed so much as a, so when I came up, you had a sitcom. You work on the sitcom for 22 episodes, and you go back year after year, and you really learned a lot. And you grow and you grew and, and you came from a school, in other words, like, you know, I came from Just Shoot Me. That was the first school. But that which, which grew outta the Frazier School, which got outta the cheer school. So there was kind of like a, like a whole history of people. A lineage. A lineage, like a pedigree. Right. And so, Yeah. Yeah. You don't have that now because those shows just don't exist.

And so you might do a show for eight episodes, then you're outta work and you get on another show. And I think it's gonna wind up catching up to the industry in terms of quality, because there's so much that you have to learn on the job that you just don't know until just, it's just, you know, it comes from years of experience. We'll, we'll see. I, I don't know. But I suspect that's gonna, that's my feeling. It's gonna, it's gonna hurt the quality of at least comedies. So, but that's not the question. How do you get fired? Get a bad attitude. Don't know how to write <laugh> one or two. One of those two

Phil Hudson:

Things. And things you've, you've discussed earlier in the, in other episodes and other things where you've put on social media that the way you get fired, the way you know you've been fired, is you don't get invited back Yeah. To another season.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. You have a contract. Right. Exactly. You don't really get fired. They say they're not picking up your option. That's what you hear. So, Yeah.

Phil Hudson:

Yep. There you go. All right. Hail at ha i b, If a show is in the middle of a story arc that has been horribly received, how do you Correct. Course

Michael Jamin:

You wouldn't know because it takes months to produce these things and then they usually air a months later. And so by the time the show airs it's us, it's usually not in production anymore. Again, that would be not the case if you're talking about a sitcom that was 22 episodes. Cuz then you've aired and run at the same time. But now it's eight or 10 episodes. Usually it's way too late. It's way too late. It's already in the can. I

Phil Hudson:

Think in the multicam you do have the feedback from rehearsals and things like that, Right?

Michael Jamin:

Well, you have feed, you always have rehearsals, whether it's single or multicam,

Phil Hudson:

But it's not, I guess it's not the story arc that you're going through in

Michael Jamin:

A, it's not, and you're not, like, it's not the Audi, you're not expecting to get audience feedback If, you know, if these two characters, you know, the audience doesn't like this storyline, That's, that's a little different than, you know, whether, whether the story or not works at the table read or at rehearsal. You'll know, you'll know if it works.

Phil Hudson:

Right. Right. Okay. Awesome. At Nicholas Alt is is going to an expensive film school like UCLA or usc. Worth it, by the way, I love your content. I've been told by my dad, if I don't go into engineering or science, I will not be able to make a living. So I've not had much guidance on how to pursue filmmaking. Your channel's so direct and gives golden advice. So thank you. I appreciate you. Happy emoji.

Michael Jamin:

Well, son, you're, you're not a new son now. Go to film. Well, here's the thing. Is it worth it? The education, the degree itself is probably not worth it, but the education and the context might be worth it. And that just depends. Education depends on who's teaching your classes. And, and the context of course, your peers in your, in your graduating class. And do you get along with them and do you stay in touch with them? But you know, you can learn so much. Like if you wanna go to film school, it's like a trade school. So you'll learn how, you'll learn lighting and editing and you'll learn what softwares do. But if you wanna be a screenwriter, you don't need to know what the light, how to light. You don't need to learn, you know, all that stuff. It's, do you wanna learn it? You know? But if you wanna learn screenwriting, no you do not. I didn't go to film school. You just need to learn the craft of screenwriting. You have to learn some way or another. But you don't have to go to film school for that. You could learn, you know, you take a course.

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. I'd agree with that sentiment. I think was it beneficial for me to go to film school and study screenwriting? Sure. In the sense that it forced me to hit meet deadlines. So I wrote a lot more than I would've on my own. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So it helped instill some of those habits that I needed. In terms of contacts, I don't know that I got a lot of great contacts out of that. Or networking schools like USC and ucla, I think. So I think that there are some great networking opportunities there. But going back to advice you gave me when I was asking you, should I go to film school, move to la you're, what you said was, well, if you get a master's degree, at least you can teach college at some point.

Michael Jamin:

That's right. And so that, that's

Phil Hudson:

Also, if it doesn't work out for

Michael Jamin:

You and that, but that's also part of the problem. So you may go to a college where someone has a master's degree teaching you, but they don't know cuz they haven't done it. So you really gotta find out who's teaching your classes. And you can, you can find that out online. You can find out, you know, I'm sure they te they tell

Phil Hudson:

You. Right? Yeah. I, I think definitely. Look it up. I had multiple screenwriting teachers. One of them was a old retired curmudgeonly guy who wrote a bunch of films in the eighties that were very, very popular. And I, I got the most out of that class. Interestingly enough, a lot of the younger people did not like his class because he was pretty curmudgeonly about the feedback he gave. Yeah. If he didn't like it, he told you. And a lot of the other teachers would kind of stoke the ego a little. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you can do it, don't worry about it. This is like no real feedback given. Yeah, no, no. Direct this. So if you're willing to submit yourself to some real scrutiny, find a pro and let them rip it apart. Yeah. Yeah. That's how you learn the most. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

Right.

Phil Hudson:

So, All right. Now Nicholas has another question as follow up. If you wanna become a director, is becoming a screenwriter first in insisting you direct your scripts a good idea?

Michael Jamin:

No. If you're gonna insist good luck with that. Who are you gonna insist at? The studio doesn't work that way. They're not gonna trust a 30 even that we low budget a 30 million movie to. So you've never done it before. You can good luck with insisting and you could Sure. They're gonna just say, we're gonna walk. But you can certainly write and direct your own projects. No one's gonna stop you from doing that and do it for free or next to nothing and hire friends and get people to help that for sure. Right. And direct your own stuff. I encourage you but you don't, you're not in a position to insist anything. You don't have the leverage. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you know, unless you put your thing on the, you know, unless you become a hit on your own, then you'll have leverage. For right now, it sounds like insist Good luck. Good luck, kid. Yeah.

Phil Hudson:

Now, Nicholas, I, I'd say that if you are considering going to UCLA or USC to go to school and you want to direct, that's probably a good thing to do because you're gonna learn the technical aspects of studying film, watching lots of film, looking at things like juxtaposition. Meen, the way sound design affects things. You're going to learn how to use cameras, you're gonna learn how to do the lighting. Those are all valuable skills, but you don't even need to do that. I mean, you could take a look at Robert Rodriguez. He wrote a great book called Rebel Without a Crew, and he tells you how he made you know, El Mariachi, which blew up at Sundance and got his, launched his whole career Right. In being a the filmmaker that he is today. And that book was, was inspiration for people like John Fog with Swingers when they talked about how they just looked at that book as a model to do their

Michael Jamin:

Ind film. And he didn't go to film school, Is that what you're saying?

Phil Hudson:

He didn't go to film school. Yeah. Yeah. Now and, and Robert Rodriguez dropped out of film school. Right. Because he wanted to make his own film. Yeah. You know, so like, there, there's a path for everything and it's really just how risk-averse you are. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you get a lot of scrutiny from your family. It might be really hard to not go to school and not get a degree.

Michael Jamin:

But also, this speaks to what I was saying earlier, which maybe not earlier today, but this guy's saying is Nicholas saying, you know, can I, can I write and direct? Can I in insist? But you're still asking for permission. You're saying, Can I write and direct? You're asking for don't ask for permission, do it. It's your money, it's your camera, it's your script. You do it. Write it.

Phil Hudson:

Right. Right. There you go, Nicholas. Yeah. All right. At L Barker film, why do the amounts of residual checks vary so much?

Michael Jamin:

It, Well,

Phil Hudson:

This comes from your social media. Yeah. Where you open your residual checks, those fd green

Michael Jamin:

Envelopes. Yeah. well, first of all, I don't even care. Like they sell one I'm at episodes. Like I, it's an accounting question. Nothing could interest me less than accounting. So what happens is they sell, I read an episode and they sell it overseas. Sometimes it's overseas, sometimes they sell it to this channel sometimes. And sometimes this episode will air more times than that episode. And whether or not the studio wants to package it together or put it all lump it together, sometimes I read it, sometimes they lump it together, and sometimes it's separate. I don't even care. Like I, you know, I don't, I'm not curious enough to get it an, you know, a lecture on how they count their, you know, as long as they get the money, you wanna send it in one check or 10, I don't really care, you know?

Phil Hudson:

Got it.

Michael Jamin:

That sounds obnoxious. But I just, I'm interested enough, I'm a writer. I didn't get into this to find out, you know, to be an accountant to do math. Yeah.

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. Well, I think I think you did answer the question, right. The answer is it's based off of what they've sold and what they've produced, and then how many how many bills they've charged back to the production demand from

Michael Jamin:

Getting your Yeah. Get

Phil Hudson:

What you got. Yeah. Awesome. Lady K Productions 2021. What does an executive producer do?

Michael Jamin:

Depends. It just depends on, there's so many titles and so many, often there are many executive producers. So like on a, on a TV show, the showrunner is almost always an executive producer, and they are the head writer. They are in charge of making all the creative decisions. But there are also non-writing executive producers. There can be managers who've negotiated, represent talent that negotiated the title. They can just be people who have a production company who help facilitate the, the direction maybe they bought the IP that it's all based on. Maybe sometimes these people don't even show up to work, which is fine. They might have a parking space outside the lot. You never ever see them. Sometimes a, a co-executive producer, which is a writer, will get promoted after several seasons, and they might become a co an executive producer. Although they don't have any of the responsibilities or even the, the money that the other executive producers have, it's just a titled bump. It just, it's like, it's, it just depends. So there's no really, there's no easy answer for that, but, you know, you know, Yeah. Doesn't really matter. Gotcha.

Phil Hudson:

But the, when we think about <laugh>, when we think about executive producer, traditionally we are thinking about the showrunner, the head writer, the one who,

Michael Jamin:

Well, sometimes people think

Phil Hudson:

Probably sold a show.

Michael Jamin:

Sometimes people think executive producers are in charge of wrangling getting all the money. And maybe in film that might be the case. But in, in, in, in tv, they may facilitate some of that. It just depends on how much cl you have. I mean, you could be, you know, the hairdresser to the star and the star says you're an executive producer, you know? Okay. You know, it's just, it's like that.

Phil Hudson:

I heard some grumblings from people through the grapevine that well, if Phil Hudson's an associate producer, what do I have to do to be an associate producer on Tacoma d

Michael Jamin:

I was like, Oh, really? But

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

You gotta hustle. You gotta hustle and do, put your time in.

Phil Hudson:

Understand what plumbers to call and how to negotiate a cleaning contract. That's what you gotta do. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

Well make yourself invaluable and then, and work for a couple of years and you get bumped.

Michael Jamin:

Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you, and it's absolutely free. Just go to michael jam.com/list.

Phil Hudson:

All like the cho bongo's a pretty great name. I'm seeing a lot of programs now that try and tell two stories at a time, story A, which takes place in the present story b that is usually told in the form of a flashback. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, what's your take on this style of Tori storytelling? Is it gimmicky or legit? I personally find this annoying.

Michael Jamin:

You do, or they do. They do. They do. You know, I don't know if it's even a gimmick. Usually they, those flashbacks are meant to inform the present day. So they'll, like, you know, a character will get a, be at a crossroads and, and hesitate why they hesitating flashback to 10 years earlier. They got whatever happened in the past. And so that past informs the present, like in loss. That's how they did it. But I, I maybe, I don't know if there are other examples that this the person hasn't mentioned. So I, I don't know. But I don't think it's gimmicky.

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. I think, you know, when we kind of bo what it boils down to, I think there's a lot of people as strong opinions about what writing devices or, or story devices you should be using. I remember people knocking down voiceover and knocking over, knocking down a bunch of other things, but they serve wonderful purpose. Look at American Beauty, which won an Oscar. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, it starts with voiceover. Yeah. Right. And it tells you how it's gonna end in the first five seconds of the entire thing. So I just think at the end of the day, you have your own style, and if that annoys you don't write that way. And if it you feel like it's gimmicky write something better. Right. Use some other literary device to improve the quality of your writing. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> to show that you don't need that type of flashback to tell that same story. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. Flashbacks are convenient. I mean, they're, they, they're, they could be very helpful, but if you don't want to do it, don't use it. Yeah.

Phil Hudson:

I think it would be really funny too. I mean, take a look at New Girl in Fox. Right. That show they use flashbacks for some of the funniest moments to inform things. You know, like Schmidt in the douche Baja, they were pulling out like all the douchey things Schmidt had done Right. And had to put money in this jar. And those are some of the funniest things I've ever I've ever heard or seen on tv. They wrote a whole book

Michael Jamin:

About it. It's an opportunity for a good laugh. Right, right.

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. Trans media, they, they, I mean, they literally wrote a book about it, which you should look up the, I think it's called the Douche Journals. It's pretty funny. Okay. All right. Carter Callahan, more recently, I've been seeing a lot of movies that, that lean more into symbolism and try to provoke the audience and defining an underlying meaning. What are your thoughts on symbolism when writing, and do you think we as screenwriter, should be looking for moments to showcase that in our scripts?

Michael Jamin:

I don't know if I have an opinion on that. That sounds complicated. Yeah. <laugh>, I

Phil Hudson:

Don't know. So I, I read this and I was like, Shouldn't we always be using symbolism in our scripts to speak to things? I mean and this, this speaks to the reverse engineering of scripts that you've talked about. Right. I think episode one we talked about in my screenwriting classes in college, they would have us take a stopwatch and time scenes of an episode. We were gonna write a pilot of, and kind of reverse engineer what the story was. Like, how many scenes you should have before an act. Right. All those different things. And you're like, I don't see how that's valuable at all. That's like, you know, you're reverse engineering a script and said you could just learn story structure. You know how

Michael Jamin:

To do that. Yeah. I don't think that would

Phil Hudson:

Helpful. That's what this speaks this to me is similar to that, where the symbolism to me might be a, a technique that you can use to elicit emotion without having to hang a hat on it. I mean, the look at the first season of Mayans, did you ever watch that? No. Yeah. It was Mayans, which is a spinoff of Sons of Anarchy, that you literally have an animal at the front of ev at the beginning of every episode, and it represents some core object or thing that's gonna happen in that episode. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Right? So it's a coyote, little coyotes, the trickster, like, Oh, there's an owl. There's wisdom. You know, it plays off of those different things.

Michael Jamin:

Well, you, you can use symbolism to elevate, but that would be the last thing that would put in the script. Story. Certainly the most important thing to do. Yeah. do you have to do it? I I, it sounds more of a drama thing than comedy, but Yeah, go for for it.

Phil Hudson:

I agree with him, But I, I think your point is like, you have to understand what the story is, what the theme is. All of these, you know, what the emotional tone of the show is, and then that will invoke the symbolism you should use to make your user or your end user feel that. And so much of that is me, Onsen, right? That's, that's set design and set.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, Yeah, exactly Right.

Phil Hudson:

Our department stuff they're doing mm-hmm.

Michael Jamin:

<Affirmative>, right. So right dead flowers on a scene instead of live flowers. Okay. The relationship's dying. Okay. There's your symbolism. You know,

Phil Hudson:

The example you've used before me and, and having Marin blurry in the background images Yeah. And slowly come into focus is the season progresses.

Michael Jamin:

Right. Right.

Phil Hudson:

So that's, that's a beautiful nuance of film that makes me want to cry. It's so beautiful when you really get down to the detail of it. But that's not something you necessarily need to stress about as a writer, cuz you're not planning, You don't need to describe every single thing in the room. You need just highlight the things that are most important to the scene. Right.

Michael Jamin:

I think if you, once you become a filmmaker, you can concentrate more on that. But right now, if you're, you're just writing scripts you know, the first thing you gotta learn is story structure.

Phil Hudson:

There you go. Awesome. Gladin underscore sane. Pretty long comment here, but I think it's a, a really interesting question. Hey, I'm a writer who initially started screenwriting after a life experiences of mine were covered by vice. And several producers approached me attempting to secure my life rights. Okay. One producer gave me the motivation to actually write the story myself, which set me on the path to becoming a writer. And I've since written several other pieces. My issue currently is that this producer has some pretty troubling personal issues. And I don't think he's viewed too highly in the industry. He advised on a few things and gave critical feedback, which is valuable. But I feel like at this point he's more or less holding the, these projects back. Is there a process for detaching an executive from a project as an unknown writer? How do I go about finding new representation? Is it easier to detach from this person if I find someone more stable to work with? Thanks so much. Well,

Michael Jamin:

First of all, let's be clear, he's not, this producer is not your representation. That's not, the producer's not a manager or writer. They're a business partner. So get that, you know, let's be clear in the terms. They're not your representation. Also this, you know, I've never had a deal with this, but the story, you know, it sounds like the story's yours. It came from your life. It's your story. If you have a problem with the producer and they're not feel like they're not pulling their, their weight, or maybe they have lost lost interest, have a conversation saying, you're taking your project elsewhere. Just be aware that you better have an elsewhere. You know what I'm saying? Like, cuz you know, they'll say, they'll say, they'll say one or two things. No, please gimme 10 more minutes or bye. And so, but I would leave, It sounds like, it sounds like it's not working right now. What you don't have, you don't owe this person anything. It's your story. Just say, thank you, but I'm not working out. I'm gonna try to make it another way. And you don't owe them anything. It's your story that they wanted to shepherd your project and push it forward. And they're no longer doing that. They don't, I don't, They don't even care if they're not, If they're not working for you, then they don't care. So leave.

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. I, I think that you might awaken something or it spurs this person into action to try to hustle, to prove to you that they want to be involved in this project. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And I think one of two things will happen with that. You can walk away and pursue other options while this person goes out and tries to do that. And if something comes of it, great, great. Or they've really been so tainted in the industry at this point because of what they've done in their personal life that nothing's gonna happen and nothing has changed for you. And so you can just continue to pursue other opportunities to expand your career and get these projects produced. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. Just say bye

Phil Hudson:

To be clear. That's, that's a very normal, like you said, that's a business relationship and that happens all the time. Yeah. There are business partnerships that don't work out, and then you have to have those hard conversations and you have to break up. It's like a marriage. You're breaking it up and you're Yeah, you're

Michael Jamin:

Splitting off. But if he's not working for you, you have nothing to lose. I mean, he sounds like he's not doing anything, so leave, you

Phil Hudson:

Know. Yep. There you go. All right. Comrade big body.

Michael Jamin:

Oh,

Phil Hudson:

It's a Russian big dude. That's what I get. Can you try to break into screenwriting if you already have a nine to five? Or do you have to bite the bullet and try to find a low paying pa job?

Michael Jamin:

You can do whatever you want. I don't, there's no one way to get into screenwriting, but the problem is, if you make it a hobby, if you make it a, if you make it it a side hustle, or sometimes like, can I just do this on the side? I'm a dentist. You could do whatever you want. I don't think it's reasonable. I don't, I think if you're treating like most people who wanna become screeners, they're passionate about it or they're, they're serious about it and they're gonna, they're gonna do whatever it takes to become a writer. They're gonna do do whatever it takes. But if you're not willing to do whatever it takes because you're like, eh, I also, I don't wanna lose my job. I like, I'm a realtor. I like doing that. It's like, okay, you're, you're, you're handcuffing yourself. Maybe it'll happen, but it seems much more difficult to me.

Phil Hudson:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Look, you can get very distracted with a lot of different things. And there are a lot of people in LA who wanna be screenwriters and when they say they wanna be screenwriters, I think that they like to put on and project that they are screenwriters cuz it's pretty low stakes. Yeah. What do, what do you have to deliver? No one wants to read your script as it is. And so all I'm working on this screenplay, I've been working on that thing, and it just goes on and on and no one's gonna question it. Oh, he is a writer. You know, writers have their own thing. It's ethereal. There's, you know, I think what you showcase on your social media and definitely in the course is that there's a producer. You have to be a producer, or actually you have to be a professional.

And the professional works every single day. They show up, they put in the time they put out work, they finish things, they move on. Yeah. And those are the people who make progress. I brought a lot of scripts this year from a lot of people who wanna be screenwriters and they're putting in work, brought a lot of scripts from people this year who are dabbling. They got feet in the, they've got their toe in the water. They're not diving in completely. And it shows because a year later they haven't written anything else. They're still working on that other thing. Yeah. You know, so just, you know, you can make it happen. You can, you can put in the time, but you gotta treat it like a job. Yeah. What do you think it takes to be a professional screenwriter, Michael? Three, five hours a day.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. Right. I mean, you, you gotta dedicate, you get to really put your work into it. So

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. So you got nine to five, Wake up at six right. For three hours. Yeah. Right. Wake up at five Right. For three hours. Yeah. Get to work,

Michael Jamin:

Come back and you'll get better. You will improve the more you write, you know? Yep. For sure.

Phil Hudson:

I heard that number. 200,000 words. Is that number you've ever heard?

Michael Jamin:

I never heard of that.

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. It comes from what was it? Teleios website word player.com. They talk about that in one of their articles from the AOL forums. And they said that you have 200,000 bad words in you. You just have to get 'em out. Yeah. So if you can sit down and just pump out 200,000 words, you'll eventually become a good writer.

Michael Jamin:

Okay. Okay.

Phil Hudson:

Anyway, There you go. All right. At double r, underscore R 7 73. Oh, he's, the guy is paying a script where she's the, the woman, whatever it is, is paying a script consultant worth the money. We already answered

Michael Jamin:

That one. Yeah. It depends. Find out who they are, what they've done, read some of their work, and it might be worth every penny. But it only depends on who that person is. So I wouldn't use a service. I would find out the person.

Phil Hudson:

Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah.

Phil Hudson:

There you go. Awesome. At Soldier Iui, E N N U I, What advice would you give to a beginner who's never written a script before?

Michael Jamin:

I, I would give you all of my advice. <Laugh>. I'd say get on the watch list, start watching everything and it's free your watch, listen to this podcast. It's free. You know, the YouTube channel, it's all free and all this help is free. Then at some point you're, at some point you are going to have to learn story structure. You're going to have to take a class. You could take mine, you could take someone else's, find out who you're teaching it from, who who's teaching you. And if you like them and you think they know what they're talking about, study from them. Because it's not something, it's just not inherent. It's, it's, it's not something that you can, that most people, I know very few people who have just done it on their own. It's, it's a craft, you know? So it's like saying someone who's a pilot, you know, a pilot, would you get into a plane with a pilot who's never, who's not licensed, who's never studied, who's got, you know, would you I wouldn't, I'd try to find someone who's done it before

Phil Hudson:

<Laugh>. Yeah. Yeah. I think

I think I, I think of it as an apprenticeship. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> almost. Right. There's a, this is a trade. It's a craft. And you can sit out back with a block of wood and a chisel and you can just go through resources and try to figure it out. Or you can sit down at the feet of a master who does it and has been doing it for 20, 30 years and watch the way they place the chisel and you can observe them and then they will give you a block of wood when you're ready. And then they will hold, you know, give you feedback on how you're holding that chisel and explain why this chisel versus that chisel will get this effect. And it's just a whole nuance level of nuance to it that you don't get unless you are again sitting at the feet of a master.

Yeah. And I don't think you would call yourself a master. I would <laugh> I think many of us would. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Right. I mean, you've had a long career doing this for a long time on a bunch of shows everyone can watch right now. So I think it reflects the level of understanding that you have. But like you said, there's plenty of other people with courses. It's just about personal preference and you eventually just have to bite the bull and do it. Yeah. I personally have done it a lot. I know Dave Crossman we talked about earlier, asked a question, He's done it a lot. We've had lots of conversations about the value of a lot of the different courses that exist out there. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And he and I would both agree and tell you that the best course to take is yours. And that's just that you're not paying me to say that. That's a sincere, the value of that course is indescribable. You know, I think everyone can benefit from diving

Michael Jamin:

Into that. I appreciate that. You know, as you could tell, I'm, even when I'm doing my videos on inst you know, Instagram TikTok, I'm like, how I want to give you as much as I possibly can to, you know, I'm always thinking about, well, how can I give you a little bit more, you know?

Phil Hudson:

Yeah, absolutely. Awesome. let's see. At j Chan 1215, do you think that's Jackie

Michael Jamin:

Chan? I definitely think it's Jackie Chan.

Phil Hudson:

It is probably Jackie. All right. Are there any pitfalls or disadvantages of writing a bio biographical film for a person still alive?

Michael Jamin:

I don't know. I'm not a lawyer. I don't know the legality of that. I don't know. I don't know if they're in the public domain. Maybe you can, I, I don't know. Friday can't answer that.

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. I don't know that they would be in the public domain if they're still alive just by default. But there is a, a really interesting book I would recommend called Freedom for the Thought that you Hate. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, it's all about the First Amendment and it talks about celebrity and what is celebrity in the famous case that basically allows you to write about people in who are considered celebrities because they're giving up their rights because they exist in the public real. Right. And again, I'm not an attorney. You're not an attorney. This is not legal vice. Definitely contact an entertainment lawyer about it, but if that person is truly a a celebrity, you're probably okay to write something. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> doesn't mean it's gonna be made. There's a high chance that those people are going to try to put some type of block on you doing that. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> they probably have more money and more power than you do to stop that from coming out. And you have to find something that's interesting enough for a production company or a studio to wanna make mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And the odds are they would probably just go to that person if they wanted to have that thing made.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. I mean, the bottom line is your script is a writing sample. So if you, if you think of it as a writing sample, fine, then do it. Just don't expect to sell it. Yeah. But if you know, or you can come up with an original writing sample and write about that, it's, it's really about the quality of your, you have to look at it that way, you know?

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. I think that's one huge nuance that you've brought to the screenwriting world. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> at least on the internet, is that writing is not to be sold. Writing is a sample. Yeah. Is it, could it be sold? Sure, it might be sold, but you're encouraging us all the right things at a level that could be sold, but understand that this is just proof that you can do the job so that you can have a career as a writer. Yeah. And that's what we all want. Yeah. You know, we've all may have ambitious goals of being showrunners or being mega producers, but at the end of the day, you gotta know how to write and you should prove that,

Michael Jamin:

You know, I was just, cuz I post so much, I get targeted now by other, you know, screenwriters. And so someone I get, somehow I get targeted by a clip from Aaron Sorkin talking about finding the story and, and it's just so funny to hear him talk because it's like, I've never worked with him. I don't, I've never studied for him, you know, but he we're saying the same thing and it's not because I'm no Aaron Sorkin, but it's because any working writer would kind of tell you the same thing. It's like, you know, it, this is just what it takes to be a writer. This is how writing is done. So,

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. Yeah. So it's like you said, man, it's a craft. Yeah. Ultimately you end up at the same place. All right, a couple more questions here. The end to the beginning, is screenwriting something you can graduate from or will there always be something new to learn in this field?

Michael Jamin:

Oh, you always get better. I mean, it's not yeah. I mean, you always can improve, but yeah. I don't know if you, but even if you graduate from it, even if you graduate from film school with your degree, it doesn't mean you're good. You know what I'm saying? Right.

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. I I think what the question is is do you ever hit a threshold where you are a grand master and know everything? No, and you know, I, I tie it back to like anything, but for me it's like Brazilian juujitsu is a really strong example of this. It's a martial art, just like any other martial art. And there are a series of belts you go through. You're a white belt, which means you know nothing. And then you get a stripe that means you know a little bit, and then you get a second stripe and she knows you a little bit more. Third stripe, a little bit more fourth stripe, you're okay. And then you get a blue belt, and then you spend like two years as a blue belt, and then you spend five years as a purple belt and you spend two years as a brown belt, and then you become a black belt and you're not done.

And you think black belt's enough, but then you start getting stripes on your black belt. Yeah. And it might take 20, 30 years until 50 years into your career, into your journey of being a jiu-jitsu player. You get the, a master level red belt and there's like 15 people in the world who have that. Oh, wow. And those guys are still learning. They're either 70 something years old and they're still learning Yeah. How to do it. They're getting better at it because it's just, there's nuance. It changes, it shifts, you know, there's, there's just, you bring something new, someone else teaches you something new and it's just a, a, a living entity and I mean, look how writing's progressed in the last 200 years. Yeah. Right. It's just, it's just a different, different format, different medium and it's gonna continue to do that.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah.

Phil Hudson:

Right. All right. And last question here at Kev underscore, Matthew underscore McEnery. What makes a script or someone's writing good in your opinion? As in what do you like and or look for?

Michael Jamin:

Right. That's kind of easy. If you read someone's script and you want to turn the page to find out what happens next. It's a good script. That's, it doesn't matter. It's a thriller or drama comedy. If you want to turn the page to find, it's a good script. And if you don't and most don't, it's not.

Phil Hudson:

There you go.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. Yeah.

Phil Hudson:

That's it. Do you want to turn the page?

Michael Jamin:

Do you wanna turn the page? No, there are also things I look for when I'm writing. Look, I like to see whether the act break pops. I like to see whether the dialogue is crisp and fresh and you know, the joke's original, but all that will determine whether I want to turn the page as

Phil Hudson:

Well. Right. There you go. Pretty straightforward. Yeah. If you get just echos and reiterates what you've been saying for almost a year, Michael. Yeah. Wild.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. We've been doing almost a year. Amazing. Speaking of a year, Phil, I'm gonna be in Boston, <laugh>, What is that? What a clunky segue. I'm gonna be in Boston performing Paul

Phil Hudson:

Revere. It's Paul Revere, right? Yeah. That's the Diane.

Michael Jamin:

I'll be in Boston performing my one man show of paper orchestra at the Ames in Amesbury, Massachusetts, not Boston, but Amesbury, which is just north of the city. And for, I mean, November 12th and 13th for tickets. You can go to michael jam.com/live. It's a small, intimate venue, so don't wait until last minute. The same thing when I did the show in la. People were like, Oh, he's already sold out. I'm like, Yeah, it's sold out. You gotta get there. It's gonna sell out. So you have to get there, get 'em as soon as you can. If you wanna come see me, I'd love to see you. It's an hour long show followed by a q and a. We get to talk about the work. And if you're in the Boston area, come see me.

Phil Hudson:

That's great. Outside of that, just the normal places, you know, they can find you on social media at Michael Jam and Ryder. You've got a bunch of freebies, giveaway, you talked about the watch list at Michael jamin.com/watchlist. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you've got the free lesson for anyone who's, you know for, who was this? Whoever was asking about the new film Soldier and Newey, you can go [email protected] slash free. Anyone else can go there too. And you teach three really important principles of storytelling in that free course. Yeah, free lesson, which I highly, highly recommend. If you haven't heard me say that on the podcast yet, go there. And then obviously you have the [email protected] slash course. Yeah. Which again, cannot, cannot oversell that to you.

Michael Jamin:

I might take it. All right, everyone.

Phil Hudson:

Yeah. Freshen up, Michael.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. Fresh enough. Thank you so much for listening. And until next week when we drop a new episode,

Phil Hudson:

Keep writing.

Michael Jamin:

Keep writing.

Phil Hudson:

This has been an episode of Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving your review, and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhillaHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

2022-10-19
Länk till avsnitt

050 - Writer/Producer Dawn DeKeyser

Dawn DeKeyser on IMDB - https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0215245/

Dawn's Website - https://www.dawndekeyser.com

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

Transcripts Are Auto-Generated

Michael Jamin:

I've made a number of posts about this that yeah, put yourself in a box. People are like, But I don't wanna be in a box. Put yourself in a box and you'll worry about getting outta the box later. But right now, you need to sell yourself as who? This is what you are. What do I do? That's right. That's

Dawn DeKeyser:

Right. And, and so many new writers are still struggling with that. And I said, People cannot help you if they don't know where to put you.

Michael Jamin:

You're listening to Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jam. Hey everybody, this is Michael Jamin and you're listening to Screenwriters. Need to Hear this. Mike cohost Phil Hudson. He's got the day off again. He's doing some more work behind the scenes, but I'm here interviewing the amazingly talented Dawn de Kaiser. And, uh, Dawn, let me tell, tell everybody who you are. Let me also you, I need to remind you who you are.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Okay? Please do

Michael Jamin:

So. You got a long history of writing some pretty great shows. So first you started, I guess, on All American Girl. That was the Margaret Cho show you did Ink Ted Danson. Remember that one? I remember that one. News Radio you wrote a news radio you wrote on All right, already, which I did not know. I guess you wrote with Steven Engel on that one. I didn't know that. Conrad Bloom, you know, I went to, uh, I went to uh, college with him. We were friends in college, Mark Fostein. Um, but I haven't talked to him since. And then the Gina Davis show starring who, who started that? Uh, the Becker Becker again. Ted Danson. Let's listen to these credits you got there was amazing. Uh, just for kicks. Ugly Betty. We know Betty Lafa, Samantha, who if I were on that show, I would've been insufferable because someone would've said, Yeah, I I have an idea. What if Samantha goes on a date? And I would've been like, Samantha, who? That would've been my joke all every day. <laugh> Sign sealed. Oh, I skip on the client list. Sign sealed, delivered, hit Streak. The Gourmet Detective Summer. Love the Good Witch. Thank you, John. Thank you so much. Look at me. Are you impressed with how much work?

Dawn DeKeyser:

I am so impressed at. Who knew? I had no idea.

Michael Jamin:

You've done a lot of you. So anyway, I thank you so much for joining because, uh, is, we've never worked together. I always, even though I've known you for years, I always figured we would work together at some point. We just never did. And I blame you for that.

Dawn DeKeyser:

I, uh, I, blame me, we were on the same studio a lot. We were like, Yeah. Next to we had bungalows next to each other. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So that counts completely is, Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. You were always a familiar face.

Dawn DeKeyser:

But before we start, can I curse?

Michael Jamin:

I don't Sure. Why, why would you, Is there something you wanna get off your chest? <laugh>?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah. No, just that in the course of talking, it's gonna play a part of describing my path in life and Oh yeah. I don't think I could do it without some gods and fucks. So

Michael Jamin:

Do it. Do it up.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Okay.

Michael Jamin:

Cause I we're getting to the truth again. So let's begin. How did you become? Where did you start? How did you get into sit? Everyone wants to know how people get into sitcom writing or TV writing. So how did you get in?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah, so, and we all come from different angles on different paths. And in order to get to my TV days, I'll just say a little bit about my background. I was raised in a military family and my dad was a fighter pilot. And I grew up in a very great Sani kind of house. Um, I, I say I was the best son my dad ever had because I was tough and competitive. And I weighed 92 pounds and I was pious.

Michael Jamin:

Wait, did, were you the only child?

Dawn DeKeyser:

No, I had two sisters. So my mom, who was lovely, she would dress my sisters and I all in matching dresses, hats, gloves and shoes. And we would march out onto the tarmac and salute the F four phantoms as they landed.

Michael Jamin:

Wow. And so, and so you moved around the country then? Probably?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah, I was born in Japan and I lived in England.

Michael Jamin:

Oh my. And so your Okay. Military brat. And then when you say Great Santa, cuz your dad was strict. Oh, <laugh> is Now, do you wanna start cursing now? What did you want to curse?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Um, well, let's see. He, we did have a flow chart of our chores on our bedrooms. And when we were, I think starting at three and four and our beds had to be made with hospital corners really. And we would have to stand in a line, add attention and get, you know, understand what our chores were gonna be for the day and for the week.

Michael Jamin:

Because you are so not that you're so, you know, kind of almost soft spoken, very gentle. You're very warm energy. You're not <laugh>, you're not a, you know, uh,

Dawn DeKeyser:

It's taken a long time to get this outta my system. So when I was in junior high, we moved from England to Texas and I went from riding English, um, horseback to competing in rodeos. And I then started racing sailboats. And by college I was on the varsity team. And, um, by the way, I paid my way through college, working two or three jobs each semester. And I started working when I was 15. That's a little Rob Cohen of me. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

Wait, where did you go to school?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Um, which time? Uh, I went to, so in college I went to the University of Texas and I studied international business, Uhhuh. And then I dropped out of UT and moved to Belgium where I worked at a division of NATO for, for,

Michael Jamin:

I feel like you might speak a lot of languages. Do you speak how many languages you speak?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Um, I used to speak French when I worked in the warehouse with the Belgians. Right. Um, and then, you know, when my other girlfriends were cheerleaders and all that, I was treasurer of the Latin Club. I don't mean to brag.

Michael Jamin:

Wow. So you speak Latin. I knew you spoke. What?

Dawn DeKeyser:

And, and so then I, after dropping out, I went back and I finished up my degree in, uh, appropriately named a BS in advertising. And that's, that's really when I started my writing career. And, um, let's see, what did I do? So I started,

Michael Jamin:

You worked in advertising.

Dawn DeKeyser:

So I got to work on tv, radio, and print. And in fact, my first assignment was writing, uh, dozens of scripts for David Brener for Taco

Michael Jamin:

Bell. That was your work. Now I, now I know your work. <laugh>.

Dawn DeKeyser:

That's what I'm known for. Um, so getting closer to the TV part, I was living in Dallas. My boyfriend was discovered by a talent manager, and he immediately moved out to LA and became a successful actor.

Michael Jamin:

Do we know his name?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah. I went, I'll I'll say it. I mean, it was a long time ago. So Tom Hayden Church.

Michael Jamin:

Oh, I did not know that. Okay.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah. And so he, his confidence and his uniqueness was just like he broken right away. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I went on to New York and in advertising, which I loved. And you know, after a while, after about two years, I thought maybe I could write something longer than 30 seconds. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I took writing classes at night. I did improv, which I was terrible at because of that. Let's revisit the military background. I am not spontaneous.

Michael Jamin:

You're not supposed to go off script when you're in the military.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Oh. Oh, no. And I'm very methodical and you know, by this time I was like mid to late twenties and I guess I was having a quarter life crisis and thinking, what, what am I, what do I wanna do and what do I love doing? I loved writing and I loved sitcoms more than anything. Um, I didn't know how to do that. I called Tom, who was at the time on Wings, that was his first series. And I said, Could you send by now my ex-boyfriend? And I said, Could you send me the writer's draft through a producing draft? I wanna see the transition mm-hmm. <affirmative> of how this writing is done. And so then I started taping my favorite shows and then doing the stop and pause on the VHS tape.

Michael Jamin:

Like really studying how long a scene would be, how what the act breaks are everything. Huh.

Dawn DeKeyser:

All that. The dialogue, the, and I would map out the beats on a notepad, which by the way, I still write on old fashioned paper notepads for everything. And then I transfer it to the computer. Wow.

Michael Jamin:

That's old school.

Dawn DeKeyser:

That is old school. And it is all about the ritual. And like, I think there's something about the the brain to the heart to the hand that gets on paper that I, I don't get when I write.

Michael Jamin:

But you could, you must be able to read your handwriting. Cause I can't read my handwriting. I couldn't even try.

Dawn DeKeyser:

I no, I can't. I can get the gist of it.

Michael Jamin:

Oh, really? Okay.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah. Um, so Tom sent me a series of one of one script and, um, I was writing my own two spec scripts. And then I moved to LA with $3,000 in cash.

Michael Jamin:

And where, what I always, I I have to What part in LA did you live at first?

Dawn DeKeyser:

I lived Endless Field, which was being hailed as the New West Village of LA and it is not. And I was living right on Vermont Avenue and I slept on my bathrobe for the first two weeks until my stuff came from New York.

Michael Jamin:

But you had a place all by yourself or you have roommates?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Uh, no, I had a place to myself. I mean, it was $700 for one.

Michael Jamin:

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. That sounds about right. That's a good deal actually. Uh, even then, that's a good deal. So, okay. And then, and then how did you find a, how did you finally get work?

Dawn DeKeyser:

So I was writing these spec scripts and I sent them them to Bill Diamond and Mike Sal. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And when I moved out to LA, they were my first meeting.

Michael Jamin:

But How did you know them?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Through Tom? Because they were baby writers on the show. Oh,

Michael Jamin:

Right. Yeah.

Dawn DeKeyser:

And they said, you know, we thought you were just gonna be some gal who want, who had this idea of writing for sick homes, but you know what you're doing. Right. And I was very happy about that. They didn't give me my first break,

Michael Jamin:

But they, but they weren't, they were just staff writers at the time.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah, yeah. Which is fine. You know, I thought the first thing I needed to do was build a community. So I took a UCLA extension class at night and on the last day of the class, everyone was filing out. Someone turned around and said, you know, the deadline for the Disney Writer's Fellowship is tomorrow. You have to have your work postmarked by then. Okay. And I ran home and got my stuff in the mail the next morning. And, um, I sort of like that intro that I just talked about my life, I sort of put some of that in the essay that you write for what's your unique background. And, um, and then sent in a, uh, a Murphy Brown, maybe. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I'm

Michael Jamin:

Not sure you had a bunch of specs

Dawn DeKeyser:

Probably. No, I had, because I'm very methodical, I would spend six months writing each of them. Okay. And that's night and day work shopping, doing writers groups, doing punch up mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, until I felt like every page that your eyeballs land on made sense and was good and had a joke and you knew where the characters were going.

Michael Jamin:

Before we skip ahead, you said something I thought was really smart, you said you wanted to build your community. Right. Because a lot of people don't even think about that.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

So you knew you wanted by, you knew you wanted help or you wanted, like what, what were you looking for?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Well, I knew that I didn't know anyone here. Tom was off on his own, uh, fabulous life. I knew a girl from Dallas from years before, but, um, there was, there was no one that I could send my stuff to and I did cold calling to the agents and that didn't work. Doesn't do anything. Yeah. And so in the UCLA classes, I would usually, if you've got a group of 20 people, there's two that get it, let's say 10%, they're

Michael Jamin:

Get what get you or what do you mean get it?

Dawn DeKeyser:

I mean, they get what the, they are really there to learn and to be in that field. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> some others, you know, just they, it's a fun class to take. Right. But you can tell the two or three people that are very, um, interested in moving their career forward. Right. So I ingratiated myself and said, Let's form a writer's group. And that was okay. You know, that was fine until you start meeting people through them, they bring in their set of information that you don't have access to mm-hmm. <affirmative> and then it just starts growing.

Michael Jamin:

Right? Yeah. You gotta be there. And you, you were there now, how were you making a living? You still working in advertising now?

Dawn DeKeyser:

So I was still in, I wasn't in doing advertising. I was temping and I had this job at, uh, Disney on the lot where I was answering phones for the head of marketing mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I thought, I'm advertising and marketing. And because, um, at, on the second day, he came out of his office and he said, Who are you and why are you so bad at answering phones? Like you're dropping calls <laugh> and you're, you're sending in the wrong people. And I was like, Yeah, cuz um, this is really what I do. I actually love the One Sheet movie posters that you guys are writing, so I'd like to write headlines for that. And I had secretly gone into the files to see what their freelancers were invoicing them.

Michael Jamin:

Interesting.

Dawn DeKeyser:

And he said, Yeah, I don't think you're right for that. So I brought in my portfolio the next day and he said, I think you're right for this. So I started picking up freelance for movie posters,

Michael Jamin:

But that was not, See some people think that that's how you break in, but I wouldn't think that that's how to break in. That's just how to make a book. Right.

Dawn DeKeyser:

What do you mean? Like,

Michael Jamin:

Well, like that wouldn't, working in that advertising side for Disney wouldn't get you, you know, you're on the Disney lot, but it wouldn't get you as a sick, you know, get you work as a sit home writer.

Dawn DeKeyser:

That's right. So that predated getting into, so I got in the Disney Writer's Fellowship, Right. Um, that was over the course of like a two, two month process of interviewing and meeting with their executives. And I went into that meeting thinking, this is what I moved out here for. And they said, So what is your plan if, if this doesn't work out? And I said, This is going to work out. I really can't imagine y y'all finding someone better or more dedicated to doing great work. I really wanna do this. I wanna work with my heroes. I wanna work with people that will make me a better writer.

Michael Jamin:

And who were your heroes then?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Well, weirdly enough, um, I had top a top five. One was Diane English, one was Chris Lloyd, the, the writer. How

Michael Jamin:

Did you know Chris Lloyd? But yeah, I was so surprised you from, how would you know, how did you know Chris? Like how was he? He, Diane English? Yeah,

Dawn DeKeyser:

Diane English. Um, Chris was,

Michael Jamin:

Was he running, He wasn't running Fraser then?

Dawn DeKeyser:

He was like higher up on Fraser.

Michael Jamin:

Wow. Okay. Yeah. I'm surprised you even thought of him. But I mean Yeah, he's great. He's a he is a great writer for

Dawn DeKeyser:

Sure. Yeah, he is. And I can't remember the other three, but within the first two years of breaking in, I worked with all five of them.

Michael Jamin:

Wow. Wow. Now, what was the fellowship like? Cuz we did the Warner Brothers Writer's Workshop.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

I'd rather you talk about it. What was the Disney one like? What was your experience there?

Dawn DeKeyser:

It was so great. They picked five people. I think they had in that year, um, 3000 applicants. They picked five of us and Wow. That's it. Pardon?

Michael Jamin:

That's it. That's, I can't, I I didn't, I didn't know it was that small.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Well, it's, I think it's bigger these days. I think they take on 10 or 20, which is good. And they have a, they had another five fellows that did only film. And our five, you know, I'm still in contact with today. We would meet, um, twice a week at each other's houses. And then usually once a week or every two weeks we'd go to Disney and we would pitch where we are with our specs script. So it was a small, like a small stipend that paid the rent. Oh

Michael Jamin:

Wow. And those five, all five went on to work?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Um, not consistently. Not really. Okay. But that again, was just, I think it has everything to do with focus. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and I'll talk about that a little more of like, if you, if you are not, if you don't pick a lane, I am a sitcom half hour multi-camera mm-hmm. <affirmative> writer. That's what I wanna do.

Michael Jamin:

That Right. I, I so intriguing. Cause I say that I've made a number of posts about this that Yeah, put yourself in a box. People like, but I don't wanna be in a box, Put yourself in a box and you worry about getting outta the box later. But right now you need to sell yourself as who this is what you are. Why do I do? That's right.

Dawn DeKeyser:

That's right. And, and so many new writers are still struggling with that. And I said, People cannot help you if they don't know where to put you. Yeah. And so if you say, Oh, I write drama and comedy and romance, it's like, that's great for you, but I only know comedy writers. Right. So I don't think I'm gonna even help you because I don't know if you're really connected with that or with drama or

Michael Jamin:

How serious you are about it. Yeah, exactly. Market yourself. Make it easy for people. Yeah. You know? Yeah. What, See, it's, so sometimes I, sometimes I wonder, am I just bullshitting? Am I making this up? You know, am I the only one who feels this way? No, I don't, I don't think, I think I'm saying stuff everyone else thinks, you know, agrees with

Dawn DeKeyser:

You are not alone. And you're getting such great information out there to so many people. It's really spectacular.

Michael Jamin:

You're very kind.

Dawn DeKeyser:

You're fan Michael Jam. But

Michael Jamin:

That's me. So then, okay, so then okay, then what you have. All right.

Dawn DeKeyser:

So then I was in the fellowship and they put, they don't promise, but they say, we may place you on one of our Disney shows. And that's where I went onto All American Girl. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And

Michael Jamin:

It, Were they paying you? Cuz I'm Warner of Brothers. If they staffed you in one of their shows, you get, at least back then you would get, you work for like a third of scale. A third. But was that the case on Disney?

Dawn DeKeyser:

We didn't get paid, but we got paid for the scripts that we wrote because they were already paying. Like, more brothers doesn't pay you

Michael Jamin:

To pay. Right. No one of those you pay to get in.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Oh yeah.

Michael Jamin:

We paid. Yeah. We, we paid like, I think it was like $400 each or something. But I think it's way more than now. I think it's a lot more now.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Hmm. No, they, they would place you as free labor on their shows. And it was my first experience in the writer's room. It was hard. I had trouble being heard. And I did end up, we had an order for 13 episodes. I ended up writing three of them.

Michael Jamin:

What was your three? That's that's a lot actually for a staff writer. I wonder why weren't you, you must have been scared.

Dawn DeKeyser:

They liked my writing. They liked, like, I spent again, it was like, I really sweated it. This is another thing that I, that I stress to writers is sweated, you can't make a lot of money if you're not putting that amount into your writing and your own career. So

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. So 13, that's a lot. And but what was it like? I mean, were you okay? I always think that when we first kinda just shoot me, I was like, I'm in over my head. I am in over my head. Yeah. How did you felt? The same way

Dawn DeKeyser:

I am in over my head. Um, I, yeah, I, it was terrifying. And I realized that I wasn't a match for people who had been in writing rooms that were louder funnier, more obnoxious, mostly just louder. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I sat next to this one writer and I, I'd whisper things to him to see if he could pitch them for me.

Michael Jamin:

And did he? Yeah. And, and they went over and then did he give you, did you say as dope? Oh

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah. Yeah. He would gimme credit. But you know, I said I don't even wanna push that. I just wanna see.

Michael Jamin:

Right. If

Dawn DeKeyser:

You're on the right game. Well, I wanna be part of this game, but I don't know how to play.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, right. Exactly. Right. And it takes several, How long did it take you before you felt like you knew how to play? How many years?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Um, well that's the interesting thing because my next job was on news radio. Right. And I, I have all, I had felt like an all American girl that I was getting my, you know, sort of getting my feet under me. But that was, they were kicked out from under me on this, on the next actual staff job that I have. Right. That I had. And it took me, um, quite a long time to feel okay in the room. And it really wasn't until many years later when I was in the ugly Betty Writers' room because the, you had drama writers there who were so great about staying on focus with the story and not performing and the performance of the comedy when you do a comedy pitch. I was scared of

Michael Jamin:

Oh, interesting. So cuz they don't have, obviously when you're doing the drama you don't have to be funny. So they're basically just talking about the story points. Cause I haven't really worked on it and they're not, Yeah. They're not hoping the joke will land cuz there is no joke.

Dawn DeKeyser:

It was so weird to, um, go out on, on an act with no joke. It was like, what? Wait, we can just cliff hanger like that. <laugh>.

Michael Jamin:

Do you feel like these drama rooms are more civilized because of that?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah, definitely. They were also, they were just more writerly and, um, more mature. And I, you know, I say that sitcom riding was a full contact sport. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I didn't realize that when I started I wanted to be around really funny people. And it was so much work for me. There was the whole other aspect of being a female writer and oftentimes the only woman in the room.

Michael Jamin:

Why? Talk about that experience a little. What's that like?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Well, it sucked <laugh>.

Michael Jamin:

It, it sucked. It sucked.

Dawn DeKeyser:

It was

Michael Jamin:

Sucked. But not all the time. Just sometimes or all the time?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Every time

Michael Jamin:

On every show. Every show.

Dawn DeKeyser:

No. If there were other women in the writer's room, it was a little less terrible,

Michael Jamin:

But still terrible.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah. Yeah. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. It wasn't until I got into dramas and then dramas that I just felt like, okay, I can, I can do my work. I could be funny. I'm much funnier on the page and I would just think, Oh God, I gotta get out of the writer's room so I can be funny. Right. So that was not the best strategy.

Michael Jamin:

Right.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Um, and I was the only woman on news radio that year. Andy and Eileen were there and they left after a few episodes.

Michael Jamin:

Right. But Right. But you overlap with him. Right. Cause that's how I, that's how I met you through Eileen I think.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Oh, probably. Yeah. Yeah. That's right.

Michael Jamin:

And you know, they were both very, I remember I'd just shoot me, both of them. They'd pitch a line, like a story, uh, idea and then, you know, people Oh, that's good. And like, how do you know it's good? How do they, like how are they doing this? Like how do you know? You know, Anyway, but I think

Dawn DeKeyser:

That's, I don't know. Would you say that it helps to have a partner? Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

For sure. It helped a lot. I mean I, you know, the two of us were clinging to each other for, you know, for dear life. <laugh>. Um, I think definitely it's that way more intimidating to do it all to it on yourself. But how do you, what do you like, what do you experience even now or like lately when you have a staff writer who feels the same way that you felt like what, you know

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

What goes on there?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Well, um, working on pilots, there was one young girl who came in and just to sort of observe mm-hmm. <affirmative> and I just took to her because she was so, um, she had a script in a big binder with all of it color coded with all of her nose. I was like, Oh my God, you're after my heart. Um, because

Michael Jamin:

She's so prepared. People, young writers come in prepared sometimes. I'm always

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah, they do. And I just said, You are after my heart. I will help you in any way that I can. And she was working for, for quite some time. I think she lives on the East coast now. Right. It's that, um, it's that showing up prepared and really earnest. Like, I love that. I kind of love when people try a little too hard and sometimes it can be cringy. I'm like, Yes, I get it. That's me.

Michael Jamin:

But do you have you also, cause I've experienced young writers who kind of don't under, they don't know what they don't know as well, you know, as well and they kind of

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

Argue or overstep and, you know, have you experienced that?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Oh yeah. And the, one of the first things I say is, do not litigate. Do just, just take it in. And it's also the, um, once you learn how to take notes on your script and realize that it's not personal, get out of your own fucking way. Get outta your way. Because after like being in writer's groups, we had rules about how we gave notes to each other. And the person getting the notes has to shut up. You cannot explain why you put something in a script. It's like, I don't care why you put it in there. Here's me as a reader is not getting this part of it. Right. And there's been plenty of times I'd be giving people notes and just like in classes or writer's room. Um, Yeah. Classes a writer resume. And I could tell that they didn't want the note.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. Oh well no one wants a note. <laugh>. Yeah. I mean,

Dawn DeKeyser:

I mean just like basic stuff, especially in writers' groups where if, if they are arguing their stance and their reason for why they wrote something, it's like, Oh, I get it. Okay. You're good. You're good to go. All all's good.

Michael Jamin:

Right. Right. And so this, see, it's so funny how we have the same, like we've never worked in the same show. We've had so many the same exact experiences.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yes. Although I would, I would, Oh you said venture to mention that. Um, you know, and some writers' rooms, it's like, I was not safe. I was commented, my body was commented on when I would walk into a room and when I would leave a room and I was told to suck it up by my agents because it was a really good show. Or

Michael Jamin:

Do you think they were trying to be funny or were they're being sexual harassing? Like, you know, what were they trying, what was the Oh,

Dawn DeKeyser:

Sometimes it was just trying to be funny. But, um, it was funny at my expense I say I was humiliated for sport on a particular show. Right. And they were cruel. And they were also like, my agents came in after one of our show tapings and they looked around the office and went, Oh, I see what you're talking about. It smells like rancid cheese in here. The guys were walking around in boxer shorts. They had brought futons to their offices cuz they were just staying there.

Michael Jamin:

So like, cuz the hours is terrible. Yeah,

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah. And they also had jars of their pee in the offices because I thought that was hilarious.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah.

Dawn DeKeyser:

So that's, that's not just being like, I

Michael Jamin:

Dunno. And it's interesting that you, you were able to speak up about this because this was before people were really speaking up about this. You know what I'm

Dawn DeKeyser:

Saying? I didn't, I didn't, I mean, I didn't until more recently. That's a really,

Michael Jamin:

To your agent at least you did. You know?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Well, I just said it's so hard. I mean it's so Yeah. And that my agents were women

Michael Jamin:

And they still, And you're, they still,

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

I can't, I want, What do you think if that were today though? I can't imagine

Dawn DeKeyser:

It wouldn't happen today.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. You'd be taking a lot more seriously, you know. Yeah,

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah. It, it, it, yeah. It wouldn't happen today. Um, that, that show ended up not hiring a woman writer for the rest of its run for like three or four more seasons.

Michael Jamin:

And, but from what I understand, well maybe, maybe I shouldn't say which show it was. Do we say which show it was? I know some,

Dawn DeKeyser:

It may have earlier, but

Michael Jamin:

I know some of the, like some of these shows that you were on the hours were absolutely terrible. Terrible. Like, what were those, what was that like?

Dawn DeKeyser:

That was like being held hostage by a crazy person. Right. And that sometimes the showrunner would be on medication and they would not be able to focus and they would just kind of keep us there. A lot of times you'd hear about showrunners who just didn't wanna go home to their wife and kids, which is terrible,

Michael Jamin:

Terrible, terrible. Right. Wow.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah. Wow. So that was, that was hard. I mean, driving home at four in the morning and then getting up at around 10, um, and then getting back to the office by 10 30 or 11,

Michael Jamin:

Was there a lot of sitting around and waiting? Or was it all work?

Dawn DeKeyser:

No, it was a lot of sitting around and waiting and storytelling galing each other. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know. Geez. But, but things are not, they don't work that way anymore. Which is,

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. I don't think so. You gotta, yeah. When you get, that's a bad situation. Uh, sometimes like we, you know, we did a couple bad hours like on just shoot me, but it was never, cuz we were dicking around, it was because like a story blew, blew up and we had to work till four in the morning. That was a couple of those. But it wasn't, cuz it wasn't ill behavior. It was just, that's just the, you know, sometimes that happens.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah, for sure. And you know, people like Steve Levitan and some of the other guys you've worked with, they are not there to make a point or single someone out just for fun. Yeah. And you guys, you and Sea were as showrunners, you would never do that. You would never write that.

Michael Jamin:

No. Our goal was always to go home early. That was, how could we go home early today, <laugh>, what could we do to get the work done, Have a, have a good hour. Um, but what about developing when you, you know, come up with your own ideas? What's that? How does that work?

Dawn DeKeyser:

That was, um, that was usually, uh, someone that I'd be in the writer's room with. They would come to me and say, I've got an idea. Do you like this? Or we would pair up just for the pitch.

Michael Jamin:

So most of your develop, Okay. So people ask me about that. Can you, can you work independently or can you work with team up with people? Cuz we, we, you know, that's what you did mostly.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah. And when I was, um, like I'd say mid-level writer mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it would behoove me to go in with a showrunner or a co p Right. And, um, just so that I could to have those meetings and kind of get the lay of the land until later when I would write

Michael Jamin:

Around.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

But in the beginning, were you, were you kind of working under them or were you literally together.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Together. Okay. Together.

Michael Jamin:

And, and then now, okay, now when you come up with an idea, how does that work alone? I mean,

Dawn DeKeyser:

Oh, it was, it was great. So we're, we've been talking mostly about the nineties and then after a few of the shows, like I, I went to work through the rest of the nineties, but I did definitely get the comedy knocked out of me. Um, I went on to do a series of shows and over that time there were less and less options because we had the game shows coming in and reality tv. And by 2000 I went to rehab and it was very helpful. I mean, you know, I got this shit kicked out of me and I was no match. I was not cravenly ambitious. I was just always grateful to be there, which doesn't give you any control. And with, with my, it was a short stint and I was able to piece things together. I also took jobs for shorter amounts of time. Like if they had a full year season, I'd say I'll work the first 13.

Michael Jamin:

What if they pick, what if they wanted you for the back nine or whatever.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Then I said, I'm not available. And I'd move to New York and just kind of in between each show I had to do a lot of repair. I just had to sleep.

Michael Jamin:

Interesting. I I, I didn't even know that was an option. Like that's kind of, I that's kind of unusual to kind of good for you. Like, you're calling the shots, you're saying this is what I'm willing to do. I don't know anybody who does that, who can do that, I guess.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Well I wasn't, um, I couldn't, I mean financially it was not the thing to do, but mentally I knew that I had to not put myself in harm's way. Right. And, um, I always, it also had advertising to go back to occasionally. Right. So, um, you know, by, I would say, so I continued to work. I'd pick up an episode here, um, less staff drops available, but I just kind of eked out a living. It wasn't the trajectory that I'd started on. Right. And I was okay with that.

Michael Jamin:

Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michael jamin.com/watchlist.

Michael Jamin:

Basically this is the, the interesting part, which I don't really talk about a lot on anything is the economics of really being a writer. Because I don't know, we don't just talk about it, but cuz we were saying, you know, you kind of, you kind of, you were calling the shots. You're saying, this is what I'm willing to do. I don't want, I'll work this much, I don't wanna work that much because it's not <laugh>, it's not good for me, my mental health. And I get that. Um, but so then to kind of to, you know, had to make, to make ends meet, you also have this other project that you've been working on and I wanna talk about that.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yes. So I think we, uh, we were talking about 2000 rehab, excellent. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> very helpful. And so it was on the heels of that that I was starting to piece together what I wanted my life to look like, which was not working 18 hours a day with difficult people. Yeah. So I would, I would take my jobs for shorter amounts of time. Like if a, if a show had an order for 22, I said I'll work on the first 13. Right. And then I would generally go to Texas or New York and then just repair in between shows. And it, financially it was not a strong way to do it. But, um, I wanted to circle back a little bit on the, the rehab stuff. Um, you had asked at one point about did I, was I an AA and I wanna say that that never worked for me.

Dawn DeKeyser:

And there was this book a few years back called Quit Like A Woman. And it's about, it was by H Whitaker and it's about smart recovery. And one of the things that just made so much sense to me was that AA is a AAL system. And one of the first things that they ask you to do is give, give away your power. And the thing is, we women are rendered powerless in so many situations already. Why the fuck would I wanna go into a meeting and, and not have any agency over myself and my decisions? So that's a part of smart recovery and I love it. I think it's really

Michael Jamin:

Do do you meet as as often as, as somebody you know, in, in the group or, you know?

Dawn DeKeyser:

No, and the thing about it is, um, I'm sort of a social drinker. I don't have an issue with that anymore. And it's really about like, if you have a drink, you don't start at day one. You just, you figure out if you wanna manage your use of anything or, um, if you don't want to <laugh>. Right. And, and it's just, um, it's just less, um, punishing Right. Say so. Um, and I know that, you know, we're writers, we're tender souls and we feel a lot. And I just wanted to get sort of, get that out there. That's something that's really helped and resonated with

Michael Jamin:

Viola Davis said something like that, you know, obviously not a writer but an actor, but she said, I guess I can't remember what it was about, but she's basically saying someone criticized her for having thin skin. And she goes, I'm supposed to have thin skin. That's, I'm an artist. Like I, you know, I'm not supposed to have thick skin <laugh>. I'm supposed to feel things and express things. You

Dawn DeKeyser:

Know? That's right. That's right. I mean, that's what we do. We do. And um, we feel things and then we express them and we write them and we get it out there and people get it. They understand that. Um, you can't be general in really good writing. You gotta be specific.

Michael Jamin:

Right, Exactly. Specific. Yes. Yeah. Well tell but tell me about your summit.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Okay, so sum

Michael Jamin:

It up.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Sum it up. Um, one, sum it up. One of the things we don't talk about as writers is all that dead air, that space between gigs or the fact that the seasons are shorter now, and there's the writing staffs are smaller and the industry expands and contracts and the summit called writers making money. Lose the ego, tap into your talent and bring cash in during these weird ass apocalyptic times. I'm said that earlier. And, um, it's really about what are you doing for passive income investing? How are you keeping the lights on mm-hmm. <affirmative> and these, So I talk to money experts and mindset coaches and, um, we talk about things like cash machines, which is how do you bring in a little bit just in passive income? It's not hard. Um, if you have lazy assets, like my IRA's been sitting there doing nothing for a long time. And, um, we talked about what types of entities as a creative person you need to set up and forget it'll run on its own without you. But just getting all of that in place. And so, uh, in 2020 my life imploded mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And after that, and I'll just say a little bit like in 2020 my house flooded and I lost about 50 years worth of furniture, clothing, art, stuff like that. And then my husband, um, emailed me d divorce papers.

Michael Jamin:

Right. And then it gets worse,

Dawn DeKeyser:

And then it gets worse. And then covid hit. And then while the house was being torn apart with asbestos, tenting, my daughter and I moved into one corner of the house during, while she was in virtual school, I lost my dream job. I lost the house. And then we just decided to go and spend time in Woodstock, New York with friends, which was good. And then we came back in November and about that Thanksgiving, my husband passed away. Right. So that was very hard. And, um, I spent after, you know, we went through the grieving process and then after we <laugh>, just after we got that done, after we were cured of that <laugh>, I started into just figuring out again, what do I want my life to look like in my career? And I still wanna write. And so I started taking business classes, business coaching, leadership training, um, and talking to money experts and just like, what, how am I setting myself up for generational wealth? Which is something that I didn't look ahead, I didn't look to, excuse me. And then my daughter got into college, which was amazing, and she's in New York now. She's at the number one design school in the country, Parsons. And we said yes. And then I looked at the, how much it was gonna cost and <laugh> out. Oh. And also in 2020, all my money kind of evaporated, unbeknownst to me. So I was really starting from scratch with no home address. Right. And, um,

Michael Jamin:

What do you mean your money evaporated? What hap what do you mean?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Well, um, my husband was, um, he was not, well, he was very troubled and very ill. And that kind of went with him. So

Michael Jamin:

He, Okay. So he learned,

Dawn DeKeyser:

He found out that we were a few hundred thousand in debt. So again, all that doesn't matter, it's just money. So we find out that Ava's college is 80,000 Right. Thinking, you know what, we're gonna do this. We'll just figure out a way. So for the last 18 months, I have been figuring out ways to set our lives up and start bringing in money in a different way outside of tv, outside of just writing as a creative person. And it's working and I wanna, and I just want people to know that there's, I

Michael Jamin:

Share that that's important cuz you know, creative people, like, we don't go into this profession, at least I don't think, you know, we don't go into the special to become middle managers. We don't go to become to know about money because like, you know, I think that's part of, also, I'm not excusing any of the bad behavior in TV shows, but no one becomes a writer because they wanna manage people. They go because they just wanna goof off and be creative and do whatever and that. But the problem is that can, that can affect people, other people working underneath you, you know?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah, for sure. You know that as a showrunner. Yeah. And you work up through the ranks because of your writing talent and then you're suddenly in an administrative position, Right. As a showrunner, right? Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. It's like, I don't, I didn't want, I don't wanna be the boss, I just wanna be a writer. But, but this is how it is now. Now you have to manage people. So anyway, so, but, but so that's why I think what you're talking about in your summit is important. So Yeah. Tell us more about it. Yeah.

Dawn DeKeyser:

So I think it's really important because we are, this is gonna talk about, um, using your left brain in a right brain industry mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And it's not that hard. It's not that scary. I talked to this one woman who's known for her millionaire maker series, and I started working with her this summers. Like, what am I, I'm doing everything wrong. I know that, and I've made money and I've spent it, and I would kind of like to not do that anymore. And her team is, you know, they're talking about how to get me set up and any of their other clients and it's been just a complete game changer. Right. Like, it just, um, and she's very intense and very complex in all of the knowledge that she has. She's not a Susie Orman or Dave Ramsey where they talk about saving mm-hmm. <affirmative> and don't have that latte in the morning.

Dawn DeKeyser:

And she says, Oh, you know, fuck all that live. You're like, make money and do the right thing with it because we just aren't ever aware of what to do. Like lazy assets. My IRA sitting there, and now I'm going to instead take some of that out and put it into a, an investing group that will, will put money into apartment buildings and real estate. And y'all who have houses out here are, you know, that is great, but it's not a financial strategy. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And anyway, so I was excited about learning all of this, especially on the heels of having to reconfigure my whole life. And I just wanna get it out there.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. You had, you did a giant reset. A giant reset. Yeah. Very overwhelming. I I'm getting nervous just thinking about what you did <laugh>.

Dawn DeKeyser:

It was, um, it was weird. It was, yeah. It was really hard. And, um, yeah, I am grateful. Like I'm grateful for my life. There's one of two ways you can go when tragedy happens. And that is, you can stay in it and think of the all the other bad things that are right around the corner mm-hmm. <affirmative> or, um, you can pick yourself up and get going in a completely different way. That's the, that was the, the real impetus for me is like, I wanna do things differently and Oh, and there was something you said about h hustling. Yes. Yes. Um, so I'm, I'm now putting questions out there and answering them and not even giving you any air time <laugh>. Like, we all hustle, we all get that, get the work done. One thing that I wanted to do in this new reset was to not hustle as much what I do. I'm working a lot, but at home on my own schedule. And if it feels like it's getting stressful or sense of urgency, I take a nap. Right. I just slow down and I wanna do it in a more peaceful way.

Michael Jamin:

Right. That's so interesting. And so people can learn more about your, the [email protected]

Dawn DeKeyser:

Slash writers making money

Michael Jamin:

Back slash writers making money. And so then when is the next one?

Dawn DeKeyser:

It's going to be October 17th through the 19th. So for three days we have, Oh, sorry. For three days we have nine speakers. Right. And each day we'll talk like one, I talk to an actress who is now writing this really fabulous, um, children's book series. She loves that. She's like, I still act, but here's something that fills my heart. Right. Um, talking to Laura Lang Meyer, who's intense, she's still intense. Um, and she is all, she's, she talks about money in a way of let's get everything. Let's not have your bookkeeper talk to your cpa, talk to your business manager. She's like, We just do everything and, and all in one place, which is what I,

Michael Jamin:

And we should mention, this is all free for people who want to join the summit. Right. It's

Dawn DeKeyser:

All free. It's free, free, free. So you just sign up, give me your email and your name, and you'll get access to all of that.

Michael Jamin:

Right. Right. Yeah. And then, but then you and you also have a consulting business, a script consulting

Dawn DeKeyser:

Business. I do. So all that's gonna launch to, I am all about putting everything off to the last minute. So that launches next week, and that'll be on my dawn de kaiser.com website. I'll do, I'll be doing script consulting, um, coaching for creatives and the writer's room. We're going be, we'll meet once a once a week

Michael Jamin:

About,

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah. We'll do guest speakers and q and a and then writing sprints.

Michael Jamin:

Once a writing sprint

Dawn DeKeyser:

That is kind of a Pomodoro style I put on a timer and heads, pencils up, heads down.

Michael Jamin:

Oh, okay. And then you give a little short assignment. People

Dawn DeKeyser:

Not even, you know, I'll say, set your intention at the very beginning of what you wanna accomplish in the next 25 minute sprint. Okay. And, um, and we just do check in. It helps to get online or, you know, to check in with other people. Your Facebook group is really going strong and people are finding each other there. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And that's been really helpful for them.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. You got a lot going on.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah. Um,

Michael Jamin:

Now I wanna talk about when you're, when you're on a a show, like what's, what's your experience like working with new young writers and and what do you see? Dos and don'ts?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah. I see the ones that really, that just grab my heart are the ones who try really hard. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, they are like, to a cringy point, like I love that. I was working on a pilot and this one young writer came in, she was gi given a shot and she had her script in a big binder, three reading binder with all of her color coordinated post-it notes. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> that. And, and I just thought, she's after my own heart. Like I, that's She was prepared. She was prepared. That's right.

Michael Jamin:

Because sometimes new young writers, they'll look at the boss and because the boss very often isn't really prepared <laugh> because, you know, they got a million things going on. Or even some of the upper level writers are kind of play it loose. But, uh, and so some of 'em think, well, if the boss has got his feet up on the, or her feet up on the desk, so could so can I, I'll just do what the boss is doing. <laugh>. But you're not the boss. You

Dawn DeKeyser:

Know, you have not earned the right to put your feet up on the table yet.

Michael Jamin:

Right. So you, But when you see people come in prepared, uh, you know, I like that. I like, sometimes they'll, like, they'll say, I have a pitch. I'm like, Oh good. I, they'll say like, I have five ideas. Well let's hear 'em. I don't have any ideas.

Dawn DeKeyser:

That's right. <laugh>. That's right. Yeah. It's just, it's just sort of, um, you know, not taking it personally mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And uh, I see a lot of writers who litigate their script. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>,

Michael Jamin:

They overstep. Right.

Dawn DeKeyser:

They do. And they just argue for the, they don't need to argue. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, they, their work is on the page. It either is working or it's not. And you are in a room with professionals who will tell you mm-hmm. <affirmative> and you don't need to explain to them what you put in the script and why, because they don't care. It's not working. Right. Right. So yeah. It is that losing the ego part of it.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. It's, it's hard for people to, it's hard for young writers to accept that. Um, and they don't see it yet. And then as you get older, and then sometimes I feel like, ah, I, I'm like, crouchy the old guy. Um, but I, I don't, I don't think so. I think like you just, you have the experience. It's like, I don't wanna argue with you. I, you know, I know from experience that this is how, this is how it's gotta go. This is what this is. What you presented is not gonna work. I just know. I just know that, you

Dawn DeKeyser:

Know. Yeah. You've, you've done your time.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. Um, and do you feel, But how do you, and I think I I I, we talked about this a little bit. How, how do you think people are breaking in today?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Oh, that's right. I said I do not know. I have no idea. Yeah. I have no idea. Um, what you and Rob Cohen talked about was just coming in from all different angles. Like mine was a winding road getting here. And um, some of it worked, some of it didn't. But, um, that, yeah. It's like no one is going to give you a career. They will give you a shot. Right. And that's why your work has to be outstanding. And I say, not good, not great. Outstanding. And you'll get work. You know, I, I just, um, and there are so many,

Michael Jamin:

Cause some people think, well, it's good enough or it's better than what the garbage that I see on tv. And they think, well, you know, Okay, okay. Maybe it is, but it's, you know, that's not good enough

Dawn DeKeyser:

That, But people have been saying that since I started in tv. It's like, Oh, it's better than what's on the air. No, it's not <laugh>.

Michael Jamin:

No,

Dawn DeKeyser:

No. You, you are competing with a room of 12 professional writers who have each other to bounce it off of. And there's a reason that they write all of that. It may not end up great. That may be for all these reasons that you have no access to, which is network notes or, um,

Michael Jamin:

Acting notes. The actor you can get it from. Yeah. Um, there's a lot of reasons even, you know, I haven't really talked about this a lot, but even writing a bad television show is hard. Even writing bad TV is hard, You know,

Dawn DeKeyser:

<laugh>, it's so hard. I worked on this one show that was a drama but just inadvertently a comedy. It was so terrible. And I think we got written up in the Hollywood Reporter for it just being so campy. We weren't going for campy, we were just trying <laugh>, We're just, just trying to get the scripts to the actors.

Michael Jamin:

Right. How funny. Do and, and do you find, I think we, we've talked, I don't remember we mentioned this, but do you find working cuz you kind of transitioned to from comedy sitcom to DRM or, and even drama, like, um, and I think you were talking about even more chill. Like what? Cause I hadn't worked in drama, really. So what are the differences in the writing room, the writers' room for

Dawn DeKeyser:

That? Yeah. It's a, it's a's a huge difference. So, um, 2017 Me Too movement mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, that was a game changer for people like me who had been dragged around a few rough corners. And, um, it did change the, it changed the personality of a lot of writers' rooms. As, as you know, for me, um, comedy was always kind of a full contact sport. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you'd be in the room with comedians, performers, writers, and there would be jumping up and down and just, it was a lot of performance. And so Right.

Michael Jamin:

Because you gotta sell that joke.

Dawn DeKeyser:

You gotta sell it. Right. You gotta sell it. No one else is gonna sell it. Um, so I, my first job in drama was Ugly Betty, but they had, half of the staff was comedy writers, which hadn't been done a lot or before. Right. So what I noticed was that the drama writers were so writerly and they were so not worried about selling the act break and getting the big joke out on a beat or a scene. And it was, it was so great. It was so great to talk about the story and not about not worry about how you're gonna sell the joke for me. Right. I, I liked that part of it. And then I went on to be in other drama rooms that were just very respectful.

Michael Jamin:

And how did you make that transition? You had basic, cuz it's not like you could just jump from comedy writer to drama. You ba you're kind of starting over

Dawn DeKeyser:

Kinda, you know, I didn't look at it that way. I will say that drama writers don't tend to become comedy writers.

Michael Jamin:

Right. Right. It's, it's a one, right? You, if you can write comedy, you could probably write drama, but not necessarily the other way around. Right.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Right. I mean, it's just a whole different muscle. Um, I don't know. I think I got this shit kicked out of me in comedy, so I thought, I wanna be <laugh>. I'm now more serious.

Michael Jamin:

But now you started writing sample, you had to write samples. You gotta start as if you'd never done ob cause you'd never done it before. You had start writing drama samples.

Dawn DeKeyser:

That's right. And I found that the agents did not want to marketing me that way. You know, I've already established myself and, and they would then have to hand me over to a different set of agents.

Michael Jamin:

That's interesting. Right? Cause I talk about this. Well, so many people think that soon as I get an agent, how do I get an agent? They say this all the time. How do I get an agent as if that's gonna help at all? You know, that's not gonna change your life. Once you've, you know, once even when you become at your level, you know you're in charge,

Dawn DeKeyser:

Right? Yeah, absolutely. And I didn't get an agent until I was, I'd won some script writing contests. I was in the Disney Writer's Fellowship. I was writing all those scripts on one of their shows, and I still couldn't get an agent. Still

Michael Jamin:

Couldn't get an agent. Yeah.

Dawn DeKeyser:

And so I called, I contacted CAA and uta and they're like, Yeah, no, we're very interested. And no one would pull the trigger. So I called CAA back and said, Yeah, I'm going into UTA this afternoon. And that's when I got the offer. And then I called uta. I said, Yeah, I'm gonna go on, go ahead and go to CAA this afternoon.

Michael Jamin:

And Wow. So you were just bluffing? Yeah. Wow. Interesting. Yeah, we, for a while when we, um, God, where were we? I think we were at, uh, Endeavor. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And we weren't getting much. Um, we, I guess we weren't getting to kind of help the support we needed then as soon as, but as soon as we threatened to, to go to uta mm-hmm. <affirmative>, like everyone was called suddenly, suddenly they wanted to talk to us. <laugh>.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah. Yeah. That'll get them sitting up straight. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

<laugh> good for you. That's hard. That's, that's, uh, gutsy. But, okay. So then, um, but in terms of breaking stories, it, is it kind of the same on a, on a drama for

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah. It's kind of the same. Instead of going out on a big blow, you go out on a big cliff hanger. Right. And

Michael Jamin:

A pregnant moment.

Dawn DeKeyser:

What?

Michael Jamin:

That's, that's what I was told. It's called, It's, it's a pregnant, a pregnant moment. Like, Oh

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yes, that's right. Yes. What next? Yeah, <laugh> and I, I just really liked it. I had this lovely experience working with Martha Williamson, who created Touch by an Angel. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And she's one of like the top Christian women in the country. And she was interviewed on 60 Minutes and she had quite a big career. And I had never been in a respectful writer's room before. And so I was like, Oh, we can't say fuck. And they, the two other guys, it was just like four of us. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> said, Oh, no, no, no. And so I thought, okay, no, I'm, I'm, I'm gonna give it a go <laugh>, and

Michael Jamin:

I'm gonna hold my tongue when I don't have to say be crashed. Weird.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah. I'm not gonna be disgusting. So, um, it was a really great experience. Right. That's interesting. And yeah. And the other, the dramas that I've done, and then, and then things sort of went, like I was able to write, um, episodes of Hallmark shows that's, I call that the women, the women writers ghetto. Um, cause we all, we all sort of end up there doing our cozy mysteries, which, um,

Michael Jamin:

It used to be, I guess children's shows, but I guess now you're saying for it's, it's home, It's, uh,

Dawn DeKeyser:

Hallmark has always been the family network. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Family. Family.

Michael Jamin:

But when you develop, are you develop on your own? Are you, are you mostly doing comedy or drama?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Um, comedy, No, I would say both. And I'm not developing a lot. I have had this one idea that I love so much that I'm afraid to write it. I just, I just can't seem to do it.

Michael Jamin:

Why? Why?

Dawn DeKeyser:

Because I want it to be really good.

Michael Jamin:

Well, why don't you make, Write it as a book then?

Dawn DeKeyser:

No, it's a great series.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. But if you sell it as a book, then, then you can turn it as a TV show. No.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Mm. Book writing. That's hard.

Michael Jamin:

Book writing. What would I know?

Dawn DeKeyser:

What writing

Michael Jamin:

<laugh>? What do you mean book writing? <laugh>?

Dawn DeKeyser:

What is this book thing you talk about?

Michael Jamin:

Um, so interesting. But, okay, so I wanna make sure everyone knows more about, I guess I, when we talked about it, I wanna make sure before we sign off, but everyone knows more about how they can get in touch with you, how they can find you and learn more about your summit and your, your consulting services and all that.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah. So that's all coming out next week and maybe by the time this runs, Yeah, probably it's, yeah, Hope. Um, Instagram @dawndekeyserwrites TikTok @dawndekeyserwrites website DawnDeKeyser.com. And I will tell you, you know, you use your name and all of your stuff. I would, I just was so uncomfortable doing that. I was calling it everything else, but what I am doing. So now it's just my name.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, I know. I was, I was a little in the beginning. I was, uh, you know, it was uncomfortable cuz writers don't, we're not actors. We're behind the scene. It's, it's weird for us to, uh, promote ourselves this way. That's not what we do. We're not act, That's what the actors we write for somebody else put them in front. So that was a hurdle for me to, I had to get over, you know?

Dawn DeKeyser:

How did you get over it?

Michael Jamin:

Um, you know, I I I'm always reminded of the Oscar Wild. There's a wonderful qu I think he said, but I'm not sure cause I can find it again. But he said you'd worry, I think he said you'd worry less about what other people thought. Think about you if you realized how little they did. Which works on two levels, which means they already think you're garbage. So what are you worried about? Or they're just, they're just thinking about themselves. And so, yeah, I just, at some point I was like, I screw it. If people wanna judge me, let, let them, they're, they're gonna forget about me anyway. I'm not on anyone's, you know, why does no one's staying up late to think about me <laugh>.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Right, right. That's good to know. I mean, that's, that is liberating.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. Yeah. You know, and I, I, I do actually, I've thought about it a lot and especially as a writer, cuz I started, you know, writing more like personal essays, more stuff about my life. And, um, and then I kind of realized that there's like a paradox about judge being about judgment and that, cause I, you know, I, I did this show and then I didn't want people to think like, my biggest fear would be to perform my work and have people think, Oh, this guy's not a good writer. You know? And to be a good writer, you have to expose yourself. Yeah. And that's the paradox. So if I don't want people to judge me, I have to put my, allow people to judge me. I have to make myself vulnerable so that they might judge me ironically. And if you do that, they ironically won't judge you. You know,

Dawn DeKeyser:

On your website you talk about vulnerable, being vulnerable. Yeah,

Michael Jamin:

Yeah,

Dawn DeKeyser:

Yeah. It's hard. It's hard because that's exactly right. You put your yourself out there, your heart and it can hurt.

Michael Jamin:

But to me, the bigger pain is having someone say, Oh, you can't write <laugh>. So like, that would hurt harder <laugh>. So I'd rather just ex be vulnerable. And that people Wow. Cuz people walk away, they go, Wow, how'd you do that? That was pretty brave. I'm like, whew. No, it would've been brave if I gone up there with my less than adequate work then, you know, that would've been brave. I feel like, you

Dawn DeKeyser:

Know, <laugh>. Yeah. Yes. Um, keep your work at the highest level. You know, that's just, there, there are no shortcuts. Yeah, there's a lot of different ways in, but they're just not shortcuts.

Michael Jamin:

The, that's another thing, and I was gonna do, I guess a post about this, but every time I talk to a writer, everyone has a different way in. There's no, it's not like becoming a doctor where you go to med school, you take these, you take your MCATs, you go to med school, you to residency for a writer. Everyone has a different path to get in. So it's not like, you know, it's more like a curiosity thing When I ask people how they break in, but it's not like you can follow that path. You have to make your own,

Dawn DeKeyser:

You know? Yeah, no, and for to follow my path, you'd have to go <laugh>. You do a little time travel into an alcoholic family, so I don't

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, you don't wanna do that. Yeah, no, don't do it. Don't do it. <laugh>. Wow. Well, Dawn, I want to thank you so much for joining me. This is gonna be a good one. This is gonna be a good one. So thank you so much. Everyone go check out her website, dawn to kaiser.com. She's got a lot to offer. The, the, the webinars free. Sit in on that. You'll, you'll get a lot and, you know, thank

Dawn DeKeyser:

You stuff for promoting that. Of course. You know, we as writers and not marketers, thank you.

Michael Jamin:

You No, Yeah, yeah. So, you know, you're being too shy, so I have to promote you.

Dawn DeKeyser:

Okay, yeah, that's alright. Thank you so much.

Michael Jamin:

Thank you. Yeah. Well, well thank you again. I'll put this up. All right everyone, until next time. Bye-Bye. <laugh>,

Phil Hudson:

This has been an episode of Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving your review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok at @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

2022-10-13
Länk till avsnitt

049 - Writer/Producer Christy Stratton

This week, Michael Jamin interviews Writer/Producer Christy Stratton about her career in Hollywood. Christy Stratton has worked on shows like The Amanda Show, King of the Hill, Modern Family, and Bless The Harts.

Show Notes

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

Christy Stratton's IMDB - https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0833629/

Transcripts Are Auto-Generated

Christy Stratton:

Story has become so unimportant, I'm guessing to, to buyers or something. I don't know why, but it is like, story was so important to us coming up and how much time you devoted to it, that it's surprising to me when, you know, people don't know it. I mean, again, it took me forever, but when it's so important and I feel like, um, it's kind of a lost art...

Michael Jamin:

You're listening to Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. Hey everyone, this is Michael Jamin and you're listening to Screenwriters Need to Hear This, the podcast. My co-host Phil is not here today. He's working on the back end of the course. He's making it better. That's what I'm told. But I'm here with my very special guest, Christy Stratton. She's a great friend and thank you Christy, thank you for joining the show. I'm hop

Christy Stratton:

You, I'm, so any, any chance I can get to, to have a chat with you is, is, um, it's exciting, really.

Michael Jamin:

Let tell you something, Christy, I'm

Christy Stratton:

This big star.

Michael Jamin:

My audience does not deserve you. You're too good for the people

Christy Stratton:

<laugh>. Oh,

Michael Jamin:

But let me tell you, let me tell them, Let me give you a little intro. Let me give them an introduction so they know who you are. Okay? So, uh, TV writer and producer, uh, I'm gonna just run through some of your credits. I met you on King of the Hill. We were together for many years, but before that you did Hope and Faith. Remember that show? I remember it awkward. You were on a, you were on Awkward for, for a long time. Every Everyone's crazy but us, which was your own minute web series, right? Yes. Which you also directed. Correct. Uh, then Modern Family, we've both heard of that show. Bless the hearts. You've worked on that for, for quite a while. You also did Hope in Faith. You like chose, uh, you like No, you, I'm sorry. Raising Hope you like shows with the word hope in it.

Christy Stratton:

I, what can I say that is just, that's a theme that I

Michael Jamin:

<laugh> and so I got many questions for you, but I know some of the answers. But these people listening, they don't know anything. So tell me, tell everyone how you've broke into the business.

Christy Stratton:

Oh, it's so, you know, it, it was such a, a backwards kind of way. I'm from Texas, right? And I went to college in Florida and I, I, the Universal Studios Orlando had just opened when I graduated from college. So like, that was Hollywood's me, that was showbiz, right? And so I worked as a pa and um, one of the PAs that I work with said, Oh, there's this thing called the DGA Trainee test. Do you know what this is?

Michael Jamin:

I didn't know what it is. Yeah,

Christy Stratton:

Well, what it is, is it's a test that they, I think they still have DGA trainees on, on sets, and they will put you, if you like, are selected. They put you on sets and that you can be a pa. So, which is, I didn't end up passing or getting, uh, to be a DGA trainee, but it brought me out here and I was kind of like, like, I, I really don't know what it is I want, but it's not, you know, in Orlando, Florida. So I,

Michael Jamin:

But you didn't know if you wanted to be a writer or director. You just wanted to

Christy Stratton:

Be, I couldn't even imagine being a writer. Like, I couldn't even, Ima I wouldn't even dream of doing anything like that. Never.

Michael Jamin:

But then what did you wanna do?

Christy Stratton:

Well, I just wanted to kind of work in entertainment. Well, that's the thing is like, I, when I got out here, I started working at a PR firm and I'm like, Okay, PR that's not what I'm, you know, that's not my, you know, nothing against that. But I just wasn't good at that. Right? And, um, and then I worked, oh gosh, I did a bunch of temp jobs, but then I got, uh, I heard about the Groundlings School and the Groundlings is an LA based comedy troupe and a lot of very famous Saturday Night Live people came from it. And they had a, uh, series of classes that you can take. And I wasn't terribly successful with that either, but it was like, Oh, I'm enjoying, um, writing. And, and, and so it took many years to get to that point. And I did not get through to the Groundlings, but I went to this other theater called Acme Comedy Theater. Right. And some of the people there, Brett Bear and David Fikel were there, Alex Boorstein, some people were there that were doing, that were writing scripts. And so I thought, well, I, I, I'll, I'll try that. And so I, then I wrote a couple different ones and I got into the Warner Brothers TV writers program.

Michael Jamin:

You did that. Wait, hold on. Slow down. Yes. Like, first of all this, no one was gonna want, no one wants to hear the answer to this, but me. But what part of town did you live in when you first came to la?

Christy Stratton:

Oh gosh. I li well, I li because I was a PA in Florida, one of the gals had already moved out here, so I kind of was her roommate in, uh, in Santa Monica. But then I lived in this tiny little room that I lived with somebody else in Sherman Oaks. Right. Shared the bath. I shared a bathroom with a cat, <laugh>. And I can remember like walking in on the cat doing his business and being like, Oh, sorry, I'll come back, <laugh>. It was really, um, and I didn't, for myself, it was just rough. And, and I, it, one of my biggest regrets, and I don't have many, is that I didn't take typing in, in high school. Right? Because you get all the top temp jobs if you can type fast. And I never could, but anywho. But yeah, I lived all over in just tiny. And then I lived in West Hollywood in a bachelor apartment that did not have a kitchen. It had, um, uh, uh, hot plate and a mini fridge. And so if I wanted to, What

Michael Jamin:

Street was this on West Hollywood? Cause I lived in West Hollywood too.

Christy Stratton:

On Melrose.

Michael Jamin:

What? Melrose and what?

Christy Stratton:

Oh God, you don't Melrose. Um, where Mellon Rose's is, Oh gosh. What is, Uh, Kings.

Michael Jamin:

Kings. Oh, okay. You're further west. Okay. Yeah.

Christy Stratton:

Yeah. Interesting. And I would use the toilet as my garbage disposal. Like, it was, it was really meager.

Michael Jamin:

You paid your dues. And then I didn't realize you were in the, Cause we were in the Water Brothers Spreaders program too. Oh, I didn't realize that. But what, I don't know what year we were in. I wonder if you were before or after us.

Christy Stratton:

I'm sure I was after.

Michael Jamin:

Do you <laugh>, how dare you. How dare you imply Oh

Christy Stratton:

No, But you were already a producer When I would say when I was a

Michael Jamin:

Did you, did you enjoy, did you enjoy it? Did you like,

Christy Stratton:

Um, I did because it was the first time if all the things I tried and I tried stand up, I tried, Oh my goodness. I tried everything and it was the only thing that I felt positive feedback coming back to me. And it was. And so I think all of those years of trying to do all those other things in comedy, trying to figure it out, um, helped. And, uh, and so I just, and I lucked out that I was one of the ones that was read at the end. So my first job interview as a writer was for friends, and I did not get it.

Michael Jamin:

Wow. Must have been a good script. And you ever wrote with anybody, you've never collaborated with anybody, Right?

Christy Stratton:

Consider that. You know, I, like I did, I did actually. In fact, it's funny, I'm about to go out with a pitch with a person that I used to write with. I did for a while. I wrote a couple with my friend Dave. But, um, but I, you know, I don't know that I found that other person that it, that, that it worked out. Cuz you have to have that kind of equal amount of work and your work ethic has to be the same. And you're, and, and I, I don't know, I guess I never found that, that person and that, cuz that would've been helpful. And I, you know, I love collaborating and, and that kind of stuff

Michael Jamin:

Now. So you got outta the Warner Brothers, but people don't know this. When you're in the Warner Brothers workshop and you graduate, especially, you were like, probably the top of the class. They try to set you up. They try to pimp you out to one of those shows at a discount rate. They probably about a third of what the Writer's Guild minimum is. But you're okay at that point. You're so desperate. You'll do it cuz whatever. Right? Yeah. And they, they got you meeting with friends, which is amazing. I'm

Christy Stratton:

At it. I did not get the job. Which, which honestly my learning curve was very, you know, slow and long. And I, I didn't have any, like, I knew what I thought was funny and I have a background that's very unique to a lot of people that are out here, but it took years for me. And so if I'd had gotten on that show, I don't, I don't know that I would've lasted. I mean it, like, it was the end. I mean, it was, I think it was the last season, but, Oh, okay. But I mean, it, I would've been grateful for the opportunity, but I don't know that I would've been, um, a lot of those lessons I had to learn. I'm glad I learned them. Um, on, on, I don't know, not so big a stage, I guess.

Michael Jamin:

Well, were you crushed when you didn't get it though?

Christy Stratton:

That's a good question. I was bummed.

Michael Jamin:

How could you not be?

Christy Stratton:

I was bummed, but I was a little bit relieved.

Michael Jamin:

And then at that point you had an agent, right?

Christy Stratton:

I had imagine going into the, going into those

Michael Jamin:

Program. That's pretty impressive that you got in any the, the program. I mean, it's hard to get in. Okay. So then what happened after they, you got submitted to other shows?

Christy Stratton:

So then, um, Yes, and I, that's when I got on Three Sisters and I, I was, I was useless. I cannot overstate,

Michael Jamin:

I never even heard of Three Sisters. What was that? I was a

Christy Stratton:

Wonderful show. Diane Cannon and, um, uh, AJ Langer Uhhuh and, um, Katherine Lea.

Michael Jamin:

And is

Christy Stratton:

It, And the gal who redhead that was played, um, Beth on News Radio. And I always forget her name. She did in Nty.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. Right. I know who you. Right. And so,

Christy Stratton:

But I got on that show when I was, I was like, I say useless.

Michael Jamin:

People don't realize that. People don't realize this is all good cuz people don't realize that your first job, you're going to be useless. Most writers are gonna be useless. Did you recognize they were useless? Cuz sometimes young writers don't show, they don't realize they're useless and they talk anyway.

Christy Stratton:

They don't nowadays. It's that. But back then we, I was the only staff writer in the room. Now it's, it's all staff writers, Right? And like one senior person. Right. But back then it was very clear and the two story editors, they were like fed for yourself. I mean, and I can remember like, um, uh, pitching, it was finally my episode. I finally got an episode to write, and it was only in the back nine. And, uh, it was a disaster. It was awful. Right? And I, I wanted to punch, It was punch up time, but I wasn't very good at that. Like, now I love it and I have so much fun doing it, but back then, but I knew it at staying. So I, I pitched a joke that was like the, it, the punchline was like, it's good because of this and bad because of this.

Christy Stratton:

And the showrunner said, I don't get it. And I'm like, Oh, okay. And I tried to let it go, you know? Cause I wanted to try to see if I could get the room to kind of, you know, help me out here. Right? Um, and then she goes, No, no, no. Explain it to me. So I'm like, and then I like, as a tear rolls down. Yes. And I explain. And then she goes, Well that sounds like it's both good. And I just was like, Okay, you know, don't cry out loud. I'm just trying to just honestly like, hurt myself a little bit so I could my energies. But I, it, it wasn't because I was doing what I thought was good work and being unrecognized. It was, I didn't know what I was doing and no one helped me.

Michael Jamin:

<laugh>. Yes. Yes. That's, it's such a, Okay. Cause I talk about that a lot. I, Okay, so then you, okay, you were

Christy Stratton:

Then I lucked out sometimes because I've been, been doing this so long and I had been here so long up to that point, you know, people, so, like for instance, um, uh, when I needed a new agent, uh, my friend John Westfall, who I did a a Groundlings class with, said, Hey, there were, he's at Sony. There was some agents in my office and I recommended you. And so I got with them and um, by sheer luck one of the guys, David Shane, who is still like, I will never, he's paid me a kindness that I will never be able to repay. So three sisters was a nightmare. Then David Shane, this guy who was in the Warner Brothers program with me, uh, had a meeting with Greg Daniels because Greg's or Dave's brother was like roommates with, with Greg Daniels or something in college, I'm not sure. Right. But Greg testing him, said, uh, to David, uh, who was the best person in your, in your Warner Brother's thing, seeing if he would say himself. He, Cause he told me this later and he, and he went, and then he said me and then he is like, she's from Texas. Cause it was the king of the hill. It was was good. Yeah. And so then, uh, it turned into like, who was this girl? And so then I got a, a meeting with Greg because of David's

Michael Jamin:

I's, see, that's nice. And so you fit in really what cuz King of the Hill obviously was took place in Texas. So they always were looking for more authenticity. They're looking for, they're always looking for writers from Texas. And so you jumped in, I think season six, Is that right?

Christy Stratton:

Or seven or seven? It was a, like, there were two other women, and I wanna say 15 men. Yeah. And I have to say everyone was so, uh, because I have been on stats where I've been treated very poorly. But it was all you guys, I mean, it wasn't like every, I just became the little sister. Like I became, and, and, and in a way that was, um, with kindness, but not inappropriate. You know what I'm saying? Like, I, I felt like I was out, I was on my own for a while. Like, I'm just this in the sea. And I, I can remember pitching a little bit here and there, and I can remember you, uh, being very kind to me and telling me, um, that when pitching a joke, you know, don't go to that obvious place cuz everyone's gonna beat you. And you're right, I'm not fast. I'm not fast. And that you said, go to a place where no one else is gonna go. And so that is what I have done my whole career, because I am not that, and all you guys, all you guys could just do this so quickly and I can like, come up with ideas quickly. Like, ooh, what if this character, you know, is this or that the other thing. But I can't, the joke in forming it and having that punchline, you guys could all

Michael Jamin:

Do that. But, you know, Christy, that wasn't that advice. I struggled the same way I got that advice from Marsh McCall on just shoot me. So I was the same as you. I mean, we're all the same way. So Yeah.

Christy Stratton:

Yeah. But that was a really good place because that show had such great characters and everyone was super smart. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I got to kind of learn on the job in a way that, I mean, yes, I always felt like I was gonna be fired. And <laugh>, I mean, I think I almost was at a point, but, but it was, I got to really learn from the best learn how to craft story because story was everything. And I don't know, I mean, you remember, we would spend weeks just freaking story and, um, that process and then you would kind of produce your episodes. Right. And that was really important to me at that time. And Garland Tesa, who I really learned a lot from. Yeah, great.

Christy Stratton:

The sea of, you know, Princeton Harbor, all of these people. And what I loved about Garland was she would, if someone made a reference to something that she didn't know, she would say, What does that mean? Or like, what, what, And I can remember like, Oh, that shows power when you admit to something you don't know. Right. And I, so I always did that. I always, Oh, I don't, what is that? Is that a And because I'm, it shows a lack of insecurity, I guess. Yes. And also there would be times when we would come back from an, an animatic and John Al Schuler would be like, Who, why did the an mades do this and that? And I knew it was because of something I said. And so I'd be like, Oh, sorry I, that was me. I thought that this would blah, blah, blah. And it would just a few, when you admit your mistakes, when you admit what you don't know, it diffuses things right away. It, to me is kind of a show of, of power, uh, in my opinion. And I love, that's good advice her because she was in the sea of, you know, all of these for a long time before, you know, I came along and, and whatnot. But

Michael Jamin:

She would always go. And I tried to have, I, she would always go like almost into a panic when it was time for her to write her script. And I, I don't know what I'm doing in Mc Garland, You're probably the best writer here. <laugh>. She's so good. But she, but she had this, she had some of these insecurities as wells. Like I got nothing. And she'd come up with some great line or great scene. Um, yeah.

Christy Stratton:

Real good character stuff. Yeah. It was a good, like, I really, I, it was just such a funny group and boy, some lines and that characters were great. And, and even though every year I was like, I'm not coming back. Right. I would come back and I'm so grateful because I learned so much.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. And you were there for a long time. And then, and then what came, what? And then the show was canceled and then what happened? What did you do after that?

Christy Stratton:

Well, remember it went down in the middle and that's when I did Hope and Faith in New York. So, Oh, I, they staffed out of LA and, but then it shot in New York. And to be able to be paid to write in New York City and be, you know, on my own and, and live in Tribeca, that opportunity, I, I'm so grateful for. Cause I'll never forget, I went, I was, that was my biggest year in interviews. I went out for a boy a bunch. I went a a, a bunch and I got one offer and that was to move to New York City, <laugh> and, and do that show. And I, I had the time in my life.

Michael Jamin:

That's another thing people don't realize cuz they say, you know, do I have to move to Hollywood to work in Hollywood? Because they, they mention shows like that, that I've shot in New York. And I always say, But all the staffing is done in la They hire the LA writers and they fly him out there.

Christy Stratton:

Yeah. You know? Yeah. Mark Driscoll was out of New York, but they already knew him. Like, in other words, it wasn't like they did any, they just knew he was out there. So they staffed him. But, uh, yeah, no, you gotta be, you're absolutely right.

Michael Jamin:

And then in between all this, you've saw a bunch of pilots and stuff.

Christy Stratton:

Yes. Yeah. I've done pilots. And you know what, you say something and you said something to me then I think, but you hit this on your, uh, stuff too. My mistake is that I always would come up with pilots based on the stories that I wanted to tell. Right. I have this very, um, difficult relationship with my mother, or ooh, I, um, have this interesting relationship with my husband or I, or I get so excited and I can usually get a producer and a studio excited as well. But once you get to that buyer, if they're not buying that kind of show, I mean, they're, you're just, you wasted your time. There was one time I, when I did my web that turned out to be my web series. I pitched it as a show with, um, David Janari and NBC U and we went to NBC and I mean, the laughs were so much that I had to hold for laughs, which that doesn't happen to me all the time.

Christy Stratton:

I'm not this person that can just go into a room and just make everyone go fall. But I didn't that day. And I had a meeting with one of the gals later, one of the execs that was in the room, and she's like, Oh, it was late and, or it was kind of late in the year. And so we didn't have a lot of, you know, money left over. And she goes, It was one of the three pitches I heard all season that made me cry laughing, but it didn't. Wow. In fact, they spent a million dollars on it, bewitched. That never happened. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. So people don't realize that as well. Sometimes. Yeah. Sometimes about selling it at the right time of the year. If it's lit too late in the year, they're outta money. They've already bought something like it. There's a million reasons for them say no. You're getting them say yes is much harder. And,

Christy Stratton:

And honestly, all the passion in the world, all the connection in the world, all of that does not matter if it's not something that they are in the market

Michael Jamin:

For. Well then, then how do you go about developing shows now?

Christy Stratton:

Gosh. Well, <laugh>, I really haven't taken my own advice. Um, a friend came to me with an idea and I'm like, this is great. And I wanna to, I wanna get back to broadcast because having been, uh, you do streamer stuff. I mean, there was this thing that I supervised that we sold in October of 2019, and they only passed this past January or February because the streamers make you do a second script, then they do a mini room where at that great deal that you made right on your, they're not gonna pay you that. They're gonna pay you a minimum. And just the number of weeks that you're working, not the three months of prep you're doing mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you get throw dollars for that, then you know, they're gonna sit on that for six more months. Right. And then you'll decide. And um, so after that, and because I think broadcast, there's a lot of broadcast comedies that I am loving. And so I'm like, you know what?

Michael Jamin:

There aren't, there aren't a lot of broadcast comedies. There's just not

Christy Stratton:

Well, but there are more now that I love than there have been in years past. Okay.

Michael Jamin:

So what do you, what do you loving on what comedies you like and then

Christy Stratton:

Broadcast? Oh my God, I love those. That ghosts, I love Abid Elementary. I loved pivoting my friend Liz Astro. Right. Uh, that show was great. And those shows just give me hope that like, oh, you know, you can do some really cool, fun stuff. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, on broadcast. Cuz I'm, I'm done with like the, I just don't wanna cringe. I'm done cringing. You're done cringing. I wanna laugh. I wanna laugh. I wanna see, you know, relatable, interesting stories that are funny that I can just turn on and be like, Oh my gosh, this like, I, you know how when you really love a show, you can't tell what episodes are good or bad. Like you just love it. You wanna go into that world curb, I thought was, I know that's not broadcast, but I did love that this year. Um, uh, but I just, sometimes I just wanna, I just wanna laugh. I don't need to cringe anymore.

Michael Jamin:

Well, you're well time's running out for you to pitch network, uh, you know, isn't,

Christy Stratton:

We're going right in, we're literally meeting this guy who we're going right into the networks with no producer, no nothing. Because my agency got bought out by another agency. So now I'm with that agency and I switched managers because my other agent became a manager. So that all took some,

Michael Jamin:

And so they said, fine, we'll take it. Right. They, they managed, because sometimes you can't even do that. You pitch it right to this network, which is unusual. Are you going,

Christy Stratton:

I'm in a couple weeks. Yeah, we'll see

Michael Jamin:

<laugh>, because most of the time, and so how that usually works is if the network buys it and we don't, there's like no right way of doing this, the network will buy it and if they want it, then they'll dump it off the offload and onto their sister branch, whatever studio that they own or what, you know, they're affiliated with. I mean, I guess that's how, that's how you plan to do it. Uh, to me that makes more sense, but I don't know why. The other way, usually you pitch to a studio and then the studio pitches in the network. I dunno why

Christy Stratton:

That is. Also, you gotta have that producer and all that takes so much time. And we were ready in July to start talking to people, but wow. We were told that like, oh no one's around in August, everyone is traveling. And I'm like, Ugh, okay. So then time just passed. And so once the dust settled and I'm, you know, with my agents and with my manager, they're like, You don't have time to, you know, or we did go to a couple producers and uh, uh, that were not interested.

Michael Jamin:

There were, Yeah, it's hard to even, it's hard to get. So as I say, it's the more pieces that you can put together. If you can get a producer attached then, or, and then then later a studio, you're walking in with more pieces. It helps to make, sell the show, but it's not necessary. But it can help sometimes <laugh>, it depends where their deal is at.

Christy Stratton:

Uh, it's just kinda like, I'm gonna give this a go. This, I'm gonna give it a go. I'm gonna give it a go. And, and I actually have so many pieces of development that are just sitting waiting. Right. I have a script that, um, I have, there was a company called, um, Global Road that went bankrupt. So I wrote a script for them and now we've got the rights back and we actually have a piece of talent attached. But you know, now with a specs script, you've gotta have a director. You have to not just have the supporting actor but a lead actor. Like, you have to, you have to do everyone's job for them. So they're right. I have two pieces of, to fully written pilots sitting and waiting,

Michael Jamin:

Because usually it's very hard and Mark experience, it's very hard to get talent attached unless you're developing it for them. You know, like I, we've done it with comedians will develop show four comedian. But other than that, it's hard to get our experience hard. It's hard to get meaningful at talent attached, meaning talent that will move the needle. Some people say, Well, you know, my friend's, an actor doesn't, not your friend. We need someone famous <laugh>. You know? Um, interesting. And so how, what is your day like even when you're not, what is your day? Like what narrowly when you're not on staff, what do you usually do? How, what's your writing schedule?

Christy Stratton:

Um, when, Well, I'll either work out or I'll get it. My, I do my puzzles. I do all my puzzles. I do like six puzzles.

Michael Jamin:

Like your, like crossword puzzles?

Christy Stratton:

Yeah. Well, I do crossword, I do the, I do the letter box. I do the wordle, I do the portal.

Michael Jamin:

What about word jumble? Are you good at the word jumble? You know, the kind that you find at the menus that like the ground round. Can you do that?

Christy Stratton:

<laugh>? No.

Michael Jamin:

<laugh>, you know, hot dog and you others hot dog. I found it

Christy Stratton:

<laugh>. But I will do anything to delay it, to delay writing. But I, I, there's, I'm never, there's never not, there's never a time where I'm not working on something. Even the, even the specs that I are ready that have a, like, I have one that's got a director attaching two producers. I'm not done. Like I will look at it again or I will Ooh. Right. In fact, I got, I was inspired because of one of your things. You said something, it was about a moment landing. Right. And there was a moment in my, one of my scripts that I'm like, Oh, that I just kind of glossed over that. And so I took a minute and I figured out how to make it land. And then I'm like, Hey, you know, here's the new draft of this. Um, but I, so I will, I will then try to have some time to myself and um, and I'm kind of like, I'll write a little bit and if I've come up up with something good, I'll reward myself by like doing some, you know, web surfing.

Christy Stratton:

I don't like, I'm not this person that says I'm gonna work from this time to this time. I'm the best when I'm like doing something else. And then, ooh, that's how I sold that problem. Right, right. You're not thinking about it. I'll do a I'll, I'll have a project and I'll like a painting or something. Not, not like a painting, but like painting a wall. And I will be like, Ooh, this is how I can, you know, I can solve that. Now sometimes it's like, what am I, I have a 13 year old. So like, okay, what a, what are we gonna do for dinner? Cuz my husband bless his heart, does the football, the baseball, all of that.

Michael Jamin:

He's useless in the kitchen.

Christy Stratton:

<laugh>, he's really not. Oh, ok. He's great. But, but meaning like, you know, I will, there's a lot of those things that fill my day too. And, but I'm not this person that just sits right and works. I just, I, I'm just not

Michael Jamin:

Now I'm, I'm jumping around, but then I'm gonna sound like an old foy, but how do you feel like writer's rooms have changed since you first got broken?

Christy Stratton:

Oh, well, they've changed a lot. A lot. I will say. I think it's good that like, when I came in as like either the only woman or the only low level writer, it took me a long time to do, get, do anything. Whereas nowadays, because they have, they come in with a lot more confidence. Um, I find and, and, and not, I'm not saying that, oh, everyone just is so confident. I'm not saying that. I'm saying that I feel like people can get it quicker because they're more of them and they have more support with between each other. Do you

Michael Jamin:

Think they get it quicker? Cause I'm not, that's not how I see it. I see it, it is really, they haven't gotten it quicker, but they're just talking anyway, <laugh>, because there's so much to, they have to learn. You know, It takes so much to learn. Like the first, even my, all of our careers, the first couple years, like you're saying, you're kind of useless and you're, it's not that people are shutting you up. It's, it's more, it's more like you don't know how to contribute.

Christy Stratton:

No. <laugh> no. And, and bec it's very interesting too, as you know, there's a lot that, like, I never had anyone, my God, how do I say this? And there's a lot that you can't say. And I don't wanna, I don't wanna be, you know, it's just, you have to kind of make it used to be writer's rooms. You could say anything, have any kind of discussion. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> have any kind of, uh, uh, thing. And you can't really do that anymore. And, and for some good, good reasons and some, you know, I, I'm not, I'm not trying to, I mean, I'm glad that people aren't treated poorly anymore. I think that is, you know, um, I'm trying to get out sun here. Uh, that's good. Um, that, so that is a little bit, and you're, you know, I worked for someone recently, a dear friend who, cuz you gotta watch what you say because what if someone takes it the wrong way and, you know, puts it on Twitter.

Christy Stratton:

So, um, that's different. You know, that's different for better or for worse. And I'm not, I, I don't wanna, but Right. That's certainly different. Like there was a code, uh, in the writer's room. There was a code that you kept it, you, you kept everything in there unless you were, you know, sharing something with your spouse, <laugh>. But, um, yeah. So that's, that's, yeah. Certainly different. And story has become so unimportant, I'm guessing to, to buyers or something. I don't know why, but it is like, story was so important to us coming up. And how much time you devoted to it? That it's surprising to me when, you know, people don't know it. I mean, again, it took me forever, but when it's so important and I feel like, um, it's kind of a lost heart <laugh>. And I, I don't know. I don't know. So I, I, and it's, yeah.

Michael Jamin:

So as a senior writer in the room, you're based, you feel like you're carrying a lot of the weight.

Christy Stratton:

Absolutely. Right. Absolutely. Sorry, I'm leaning down here. Um, and Yes. Yeah. Yes. And, and then look. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

So what would you tell, what would you tell new writers or aspiring writers? What kind of advice would you give them?

Christy Stratton:

Gosh. Watch a lot of tv. Watch a lot of tv. Watch it kind of, um, like what I do with my son is I'll be like, Ooh, is this the, is this the midpoint? And I'll, I'll pause it. Or I'll be like, well, like if we're watching a movie, like, do you think that's an always lost? Do you think that's right? Like, just to, just to, I mean, not that I don't know that he would ever wanna be a writer, but just to kind of get into the rhythms because it's just, it's rhythm and surprise and, and it's just so hard because it's like, it's all trial and error. It's so all trial and error. And, and I would say to young writers just to, to write and, and see what sticks. Do your funny tweets stick? Do you know the, the essays you write, Does that stick? Just like, where, what is sticking?

Michael Jamin:

And, and how do you feel people are breaking in today?

Christy Stratton:

I really don't know. That's a good question. Cause I'm thinking of like, who are the young writers that we had on the flats? Which was that, which was the, um, the show that didn't go forward? Um, we, I, one came from my manager. We, it would come from friends. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, I'm trying to think if, if there's anyone that completely we didn't know. And that was maybe at the upper levels because then you read the little blurb. And I, you know, I wouldn't, especially with the younger writers, I don't read past 10 pages. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, why not? Because they're terrible. Right? I'm sorry. Right. Young writers cannot write pilots. Don't put someone on the toilet on page one. Don't have anyone having sex in that first 10 pages. I will. I'm done. That's not to me, um, people talking in a coffee shop, it's, if it's about dating, I'm like, But this one young writer, uh, who I knew, which is, that's how she came to us, But it was like a comedy about, um, like a Titanic, like Ship Captain Uhhuh.

Christy Stratton:

But he was inept and it was told back in that time. And of course I read somebody, I'm like, Yes. Like, this person is funny. And you'd think, and I don't know how you are, but I, I always thought that, Oh, I wanna see if they can, if it's a high school show, you know, I want a high school sample, but I just want funny and good ideas. And the, the, the story editor we hired, would you, uh, uh, had on your staff Chandra Chandra? Yeah. Yes. Her first pages, I don't know if you read, but her first pages were a woman giving birth. Okay. And it's going through like, oh, it's, it's very dramatic. And then the baby drops on the floor. What? Or something like that. You realize that they, she's an actress and she is helping out at a, um, at a hospital where they pretend to have these procedures and that's her job.

Christy Stratton:

And I'm like, that, that was enough for me to give her meaning, because I thought that's a fun surprise. I did not expect it. It was different. Uh, you know, it looked that she could put a script together, you know, And, uh, and so that, that, But I won't reest 10 pages cuz they're not good. But here's what I wanna say to young writers. Yeah. It, everyone is not good. No one comes out good out of the gate. No one, I mean, I don't wanna say no one, but I, I I, I just be, don't be so don't be hard on yourself. Know it. And just keep writing. Cuz every time you do something, you will get better. I look back even on the stuff I did four or five years ago, and I'm like, Oh, I, you know, I, I, because you're the farther up you go and the more you have to lead people and get things out of them Yeah.

Christy Stratton:

That you just get better and faster. And I will say, like, I, it's very hard when someone pitched, like, I'm trying to be the person who entertains every pitch. But when, you know, because of your experience where that pitch is gonna end, uh, like in other words, you can see mm-hmm. <affirmative> because your experience and, but you don't wanna cut that person off. So I'll just, you know, I'll try to follow things down and like, and then once it gets there, then we move. So <laugh>, I dunno, that was apo of nothing, but, um, uh, uh, yeah, I would say for young people, just put, get a camera out, shoot stuff. Doing my web series, um mm-hmm. <affirmative> Imy nominated and what be nominated web series than I shot. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, it, it, I learned a lot. You learn about how, like, I wanna be quick because I don't wanna take people's time on the internet.

Christy Stratton:

So how do I make these turns? How do I do that quickly? How do I, um, I it still needs an ending here. How do I do that? And you have whatever, five minutes or less, Right? Um, but I would just tell young writers to listen to people like you, like keep listening and learning and getting, you know, and have people read your scripts. Not, you know, I mean, your friends, have them read it, see what works, see what doesn't, and then just keep doing it and keep finding things that inspire you. Because even though, like I say, I complain that <laugh>, like I'm never, it's never the thing that they want when I wanna give it to them. That said, I've worked pretty steadily for 20 years, Right? And that is because I do write things that are my story and I know how to, I know how to craft and I can do all that. And they, people can read a sample or, you know, uh, uh, oh, can you attach to, to do the, you know, supervise this, blah, blah, blah. So it, it's benefited me in some ways that I do that. However, I certainly would love to have that magic thing that says, Oh, hey, this is what Fox wants this week.

Michael Jamin:

That, that's one thing I say to young writers is like, they all like, how do I sell my show? And I'm like, learn how to write first. But everyone wants to skip that step. I mean, I'm not crazy. Right? You feel the same way?

Christy Stratton:

Well, I think once, um, like Lena Dunham did it, you know, people are like, I can be that. I can be that, that Wonder kin. Um, but yeah, I think that's never, I mean, you can do that, but then you don't have the skills that the other end of that. Um, you know, But, but I, I mean, more power to you nowadays. They put you with somebody like me and you right. To clean it up. Although I won't do it anymore unless I co-owned. Like, I won't do, I won't do that anymore.

Michael Jamin:

Hey, it's Michael Jamen. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to, for free, join my watch list every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You could unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michael jamen.com/watchlist. All right. So Chris, you were talking about supervising projects from, from new writers. So please go tell us about that.

Christy Stratton:

Right. Or writers that, that need, you know, some kind of supervision. Um, one, I supervised a book author. Sorry, I'm trying to, I'm trying to get out the sun. <laugh>. All right, here we go. Um, a book author who, uh, is a writer but has, you know, not experienced in, um, writing for television. And that one was a true supervising. Like, she wrote the script. She was very clear who all the characters were because they were in her book. And I also supervised a young writer for an animated project.

Michael Jamin:

And so you were attached basically as a show runner, right? And I just wanna make sure people understand. So that means you're basically, you're supervisor, you're kind of giving notes, you're not really doing the work, and you're not getting paid a lot of money for this.

Christy Stratton:

No, no, no, no.

Michael Jamin:

Right.

Christy Stratton:

And then I was,

Michael Jamin:

Oh, but let, lemme continue. The only reason you're doing it is if the show goes to series, then you're attached as the show runner to

Christy Stratton:

Be the boss'. Someone who has tried to do that for many years. Um, it was, you know, of course I'm gonna make that, I'm gonna make that gamble. And that went so well. And I, and I get sent, especially with, uh, 20th animation, they'll send me stuff all the time. But usually it's, I don't spark to it. And I did spark to, uh, this one project, and, uh, it was a really funny, I mean, I, this is no disrespect to the young writer. The idea was terrific. Uh, the, the world. It was all great. So I just wanna say like that. However, when you are, um, you know, when you are new at it, you don't know like, all right, what do I need to put in a pitch? Well, here's, you know, you need to, nowadays you have to put that pilot story. Well, you know, and it's animated, so okay.

Christy Stratton:

It needs to have things that are visual. And so it was a lot of, uh, uh, and like I say, thank goodness she had a, a very clear voice. So this is, you know, like I say, but it was a, it was a lot. And then I had to kind of help her break that second script. And I got $0 for that zero us. Right. And, um, and then of course it was great to be able to, you know, run a room and see this great wonderful show come to life. And so I, I wanna say that I was so proud and, uh, I loved the stuff that we all did together, but at the end of it, I am, I'm not even like, I'm not, I have no piece of it. I have no, if they could shop that someplace else mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and if they wanted to, I, you know, I would be no part of it. If, if so they so desired. So I'm kind of like, I'm, I will do this. I will put in this work, but I will not do it without, I'm coming. I'm, I'm co-owning this with you. Right. You get, you get me, but I also get, you know, because I come up with ideas like, I like my ideas, but if I, if I'm gonna like your idea and I'm gonna sink into that idea, you're gonna have to,

Michael Jamin:

You know. Yeah. And people don't realize that because it's, I, we hear all the time, people, well, people say to me, I, I, you know, the studio loves my idea. I just need to get a showrunner attached. I'm like, if they love the idea, they would get a showrunner attached and they, they put up some money. But there's not, people don't understand the, the, the economics of it. It's really not, it's hard to make in the showrunners interest to invest all this time and money. Cause we don't get the money until it's, until it goes to the air. And so, you know, you're just, you're just assumed work on your own project. Why are you gonna take a risk on something, put all six months or a year's worth of work on something and not make money from it? Yeah. And so this

Christy Stratton:

Years,

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. Right. Uh, that's, so that's, people don't qu I'm surprised they, you don't get something. Some, I mean, I don't

Christy Stratton:

Know. Oh, I got, I got it. Like, not the second script. The second script was I did for free. I mean, I didn't do it. She wrote it, but I mean, you know, with a guiding hand.

Michael Jamin:

Right.

Christy Stratton:

But that we did six episodes and I was just paid that a weekly rate for whatever, that 10 to 12 weeks. But we ripped for three months.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. That was for the mini room thing. Yeah.

Christy Stratton:

It's a mini room thing, which I hope we can, you know, this negotiation is gonna be real interesting.

Michael Jamin:

Uh, yeah. That's kind of the latest ex people don't know. I don't talk about mini rooms a lot because I don't have much experience in it. But why don't you tell everyone Oh, okay. What a mini room is.

Christy Stratton:

See, what it is, is you are writing the entire, uh, season. So it, it, once the mini room is ordered

Michael Jamin:

Well, but back up. Right? So you just sold your pitch to the network. The network says, We like this. Go on. Right?

Christy Stratton:

Okay. Oh, okay. So that was, let's say October, 2019. They, uh, and we got two offers, and that's why we got to do it. Writer guilded, which that's a whole other thing. Animation and writer guild, which we'd love to talk to you about. Yeah. But then, um, uh, so the script is written and turned in months, you know, whatever

Michael Jamin:

February, the pilot script, Right. Pilot script and the, and you got paid the person, that writer got paid to write a pilot script. Right.

Christy Stratton:

Okay. Um, then they say, Oh, we want a second script to just see if we like it. Now, the way, um, I'm gonna try to explain it as best I can. So with streamers, if it's not picked up, there is a, a lesser rate. You know how like a a half hour, uh, plays like $27,000, something like that. Right? But if your show is under a certain budget in the, uh, um, streaming sphere, then you don't have to pay that. You can pay this rate that's less than that. Well, of course our budget's less than that because we're not picked up. So all the scripts were paid this, this break that I didn't even know because I wrote the last script. I'm like, Oh my gosh, there's something's wrong with my, they've sent me not enough money. Yeah. Ok. That's for the second script. The supervisor gets no dollars.

Christy Stratton:

Now, I, that was during the agency action, so I don't know if my agents could have done like, I don't know what would've happened. Right. And I, believe me, I would've loved to have taken a, you know, cos story by or whatever. But you live and learn. You don't know until you're in it. You just dunno. Right. So, um, I did that for free and that took us to the summertime of 2020. Then the summer of 2020, Oh no, no, I'm sorry. They picked up that in the summer of 2020. We turned it in near the end of 2020. Then in May of 2021, they say, We wanna keep you guys working. We love this. We wanna give you a pre green light room. So then you're like, Okay, what, what? Because I didn't know either. And they wanted six more scripts to have a total of eight scripts so they can look at the whole season

Michael Jamin:

Before they decide to actually produce the show.

Christy Stratton:

Correct. Right.

Michael Jamin:

And because of that, they're just paying for scripts. And so most writers also have, most writers get paid a writing fee and on top of that, a producing fee, because we're Right, we do both. Right. But if there's, because we're not producing the show, they say, No, we're just gonna give you your writing fee.

Christy Stratton:

Well, not, it was a weekly minute, like writers go weekly, like minimum, maybe with a little bit more on it.

Michael Jamin:

Right.

Christy Stratton:

But they said, um, but they made this deal like, Oh, if we don't pick it up by this point, then all of that is fresh cash. Like, they try to make it real.

Michael Jamin:

Um, but the truth is, you're doing the same amount of work that you would do on an ordinary show that's getting produced, uh, in pre-production, but you're getting paid a fraction. Uh, it's, it's just, it's kind of like an accounting trick they do to keep the cost

Christy Stratton:

Down. Yeah. I mean, so I, so we then, um, put a staff together and we had a long time, longer than I needed, but that's just what they wanted. And well, luckily we got all these wonderful people and it was, so was Zoom, which I hope I never have to do again if I'm being really honest. Um, and um, uh, so we would just, you know, like we knew where we, so we just would break story. And like we were a staff. I tried to do a second room cuz I love small rooms. I think it is just so much better for everyone when you do small rooms.

Michael Jamin:

But you did, you have an ex but you didn't have anybody who's experienced in your staff, did

Christy Stratton:

You? Um, yeah. Yes, some, but, but it was kinda like, and I learned this, like, I know what I want when I send people, Okay. Think of story ideas. Let's just say I know what I submitted. Like for Bless the Hearts, I would submit to Emily Spy who ran that show. I would submit to her like, here's an idea. They, there's the president's physical fitness test that Violet has to take. And then I would do a possible, um, like scenario on where that leads to like a paragraph mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, but because these writers that I hired who I thought were wonderful, all had so many ideas. So this was, this is an embarrassment of riches. This is not any sort of a a a dis but it would just be just ideas and ideas and ideas and ideas. And so I, you know, it's hard to kind of explain, well, this is what I want, and then I'm like, do I sound like I'm an, you know, um, a bad person?

Christy Stratton:

But, but, um, so you, you, it just takes time to get in a groove and when you have 10 weeks. Yeah. Like, they're not gonna know what, how, what, how to present it and how, how to curate which ones that we're both gonna like, Cause they're dealing with two people now. Right. They're not just dealing with me and I get to ultimately decide, Oh no, um, it's, it's, you know, her show and I am there to kind of facilitate and help and do what I can. Um, uh, so we ended up not doing that as, as much as, and, and we did would send off a, uh, hey, write this scene and it would come back wonderful. Right. Um, but um, then at the end of it, you send it off and they were like, Oh, which three do you want people to? Were like, Well, you know, I let her decide that. And she kind of got the last, you know, um, go through of whatever she wanted. And then was October. And thank goodness I had another show to jump on. And then they didn't, they didn't pass us until like the following January. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

That's how it goes.

Christy Stratton:

Yeah. And, and we thought because we had such, our, our execs were so enthusiastic and so great and, and we were sure that it was gonna go. But what was so interesting was because all of that time it took to do that, which was, you know, however, two years, um, their, they were noticing it cause it was Amazon. They were noticing that the animation that was doing well for them was more genre animation. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So they're like, Well, you're gonna see we're gonna pick up a comedy, but, but you know, after that it's just gonna be genre. So it was just kind of like, ugh. Cause we did this beautiful, you know, funny, wonderful thing and

Michael Jamin:

Right. So you're also at the whim of whatever's wor whatever hits what working they're gonna wanna copy. And if, if whatever's not working, you're fo that's, if you're like that, you're, you're kind of screwed. And, and what people would also don't realize is that the executives overseeing your show, they're always very enthusiastic, but they're usually not the decision maker. <laugh> the boss. The boss has a different opinion. And so they always tell you they're that, Oh, we're so excited about this show. We're all talking about this show. Like, who's we <laugh> just the people who are on that level. But you know, the, so that's another, that's another obstacle.

Christy Stratton:

And the comedy they did pick up was like Natasha Leone and, uh, Maya Rudolph, they're producing it. They're starring in it. And it's like, we can't compete with that, even though I think on the page, who knows? But Right. That was just like, Oh god. Yeah. You know,

Michael Jamin:

It's a hard business. Yeah. And so what, what is next for you? What is next for you? What do you, you know, other than this pitch pitching

Christy Stratton:

This thing, I'm pitching, uh, this ridiculous thing, then I've got these two scripts I'm sitting on. One has a director and, and two producers attached. The other one has a, uh, uh, piece of, uh, acting talent attached that we're, we're just looking and waiting because people don't want to, you know, there, it's a weird buying time. But at the same time, something else that sucks about the streamers is because there's only eight episodes, Mindy Kaling can do every single show made because only doing eight episodes, you can do four shows a year. Yeah, right. Do all the shows. Right. And, and because these buyers, whatever is going on, they just wanna, they want the big people. They want and they, and which, whatever. I get it. It's hard to have a hit. It's hard. So you wanna bank on those same people and guess what?

Christy Stratton:

Those same people will be available because they're only doing eight episodes of this show. Right. So anyway, so I'm sitting on these two waiting for, um, uh, we're trying to get a director with a one I wrote a screenplay and, um, my new manage, oh, it's now, um, to an actress. Um, because we tried to go to producers, but that didn't work. Comedies in movies, it's just hard. It's mm-hmm. <affirmative> hard. And I'm like, I, I, I just love comedy. I, that's what I do. That's what I, I wish I could write a procedural or a drama. And those are all valid and great things. I can't do that <laugh>, I can't do that. I can't write, um, murder, comedy murders, like I can't, or a, a like a, um, mystery, the comedy mystery. And I'm like, Great. I think that's cool as hell. And when I see it, I get into it. I love it, but I like a straight up comedy and I, I'm like, and it doesn't cost that much, but yet, anyway, so I've got those things. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, you know, and then I'll, I'll, So I'm, it's a little bit of kind of waiting and then, and then trying to see, there's staffing opportunities that, um, that come up. And cuz I know people, so it's like, well, what are their needs? And

Michael Jamin:

Interesting,

Christy Stratton:

Like, I love, I love being on a staff. I love that whole thing. I, I just hope it's not on,

Michael Jamin:

On Zoom, if you can get those jobs. Yeah. Christie Stratton, I wanted we're, we're pretty much at the end of our time here, but thank you. I, this was a, a very interesting talk. I really, I, I've enjoyed this. I definitely Oh good. I definitely enjoy this. So, uh, is there anything else you wanna tell people who are listening? Is there anything you wanna, one last parting thing, Should they follow you somewhere especially?

Christy Stratton:

Oh, yeah. Well, I'm on Twitter and, but I don't tweet a lot, but I'm on Instagram at Christy Stratton, but I'm on, I'm Christy s man on Twitter for whatever reason. But here's another thing. Young writers. Yeah, new writers. It's a tough time coming outta Covid with all the shakeups at all, the, you know, all the streamers and everyone, It is a weirdest hail time right now anyway, so just keep doing your things. Keep whatever little creative outlet that you can do. And with the internet, my gosh, you can do anything. Yeah. And just keep doing that because it's, it's a hard time because of all that, but because these staff, and there's not any money, there's more low level writers than there are upper level mm-hmm. <affirmative>, which wasn't how, when we came up. So that's a good thing. And, and you know, if you're good and someone's gonna, you're gonna get someone's attention and then they, they'll know somebody and then they know somebody. And all the time, like, I still, uh, uh, have friends that I met 20 years ago with the Groundlings or whatever, and then that will, they'll point me in the right direction for something. Or, you know, Oh, guess what? This person I did a pilot for, Right? It's now the head of 20th television or whatever. You just, it just take all of that takes time.

Michael Jamin:

Right. But you gotta be good. This is what I heard, but you just said you have to be good and it really helps to be in LA because this is where the fish swim.

Christy Stratton:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Right. But you don't have to be good right away.

Michael Jamin:

Right. You don't have to be good right away, but you have to work

Christy Stratton:

On Yes. You have to, As long as every year you can be like, Okay, here's how I've improved this year. Here's how I've moved forward. Just even a little bit, Right? Like, but, and oh, one more thing. Yeah. Oh my God, this is probably the most important thing of all these two hours we've been talking. Be flexible. Take notes. Don't, don't be like, Well, this is what this guy says. Or, Oh, well this is what I, I put that in there because B, B B, B B, if someone's gonna take time to read your script, I don't care if it's, I don't care who it is, and it's the hardest thing, and I still do it. When my husband reads my stuff, I'll be like, Well, that's why I, I'll bark at him. Right. But don't just thank you. Oh, I'll, I'll think that. And someone may give you notes that completely up in your script and just, you kind of put it away, Have a glass of wine, watch British baking, let it kind of meld in whatever. And then like, Okay, is this person that took this advice or whatever, do, will this change it in a good way? Am I ready to do that? But, but while you're getting notes to be nothing but great. Yes. No, I think that's a great idea. Or, Oh, just be flexible. Be

Michael Jamin:

Open

Christy Stratton:

Notes. Be open, because it, you don't, you're not gonna be the, you're not the ultimate. You don't know everything. And it's so hard. Cause when I get notes, I'll be like, Oh yeah, that is better than what I have. Like, Oh yeah. That is even now's and gracious about it.

Michael Jamin:

Christy Strat, thank you so much for, for joining us and for people listening. Thank you. Until next week, uh, get on my newsletter. My free newsletter goes every Friday. Phil sends it out. Sign up, go to michael jamin.com/watch list for more tips. And thank you again, Chris. You'll follow her on Instagram and Twitter everywhere you could find, uh, Christy Stratton's. Were sold. All right. Thanks again everyone. Bye. Bye. Bye.

Phil Hudson:

This has been an episode of Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamon. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving your review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear it. Today's subject for free daily screenwriting tips. Follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok at Michael Jamin, writer. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok at Phil Hudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

2022-10-05
Länk till avsnitt

048 - Writer/Director Rob Cohen

This week, we have our first Podcast guest, Writer/Director Rob Cohen. Rob has written and directed for shows like The Simpsons, Wonder Years, The Ben Stiller Show, MAD TV, SNL, Just Shoot Me, Maron, Big Bang Theory & Black-ish. Join Michael Jamin and Rob Cohen as they discuss their careers, breaking in, and what it means to have a long, fruitful career in Hollywood.

Show Notes

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

Rob Cohen on IMDB - https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0169712/

Transcripts are Auto-Generated

Rob Cohen:

Just shoot Me was in the nineties. And if you said NBC in the nineties had so many comedies, some were good, and some were terrible. But now, if you look at NBC, are they doing any comedies? Like maybe two?

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, maybe. Yeah.

Rob Cohen:

Yeah. So, so it's the same place, but it's the, the tide is clear. So for somebody to aspire to working on wacky old-timey NBC comedies, it's very foolish. However, if they are a self starter and, and determine what their roadmap is, nobody will stop them. You can't guarantee success, but at least you've tried it and you might be successful trying it and pursue what you like.

Michael Jamin:

Right. You're listening to Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jam. Hey everybody, welcome to Screenwriters. Need to hear this. My name is Michael Jamin and Phil is not here with us today, but I have a special guest. This is our first time ever having a guest on, on our podcast. And I'm absolutely thrilled that it's, you know, in Hollywood. People say this is my good friend, My, but it's true. Rob, you're my good friend and thank you.

Rob Cohen:

You're my good

Michael Jamin:

Friend. Yeah. <Laugh>. And so it's nice to actually have a good friend kick off my guest on the show. So let me introduce you. This is Rob Cohen, Writer, Director, and I'm gonna scroll through some of your credits so people know who you are. And and I'm sorry, I'm, I'm only gonna do some of the highlights that I think I'm gonna leave out. Probably the someone's I, because you had, Rob has a huge resume and you're a writer and a director, but you started and

Rob Cohen:

Some of it is good.

Michael Jamin:

And for, for those of you wanna make a, a visualization. Rob also worked on one of your early jobs was The Simpsons and the character of Millhouse was Rob modeled after him. So Rob is picture Millhouse now older and sadder. So, and also Rob's Canadian. So I wanna talk about how a Canadian breaks into the business. Sure. The whole language barrier, how you learned English. Right. I wanna learn how we

Rob Cohen:

Figured out Yeah. How the machines work so we could Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

I know you drove a dog sled growing up and now, now you drive a car. So stuff like that. Thank you.

Rob Cohen:

Thank You

Michael Jamin:

Thank you. So let's begin. Rob's, I guess your first staff job, I guess was the Naked Truth, your big one?

Rob Cohen:

No, my very first staff job full time was the Ben Stiller show.

Michael Jamin:

Oh, right. Will you go back even further than that? Bend Stiller. Right. And you also did Mad tv. Hold on. Your credits are crazy good. Like you have a huge list of credits. Naked Truth work with me, I met you on, well I think I knew you before that, but just shoot me work. You work together, right? Bet, bet. Midler show. Yes. According to Jim. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, according to your credits, you are on, According to Jim. Right. the Jamie Kennedy experiment. Was that a show or an experiment? Rob?

Rob Cohen:

That was an experiment. That became a show on the wv.

Michael Jamin:

See Dots? I don't know what that is. It's

Rob Cohen:

A amazing, That was a pilot for nbc. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

Oh, Pilot. How did you get that in there? Father of the Pride? You remember that, that animated show American Dad? I've heard of that one. Yep. Big Bang Theory. Heard of that one. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, 20 Good Years. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, our friend Marsh McCall created that show. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> Emily's reasons why not. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> fascinating.

Rob Cohen:

You're really combing through all the

Michael Jamin:

I'm on IMDB.

Rob Cohen:

Yeah, of course.

Michael Jamin:

There's more Life In Times of Tim, which was a riot that, that animated show Maron, which we brought you back. We hired you to be a writer and director on that. We're gonna talk about that. Yeah, sure. Lady Dynamite with our friend Pam Brady. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> I don't know companies. I don't, I don't know. So I'm skipping over the, But you also have your own show called Hanging with Dr. Z. We're gonna talk about that. And then, But directing credits are also crazy. I mean, really I'm all them. Well, well you're, you're, you're good looking. Thanks. Let's go over some of them. Sure. Obviously you did a, you did a bunch of Marons. Yeah. Mystery Science Theater, 3000. You did some Lady Dynamites. Yeah. You did Blackish. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> Stand Against Evil, Speechless. Bless this Mess. Superstore, you directed mm-hmm. The Goldbergs, you directed. Mm-Hmm. Interesting. told that Mo You are, And then most recently, somebody somewhere, which I, I talk about that a lot cause I love the pilot of that. And I just love that show. You directed five episodes of that

Rob Cohen:

Damn right. Seven,

Michael Jamin:

Seven. We have to update your IMDB. Yeah,

Rob Cohen:

Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

Let's start at the beginning. Cuz a lot of people ask me this and I have no answer. How does a Canadian start work in this country? Like, there are laws

Rob Cohen:

There are laws and I mean, I know that Americans are all about purity. So I will say that Canadians, they're almost like Americans. It's almost like we live next door to you guys,

Michael Jamin:

South or north of us.

Rob Cohen:

I, I don't know, <laugh>, I don't know. But I didn't have any aspirations to get into showbiz or even come to the United States. So I didn't know that it was a, it was all a fluke. The whole thing was a fluke. I can certainly condense the journey.

Michael Jamin:

Let's hear it.

Rob Cohen:

The fast version is I was a bit of a scam as a young man and was encouraged to live on my own at a young age. And so I lived on my own and I was just a complete screw up. And I grew up in Calgary and had no future whatsoever.

Michael Jamin:

You were encouraged to live on your own at what age?

Rob Cohen:

15.

Michael Jamin:

Why? You were, you were a handful for your parents.

Rob Cohen:

I was a handful because my dad had gotten remarried and the mix was not the greatest mix. So there were two opinions on how things should work in that situation. I was of one opinion and

Michael Jamin:

The

Rob Cohen:

Back was of another.

Michael Jamin:

But looking back on it, do you realize, Do, are you, do you feel like you were wrong as a 15 year old? Or do you like No, I was right.

Rob Cohen:

You were right. I was absolutely right. Interesting. Absolutely. Right. and so I just, You,

Michael Jamin:

You were on your own at 15, Dude, I, I couldn't imagine.

Rob Cohen:

Yeah. I had an apartment. I, I mean, it's not like I suddenly got, was living on my own and figured everything out. I was still a disaster. I just had my own apartment and I was so stupid that for the first month I was like, Oh, this is awesome. My party pad. And I had all my buddies over and we were just doing stupid things. And then I got the, basically realized I had to pay rent and gas and electric. And I was like, Oh my God. Like, I actually have to pay these bills to live here. And I was delivering pizzas at night, and that was certainly,

Michael Jamin:

You're gonna school during the day and delivering pizza.

Rob Cohen:

Yeah, I delivered pizzas. Oh, yeah. Yeah. I was a comp, I was a disaster. I had a 75 Dodge Dart that I would deliver pizzas in whatever the weather was and would like steal gasoline from car lots. So I could put gas in my car to deliver pizzas. I was a complete idiot.

Michael Jamin:

Have you tried pitching this as a show?

Rob Cohen:

No. it's just, it's so, it's, it's interesting in hindsight, but it's also, you know, you could call it, you know, like it's like Don portrait of a team runaway. It's like Rob portrait of a complete disaster because every choice I made was wrong. That's

Michael Jamin:

Mind's a good show.

Rob Cohen:

<Laugh>. Well, maybe at some point, but I think I sold a pilot once about my parents' weird divorce and how they lived a block away from each other, but had the same address through it, some flute. But anyways, I was just drifting around for a while, just doing nothing. And sort of speeding up to your question. My cousin lived here in LA in the Valley, and I, because I was doing nothing in Calgary and had, I was not gonna college, I did not have enough credits or interest to go to university. And just got my car one day and left my apartment in Calgary and just threw a bunch of stuff in the car and drove down here to LA to visit my cousin who lived in Vaneyes. And again, like speeding through the boring stuff. I was just gonna visit for a couple days and crash on his couch.

Rob Cohen:

And I met this girl that he was going to school with, and we, she and I hit it off and I'm like, I'll stay another week mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and then I'll stay another week. And then I sort of had this, if you want to use the word epiphany incorrectly realized like, I could go back to Calgary and do nothing, or I could stay here and do nothing with this girl. So I decided to like stick around for an you know, excuse me, undetermined amount of time. And then realized I'm kind of living here. But I was, I lived here illegally for many years.

Michael Jamin:

And you were like 17.

Rob Cohen:

Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

How old were you? And you were living here illegally?

Rob Cohen:

Yes. For many years. Interesting.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. And, but you were working, How did you work then?

Rob Cohen:

I worked under the table. I got a bunch of jobs. I think the statute of limitations is over, but I worked at different restaurants and Right. The, I was a security guard at a mall. I sold shoes, I fixed yogurt machines.

Michael Jamin:

You know, I worked at a yogurt store. I wonder if you fixed Humphrey yogurt.

Rob Cohen:

You fix, did you fix them? I worked at a place called I can't believe it's Yogurt. And then they opened up a second store that said, Yes, it's yogurt <laugh>. So they basically, they opened up a store that answered a question nobody was asking. No. Was asking <laugh>. Yeah. And I still remember how to, you know, you unscrew those four bolts and you pull out the assembly and you take the O-rings off and you clean them and then you lu the O-rings and then you put the thing back in. But it was all the reality was because I looked and mostly sounded like an American people never asked. And this was pre nine 11 and pre all that stuff. And they just thought I was American. And no, not one person asked me for any validating id. Wow. And I, I made up a fake social security number and got hired and they, a lot of 'em just paid me cash under the table.

Michael Jamin:

This is perfect. Yeah. Now, and then at some point, well, but maybe I'll skip. So how did you, how did this whole Hollywood thing happen? When did you decide, how did that, when did you decide you wanted to be a, I guess, a writer? Right.

Rob Cohen:

Well, I never decided it. I, I, it's such a boring story and I may actually do it as a pilot, but cutting to the chase, I was delivering food for a, a deli that is no longer in business in LA Right. And had a lot of clientele that were in show business. And this one guy took a liking to me and basically said, you know, if you ever wanna get outta the exciting world of late night sandwich delivery, gimme a call. We need PAs. And I didn't know what a PA was. And he explained what it was. So I, I, this is how dope I was. I was like, Yeah, sure. So I'll, I called him up <laugh> and went over to the Fox lot and he explained what a PA was Uhhuh and I thought it paid more than working at this

Michael Jamin:

Deli. And he, he was a producer. What was

Rob Cohen:

He? Producer? for, I mean, he's still a producer, but producer of The Simpsons, Tracy Elman show. Oh, okay. This, he's an amazing guy named Richards guy who I, I literally owe everything to. And he hired me because I was nice to him when I would deliver food as a PA on the Trace Elman Show. And that was the very first time I was exposed to anything in show business whatsoever. And I was assigned to the writer's room, so I was in charge of getting them food and cleaning up. And And that's a queen. Yeah. And it was an amazing writer's room. And that was it. That was the first exposure to it.

Michael Jamin:

And then when did you decide you wanna start? When did you start writing?

Rob Cohen:

I didn't start writing. I was there for the last two seasons of the Tracy Elman Show. And then on the last season I didn't even, I still don't really know how to type. I started hunt and peck, but I would stay late at night. And they were, it was a great writer's room and they were really nice to me. And I just thought these guys seemed to be having fun. And one night they were stuck on a joke and that meant they were sticking around, which meant I had to stick around because I had to clean up after them. And I just decided like, I'm gonna write down a couple options for this joke. And sort of meekly slipped it to one of the writers, this guy Mark Flanigan, who was an incredible, and I'm like, you know, I don't mean to step on eight toes, but I just, I wanna go home.

Rob Cohen:

Ideas. Yeah. And that was literally, I wanna go home. And he, they used one of the jokes. And so I got to go home <laugh>. And then I was like, Okay, well I'll try this again. So I, I started to very quietly with months in between side sort of pitch ideas. And then I went in at night after work and Red Scripts and sort of taught myself how a script is visually structured. Right. And then on the computer would type fake scripts just to physically format a script. And then, because it was a sketch show, I had this idea for a sketch and I just typed it up and it took like a month for me to type up a six page sketch cuz I was terrified. Right. And they ended up buying it and Wow. It was like $1,600. And I got an agent at caa, but I was still a pa at the Tracy Elman show. Right. And, and then I thought, again, showing my lack of planning for my life it was like, this writing things seems kind of fun, like maybe I'll try it. And that was, that was when I had the first inkling that perhaps that was something I may want to try to pursue. But there was no guarantee of success.

Michael Jamin:

And then you just continued writing specs scripts and your agents started submitting you places.

Rob Cohen:

I wrote a bunch of spec stuff and then by that point to Tracy Mond show was canceled and they switched. It was the same production company as The Simpsons, which was just starting. So they switched everybody over to The Simpsons. And then because everybody there was so great when The Simpsons took off, you know, it just was huge outta the gate. They had all these weird assignments that they needed help with. Like can you come up with 50 grant calls for Bart? Can you come up with a promo for this? Do the Bartman video that's gonna be on mtv. And I'm actually looking, the, my very first check sort of professional check over on the wall was for writing the intro that Bart Simpson was gonna say on MTV for the Do the Bartman video that had Michael Jackson on it. Right.

Rob Cohen:

So I got $300 and then just started sort of you know, writing weird things. And the, the first actual job that I got was I was recommended by one of the writers to these producers named Smith Heian. Mm-Hmm. And they were doing a 50th anniversary Bugs Bunny special for CBS. And they needed a writer that knew a lot of stuff about Bugs Bunny. So I had a meeting with them, they hired me for $2,600 to write this whole special, And that was like my first professionally produced credit of something that was, I, I was involved in from the beginning to the end. Right. But I'm still a pa

Michael Jamin:

And none of this see, people ask me like, Well, do I have to move to Hollywood to work in Hollywood? And

Rob Cohen:

Like, Right.

Michael Jamin:

I mean, this wouldn't happen if you were not in Hollywood.

Rob Cohen:

Oh yeah. And it was, everybody says this, but it was absolutely a different time. And I also think that because it was the late eighties, early nineties and things were, there were way more jobs. And also because sketch shows were so popular, they needed people needed little bits. And also being around The Simpsons from the beginning, it was great like that. The Do the Bartman thing I sweated over that for a week and it was probably four sentences. Right. and I would write like top 10 lists for Letterman and try to send them in like naively thinking here's, here's 20 top 10 lists, Maybe you guys will like them. And I was just, I would stay there late at night in the office on the Fox up by myself with, you know, feral cats giving birth under the trailer just writing weird stuff and kind of figuring out the job as I was doing it.

Michael Jamin:

And then how did you get the Ben Stiller Jo Show?

Rob Cohen:

This has gotta be also boring.

Michael Jamin:

I think it's fascinating.

Rob Cohen:

Well, the way I got the Stiller show was The Simpsons had taken off and I was still working for Gracie. And I had an idea for an episode and it was season two of The Simpsons. And so I went and just wrote this episode on spec on my own. And it was basically a diehard parody cuz Diehard had come out just like a couple years before that about the power plant where Homer works getting taken over and he inadvertently becomes a hero and saves a power plant. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So I wrote this whole spec, I turned it into Sam Simon who was running the show and was just great and he loved it. But what I was told sort of off the record is at that time, Gracie Films had a rule where they could not hire writers that were already working for the company in another capacity.

Rob Cohen:

It was like this weird archaic rule. So being a Ding Don I was like, Oh yeah, well screw that. I quit. So I walked over to the main bungalow and spoke to Richard Sky and I was like, You know what? I think that rule's terrible and Sam likes my script and I just think I'm gonna try this writing thing. And, and I quit. And they're like, Well, we're sorry to have you go. And then as I was walking back across the parking lot to get my stuff, Sam grabbed me and he is like, I heard you quit. And I said, Yes. And he goes, Well now you don't work here anymore, so now we can hire you, but we can't use your idea because you pitched it to us when you're an employee. And I was like, That's weird. But cutting to the chase.

Rob Cohen:

They took me upstairs to the writer's room and they had an index card that just says Homer invents a drink and most deals it. And so they said, We would like you, we loved your script and you've been here since the beginning. Like, we'd love you to write an episode. And I was like, Absolutely. I was freaking out. And I said, like a, an arrogant idiot. I was like, But I wanna be involved in the entire process. Cause I knew the process cuz I was working on the show. And they're like, You got it. And so we broke the whole story and it ended up being the episode flaming mos

Michael Jamin:

Flaming. I know you wrote Flaming Mo. Wow.

Rob Cohen:

So I wrote Flaming Moose, and then time went by and, and it got produced and it was on the air. And the way that I got the Stiller show was I was doing punch up on this terrible movie for Morgan Creek and met this other writer there named Jeff Khan. And Jeff and I hit it off and he's like, Hey, they're shooting this weird pilot at my apartment, you wanna go check it out? And I was like, Sure. So we went over and it was the pilot for the Ben Stiller show. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. And Ben was there and he and I hit it off and he was asking what I'd worked on and I said, this episode that had just come out for The Simpsons called Flaming Mos. And he was like, I love Flaming Moes, you wrote that. So he said, if his pilot ever became a show, he would love to hire me because we, he and I had so many similar references in our life. We love disaster movies and all this other stuff. So we really clicked. And then a couple months later, the show got picked up and he called me and said, I wanna hire you. And that was my first staff job.

Michael Jamin:

Wow. What it

Rob Cohen:

Entail? What it entail. I

Michael Jamin:

Not it is, No, I think it's so cool. I I've known you all these years. I didn't even know that dude.

Rob Cohen:

And then it's all flukes. It's all flukes,

Michael Jamin:

It's all Yeah. But it's also you putting yourself out there and I don't know. That's amazing.

Rob Cohen:

Yeah. I mean, I'm very fortunate these flukes happened because, But

Michael Jamin:

You also Yeah. I hadn't but you put yourself in a position to have these flu happen too. Yeah. And

Rob Cohen:

You were put if I hadn't, but I was prepared. But if I hadn't met Jeff that day and we hadn't gone to his apartment, I would not have met Ben and that wouldn't have led to the show. Right. Which

Michael Jamin:

Led. But you're also, I mean, honestly, and I mean this in a compliment, like you're one of the be better connected, more most connected writers. I know, you know, a lot of people like, you know, you're friend, you're a friendly guy, you, you know, a lot of people I guess maybe cuz you leave your house

Rob Cohen:

No, but you're, you're connected, you know, a lot of people, it's just,

Michael Jamin:

It's just I know, but I'm always, I'm always surprised by who you like you seem to know more people <laugh>.

Rob Cohen:

Yeah. But it's only because I just think I hate this term, but I think the alt comedy scene was starting when you and I were starting off in LA Yeah. And because, especially because of the Stiller show, that whole crew were so important. Like Janine and David Cross and all those guys were so important to the alt comedy scene. And then that's where Jack Black and Tenacious D started and all these other people Will Ferrell. Like they were all coming up that way. I just think it was timing of an, an era that was happening. So were

Michael Jamin:

Just, Were you involved in that? Like did you do like, what do you mean? Did you go to those shows and stuff? Like I

Rob Cohen:

Oh yeah. The Diamond Club. Yeah. I mean it was, that was the whole scene. Like big intel books, the Diamond Club. I

Michael Jamin:

Didn't even know about it back then.

Rob Cohen:

Really? Oh my God. Yeah. That was where everybody hung out. Like I even performed in some of those dopey shows just because it was, it was a group of friends that were not famous yet that we're just doing these weird shows at this place, The Diamond Club in Hollywood, which is gone mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And you could tell it was like, you know, Jack and Kyle, you knew they were amazing, but they were not tenacious to you yet. Right. And, and Will was not Will Fiery yet. He was a guy from you, the Groundlings and people were just, you know, Janine and David and Pat Oswald and all these guys that were just

Michael Jamin:

Right. So let's talk about those guys. So they were, you know, these are people putting themselves out there. It's not like Absolutely. They're not saying, Hey, I put me in my movie. They're just putting themselves out there. They're doing shows. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that's just how you do it. And so is they're not asking to start at the top, they're starting at the bottom.

Rob Cohen:

Yeah. Well I think that's a great point. And I think using the, the Diamond Club shows, The Diamond Club was this horrible, horrible dumpy club. A club is a loose term that was owned by one of the the Stray Cat was it Stray Cats?

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, I know the band. The

Rob Cohen:

Band The Stray Cats. Yeah. It was like Slim Jim Phantom, I think was the guy who owned the club. Okay. So it was this horrible, decrepit theater that was near LaBrea and Hollywood and it was kind of a you can do anything you want kind of place because it was just soaked in like old piss smell and booze. But the good thing was a lot of friends of ours, like this friend CJ Arabia, started to put these shows together. And so she would ask everybody in our little group that all hung out and travel together and dated each other and whatever. It's like, hey, we can do these shows at the Diamond Club. And I'm not a performer, but it would be like, we would build entire sets out of corrugated cardboard and paint them because the Diamond Club didn't care. They just wanted to sell alcohol to people that came to the shows <laugh>. So there would be like, you know, shows where you look now at the lineup, you're like, Holy crap, that's the, that's like a lineup of insane comedy hitters. Right. But at the time they were not, they were just young weirdos.

Michael Jamin:

It's so, because you know, I moved here in 92, I lived right in West Hollywood. I lived right on the corner and I'm just, it's amazed how like we just didn't know each other then, you know? Yeah,

Rob Cohen:

Yeah. But you and I actually in Seavert sort of weirdly intersected with the Wonder years unbeknownst to us.

Michael Jamin:

I well sever wrote on that. I didn't he sold number years.

Rob Cohen:

No, but you guys, and you're credited on my episode.

Michael Jamin:

I'm no, I I didn't work in the Wonder Years. Si sold ans sold an episode of Freelance episode of Wonder Years, my partner because

Rob Cohen:

Yeah. But it's so weird because on screen, it's you two and me credited on the episode. I pitched to Bob Brush. He tried to rip

Michael Jamin:

Up. Not me, dude. I don't have any credits on Wonder Years. You gotta, I Oh,

Rob Cohen:

You know, Seavert and his old partner?

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, his old partner. Yeah. Yes.

Rob Cohen:

Sorry. It was Sivert and his previous partner.

Michael Jamin:

I'm surprised he got credit though. Okay.

Rob Cohen:

Wow. Wow. The whole thing was Bob Brush was just stealing ideas left and right. But wow. That's interesting. But that's Sivert

Michael Jamin:

And I But you never wanted to I'm well, I'm sorry I cut you off. Go

Rob Cohen:

Ahead. No, no. I was gonna say, I didn't know you were Seavert yet. Right. But on that episode, Seavert and I share credit even though at the time we were complete strangers. And then I really met him when I met you on just shoot

Michael Jamin:

Me. Right, Right. Now, did you, you never wanted to perform, I mean, it's funny cause you have performed but you never wanted to.

Rob Cohen:

I have performed reluctantly. I hate it. And it was like, whether the Diamond Club show or if I've been like an emergency fill in at the Growlings, it's, before I do it, I'm like, Hey, this is cool. It's gonna like sharpen my brain and it's gonna be a great thing. Just jump off the cliff and try. And then in the middle of it I'm soaked in sweat and hate myself. And then at the end I, I am so relieved it's over and I absolutely loathe it. I wait,

Michael Jamin:

I'm just shoot me. I remember we had you play the dirty bus. The dirty bus Boy was your character. Dirty <laugh> Dirty bus, and you hit it outta the park.

Rob Cohen:

<Laugh>. Well, all I had to do is sort of wiggle my eyes. Lasciviously while it was clear the older waitress and I were messing around.

Michael Jamin:

Oh my God.

Rob Cohen:

Cause Andy called me in and said, Can you, He's done that so many times where it's like when he had True Jackson, he's like we need somebody to be the hobo king. Can you be a paramount an hour? I'm like, <laugh>.

Michael Jamin:

Okay.

Rob Cohen:

But it's not. Cuz I love it. I, I hate it, but it's also, it sounds so goofy that if I don't have any lines or something that I'm fine doing it. But I ended up on so many shows I worked on as a writer, being an emergency go to that.

Michael Jamin:

I

Rob Cohen:

Truly, I truly hate it. I

Michael Jamin:

Truly hate it. As mentioned, Rob was talking about Andy Gordon, who's a writer we worked with a number of times. Yeah. A great guy and hilarious writer, but

Rob Cohen:

Hilarious and so funny. Like just as a person

Michael Jamin:

It really witty, really making laugh. Yeah. And you just had dinner with him. Yeah. It's so fa Okay, so then you were okay. Then we worked together and just shoot, We, for many years, we, we used to sit next to each other. Yeah. Sometimes at least. Yeah. And then, and then what happened was years, I remember years later we were doing a pilot. We were helping out a pilot. I don't remember whose Do you, do you remember? We were, I remember I pilot, I don't know, might have been, might have been a CBS Ratford pilot, but, but what happened? So people don't know. So when someone makes a pilot, it's very, at least back in the day, it was very common for the person who created the show to call in their friends as a favor. Hey, can you guys help, you know, sit a couple days and help me, You know? Right. Pitch on jokes or do the rewrite or whatever. And as it's courtesy, you always say yes. I mean, you just never, never say no. And Cause

Rob Cohen:

You also hope, if it's a success, you'll get a job.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. But sometimes you have a job so you don't even care. But Sure. But, but absolutely. You always say yes. And I remember being there on the state floor, and I hadn't seen you in a while, and I was like, Rob, what are you up to? And then you said, I was like, so I was thinking you were gonna, you know, you had written on a bunch of shows, but you were like, Yeah, I'm kind of done. I'm done writing, I wanna direct

Rob Cohen:

Mm-Hmm.

Michael Jamin:

<Affirmative>. And so what happened there? What was the, what made you wanna stop writing and start directing?

Rob Cohen:

I feel like I, I'm gonna continue to take long, boring stories and compress them, but the, the quickest answer is I'm so appreciative of the, the fluke that come into writing. And I, I was a writer on TV shows for 18 years. Right. And I, I greatly appreciate the opportunity that it provided in all areas. But what was happening would be I would be on a show and they would need somebody to go supervise, like a shoot on, like at, you know, the Radford lot. There was that fake New York Park. So they would need somebody to go film a scene that's supposedly Central Park. Right. Also, if they were doing any exterior shoots, I would volunteer to do that. And there's people we know that are writers that hate being around actors and they just wanna stay in the room. <Laugh>. And I was, I was realizing I wanted to get out of the room mm-hmm.

Rob Cohen:

<Affirmative> and go where the action was. And then I would direct some, some friends of mine would do low budget music videos and I would do it for free. And then I was kind of building this weird little real sort of unknowingly. And then other friends of mine that part of those Diamond Club crowds that were now becoming well known comedy performers were doing movies. And they would ask me if I would help write the promos, you know, the commercials for the movies. And foolishly or otherwise, I would be like, Yeah, if you, if you arrange for me to direct these promos, I'll definitely, I'll write it and I'll do it for free. And they're like, Okay. So because they had muscled with the studio, they would be like, Rob's the guy and he's also gonna direct it in the studio's. Like whatever you say.

Rob Cohen:

Right. So I realized that I was really enjoying it. I'm not saying I'm good at it, but I was really enjoying it. And then building this sort of very weird real. And then when the writer strike happened 2007, 2008 I was walking the picket line and kind of had this feeling in my head, like, if I go back into the room, I'm going to stay on the path of being a TV writer probably for many, many, many years. And this is an opportunity. I was pretty honest with myself. It's like, what I really, really want to do is be directing, like, to make the stuff instead of write the stuff. Right. So, so I decided on the picket line that I would kind of hop off the writing train and just try to keep cobbling together these weird little directing jobs. And

Michael Jamin:

That's,

Rob Cohen:

That was when I made the term.

Michael Jamin:

But I remember being on the floor with you on this stage and say, I remember this conversation really well. I was like, Wow, you're gonna be a director. And I said, like, So is your, because you know, Rob's a big shot writer. I said, So is your agent helping you out with this?

Rob Cohen:

Right.

Michael Jamin:

And what was your answer?

Rob Cohen:

Not at all. They wouldn't not at all

Michael Jamin:

Discuss it. And why not didn't discuss

Rob Cohen:

It because I was making money for the agency as a writer, and they did not want to go through building me up as a director because they were and it wasn't evil, It was just, those were the facts.

Michael Jamin:

That's exactly right. And that's, it's not, it's because that's a hard sell. They're not gonna push that rock up the hill. They already have directors and Rob's a no one is, he's said, no one is a director. Correct. And so you, you were literally starting your career over, and the way you did it was by working for free, you know, by just doing it and not asking for permission. You just did it. You know, figure out what you can do. And I say this all the time on my podcast, on my social media, like, and I use this, I use as an example, you know, you did it. And then I, so we were at one point we were running Maron, and that's, and I use you as another example of how to get work there. So I don't remember who contacted who, but we were, Maron was our low budget show, really super low budget show. And I guess, and how did, how did we get, I don't remember. I don't remember details, but we came in contact again.

Michael Jamin:

Hey, it's Michael Jamin, if you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You could unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist

Rob Cohen:

In what I think it was, I emailed you guys to congratulate you on the show and we just started a dialogue. And then you guys very generously asked what I was doing. And I think that's how we loosely started this conversation.

Rob Cohen:

Right. But it was you Sivert, Mark, who I'd known a bit in the past. And then was it Erco or was it yeah,

Michael Jamin:

Probably Pi Cerco.

Rob Cohen:

Yeah. I can't remember. I mean, you guys went way out of your way to let me have a meeting.

Michael Jamin:

But what's what I, I

Rob Cohen:

Remember is in Glendale.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. And what I remember about that meeting was how prepared you were. You came, we met with a lot of directors and we needed directors who were cheap, can do low budget. Who, And you, you had, you were all that I could do low budget cuz you do low budget, you do no budget. Right, Right. And you came in super prepared, and I've talked about this before as well. I, I think on my podcast, we on social media is like, you blew us away. So what you did, as I remember, you watched the presentation, which is already shot, and then you, you blocked it. You, you, you drew diagrams and you said, this is where I would've, this is how I would've shot the presentation. This is where I would've put the cameras. And see, by doing it this way, you have less setups and you don't have to move the cameras much.

Michael Jamin:

And because you do, because you're being efficient with your setups, you can make your day, you can get all the shots that you need because I'm not getting a ton of coverage. I'm just getting exactly what I need and I'm getting it fast. And the fact that you took all that time to draw those drawings, you, you know, you proved to us, and I remember you walked out and we were like, He's hot. You know, he's the guy, he knows how to do it. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, you blew us away. So it wasn't like we did you a favor, you came in, you were prepared. You know,

Rob Cohen:

We, Yeah. But I really, I mean, again, I remember that meeting so clearly because I was, I, I, I loved you guys. I thought the presentation was awesome and the show had all this great promise, but I loved the vibe of what the show could be and really, really wanted that job for those reasons and to work with you guys again. But also because I knew there was a way, and it was my old writer sort of producer brain thinking like, there's limited time, there's limited money. How can you maximize the writing and the, the humor opportunities, but your production schedule is so crazy tight. How can mathematically you do both things? And that's, I remember leaving that meeting and just like, I, I didn't know what else I could've said, but it was really my experience as a writer and a producer, just like, this is how I would make this more efficient. Not that you guys were inefficient, but it was just how my brain had worked from the writing side.

Michael Jamin:

And that's, and I, and that's what we appreciated most about you as a director, is that you came from a writer, you were a writer, you understood the writing, you understood how to be true to the script, how to service the script. And I gotta say, it was always very easy working with you was never, you had never had any ego attached. You were like, Hey, is this, how do you like this? Oh, you don't like that? Maybe you like this. It was always, you know, course pleasing the client basically. But

Rob Cohen:

You guys were not only were you my friends, but you guys were the bosses along with Mark and I I would say just, it's not even from a Canadian standpoint. It's like you are hired to visually capture the script that has been written mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. So if somebody's coming in thinking like, here's how I'm gonna put my stamp on it, or this is gonna be for my real, it's a mistake because Right. What I, what I love doing, and you guys were great show runners, was if you got Guy, if there was an idea I had, I would happily run it by you because it made it easier if you liked it. And if you said, Well, we actually thought about it this way when we wrote it, it's like, that's cool. My job is to visually capture it. Yeah. And, and also it's like this scene's running over, so here's a, here's an idea how we can pick up that time.

Rob Cohen:

Right. Or Mark has an idea. So it's like, okay, let's honor what Mark is saying and Right. That's to me, it's your number one goal is to take the blueprint and build a house. And it was so easy because you guys, we all knew each other, but we all came from a writing background. Yeah. And it was, it was like, well, you know, this B story's never gonna pay off this way, so what if we just save some time and just make this like a joke instead of a B story or whatever was going on. But

Michael Jamin:

I remember right. I was always relieved when you, when you were directing, I was like, Oh, this is gonna be a good fun week. It's gonna be easy. It's gonna be yeah, we'll get what we need.

Rob Cohen:

Oh, I loved it.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah.

Rob Cohen:

I love that show.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. That was, we had a blast. But it was, yeah, it was low budget. And then, so what do you say to, because it's so many people, you know, they do ask me like, Well, how do I, how do I become a director? Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. And so how would you tell people, young people just starting out, I would do what you just did, but go, let's hear what you would say. No,

Rob Cohen:

I, I would say you know, again, to sound like an old man, times have changed mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. and I would say that the number one thing is to show somebody that you have directed something and that can be directing it on your phone or making a short film. There's so many ways to do it inexpensively now with technology. There's no excuse. Right. My second answer would be it's to show the people that have written the show or have the script that you can not only be trusted to run the set and get all the scenes and get some options e editorially, but that you also aren't literally just filming the script that you are gonna mind some more humor. Right. Or you have a style that's appropriate and that's established in the first part that I said, which is make your own real.

Rob Cohen:

You know, like there's a music video I did the total budget out the door before, way before that was $2,000. Like everything. Right. And we were able to, you know, we had three minutes and 25 seconds or whatever it was to do it, but we were able to get some funny stuff within the video and it was for Virgin Records. And the one letter I got back from was like, We love this video because there's so much funny stuff in it. It wasn't about the song, but it's finding a way to sort of add, without putting the spotlight in yourself because the spotlight should be on the script.

Michael Jamin:

But once you have your reel, like okay, how do you, who do you show it to

Rob Cohen:

You? If I was doing it today? I think you show it to I mean YouTube is a great example of somewhere that for free, you can exhibit your wares mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, I would say the going, showing it to an agent is a, is an older route that I think is gonna be more frustrating because you can now start a website of yourself and send it around to people with a click. I think, you know, the great thing about short films is there's so many festivals and a lot of 'em are online that even if you make a three minute short film for a, a very inexpensive amount of money, you could literally have people around the world see it after you're done editing it. And so that's what I would do today is write something, because if you write it, it gives you extra juice.

Rob Cohen:

Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And then you're also not paying a writer. Right. And you, and then the way that you saw it as a writer, writers basically direct stuff in their head when they're writing mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. So then take the initiative to film what you saw in your head originally and put down on paper. And then there's so many people that would do favors. Your friend might be an editor and he needs something for his reel. So you make a deal. It's like, if you edit this for me we'll have a finished product, then both of us have something. So I, I would say it's, it's, it's it's hustle, but it's not like that lame thing of you gotta hustle. I think it's an iPhone will make something so beautiful. And with an iPhone and a tripod, your costs are gonna be your phone and a $10 tripod.

Michael Jamin:

And I, I say the, I Go ahead. Continue. Right.

Rob Cohen:

Well, no, I just think there's no excuse to not make stuff. Yeah. But you want to, you, you want to use the internet you want to use film festivals that a lot of 'em have free submissions and start a website you're on webpage and people will find it like they, somebody's gonna see it. And as long as you keep adding to it on a fairly regular basis, it's the same as when you and I were starting, you would have to send out a packet and to meet writers for staffing meetings, they would want to either read your spec half hour or your writing packet. So this is the same thing, it's just your directing packet.

Michael Jamin:

Right, Right. I say this all the time, I think people think I'm nuts, but Yeah. It's just like, stop asking for permission and just do it. Yep.

Rob Cohen:

Absolutely.

Michael Jamin:

A Hundred percent. And stop and stop thinking about starting at the top. How do I sell my, how do I direct for Twentieth Century Fox? No. How do I direct for my neighbor? Yeah, That's, that's the question. Yeah.

Rob Cohen:

But that's what I loved about those music videos. Not to keep referencing 'em, but you're, the, the greatest thing is when the artist said yes, because I was like, Oh, this is great. I'm gonna have a music video in my real, And then you realize like that $2,000 pays for catering, pays for editing, pays for a dp, pays for lighting, pays for location, and you very quickly realize you have no money. But the challenge of that is so great and has so much value, these little jobs that people can take because when you do show it to somebody, they go, You made that whole thing for $2,000. That's ex or damn, or you made this short film for a hundred dollars and you could, I you could, if you have a Mac and an iPhone, you can make a film.

Michael Jamin:

I said, so funny you say, cuz I said the same exact things. Like the less money you spend, the more impressive it is because you're saying a

Rob Cohen:

Hundred percent,

Michael Jamin:

You know, and, and by the way, no one's gonna be impressed by the Dolly shot or the special effects you put in because you're not gonna, you know, the Marvel movies are gonna do that a thousand times better than you can ever dream of doing it. Yeah. So it always comes down to the script and Yeah. And, and how little you can spend. That's the impressive part.

Rob Cohen:

Yeah. And I will say, not to over compliment you, but whenever I have meetings for directing jobs that every, the shows that they bring up almost every time that they're really curious about are Marin mm-hmm. <Affirmative> standing against Eva, which is another Iffc show. And somebody Somewhere, which is the Bridget Everett show, which is an incredible group of people that do that, but on a fairly low budget. Yeah. And nobody wants to talk about how you pulled off some amazing big budget production because they know you had a big budget, but if you can show them that you can work lean and mean and you were involved from the ground up it has so much cred with everybody that to this day, like it happened the other day, people were talking about Marin, they did not believe what that schedule was like. Yeah. And when I explained it to 'em, their minds are blown. Yep. They, they can't believe it's possible. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

Right. Yeah. Fast

Rob Cohen:

And it is possible.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. It was like two or two and a half days for a shoot,

Rob Cohen:

Which is two and a half days for an episode.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. And ordinarily, it's like five. Right. Or how do you, have you ever directed an episode that was more than five days?

Rob Cohen:

I've done one that's six. Okay. but you know, me, the thing that I would say in these meetings is like basically a, a regular work week, you will have completed two episodes where most shows are barely getting one for a way bigger budget. Yeah. But the great thing about the Iffc model was they don't give you notes, they stay outta your way. They're supportive and they appreciate that you're delivering a television show for peanuts. But then everybody benefits because they've agreed to embark on a journey where everybody has skin in the game. And that, that I think also will help people get writing or directing jobs.

Michael Jamin:

I see. I, I think sever and I, we prefer, you know, we take whatever work we get, but we prefer working low budget for that reason. They leave you alone and you can actually be more creative. But how do you feel when you're like, I would imagine directing a high budget piece would be more stressful and, and and terrifying.

Rob Cohen:

It is, but because there's more writing on it. But I would say the larger budget stuff that I've directed, and it's not like major movies or anything like that. The, the pace of things is a lot slower mm-hmm. <Affirmative> because people have more time and more money. And to me, I love going fast and lean and mean because you still have the amount of money, but why not get five takes at a scene instead of two takes. Right. And, and so if you have more money, it doesn't mean you get lazy, you keep your foot on the gas, but you just get more options. Right. And so I think learning anything, writing or directing anything from the ground up with no resources will make you be more creative and more efficient. And people, when they're hiring you, certainly for directing, appreciate how efficient you are. Because you're basically saying, Give me the keys to the bank and I will take care of your money and you'll have five choices instead of two choices. Right. And that's what it comes down to.

Michael Jamin:

You say choices, do you mean coverage or do you mean

Rob Cohen:

Coverage?

Michael Jamin:

Coverage

Rob Cohen:

Takes coverage? You know, Maron, we would rehearse it as we blocked it. You know, like it was, it's not like we had these long, lazy rehearsals. It was like, Okay guys, we have three hours in the living room. Let's,

Michael Jamin:

Do you have more rehearsals, more rehearsal times on your other shows? Yeah. We had no rehearsal time.

Rob Cohen:

Yeah, sometimes, but I also think that's built into the larger budget. So if it's a network, single-camera show, people can walk away to their trailers and you call him back when you're ready and then lighting director gets everything perfect. And again, like with Joe Kessler, who is our awesome DP on Marin mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, that guy works so well just like running gun, Running gun. Yep. And there's ways to make stuff look great. And also Mark, who's not a trained actor, was delivering some really heavy stuff mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and people are finding it as they go. Because I think that team mentality, if you're writing or directing, everybody's on board. They, they've signed up understanding what the job is and once people chip in it's gonna make it a better experience in every area.

Michael Jamin:

Now you, I'm changing gears here, but you also do a lot of like this Dr. Show. Like you do a lot of, like, you do commercial work, but you also do like bizarre passion projects on the side. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, Right? So talk about like that. Like what, what's, what's

Rob Cohen:

Well

Michael Jamin:

Hanging with Dr.

Rob Cohen:

Yeah. It was during the Pandemic and Dana Gold, Pete Aaronson and I are friends and we just, everybody was stuck inside and a lot of work had gone away because of the pandemic. And we just started talking and kind of came up on the fly of the show and realized we could make our own YouTube channel and if we put the money together ourselves, then we're the studio. So nobody's gonna stop us because we're paying for it. Right. So Dana does this incredible Dr. Zs impression and we were like, what if Dr. Zs hosted the Mike Douglas show? But he was sort of like a cheesy Sammy Davis Jr guy, and we would call in favors with friends of ours who would be real guests, shoot them remotely and make 10 episodes. Right. And it was truly a fun project during Covid. And we ended up, you know however you could describe having a small but interested following making season one of Hanging with Dr. Z. And we used the internet and Instagram and, and all that stuff, which led to us having a really successful Kickstarter campaign for season two. And the budget, I wouldn't even use the word shoestring, I would say it was like a photocopy of a shoestring, but I love doing weird, silly stuff. And a lot of it it improvised and it just tapped into all of our favorite ways to do stuff. Right. But it was working with friends, you know, during a pandemic.

Michael Jamin:

Right, Right. People have friends and you do project with your friends, right?

Rob Cohen:

Yeah. And we ne we, we have not made one penny on that show. We, we have lost money on it, but willingly because it going, what I said earlier, we could guarantee it would exist because we were creating it and paying for it. So there's nothing stopping us. Why not? Like why not do it?

Michael Jamin:

People often say to me like, you know, they want, or they want me to read this, they want me to make their career. And it's like, you don't need me to make your career. You need three funny friends. There are three friends with a similar vision. Yeah. Do something with them. And that's exactly how you, that's how you started. That's how I started. Yeah. And so that's why I say stop asking for stop begging for permission to just start, you know, doing it. Just do it.

Rob Cohen:

The thing that, like using hanging with Dr. Z as an example, and only because it's something that I was involved in that came out of some friends of ours who were politically active when the elections were happening, the 2020 elections mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And there was a group that had reached out to my friend Colin to make a campaign to stop Mitch McConnell. And so they asked Dana and I like, Could you guys help us out? And there's zero money involved, but are you guys interested? So Dana and I just started to shoot the breeze and we thought, let's just shoot Dr. Zs basically talking about why Mitch McConnell should be stopped. We shot it in his backyard and his girlfriend at the time played Nova and he played Dr. Zs and we did it in front of a, a green screen sheet and we knew we were gonna put the Statue of Liberty from Planet Apes behind them and shot a political ad in two hours.

Rob Cohen:

Right. And then we had so much fun with that and the, this little weird ad kind of did well enough within the small circle of people that love Dr. Z's political ads, that that's what led us to talking about the talk show. But again, it was just homemade. And my point is, I think whether people call it a passion project or whatever they wanna call it, if they have an idea and they write it or they direct it, or they do both, you immediately eliminate people saying, You can't do it because you did it. But more importantly, the people that could give you other opportunities respect the fact that you did it and didn't wait around for somebody to give you an opportunity. Right. Cause you will get the opportunities by creating your own opportunities.

Michael Jamin:

And that's, that's one thing I always admire about you, is you're, you're very entrepreneurial that way. And it's like, Yeah. You follow your heart.

Rob Cohen:

Yeah. But I'm also convinced, like as flukey as my career started, I'm convinced that it's gonna end. Every job will be my, my last. So I'm trying to keep more plate spinning Uhhuh. But I also love, you know, like whether it's, you know, somebody somewhere is such an amazing experience because of Bridget and Hannah and Paul who created, and Carolyn Strauss and hbo. And it is the nicest group of people and the most enjoyable environment where you can, every single person on that show in rural Illinois is there because they want to be there. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. And that energy drives that show where people watching it on TV can feel that vibe. Right. And, and whatever people think of that show, it's like summer camp where every year you get together and people are so excited to take very little money to be part of this experience.

Rob Cohen:

Right. And that the same thing can happen with person X deciding they want to make a short film or they wanna make fake commercials or whatever, because they're gonna set the tone and they're gonna create the vibe. So I think it's a mistake if somebody's like, I only wanna do cool stuff, or, you know, nobody's gonna let me do my ideas. It's like, Yeah, you're not letting yourself do your ideas. So when you told me you were starting your course, I'm like, the biggest obstacle to somebody making anything these days is the person who's bitching about it.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. That was me. Yeah.

Rob Cohen:

No, but, but it's all doable. Can you guarantee success? No. But you will gain amazing respect and opportunities by having it be tangible instead of complaining about it.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. Yeah.

Rob Cohen:

And that's just a fact.

Michael Jamin:

That's just a fact. Well, where do you see, where do you, because the industry has changed so much since we started, What? I don't know. What's, what's your prognosis for the future? What do you see? People ask me this, like, I don't know.

Rob Cohen:

I think, what does

Michael Jamin:

The present look like?

Rob Cohen:

Well, I don't know, but I think it's quite obvious that streamers of the future and broadcast networks are not the future. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. So you and I were lucky enough to start in sort of part of the glory days of the nineties when mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, you had multiple staffing meetings, you know, you would just, it would be that sort of dating circuit for a few weeks where you would bump into people going in and out of offices. And you started off like having four offers. And then it would be two offers, and then it would be one offer. And then it goes from you hoping you do get an offer, or hoping you get a meeting and you could see the tide is turned. So to me, the future is definitely streaming and smaller budget, shorter orders mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And if somebody is expecting it to go back to people paying you a lot of money to do 22 episodes of a TV show a year, I think that is very foolish. Yeah. In my opinion, because it'll never go back to that.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. Yeah.

Rob Cohen:

But it shouldn't go back to that.

Michael Jamin:

Well, it is what it is. But, but no,

Rob Cohen:

But there's no more musty tv. Like Right.

Michael Jamin:

You

Rob Cohen:

Know, look at the Emmys. Like, it's the, the show with the biggest amount of TV stars on it that just aired, had the lowest ratings ever. And it's not because of one person, it's because they've lost their viewership. Right. It's, they, they're not gonna get it back. People aren't gonna wake up one day and go, Gosh, I can't wait to watch this award show on broadcast. Like, those days are over.

Michael Jamin:

Right. And so it's always about, it's about hustling, it's about getting work, looking for the next job. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> about doing your own stuff. Right. Yeah. And, and at the end of day it's gotta be, it's also has to be good. Whatever you're working on, like, you know, has to be great. Right. Well, I

Rob Cohen:

Mean, look, I've done more than my share of crap and largely in my own hand. And I think that an opportunity is an opportunity. You know, there's a lot of credits I don't have in my IMDB page because the show was either a deeply unpleasant experience, or it's such a crappy show. You would spend so much time explaining it to people that they would fall asleep. And so the reason that I've called those credits is because it's, I'm grateful for the experience, but it was a stepping stone to what, what I wanted to do. And if I hadn't taken crappy show X, it wouldn't have led to a more positive thing. And, and I think like what you're doing is encouraging people to pursue an idea that they really believe in and learn the basics of how to write it and shoot it. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> and just that small amount of initiative, even if you never show your project to anybody, you've made it, It's, it's an immense amount of satisfaction. Mm-Hmm.

Michael Jamin:

<Affirmative>. That's right. Incredible. Exactly right. And I, I said that as well. And if you didn't enjoy it, then this Hollywood thing is not for you. Cuz if you're not enjoying it for free, you're not gonna enjoy it when someone's banging, you just, you, you're just gonna get money for it. That's it. Yeah.

Rob Cohen:

And there's people that do that, and they make a fortune. But it's also, you know, like, not to keep talking about when you and I started, but mm-hmm. <Affirmative> just shoot movie was in the nineties, and if you said NBC in the nineties had so many comedies, some were good and some were terrible. But now if you look at nbc, are they doing any comedies? Like maybe two?

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, maybe. Yeah.

Rob Cohen:

Yeah. So, so it's the same place, but it's the, the tide is clear. So for somebody to aspire to working on wacky old timey NBC comedies, it's very foolish. However, if they are a self starter and, and determine what their roadmap is, nobody will stop them. You can't guarantee success, but at least you've tried it and you might be successful trying it and pursue what you like.

Michael Jamin:

See Rob Cohen is Rob Cohen. Everyone is, is there something where, is there something, What, what, Is there something people can do to follow? What do you, what what do you wanna, Can we plug something about what you're doing? Can we No, no. Can,

Rob Cohen:

No, I mean, I'm not on social media. I, I'm I just, I I'm genuinely appreciative of the projects that invite me to be a small part of it. And those happen, you know, here and there. And there's nothing to really follow. But I, I just think I'm excited to see this on your, your podcast. You've built a great following.

Michael Jamin:

I'll say this, when I need a pick me up, when I need a little encouragement, I call you <laugh> mm-hmm. <Affirmative> to kick me in the ass. Right. So I, you're just a great dude, and I appreciate you so much and for coming on and for sharing, but you thought was what was boring, but it was not boring at all. I, I learned some things about you.

Rob Cohen:

Yeah. I was a disaster as a young man, and now I'm an older disaster.

Michael Jamin:

<Laugh>, that's so

Rob Cohen:

What you're, what you're doing, I know you're wrapping it up, but I

Michael Jamin:

Well, that's okay. I I don't wanna take more of your time, but go ahead. No, you're

Rob Cohen:

Not. That's, you're not, I'm, you've got as, as long as you want. I, I really think that if somebody wants to be a writer or director or producer or an editor, then do it. Like, again, you don't have to show it to anybody, but if somebody writes something really great, you can show it to people and someone will recognize that you have talent, but nobody's gonna be able to know anything about what you want to do if you haven't, if you can't manifest it. Right. So you know, again, like when you guys gave me that opportunity on Marin, unbeknownst to me, it, it was a huge help in me getting my next directing job because it, it legitimized me as a director, and then the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. But if I hadn't had that opportunity, it would be a struggle until there was another opportunity. Right.

Michael Jamin:

So you wanna It would happen eventually.

Rob Cohen:

Yeah. But you wanna be prepared for those opportunities. Right, right. So I just think that's just common sense. But what you're doing now, like if I told you you're gonna be doing this five years ago, you would, you would laugh.

Michael Jamin:

I would've said absolutely not. Yeah. Yeah. Of course. Yeah. Wisdom, Rob. Hustle. Hustle muscle. That's it. I can't thank you enough for coming on, coming on the show time, man. Thank you for being my first guest. I, I didn't, I'm surprised I let you talk so much. I thought maybe I'd be doing all the talking

Rob Cohen:

<Laugh>. No, I'm surprised I talk so much

Michael Jamin:

<Laugh>. I'm surprised. I'll let you get a word edgewise. Yeah. I dog a lot. Dude, thank you so much again. And

Rob Cohen:

Anytime. I love it.

Michael Jamin:

Don't go anywhere. We're gonna, we're gonna have a post more to wrap up after this, but Sure, sure. Thank you, everyone, for listening. And until next time,

Phil Hudson:

This has been an episode of Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving your review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear it. Today's subject for free daily screenwriting tips. Follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok at Michael Jamin, writer. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok at Phil Hudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

2022-09-28
Länk till avsnitt

047 - When Putting Your Work "Out There," Where is "There?"

How should I put myself out there as a screenwriter in 2022? If you follow me on social media, you know I constantly give people that advice, "just put yourself out there." Well, this week on Screenwriter's Need To Hear This, we discuss where "there" is and how to put yourself out "there."

Show Notes

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

Transcriptions are Auto-Generated

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

Transcripts are auto-generated

Michael:

You know, there's not a lot of demand. There's not a strong demand for, for poor to mediocre scripts. And I think some people think well, but that show on TV that show's terrible. Can I do that? Mine is just as bad. It's like, well, we, we can talk about why that's bad or you know how it's unfair that their bad show is on the air, but, and your a bad show, your equally bad show is not. We could talk about that, but I think your odds, it go up exponentially by doing something great. You're listening to screenwriters. Need to hear this with Michael jam.

Michael:

Hey everybody. This is Michael Jamin. And welcome back to screenwriters. Need to hear this, the podcast for screenwriters who need to hear this. And today we are talking about the title's episode is when put, when putting your work out there, where is there? Because I, I say that a lot. I say, Hey, just put your work out there. And people, one guy was like, Hey, well, we have a where's there. Where is there? Which is a fair thing to ask. And so my answer to that, Phil is anywhere, put your work out anywhere. So whatever you got going on, if you've got nothing going on, which is fine, then putting out your work out there means giving it to somebody else. You know, if you're only, if you only read person, who's read your script or you seen your project is your mom. Show it to one other person.

Michael:

Now you've doubled the number of people. And now you may think that, okay, but that's not enough. Okay. There are other things you can do. But so many people think like, you know, when you're putting your work out there, is there a website? Is there a contest? Is there someone's door stop? Is it me? I'm not the gatekeeper. The gatekeeper is not what you think it is. You know, when I first started in the business, I was just a dude who wanted to be a writer. And I teamed up with another dude who wanted to be a writer. There was nothing special about us. We didn't have connections. We were just two dudes and we were, we became friends. Right? And that's how a lot of partnerships or, you know, that's just a lot about how opportunities, not even just partnerships, it's people who are friends, just doing things together because they both have a similar goal.

Michael:

And so putting your work out there means finding people like you, because making it in Hollywood is climbing a mountain. And when you climb a mountain, you don't start at the top. You don't, you know, you don't show up to Netflix with your script. Hey, get, you know, it doesn't work that way. I mean, maybe it has for one person and, but don't kid yourself for everyone else. You have to climb your way up the mountain. That means starting at the bottom, not starting at the top. And so where do you start at the bottom? The bottom is anything more. But if you've got this going on in your life, which is nothing, then do something, which is a little more than what you have. If your neighbor's shooting something and their backyard, that's more than what you got going on. It just because they don't have the universal studios backing them doesn't mean it's not worthy of getting involved in them, you know, and whatever they're doing, because those people, people with similar interests tend to do things and they rise up and you wanna be part of that.

Michael:

A simple thing to do, a very simple thing to do is if you live in a city, go to your local film school, like how, you know, a lot of cities have, or towns have film schools. And every semester they have they usually have like film festivals, like to, to air the kids' work, their projects. And no one's going to those things be, who's gonna go to that. Like just their mom and their dad, and maybe the roommate go buy a ticket. It'll be $5. It's not gonna be much. If anything, maybe he's free. Go sit through these movies and go watch them. And at the end, mingle with the, these kids and find something nice to say, even if they're terrible, there's, I'm sure you can find something nice to say about something. Go up to the director. I love the way you lit that scene in the alley.

Michael:

Go up to the writer. I love the way you wrote that, that wonderful, the triplet, you know, in the bedroom scene. I love that. I love that. Go up to the actor. You play that so wonderful. Even if it's terrible, even if like the whole thing as a whole, isn't great. I know you can find things to like about it. And just go up to those people and say, Hey, I love what you just did. Consider myself a fan. I'm a fan of your work. Now, a young kid who hears that is gonna freak out because imagine a stranger saying that and that kid, maybe they can't collaborate with some on something now, cuz they're in film school, but they'll be at a film school in a year or two or whatever. And now you are part, you know, now you're hanging out with people who want the same thing and, and maybe you collaborate.

Michael:

Maybe you'll work together on something. Maybe you won't, maybe they'll have an opportunity to, you know, to hire you on something. But those people are gonna go up and you wanna build that base. You wanna build that circle. And that's honestly, you know, that's one of the advantages. So we have this, this, you know, screenwriting course. And one of the advantages is that we have a private Facebook group and I see the people in this FA the private Facebook group, they've gone to my course, they've learned all the lessons and now they start, they're ha they're collaborating. Some people are teamed up. Some people are they're doing table reads together. You know, they're socializing in the, and I think that's fantastic. I'm not doing, I'm not organizing any of that. They're organizing it on their own. They're having table reads. They're helping each other out, which is so smart because that tide rises, man. You, you know, they help each other out. People are already doing great things in that, in that group. Good for them. And they don't need me. I, I don't need to, you know, prod them. They're doing it on their own. These are the fact that they're doing it on their own. These are people who are, who want it, who want, who will make something happen, cuz they want it. You know? Yeah. I've always hanging out with those people.

Phil:

I've always described that group as a, as kind of, there's a barrier to entry there. And I think that, you know, you and I have talked about this too. There's a price on your course and there are a lot of people like, well, why are you charging for a course, if you, why are you giving this away? And I'm the one who pushed for the price on the course because I have experienced enough. And I've invested enough in myself in many ways in the business world and the marketing world. I continue to do this. I've paid for most screenwriting courses online because the people who will appreciate it the most are the ones who will pay for it and you're giving away important information. Yeah, but that also is important to those of us who are in that private Facebook group because all of us are showing we are committed to making this work. And that means when people are asking for notes, they're asking for help. They're asking for feedback. The value that is being shared in that group is, is extremely high. And I've been in a lot of free screenwriting groups. It's people who understand, they think about it the same way. And they're just as committed to the, to making this work and making crew out of this as I am. And as the Dave Crossman's are and the mic, everyone, everyone is,

Michael:

They got skin in the game. You gotta put skin in the game free. If it's Free's worthless and it's not worthless. So put skin in the game and that'll keep and, and, and that'll keep your, you know, motivated. <Laugh>, you're investing in yourself. You're gonna be motivated to make something happen. And, and yeah, so anyway, I would, that's one thing I would do. I'd go up to those film schools and start socializing with those kids. I would, if you're in a town in the middle of nowhere, I would go to your community theater, local theater, and you'll find people, actors, writers, directors, who wanna be involved, who want maybe they want to be involved in your next project that you write. They just wanna act in it. And so that's your little circle. I mean, and there's amazing things that can be done.

Michael:

Remember everyone who got like, who breaks into the business? We we're, no one's beforehand. There's nothing. It's not like we had signs over, had future success. It's, you know, we're just people. And so that's what I would do. And, and a couple of a couple weeks ago, maybe it was months ago, I don't remember, but some, some kid reached out to me from film school. He wa he was looking for an actor in his fifties to, to be in his, you know, student production. Now wasn't really interested in that. But if I were an aspiring actor, you better believe I would've said yes to that. I would've you know, yeah. I'll, I'll do that because those kids are going places and now you're building out your network. And so there's just no, like where is here? Here is anywhere. Just put it out anywhere, do whatever, you know, that that's, I mean, that's what opportunity looks like opportunity. Doesn't look like someone handing you a check opportunity, looks like you making things and doing things, you know? And, and they always, one thing leads to another. It just does, you know?

Phil:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you've put yourself out there over the last year on social media and you. Yeah. Right. And that platform, you know, we had a podcast recently talking about, like, if you were trying to break in, what would you do? And you would do this. You would be putting yourself out on social media. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> podcast. I think I look at that and I think, okay, I am not a produce screenwriter. Why would I write a podcast? Why would I have a podcast about screenwriting? I don't know that I would, if I weren't here with you, because I'm very aware that there are a lot of Charlas and snakes oil salesmen, trying to get ahold of people and make them think they're an expert. And they're pretending to be something right. If you're interviewing experts, that's a different story. If you're providing value in getting access for a different way, that's a different story. But that doesn't mean you need to be putting yourself on social media as a screenwriting expert, if you are not. I think what you're saying is you should be showing everyone what you have. You should be giving it away for free. You should be putting it out there so that people can easily get access to the special thing that makes you a talented person who can write act direct, produce, whatever it is you're doing.

Michael:

And you've had some opportunities just because of your you're doing this, or people know you and people, you know, come up to you just because of this, because you're putting yourself out there. You know? So, and you know, we talked about some things off all on the side. Things, opportunities have kind of come your way as a, just because of what, just because you're here now, you know, mm-hmm, <affirmative> and you're showing up, you know, even on the, even on the job you were currently working in, you're showing up. Yeah. So yeah, don't I guess don't be so literal in terms of like, people say, well, you know, how do I get my show on HBO? Well, you start at the bottom. That's how, yeah. You know it, you know, I don't, I, I, I certainly did. I certainly it's so odd that people, I don't know, I guess they getting its information on the internet, but like, like they're like, how do I sell a show on HBO or, or any network really?

Michael:

Right. And well, I'll tell you how I did it. I started at the bottom so I can go in and I can pitch them and it's not easy. And I certainly, it's not a guarantee I'll sell anything, but I can, I can get the session. I can, I can get the pitch, but it's because I've earned it. And they've, they trust me now with that I'll do a good job if they want it. And that, you know, I know how to make it, but so a stranger, they don't just come off the street. They're not, what do they, they're not gonna just trust someone who hasn't done anything before. Why would they, would you, I mean, would anybody, you know, you're not gonna hand over a check for a couple hundred thousand dollars to someone who hasn't done anything before, that would be nuts.

Phil:

That message is something that separates you from every other guru in the, in the world. Not that you call yourself a guru, but there are a lot of people who claim to claim to be, and there's selling the dream. And when we started putting the course together and we started putting this stuff out there, that was one thing you were adamant about. I cannot sell the dream. I can't be the guy who goes out and tells them you're gonna make it buy my course, rah, rah, you're gonna make it. And there was a lot of pushback on putting a price tag on the course. And I said, you need to, because they're gonna need to value it. And we have to figure out a way to not to not sell the dream and your way of doing that is being so real with people.

Phil:

That, that seems to be the thing that stands out for you. That's the thing, time and time again, people say ouch needed to hear this. Thank you so much for being real about this because you're taking people down from cloud nine, have done real expectations that I might have had of being an nickels fellowship winner. On my first script I put in, or an Oscar winner on the first thing that gets produced, whatever it is, whatever delusions of grand or that I had to have to give me to where I am today, that dose of reality is very important because it does two things. One, go ahead.

Michael:

Well, no, please go, please finish.

Phil:

Let's say it does two things. One, it makes you take a dose of reality to take a step back and say, Hey, how committed do I need to be to this? And do I have what it takes to actually commit to doing this with the belief that I will get better at the more at bats that I have, or right. The other option is, man, this is not for me. I think I'm gonna go back and I'm gonna be in tech sales. I'm gonna make a pretty good living there, enjoy my life and just enjoy film and television,

Michael:

Right? That

Phil:

Possible. It's a valuable

Michael:

When we talk about, you know, living the dream, we're selling the dream, like to me, the dream is, and this, but I made clear about the course is the dream is I will help you become a better writer. I will help you express yourself. And hopefully right at the level, that was, that is required for you to get work. But you know, that's, that's what I can do for you. I can help you cuz you know, there's not a lot of demand. There's not a strong demand for, for poor to mediocre scripts. And I think some people think well, but that show on TV that show's terrible. Can I do that? Mine is just as bad. It's like, well, we, we can talk about why that's bad or you know how it's unfair that their bad show is on the air, but in your a bad show, your equally bad show is not. We could talk about that, but I think your odds go up exponentially by doing something great. You know? And that's, you know, that's all I can help you with. You know, I can't promise you anything other than that. So,

Phil:

But, but what else do we want? Like what, what more could we ask of you, right? That no one's gonna make it in this world until they happen. Like, and unless you make it happen for yourself, you cannot rely on other people to give you anything. Self reliance is the term. We call that in any other aspect. And I think there's a level of self reliance we need to have. And what you're telling people is you need to do the work. You need to sit down, you need to write mm-hmm <affirmative>, you need to understand the craft. You need to have those practice at bats. You don't have to go out in front of a major league ballpark and try to hit a home run. You can put in the daily singles that we've talked about early on this podcast. What can I do today to get ahead? And that's it, that's all is required as daily singles.

Michael:

And I'd like to also add, you know, the, the barrier entries is actually quite different than it was when I broke in many years ago. I, I, I would describe myself and this is a weird thing to say, but I, I, at this point I'm calling, I'm kind of a Hollywood insider. I've been doing it for 26 years. So when I pitch a show, you know, I'm, the guy you'd think that would they, they would buy a show from, I have 26 years of experience. Who else do you think they're gonna buy a show from? If not someone like me, right? So I guess I'm kind of an insider, but the last three shows that I've worked on were from, that were created by Hollywood outsiders, Hollywood outsiders. And so that would be Maron, re link and Tacoma FD. These are people who didn't come in through the Hollywood system and they just created something special on their own and became success, made it so big and built up a big following and, and a fan base because they just did it themselves because they didn't ask permission. And then because of that, they got so big that they needed to hire people like me to help, to help them with their TV shows.

Michael:

Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to for free join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you. And it's absolutely free. Just go to Michael jamin.com/watchlist

Michael:

There's room out there for people like there is create your stuff and make it great. I mean, you still have to be great that there's there's that little matter you have to get over, but but isn't that isn't not the way it should be. I mean, should shouldn't it have to be great. I mean, yeah, that seems reasonable.

Phil:

I think so tying this back to what we've been talking about across the board, you practice practice, like yeah, you don't go out and become an NFL player. And again, we've, we've talked about the statistic about slightly more NFL players than there are slightly more working writers than in the NFL. Is that right? Yeah. Right. So we've talked about that quite a bit. So the odds are not great for most of us to be professional writers, but I can tell you what improves your odds. Yeah. Working out every day, getting faster, getting stronger practice, throwing the ball, practicing and, and drilling tackles and, and learning the playbook. All of those things that you would do to be a professional athlete. You gotta do 'em as a writer too, you need to come, right? If you show up every day, you need to practice coming up with ideas.

Phil:

You need to sort through the wheat and the Shaf to find the good stuff you gotta, right? You gotta break stories. You need to figure out when you break a story, why it doesn't work, you need to do your outlines. You need to figure out why it doesn't work in the outline, but it did. It felt like it worked in the other one. You need to write the first draft. You need to finish the first draft, which is hard for most people to do. Then you gotta do the hard part, which is share that really bad draft and know that it's bad with people who are gonna give you good feedback on it. Then you have to take those notes and you have to dust off what works, figure out how to make it better, send it out. Then you gotta do it again and again and again and again and again.

Phil:

And then you, when you finally have something that's good enough, you gotta put it away or send it out. And then you gotta do that again. And you gotta show it again, this whole process over and over again. And most people do not have the fortitude to do that because it's hard work, but no one's gonna do it for you. No, one's gonna get up at an hour earlier to help you sit down and write for an hour every day. No one's gonna have no, one's gonna send that email to your friend. Who's a writer and say, Hey, can you read this and give me notes? No, one's gonna sit down and get the notes and then apply the notes. No one's gonna do it. You have to do that.

Michael:

So my partner and I, we have a, we have a project set up an animated project set up at, at peacock now, but we also just pitched a project that didn't sell a, it was a live action project. Didn't sell. We were willing, took out into a few networks and whatever they weren't interested, which is par for the course. So my partner texts me today goes, well, when do you wanna start on the new idea? So, alright, Tuesday. So on Tuesday we start this project, this process, again, of coming up with an idea and then going out and pitching it, knowing full well that the last time I did this, I didn't sell it. And this is par for the course. So I don't just stop. I don't just think, well, I don't just have this one idea and I don't beat it down every door and, and beg people, whoa, whoa. You know, when it didn't sell, I'm like, it's done. It's done well, can find somebody. No, it's done time. Something else come up with something else.

Phil:

So, so major league baseball, right? We talk about at bats and swinging, you can go to bating practice. You can take swings, you can practice, practice, practice, but look at the best batting average. And in, in, yeah, the major leagues. And I'm not, I'm not a, a huge baseball fan by any stretch. I love sports and I love watching a good game and I'll sit down and I'll go to a Dodgers game or wherever I am to enjoy a game. But it's like 303. Hundred's amazing. Yeah. That

Michael:

Means, yeah. If you get on, if you get a hit, once every three times you are and I go into the hall of fame, basically.

Phil:

Yeah. You literally <laugh> imagine. Imagine if, imagine if babe Ruth or Mickey mantle or whoever went up, struck out and said, that's it guess this isn't for me. I better walk away, better hang up the, the cleats and hand the glove off to that kid. Cuz I am not gonna make it. No, it is striking out and striking out, striking out until you finally hit one. And that makes you amazing. So yeah, none of us are gonna be perfect the first time how we talked about like the fact that if you were to start over and try to break in, you would be digital. Like you would go digital and try to put this out there. I received an email from someone in the course. I received an email from someone who was like, I don't think they're in the course. They emailed the support email.

Phil:

And I said, Hey. And there was to me. So they obviously listen to the podcast. So if you're listening to this, hopefully my advice was helpful. But they said, I am looking to get a short film produced. And I was just wondering like, what are the distribution? How do I get that out there? What, what should I do to make this the best possible? And my advice to them was before you put a dime into producing a project, you need to make sure you have a good script because yeah. A mediocre script shot very well, does nothing. So I would help absolutely take the time to make sure that what you have is worth shooting before. You're gonna go through the time and expense of making that thing happen. Right? Because although it's good experience for everyone involved to get out and short sort through the sound issues that inevitably come up and check, test your lenses and realize that you didn't have the audio on in the cameras. You can't sync your audio, et cetera. All those things are valuable lessons. It's much cheaper to make that mistake on paper and in your final draft or whatever you're writing with before you get on the camera before you have the record for the red. Yeah.

Michael:

Because what if you, yeah. What if you shoot it? And it's just media. If like the script is no good. So who cares? How well lit it is and how, how it looks like a movie and look who cares about the special, if it, if the story's boring, who cares? No, one's gonna be impressed about you, the, how you framed his scene or how the camera flew in or you know the who no, no, they're just gonna be bored. No, one's gonna say, wow, look at that sweeping camera shot. No one's gonna be impressed by the drone footage you put up there. Everyone has drone footage who cares is the story good? You know, that's all the people wanna care

Phil:

About. So what I said was I would, I mean, first recommendation was to invest in the course because you're gonna learn how to tell a good story once you're done with that. Yeah. You have a group of people who you send it to get notes, give feedback. And they're gonna tell you from the lens of proper story structure, what's wrong with this. And then you can hone that in. I even offered to read the script. I said, send it to me. I'll read it. I'll tell you if it's good or bad from my limited perspective. But I can say that now with a little bit of pride and say I'm at a higher level than I was a year ago. I'm at a higher level than I was six years ago when I graduated film school. Yeah. So at least what I'm gonna give you is closer to what a Michael Jamin note was gonna be on this project.

Phil:

Yeah. But that's the, that's the value you get when you're interacting and you have this group of people who are putting in the work and the time and the effort and they're doing it. Yeah. This, this is like, to me, this is like golf, right. We recently just did the Tacoma cup. We all went out and golfed. And I Mike rep, who was one of the writers on the show and I placed dead last. We were the worst on the team, right? He had to play in 15 years. I hadn't played in five years, but we were out there in a foursome, all teeing off, all hitting, all, supporting each other. But it's an individual game. I can't blame Mike rep for his bad shot. I have to take accountability for knocking a tree limb down on a tree, which actually happened. I don't know if I told you that, right. That's funny. But, but that's an individual sport supported by the people in my, for. And we had a great time. They coached me when I made mistakes. This is the same thing. So a lot of sports references today, but ultimately you have to get out, you have to take that bats. You have to strike out and you have to do that over and over and over again until you get incrementally better every single day,

Michael:

Look at the people, how they broke in and how they started. And you know, I certainly was humble. I did a post and I talked about something and and someone said like, well, Quentin Tarantino doesn't have to. And I'm like, are you Quentin Tarantino? Do, when you show up to the, the Ivy in your Maserati, do they mistake you for Quentin Tarantino? You know? No. So the rules, even though he does it one way, you're you haven't earned that right. Yet may, maybe you will. But right now you're not. And so start a little lower, start a little lower, you know?

Phil:

Yeah. I think being very aware self-awareness goes right along with self-reliance. I need to understand the facts of my situation. And that's that takes some time alone to journal and ask the questions. Where am I? Mm-Hmm <affirmative> what are my skillsets? If qu Quent Tarantino is a 10 and I want to be Quent Tarantino, realistically on a spectrum, where am I like?

Michael:

Yeah.

Phil:

Take account accounting of where you're at with the skill sets you need recognize where you need to shore up and where you need to focus and improve. Because if you're a 10 in coming up with the idea and you're a one on the execution, your average here is still pretty bad, right? Yeah.

Michael:

And it's a long road. So if one step at a time know that it's going to take years. That's okay. Is you're getting closer and closer with every step you take. So yeah.

Phil:

When you, you pointed, when you said it's like climbing a mountain is step by step. It was like, Everest has base camp. You have to there's

Michael:

Yeah. They start, they start. Yeah.

Phil:

You have to get, you gotta camp, you got rack

Michael:

For your start.

Phil:

Then you start,

Michael:

Then you start,

Phil:

Right. Where are you on the journey? Where do you need to improve? Put in the time, energy and effort. And either way you'll, as you always say, you get to be creative, you get to be yeah. Centered and focused. And that alone is worth the effort and energy you're gonna put out.

Michael:

Yeah. Yeah. Because right. You're spending your time doing something you love. And if you don't love it, then don't do it. And if you're only doing it for the money, there are other ways to make money,

Phil:

You know, go sell or easier ways to make it you'll make. Yeah. You'll make a lot more money selling stuff.

Michael:

Yeah.

Phil:

So, so

Michael:

Michael, you wanna be a creative, this is how to do it. Yeah.

Phil:

My, I think, I think a very powerful episode today. I know it's a pretty short episode.

Michael:

I, yeah. Do the work. Yeah. Don't get ahead of yourself. Just, just start doing the work. Yeah. Yeah. But you don't have to write your Oscar speech yet that time.

Phil:

Yeah. Hey, you guys all want my social medias at Phil Hudson hit me up. I run a digital marketing agency on the side. I help some pretty influential people. Get their message out there. Yeah. Happy to answer questions. Just message me. Yeah. We'll talk about it. Okay.

Michael:

Yep. Yep. And that's it. All right. Everyone. Couple announcements. So I'll be touring with my show, paper orchestra. If you wanna come see me to your city and you wanna know where I'm gonna be go to Michael jamin.com/live, and I'll let you know where, where I'm coming to next. We're going to Boston next is my next city. And then back in LA for two shows in December. But we'll be, we'll be going other places as well. All right, everyone. Thank you so much. And until the next time.

Phil:

Bye

Michael:

Bye.

Phil:

This has been an episode of screenwriters. Need to hear this with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing leaving a review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject for free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok at Michael Jamin writer. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok at Phil Hudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas crane until next time, keep riding.

 

2022-09-21
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046 - Audition Etiquette for Actors

As a Showrunner, I'm involved in every decision made on the show, including who gets cast in what role. For actors, there's a lot of confusion about what we're looking for, and the whole process can feel painful. Whether you're an aspiring actor, an actor doing self-tapes, or getting Producer callbacks, this episode should help clarify a lot of the behind-the-scenes. For writers, this is an important episode because it will help you understand how important it is to give actors the info they need to nail their auditions, get what you want on film, and put up on the screen.

Show Notes

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-09-14
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045 - The Paradox of Being Vulnerable

As a writer, you're paid for being vulnerable. Your unique life experience is what makes your writing unique, but how you present that information is pivotal to telling a good story and not making people uncomfortable. IN This week's podcast, Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson discuss the paradox of being vulnerable in your writing.

Show Notes

Michael's online screenwriting course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free screenwriting lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join my watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-09-07
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044 - Day To Day, What It's Like To Be A Professional TV Writer

For many aspiring screenwriters, the day-to-day job is often romanticized and fantasized. In this episode of Screenwriter's Need To Hear This with Michael Jamin, we look at what Michael's everyday job is really like. If you've ever wondered what a professional TV Writer does in a day, this episode is for you.

Show Notes

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-08-31
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043 - Should I Worry About People Stealing My Work?

Since I began engaging with aspiring screenwriters on social media, it became apparent that most of them are overly concerned with someone stealing their ideas. This is by far one of the most frequently asked questions that I get asked. Here's my answer for all of you stressing about registering with the WGA and filing a Copyright claim. Just remember, I'm not a lawyer.

Show Notes

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-08-24
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042 - How I Would Break Into Hollywood Today

I get asked all of the time how to break into Hollywood. The bad news is that there is no one size fits all answer to this question. The good news is that it has never been easier. In today's episode, Phil and I tackle this question from the perspective of the technology and opportunities young screenwriters have that I didn't when I was breaking in.

Show Notes

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-08-17
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041 - Negotiating A TV Pilot Sale

Have you ever wondered what happens when you sell a TV Pilot? In this episode, Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson discuss the ins and outs of negotiating a TV Pilot sale, what you need to know, what each step means, and every detail that gets negotiated. A lot of you have been waiting for this one. Enjoy!

Show Notes

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-08-10
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040 - Q&A with Michael Jamin - Part 5

Another Q&A Episode! We took your questions from social media, and we're answering them. These were some good ones, so make sure you listen to the whole episode.

Show Notes

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-08-03
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039 - Great Writing Exercise

Writing is active. You have to do it to get better at it. In this episode of the podcast, Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson discuss a powerful writing exercise to help you tap into your own personal experiences to dramatically improve your writing.

Show Notes:

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-07-27
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038 - Great Writing Requires Two Things

Great writing requires two things. If you aren't paying attention, you'll easily drop one of them, and your writing will suffer. Pay attention if you want to make it as a professional writer.

Show Notes

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-07-27
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037 - An Open Letter To The Guy Who Watched My Live

Time and time again, I'm asked, "How do I break into Hollywood?" I'm here to tell you that there is no straight path, but right now, the best thing you can do is make it happen for yourself. In this episode, we discuss what that looks like.

Show Notes

2022-07-13
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036 - Where Ideas Come From

Have you ever struggled to develop a good idea for a screenplay? In this episode, we dive into idea creation and how to know if it's worth pursuing or not.

Show Notes:

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-07-06
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035 - When Good Shows Go Bad

Sometimes good shows go bad. In this episode, we talk about why that happens and how you can prevent it in your scripts.

Script Notes

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-06-30
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034 - Writing Is Fractals

I'm often asked how to structure an entire Season of a TV series or how to structure an Act and even a scene. Writing is fractals: a never-ending pattern. We dive into it in this episode, and I think this one will help many writers grasp the process of writing.

Show Notes

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-06-22
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033 - Phil Gets Notes On A Script

In this special episode Phil Hudson, my co-host, get notes on a spec pilot he wrote. That's not all; he's also sharing his script prior to my notes and his re-write so you can see how those notes are received and applied. This is a good one, so pay close attention.

Download Phil's Pilot: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Bsa67wp33I0mbmCBHx50e7TeQBmQJUvO?usp=sharing

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-06-15
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032 ? Q&A with Michael Jamin ? Part 4

Another round of Q&A with Michael Jamin. To get your questions answered, follow Michael on Instagram and leave your question on the Q&A Tile when it is posted.

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-06-08
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031 - Do TV Writers Have An Agenda?

I've heard time and time again that TV Writers and Hollywood have an agenda. In my 26 years of TV writing and showrunning experience, I don't agree.

Show Notes

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-06-01
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030 - To Make It In Hollywood You Have To Sell Your Soul

"To make it in Hollywood you have to sell your soul." A lot of people seem to think Hollywood is full of people looking to get ahead by throwing the next person under the bus. This week we discuss the topic of selling one's soul and not in the cool fun branded water kind of way.

Show Notes

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-05-25
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029 - Directing Voice Over Talent

How does one direct voice-over talent? In this episode, Michael & Phil discuss the difference between traditional live-action directing and voice-over directing which is typically done in animation.

Show Notes

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-05-18
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028 - A Paper Orchestra: Stage Reading

Learn about Michael's new labor of love and a live performance based on writing in his new book coming to LA and other cities in the USA.

Show Notes

Sign Up For More Info About The Live Performance: https://michaeljamin.com/live

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-05-11
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027 - What It's Like To Run A Show

Ever wonder what it's like to run a TV Show? In this episode, Michael and Phil discuss the nuances of being a TV Showrunner.

Show Notes

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-05-04
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026 - Phil's First Day In The Writer's Room

In today's special episode, Phil Hudson is the show's star as we discuss his first real experience in the writer's room. The writer's assistant on Tacoma FD was out for a week, and Phil, our Writer's PA, filled in. If you've ever wanted to know what the job of a TV Writer's Assistant or Writer's Production Assistant is, this episode is for you.

Show Notes

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-04-27
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025 - Q&A with Michael Jamin - Part 3

Another round of Q&A with Michael Jamin. To get your questions answered, follow Michael on Instagram and leave your question on the Q&A Tile when it is posted.

Show Notes

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-04-20
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024 - Screenwriting Fallacies Depicted in Film and TV

There are a lot of misconceptions about what it's like to be a screenwriter, and writers are to blame. This week Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson dive into what it's like and what TV and Film get wrong.

Show Notes

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-04-13
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023 - Creative People Need To Hear this

You are more than just your writing. In this week's episode, Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson discuss how to grow as a writer and become that professional. We promise this is a good one.

Show Notes

Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-04-06
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022 - Changing The Emotional Story

In this episode, Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson discuss the emotional story: what your story is really about. This is fundamental to young writers so make sure you pay close attention to this one.

Show Notes

Michael's Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

2022-03-30
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021 - The Oscars: Understanding The Film Marketplace

This year's Oscar nominees paint a clear picture of what the film marketplace actually looks like. Join us for our first Oscar podcast episode and learn what this year's trends mean for you as a screenwriter.

2022-03-23
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020 - Writing A Smart Show

What does it take to write a good show? If you have listened to this podcast or any of my social media, you know my answer to all young writers is: become a good writer. This episode explores what that means and how to level up your writing to stand out amidst the sea of bad scripts.

Show Notes

Michael's Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

2022-03-16
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019 - Q&A with Michael Jamin - Part 2

Your screenwriting questions answered. Michael takes questions from followers on social media and we answer them in this recurring segment of our podcast.

Shownotes

Michael's Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join The Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

2022-03-09
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018 - Here's My Script... Make My Show

You've finished your script, now Hollywood is ready to buy it, so you think. Here's the truth about how the industry is going to look at your finished project.

Shownotes

Michael's Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

2022-03-02
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017 - Creativity

Creativity is a muscle. We have to exercise that muscle to grow as individuals. The good news is you are in control of your own creativity.

Shownotes

Michael's Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

2022-02-23
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016 - Your Work Is Not Limited To Your Screenplays

If you're struggling to be creative, it might be because your identity is tied too closely to your writing. In this episode, we dive deep into the topic of expanding oneself to become a better writer and live a full life.

Shownotes

Michael's Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

2022-02-16
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015 - Should I Hire A Script Reader?

Should I hire a script reader? Boy does this make my blood boil. Let's get into it.

Shownotes

Michael's Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

2022-02-09
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014 - Do You Have To Live in LA to Work in TV?

Do I have to live in LA to work in TV? This week we tackle a common question I get on social media and discuss the shift to video writer's rooms instead of traditional in-person rooms.

Shownotes

Michael's Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

2022-02-02
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013 - How To Get Fired From Your First Job

Michael & Phil discuss some of the common mistakes young staff writers make that ultimately lead to being fired: not being called back for the next season. Learn what to do and what not to do in the writer's room.

2022-01-26
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012 - How Do I Sell My Pilot?

You've got a pilot you want to sell, now the hard part begins. Dive into the topic of selling a pilot and why that might not be the best strategy for young writers in 2022.

Show Notes

Michael's Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

2022-01-19
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011 - Writer's Block and Inspiration

Have you ever struggled with writer's block? Do you need your muse to guide you through the pages of your screenplay? You need to listen to this episode of Screenwriters Need To Hear This, Michael & Phil tackle these two subjects and you probably won't see their answer coming.

Show Notes

Michael's Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

2022-01-12
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010 - Idea vs Execution

Michael Jamin discusses the difference between an idea and the execution of an idea, why young writers are overly obsessed with people stealing their ideas, and how to really shine as a writer.

shownotes

Michael's Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

2022-01-05
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009 ? Q&A with Michael Jamin

In this episode, Michael Jamin answers listener questions posted on Michael's Social Media.

Show Notes

Michael's Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Questions pulled from - https://www.instagram.com/p/CTDtIJdpT-0/

2021-12-29
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008 - Different Ways To Break Into Hollywood

Michael and Phil talk about different ways to break into Hollywood and most of it isn't what you'd think. Learn how Michael broke in, how Phil broke in, and the right way to think about accessing Hollywood.

Show Notes

Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Warner Brother?s Writer?s Workshop - https://televisionworkshop.warnerbros.com/writers-workshop/

Marc Maron - http://www.wtfpod.com/

Rhett & Link - https://mythical.com/

Joe Rogan - https://www.joerogan.com/

Sarah Cooper?s Netflix Show - https://www.netflix.com/title/81314070

Sarah Cooper?s CBS Pilot - https://deadline.com/2021/04/amy-york-rubin-to-direct-sarah-cooper-cindy-chupack-cbs-comedy-pilot-1234726403/

Blaire Erskine - https://www.instagram.com/blaire.erskine/?hl=en

TwirlyGirl - https://www.twirlygirlshop.com/

Michael (00:00):

Even though that experience wasn't great for me, I would still recommend the Warner Brothers Writing Program to people because it's, it's an in so great. You know, for us, it worked out well. We, we didn't have to make a third of our salary and we got to be on a great show, but for, for somebody else, it's still a better opportunity than none at all.

Michael (00:25):

All right. Welcome everyone today. We're talking about different paths to break into Hollywood, cuz you all wanna break into Hollywood, right? Yeah. That's the goal. That's the goal. So there's just so many different ways. Like people say, well, how do I get in? And there's, there's really no, obviously there's no one way. It's not like becoming a doctor where you go to Med School and that's what you, you know, eventually you become a, I guess you become a Resident, then you an Intern. And then, you know, you, you, you work your way as, as a, become a, a Physician or a Surgeon or whatever. There's no one way. And, uh, which is good, but it's a little it's must be a little frustrating too for people.

Phil (01:00):

Yeah. And I would say that this is, you know, if I go back to like 2000, I've known I wanted to be a writer since I was like 12 years old. Um, but when I go back and think about when I first started seriously studying screenwriting, that was, uh, I was trying to learn how to write a screenplay. I was learning formatting. I was using my software and using like, figuring out to do all that stuff. But the majority of my time was how do I get an agent? How do I break into Hollywood? What do I need to do to work in television or film?

Michael (01:28):

Yeah. And, and even like, thinking about like, let's see, like, let's see. When I, when I, I wanted to be a TV writer when I watched Cheers and I thought back then, this is how little I knew I was in high school. Well maybe if I start out as a grip, I can work my way up to writer. Like it doesn't even work that

Phil (01:42):

Way. You knew what a grip was. At least

Michael (01:44):

I didn't, I, I just saw that name. I didn't know what a grip did, but obviously, and it's not even, that's not even working your way up. Like people that's their job and they're happy. They don't wanna be writers that they wanna be grips. That's what they, that's what they want. So it's not like working your way up. It's not like grips below writer. It's like, that's, that's crazy. Um, but, and so, and then some people think, well, I just have to get an agent and an agent will get me work. It's like, no, the agent doesn't wanna have to work for you. The agent wants, basically wants you to do the work yourself and take 10%. That's every agent they want to, you know, they don't wanna have to hustle. They want someone who already is hustling and they can just make money from and like, well, that doesn't sound right. Well, but if you were an agent you'd want the same thing, you don't like, we all, no one wants to work hard. They want, they want something to come easy. So the agent's the same thing. The agent wants to have someone who's just on the cusp of breaking in. So there's a number of ways that people talk about. And I think one way we can talk about, uh, I think a lot of people put a lot of time and energy into our, our screenplay contests.

Phil (02:42):

Yeah. Screenplay contests, film fell, festival screenplay, contests, and, um, pitch fests are kind of the big three things that I see a lot of people in your group, as well as, you know, other writers I know, and things that were recommended ways to break in. Mm-hmm, we're doing these types of things and you know, I'm sure we're probably gonna get a lot of flack for this, from the people in these industries. If we haven't already at this point with some of the podcast content we've put out. Um, but it does not seem from a professional perspective that these are venues and avenues to get into the industry.

Michael (03:13):

Yeah. I don't want, I, I talked about, we talked about this a couple days, a couple episodes ago, so I don't want to hit on it too much, but yeah. I mean, it seems, I'll just real fast. Say like if you were, there are these festivals or pitch fest where like they'll take unknowns and let you pitch to Hollywood insiders. So just think about it from the other way around. If you were Hollywood insider and you wanted to make a, have a project put up, you had money to make a movie or a TV show, like why would you go out to a, an unknown, you just put a call out to a Hollywood agent. Hey, I want to get a show off the ground. Uh, send me some writers. Like you wouldn't go, you know, you wouldn't go to a pitch fest, you'd take, you want a professional. Why would you want an in an amateur, someone hasn't done it before.

Phil (03:53):

Now this is something I'm thinking about that I've not thought about in a while. But one of the best classes I had in film school was actually taught by my buddy rich. He was, he became my friend after. Um, but he had a class that was like the business of film and television. And he would bring in industry professionals who were working in New Mexico at the time or visiting because they were shooting a show in New Mexico. He would bring them in and we'd spend an hour and he would interview them for us. And I thought it was probably one of the most valuable things because you're hearing these people talk about what they look for. And at the end, he would give us an opportunity to pitch. If that person was a producer, if that person was a director and there were a couple times I'd pitch something and afterwards, those people would come up to me and give me their cards and say, I would love to read your script. Right, right. Now, nothing came of them. And five, six years down the road, I understand why I just wasn't ready. The script wasn't good enough to produce. Although the idea was good and enough, good enough to get them interested. The execution wasn't there.

Michael (04:54):

Yeah. It's all about the execution.

Phil (04:55):

Yeah. Yeah. So, so I definitely have seen that happen at some lower film as well, where you sit down and you sit with these industry professionals. And I think there's a lot of value in meeting those people, but it's typically those people are independent producers and independent directors and they're out trying to get their stuff made just as much as you are.

Michael (05:17):

They're hustling as much as you are. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So they're not gonna, they're not in a position to set you up. Right. Right, right. Then there are other programs that like, let's say like Warner Brothers has like, or Warner Brothers Writing Program, like that's different. Uh, and Disney has like, like fellowships and stuff like that. And those are definitely worth pursuing. And those could be a great entry way

Phil (05:37):

To, and you won you and, uh, your writing partner won the Warner Brothers.

Michael (05:39):

No, we didn't win. We, we got into, we were accepted to the Warner Brothers Writing Program.

Phil (05:44):

I call that a win person.

Michael (05:47):

But this is how it was. And this was many, many years ago and things have changed. But basically what you did back then was, uh, you get accepted, which is, which is hard. It's hard to get accepted. And then you have to pay Warner brothers. I think we paid maybe $400 each or something. I'm sure it's a lot more now. And we paid Warner brothers for the right to be accepted to this class to sign. And, and if you were to the top graduate of this class, uh, you would, they would try to place you on one of their shows. And back then Warner Brothers had a ton of sitcoms. Like they had a, they had, they just had like the Friday night block, they had so many shows that it was like, the odds were not terrible. Like they would try to place you on one of their shows. But if you, if they did, because you were graduate of the class, you would be earning the contracts that you'd earn like a third of Writer's Guild minimum. It was something like something really terrible like that. And so here only in Hollywood, do you pay to have a contract to sign a contract that gives you a third of what everyone else is getting paid and, and you're paying for this terrible contract. Like, that's crazy.

Phil (06:48):

That's fascinating. But I think that speaks to the competitiveness of this industry. Yeah. Because everyone thinks they have a good story idea. Everyone thinks they're a writer and it's so competitive you're literally paying people for opportunities to work for less money. It's insane.

Michael (07:03):

Yeah. And then we, didn't what happened was that class, you know, there, I remain friends with several people from that, from that, that, that core group of people that were maybe with 30 or 40 of us and only a handful of went on to actually be, become professional writers, everyone else kind of flamed out at one point or the other, uh, cause it is hard to break in. But, um, you know, we were, I, I do remain friends, but they, they chose a golden child. There was a golden child who's chosen pretty early the executives of the program. They, I think they decided that's the golden one. That's the one who will get work. And everyone else is like, well, but, but that, and, and so pretty early on, it was my partner and I could tell that, um, that we were not gonna be the golden people.

Michael (07:45):

And so we were not chosen when we graduated the class, they didn't try staffing us. It just so happened that our script, uh, man, our, that we had a script that was read, um, by the, by Steve Levitan who was at that time created brand new show called Just Shoot Me. And he read our script because our, his assistant read it and liked it and passed it on to him. And so he hired us. He goes, Hey, yeah, we wanna hire, I wanna hire you, uh, to be on, Just Shoot Me. And then we had to go back to, so we tell the people at Warner Brothers. Yeah. So, you know, our contracts is up and they're like, wait, well, not so fast. Now that, that Steve, Leviton's interested in you let's see if, let's see if we can get you on one of our you know, crappy TV shows and pay you a third. And then, so we basically had to bribe our way out that contract because, uh, you know, suddenly, suddenly they were interested in us, but only because someone else was interested in us, but before, before that they were not interested.

Phil (08:37):

Yeah, this is like the, the guy girl situation where the girls overlooked until someone else is interested. All of a sudden my eyes are open and I realized I never realized what was right before me this entire time. Except in this case, it's motivated by dollars.

Michael (08:49):

Yeah. Right. And so we got out of that, that, that was that made, that was history for us, like, okay, great. Now we're gonna Just Shoot Me now. We're basically set us off on our career path. But so that, but even still, like, you know, even though that experience wasn't great for me, I would still recommend the Warner Brothers Writing Program to people because it's, it's an in so great. You know, for us, it worked out well. We, we didn't have to make a third of our salary and we've got to be on a great show, but for it, for somebody else, it's still a better opportunity than none

Phil (09:17):

At all. I don't see that any different than, you know, I talked about the writers Guild foundation and the golden ticket that they have. Where you get invited to every single event, guaranteed seats. You just RSVP to say, you're gonna be there. They have your name on a seat. You show up front row and you have extra opportunity to interact and network with these people. And I met some amazing people. There was a guy from Canada who was down here, they were shooting the pilot of his show. I sat next to him at an event, talked to him. He asked for my script, he read my script. He sent me notes that were very helpful. That's that's nice. So, so I don't see any difference it's again, it's an investment in yourself. You're just is taking that opportunity. And, and I want to point out here too, because you know, there are a lot of people in your social media and I see the kind of mindset.

Phil (10:05):

"Well, I don't have any money." "I work as a PA barely get by, etc. etc," look ultimately it's about making sacrifices and sacrifice. You know, the way we define sacrifice from a theological perspective is "to make holy", like you're taking something to make what and you're to make holy holy I'm giving up something because I find this other thing more valuable. It is more sacred that's interest to me. Okay. So if you take the approach. Yeah. So if you're taking the approach of my writing career is sacred to me because it is really why I am here on this planet is to be a writer, then stop drinking Starbucks for a month. Yeah. Seven bucks a day, times 30 days. It's a lot of money, right. Even if it's only once a day, once a week, you're going, yeah. That stuff adds up. There are ways to win in the margins, as we say, in the, in the accounting world. Yeah. Like you can win in the margins and, and save up and you can get a license to Final Draft and learn how to do that. So you can be a Writer's Assistant. You can afford these Golden Ticket opportunities. The, that I think is just you approach. It is you have war chest there's funds there. And it is to be invested to help me pursue my reason for being on the planet. Right.

Michael (11:16):

Yeah. Yeah. And that, and, and so I've worked with so many inspiring people who couldn't get a break, so they made their own break and that's how they got into Hollywood. And I, I'm gonna list them because they're all incredibly successful people. The first one was Marc Maron, who he had a show IFC and my partner, Sivert and I, we, we ran that show for four years. And Marc is an interesting guy, cuz he was a, he was a comedian and he worked for a while in, in radio. And then I think he got, I dunno if he got fired or he left radio or whatever. But, um, he was basically cold. He couldn't book rooms, he was cold. And so, but he's a creative type and he had a create. And so this is back then, he, there was a thing called podcasting.

Michael (12:01):

No one knew what podcasts were and it was just a forum for him to talk into a microphone. And God knows if anyone was gonna listen, but he was gonna put on his little show and, and uh, interview people. And he's really, you know, he's good at interviewing. And uh, and that was it. But no one knew how he was gonna monetize, but he just did it because he, you know, he was putting, putting himself out there and eventually that podcast and his is one of the, one of the most successful podcasts out there. It's always in like the top five on apple. Yeah.

Phil (12:29):

He interviewed Barack Obama.

Michael (12:30):

Yeah. In his garage, in his garage President, The President

Phil (12:34):

Garage, The President of the United States came here and went to someone's garage to be on a podcast.

Michael (12:39):

Yeah. And because that podcast blew up, uh, Marc his, that reignited his comedy career and it got him a chance to get a, a TV show on IFC. That was the one we ran called Maron. And because that show kind of did really well, it got him on Glow. And then because of Glow, he gots all these other opportunities. Yeah. But it's not because he was begging Hollywood, let me in, he's like, screw it. I'm doing, I'm making something worthwhile and I will build an audience that way.

Phil (13:06):

Well, it summed up as he provided so much value people couldn't ignore it.

Michael (13:10):

Yeah. Right. And he did right. He just created on his owning, but he made it is creation good. The same, another example, um, were Rhett & Link. So re link where these two guys, we ran their show, which you worked on, uh, uh, they had a show on YouTube Red and it was a sitcom, but they're not com they're not TV writers. So they needed to have, uh, they created this show, but they needed to showrunners to actually write the episodes and kind of do all that work. And so they hired me, my partner to run their show, but who I who's written link. These are just two guys out in, I think from North Carolina, they just like, they were just two, no ones who started a YouTube channel. Um, and that was it. They did. And it, this is before YouTube was really a big thing.

Michael (13:51):

They just started putting up these shows and they, and they, these their, so they have good chemistry and they just kind of do wacky things. They would sit in a giant vat of oatmeal and do kind of like kind of all little mini contests with each other. And they had good chemistry and that show kind of blew up and became so big on YouTube that YouTube said to them, Hey, you guys are amazing. Uh, we'll give you your own TV show. And, but it wasn't like they weren't be, they didn't be YouTube. They just did their own thing. And Hollywood came to them and there's so many instances of Hollywood instead of people begging, you know, please Hollywood, let me in. They create something so amazing that Hollywood comes to them.

Phil (14:30):

Yeah. I think you could look at Joe Rogan. I think you could look at most of these people. I mean, you can split it off and it goes back to what we talked about in another podcast about "nicheing down: and finding your niche and owning that. Like, that's really how you break through these things. Those guys were, are advertisers, marketers. Yeah. And they, they leveraged that medium to make fake commercials. They do free commercials for businesses and they're so wild that's how they broke through on YouTube early on.

Michael (14:55):

Yeah. Because they were doing, no one was paying 'em to do this. No. Right. They just did it on their own. There's a woman over who I discovered at the beginning of the pandemic named Sarah Cooper. And I, I found her on, I think Twitter, but she was probably on all the platforms. And she would just, basically, she was a struggling actor, comedic actor who could not get arrested. She couldn't get anything, any kind of work. And so she'd says, screw it. And so she would basically take these speeches that Trump would make and kind of lip sync it. But wasn't, she was doing more than lip sync and she was adding, uh, her own personal touches and making it funny and doing things in the background and her funny facial expressions really plus it. So it wasn't just like standard, uh, lip syncing. She really, she put a lot of craft into it and because these things were so good, it was like, she was... You know, everyone had a noticer you, you could not watch this and think, wow. Like it was amazing her skill and her talent that she brought to it. And because of that, she, she became so big that Hollywood came her and gave her a Netflix special. And then they gave her, I think it was a show on CBS, a pilot that I didn't think I got to air, but she got all these opportunities, uh, because she just was like, screw it. I'm gonna be the master of my own domain here. I'm gonna, I'm gonna do it myself. Yeah.

Phil (16:06):

Yeah. It's seizing the opportunity. The old saying, "fortune favors the bold."

Michael (16:10):

Yeah. Creating an opportunity. And there's so many people like that. Another woman, Blaire Erskine, I think, I think that's how I pronounce her name. And I discovered her on, uh, on, uh, she would make these kind of funny, uh, videos on Twitter and they, but they were so good that that got discovered. Eventually. I think she's now a, uh, a writer on Kimel like, that's how she broke in. And she was not anyone she's like, screw it. I'm gonna do it myself. But it was good. Content was good.

Michael (16:37):

Hi guys, Michael Jamen here. I wanted to take a break from talking and talk just a little bit more. I think a lot of you guys are getting bad advice on the internet. I know this because I'm getting tagged. One guy tagged me with this. He said, "I heard from a script reader in the industry." And I was like, wait, what?

Michael (16:56):

Hold on, stop. My head blew up. I blacked out. And when I finally came to, I was like, listen, dude, there are no script readers in the industry by definition. These are people on the outside of the industry. They work part-time. They give their right arm to be in the industry. And instead they're giving you advice on what to do and you're for this. I mean, that just made me nuts, man. These people are unqualified to give my dog advice. And by the way, her script is, is coming along quite nicely. And oh, and I'm not done. Another thing when I work with TV writers who are new on, on writing staffs, a lot of these guys flame out after 13 episodes. So they get this big break. They finally get in and then they flame out because they don't know what is expected of them on the job. And that's sad because you know, it's not gonna happen again. So to fight all this, to flush all this bad stuff outta your head, I post daily tips on social media. You can find me on Instagram and TikTok and Facebook @MichaelJaminWriter. If you don't have time, two minutes a day to devote towards improving your craft guys, it's not gonna happen. Let's just be honest. So go find me, make it happen. All right. Now, back to my previous rant.

Phil (18:02):

So let's say that you're a writer and you're not like an on camera talent. You don't necessarily care to put yourself out there. That way. There might be some trepidation, you know, for me, I have, um, uh, an agent and I get auditions all the time and I have to self tape and I get just tremendous anxiety every time I have to be in front of the camera. Yeah. You know, it's just something I'm working through. And I, and I do it and I force myself to do those things because it's something I want to do. Um, but let's say I'm not, let's say that. I'm just, you know, someone who wants to rise up through a traditional route and let's say I'm a PA, right. What kinds of things do you think make a PA stand out to forge that path or create their own path?

Michael (18:41):

You know, we... we've talked... you're I think an excellent example of this, because you always say yes. When someone has a question or a problem. Yes, I will fix it. I will take care of it. No, relax, it's done already. It's already done relax. And so there are a number of instances I can think of you where, especially when it comes to tech, when it comes to something computer-related, because you would know so much about that. If a writer is having a problem with their comp, like you will show up, I I'll fix that for you. I will take care of, and you'll, I maybe you'll, you'll expand on, on that a little bit more, but, um, it's offering, what else do you offer? So even if it's not writing stuff, you offer these other skills that you have and you offer them freely. And because of that, you endear, you endear yourself to people and people wanna help you in exchange for that.

Phil (19:23):

Yeah. And I, and I think that it's an important note here, too, that when I do that, it is sincere that I just want to help. I am not doing it. It with any expectation that something is gonna come from it, right. It is that I understand that the best way for me to stick around is to be so valuable that I am invaluable. I, I, right. I, they want me around because I solve so many headaches for them.

Michael (19:46):

And you weren't charge you weren't you weren't saying, Hey, this is outside of my pay grade. I should get paid extra for this. You're like, no, I will gladly do it.

Phil (19:53):

Yeah. Yeah. Because, you know, I view it this way. Like, I'm not a member of a union. There are no union rules dictating what I can and can't do. And so I have opportunity now to over serve people.

Michael (20:05):

Let me, let me jump in here, Phil, cuz a lot of people don't know how you and I met. So we we've known each other probably since maybe 2010 or so.

Phil (20:14):

10, 10. Yeah, probably 10 or 11 somewhere there.

Michael (20:15):

So you were a stranger to me and my wife has a business, an online, uh, she sells, she, she manufactures girls dresses called TwirlyGirl. And so she at the time needed to build a website. She found a company that was gonna build a website. It was kind of a custom made site. It was, we found this place that over pro almost and underdelivered and uh, and Phil was working there. And uh, maybe I don't wanna tell a story wrong, but this is how I remember it is Cynthia, my wife was really kind of distraught was like, well, we paid all this money and you're not giving us what we want. And, and you got at some point, I don't know how you got on the phone.

Phil (20:49):

You were, I can tell you how so I was in sales at that company at the time. And I kind of saw the writing on the wall that they were gonna downsize my department and I didn't want to be there. What I wanted to do was work with the guy who was teaching all the things I was selling and he ran the other department or the account management department. So I went in and applied for a position there. I got hired and they transitioned me to account management. And your account, your wife's account was the first account I was handed. And they were like, we're giving you this account, do whatever you need to, to make this person happy because the sales rep oversold them to like, to a, a far extent promised way too much. Right. And so that's how I got on the phone with Cynthia.

Michael (21:32):

And then from what I remember, we were pretty and you're like, listen, I can't, uh, and this, you were overpromised and underdelivered. I'm gonna fix this as best as I can on my own, on my own dime. That's how I remember it. I will do whatever it takes. And because I just feel bad. I wanna make this right for you.

Phil (21:51):

Yeah. It, it ultimately ended up being some nights and weekends. And you know, I remember one experience where I got a call from your wife and she was in tears because she had accidentally deleted like a fat chunk of your website. Right. And I was actually up at Sundance where I was volunteering, cuz that's how I was in the industry at the time. Right. I just needed to be involved somehow. And I come down off the mountain and I've got this voicemail from Cynthia and I call her back and she's literally in tears cuz she thinks she has just deleted half of her website. Yeah, I remember that. And I was, and I was like, I was like, I promise you, like, we're gonna figure this out. I don't know what we can do, but let me see what we can do. And so, because I took the same approach, at work too where I would go in to the engineering department and I would say, what do you need from me as a sales rep to make your job easier? And then as an account manager, what do you, what do you need me to get you so that you can be as efficient as possible? I called one of the engineers on a weekend and I said, "Hey look, this client has made this mistake. Do we have any old versions?" And he was so ingratiated to me that he got in on his time on a Saturday night at like 10 o'clock at night, found the old version of the site and restored over the weekend.

Michael (23:01):

For her. Right. And so, and that, and you were a hero and you fixed it right away because of, and so because of that, now my wife felt indebted to you because you had done this great thing, you know, and you made her stop crying in this.

Phil (23:13):

At the same point, that to be clear to everybody listening, I have no idea who Cynthia is. Right. I have never talked to Michael at this point. Right. I just know here's someone who was sold a bill of goods that they, we couldn't honor. And I needed to do anything I could to feel ethically okay about this.

Michael (23:29):

Right. And so Cynthia says over the next couple weeks or whatever, she's talking with you and you somehow the conversation turns to what you want. You wanna become a TV or a screenwriter.

Phil (23:39):

It was actually, she's like, Hey my, my husband, Michael's gonna get on while he waits, um, for his next show to start. And I was like, oh, show. She's like, oh yeah, he's gonna be running Marc Maron's new show. Right. And I was like, okay. And that's when things kind of clicked. And so we ended the call and I Googled her name and an IMDB page shows up and I was like, oh, she was tree flower on angry beavers, which I watched. And she was on Admiral monsters and you was on friends. And then I Googled you. And I was like, oh my gosh, he is a writer. And then that's, that's how I approached it was on the next call. Right?

Michael (24:13):

Because you, we owed you so much. Cynthia's like, no, oh my husband, he's happy to help you be more than happy to talk to you about TV and screenwriting and all that stuff. And because of that, because of what you had done, you're attitude, which was, let me give, give, give, now we feel indebted to you and we wanna help you back. And that's how you and I, Mel met. And that's how you ultimately broke into the business. Cause I, I wound up getting you, uh, jobs on two of the shows that I was on. Yep. Right? Yep. Yep. And that's how you got it. And it wasn't because you asked for you didn't beg me, you didn't ask me for anything you gave first and I returned. Yeah.

Phil (24:47):

And, and you know, I'm, I, I am grateful for that. Again, none of that comes from a place of you owe me because I did. Right. Right. Look what I've done for you. It's simply what can I do? And to that same point on that first show where I was a, a PA I was day playing as I've talked about on other episodes. And they ultimately brought me in to be the office PA and I did the same thing. I said, what skill sets do I have to serve the people above me? Like how can I go in this extra time? And I approach it from this perspective, again, like I'm not in a union, there's no one dictating what I can and can't do. And so ultimately I look at it as I have sold 12 hours of my day to these people. Like, I have sold my time. They own me for 12 hours. So what can I do in the next 12 hours to be so productive that they want to keep me around? And I still get my bosses from that first job from Rhett & Link. They call me five years later and they offer me things. Right. Hey, and it's like, Hey, my buddy asked me if I know someone who wants to have this job, no experience to, they're willing to train. I thought of you immediately. Right, right. That kind of stuff. Yeah.

Michael (25:52):

Doors open that way. Right.

Phil (25:53):

Yeah. And so, you know, as I thought a lot about this, and we talked about this in your, in your private group, in your course, um, recently, but there's some questions that I think of, and I would encourage anyone in this situation to go through. So what can I do to serve this person? Like whoever it is, like, whether it's, you know, Carrie Clifford, who's a writer on her on Tacoma, FD. Like she loves tuna. She absolutely loves tuna, but she's also very picky about her tuna. And so I literally kept a whiteboard list of her favorite tuna places. So whenever I'd go around to get lunch, if it was her day to decide, I would remind her which place she liked her tuna from. Right, right. Right.

Michael (26:28):

Little things. Right.

Phil (26:29):

Yeah. Like one of the writers, like these very specific smoked, um, pistachios from Whole Foods. So I would go outta my way to pick those up for him so that he had something he liked in the room. Yeah. And it's not, it's not kissing butt, but it's not sucking up it's again, how can I serve this person? Right. Yeah. Because.

Michael (26:47):

Yeah. Yeah. And that comes, that comes and, and that exactly that comes, it helps it's it's in your own best interest to, to do stuff like that. Right. But people don't think of it like that. They just don't.

Phil (26:57):

They think of it as it seems like a lot of people think of it as how I being taken advantage of,

Michael (27:02):

Or they think advantage of me, or it's also like, what can you do for me? I, I, I need you to help me, help me break into Hollywood, help me, help me, help me instead of the other way around, which is, let me help you.

Phil (27:13):

Yeah. And so, to, to answer that question, the next thing I would ask myself is what are my unique skill sets, right? What, what are my hobbies, passions, and, and what do I have? That's valuable to my chain of command, like thinking up the chain of command, whether it's, you know, I'm the writer's PA and I report to the script coordinator, how can I make the script coordinator's job easier? Mm-hmm <affirmative> how can I do this? And, and I think this mindset a really good way to think about this. I had the opportunity to speak at, uh, a business college a couple years ago. And I sat in, in the class, they just said, I did a presentation for some friends of mine, about a business that I was managing at the time. And the professor said, the best thing you can ask in an interview is how can I relieve a burden, this, a burden off of your shoulder?

Phil (27:59):

What burdens can I relieve from your shoulders? Right. And it seemed a very formal way to think about it. But if you approach everyone above you with that mindset, like, what burdens do you have? Like, how can I help carry some of the weight here? They will gladly give that to you. Yeah. Because it's, and it catches people off guard too, because it's not likely. And so here's just an example of that. So for a wrap gift for season three of Tacoma, um, we got the idea of doing a yearbook. Well, I happened to be on the yearbook staff for two years in my high school. Like, and that I graduated in 2004. Right, so this was 2002, three and four that I was on the staff. I don't remember technically how to use InDesign. I played a little bit with it since, but it came up and I was volunt-told I had to do this.

Phil (28:44):

And someone was like phone it in, just get a template offline. And there was a very low expectation of this, but what I said is if I'm gonna do this, just let me do it. Right. So I literally, we set up a photo booth. I brought my camera, I took photos of everyone on the staff. We had COVID there monitoring to make sure we were safe. I went through, I photo edited every single one of those. I built the design and the layout inside of InDesign. And I worked with, um, Cindy, our, our 2nd AD, who was taking photos of everyone, all season. And we built an actual hardbound yearbook that we gave to every member of the staff. Right. And it was something that, you know, the people who were in charge of building these gifts, like the production supervisor, the, you, the, the UPM the, uh, Production Office Coordinator, they were grateful that I went the extra mile because it took something and leveled it up. Yeah. Right. But furthermore, and I think this is another key aspect. I went and did extra work to find a place where I could go and save them money, which enabled them to give these really cool heated jackets to everybody. Right. If figure out one of those. Right. I did get one of those. We had the ability to upgrade that, to like a jacket with a heater in it, because I was able to save like three grand on the printing cost by doing this extra stuff.

Michael (29:58):

Right. Right. I didn't know that.

Phil (29:59):

Just little, little, little things that, you know, that you've, you know, acquired throughout life. They go a long way. Like I was listening to another podcast and there was another writer who said, she went in into an interview and she had done her research on IMDB. And she's like, oh, I didn't know you wrote on this show. I really liked that. And the writer's like, well, I actually didn't write on that. That's a mistake on my IMDB and writer was embarrassed. And then afterwards, she went and using her knowledge of IMDB pro fixed their listings, and then emailed them and say, Hey, I just wanna apologize for my mistake. I just wanna let you know, I took care of it for you. Right. And she got hired on that show because she was willing to go that extra mile. Yeah. And she solved a problem for her boss that wasn't even her boss yet. Yeah.

Michael (30:42):

Yeah. Isn't that great. Yeah. Yeah. People don't think like, most people don't think that way, but if you can get into that mindset, like doors will open.

Phil (30:50):

Yeah. And, and like another example, it's like little things. Like one of the Whowrunners came to me and said, Hey, I need to get 13 binders, three, three ring binders, one for every episode. And they're like, and I don't like the D ring, give me a, a full ring. I wrote down my notes. And then I went out and got them. And I, I didn't know what color he wanted. And so I came back and I said, uh, what color do you want? And he said, um, I think, I think he actually wanted a big binder at this time for just, uh, the notes. Um, later I, I got, I got a lot of binders. He really likes binders and highlighters. Yeah. But bold me, like I got these two binders and I was like, I didn't know which color he would want. I got three, I got two black and one white.

Phil (31:30):

And he came out and said, which color do you want? He said, uh, I don't know, black. And I had it ready. I pulled it out. And I already had all the separators, had everything ready and I gave it to him. And I remember he walked into the kitchen where you were, and I overheard him saying, "man, that guy is really good. Like he got it." And then you sang my praises to him. Yeah. But it like a little thing just, which is a stark difference in the previous PA who told him he couldn't have sushi when

Michael (31:53):

He wanted it. Yeah. Yeah. It's just do it with a smile and do just yeah. And all these doors open. Exactly. And so, yeah, I think it's a wonderful, that's not just a lesson for, or Hollywood. It's just a lesson for life, I think. Right.

Phil (32:06):

Yeah. And then to your point, which you talked to a lot of people about, it's like be nice to everyone because everyone knows everybody is a small town. Yeah. These things get around.

Michael (32:15):

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Cool. All right.

Phil (32:19):

So, well, any other thoughts about like path to break into Hollywood? I know you've got a lot of content or social media. You talk about like mail room, which, you know, people accuse of being like an eighties strategy, like yeah. But still works. I know friends, who've grown through the mail room to become agents. Yeah.

Michael (32:33):

And so like, so I, right. So I post, I try to post, I think I do so far daily posts on Instagram @MichaelJaminWriter. And I post about Hollywood, had a break into Hollywood. And so I did one post about, you know, working in a mail room and an agency and how that's a great way to break in. And then I got all these like trolls, I don't know if their trolls or just jerks or whatever. There's like, man, you know, you ever hear a email dude? I was like, well, how do parcels come? When do parcels come through email? Or do they get delivered somewhere? You know? So just jerks, just trying to like, I, I don't know, like, okay, with that attitude, with that attitude, you're never gonna get anywhere in life.

Phil (33:09):

Well, you've already, you've given up. Yeah. Right. If you're always looking at the negative you've you've given up on, you're not gonna make it. Yeah. Cause you've already decided you are right.

Michael (33:18):

You've already. Exactly. And it's, it's, self-fulfilling prophecy. There's one woman. I, I had to post and she posted about how Hollywood is an awful place. And uh, people were, she was a PA I, I mentioned it was this post about how to get a job as a PA. And she's like, uh, yeah, P I was a PA don't listen, this guy, I was a PA and people were mean to me. And they were obnoxious and rude and like, listen, I don't know what show she was on. Maybe they were, uh, maybe they were mean and rude to her. Okay. So go get a job at Starbucks. That's a job. That's easier to get. You'll make the same amount of money. And I guarantee you, people will be mean and rude to you. The customers will be mean and rude to you either way it's gonna happen.

Michael (33:53):

So why don't you do it in the area that you want advance in, in Hollywood? Like, what is your problem? Like, okay. People are mean that's life, man. So what do you wanna get your goal? And someone else had another comment and she was, you know, wow. All that. I think it was a woman, all that just to be for all that work and hard effort, just to be a PA, he was like, no, it's not to become a PA it's to become a writer or a producer or a director like PA this is just a temporary job. Yeah. It's all this work for this temporary stepping stone.

Phil (34:21):

Yeah. You know, I had a really good conversation because I've been a PA for six years or so now at this point, and I'm 30 gonna be 36 this year. And I have a wife and kids and, you know, it's, it, it's a grind and it can feel a little heavy.

Michael (34:34):

But in fairness, you you've had opportunities to do other production work, but you just don't want it cuz you want to stay in the screenwriting path.

Phil (34:41):

Correct. I have turned down post-production coordinator jobs. I've, I've done, I've done some other stuff. I was a post PA on a, on a film, like I've done other things. Right. But ultimately the, the niche I've carved for myself is writer. Cuz that's what I want to do. Right. And if other doors open beyond that, after producing directing and great, but right now my purpose plan is to be a writer. Right. Right. So, um, I lost my train of thought.

Michael (35:09):

Because I Interrupted you. But the point is that we were talking about how it's just, it's just a stepping stone and you've been doing PA for a while, but it's not because you have to it's cuz you want right. So,

Phil (35:16):

So I remember now, so I kind of bro, I kind of privately one night, we're shooting super late. Um, it's uh, Friday, we're going into a "Fraturday", which means you're shooting into Saturday morning. So your Friday, Saturday blend. Um, and I was like talking to one of my bosses about, you know, yeah man, I'd really love to get that next step. I just don't know how to approach it. And they said, well, what you have to understand is that people see hard work and they see loyalty and they see effort and they reward that and she said, it's important to know that. Yeah. You're not asking for things, but there will be a time when you get an ask. And when that ask comes, make sure you ask for it. You have to put yourself out there. Yeah. But in general you get the ask because you're not asking.

Phil (35:55):

And I was like, oh, like, and, and it may not seem like it, but people reward hard workers because, and, and I think the word she said is we recognize what we have with you. And I was like, oh, that's a very kind compliment. But I think it goes back to this mindset of how can I cert and I'm by far not the only person, the production secretary on our show and the other office PA the exact same attitude to the point that our boss on our last day, when we wrapped and we were closing up the stages, she said, I would be happy to work with you any other time on any other show, if you, any of you need jobs, please let me know. Yeah. That's great. Cause, cause we all had that attitude. Yeah. And it made it easier because we were all serving each other too. Yeah. Yeah, it does. So good. We talked a lot. We got a lot of stuff in this. This was an informative episode. I think

Phil (36:56):

This has been an episode of Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing leaving a review, and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. If you're looking to support yourself, I encourage you to consider investing in Michael's screenwriting course at MichaelJamin.com/course. I've known Michael for over a decade. And in the past seven years, I've begged him to put something together. During the global COVID-19 pandemic. Michael had time. And I have to say, I wish I'd had this course 10 years ago. As someone who has personally invested in most online courses, earned a bachelor's degree, and actively studied screenwriting for over a decade, this course has been more valuable to me than most of the effort I've put in because it focuses on something no one else teaches: story. In his course, Michael pulls back the curtain and shows you exactly what the pros do in a writer's room and that knowledge has made all the difference for me. And I know it will for you too. You can find more information at MichaelJamin.com/course for free daily screenwriting tips. Follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

2021-12-22
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Bonus - Merry Jewish Christmas

In this bonus episode, Michael Jamin shares a live reading of Merry Jewish Christmas, an essay from Michael's upcoming book A Paper Orchestra.

Show Notes

Michael's Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Learn More About A Paper Orchestra - https://michaeljamin.com/story

Michael: (00:00)

Hi, it's Michael Jamin. We have a bonus podcast episode for you today. Uh, as many of you know, I'm working on a collection of personal essays called a paper orchestra, and I was recently invited to read one of them aloud at a public event called strong words. And so the story I wrote and read is called Merry Jewish Christmas. I hope you enjoy it. You're listening to screenwriters need to hear this for, with Michael Jamin

Michael: (00:27)

Story called, uh, Mary Jewish Christmas. And it's AER from my upcoming book, a paper orchestra growing up Jewish. I learned early on that Christmas was the greatest party I'd never be invited to. There were would be no Santa coming down. My chimney, no chestnuts. Roasting on an open fire, no house wrapped in twinkling lights. They made Christmas tantalizing. no wonder Joseph and Mary were camped out of the neighbor's lawn. They were hoping to get a ticket inside. Sadly, the Christmas rules were very clear. No Jews. Yeah. The best I could do was hunker down until January 1st. When baby new year would shove baby Jesus out of the way, a baby fight. That's what I was.

Michael: (01:15)

As a child, I recall going to the supermarket where a have yourself, a very Merry Christmas playing on a loudspeaker. Oh, that heartbreakingly beautiful song. My people were already predisposed to depression. Do we really need this as well? a chef with a pension for cookie-based architecture, the glorious gingerbread house, the size of a fire hydrant with its gumdrop tile, roof, and frosting frosted windows. This wasn't a mere representation of Christmas. It was Christmas itself. I wanted to live in it. if only I could shrink down to the size of a green army man and crawl inside. I'd barricade the door by licking peppermints together, sticking like cement blocks. Anyone who dared poked their head in would get a sharpened candy, came to the, a warning to any would-be intruder that this Christmas Jew was here to stay.

Michael: (02:08)

I wasn't allowed to linger as my mother was in a hurry to ingredients for our upcoming holiday dinner comic grabbed and pulled me to the Jewish culinary destination, the potato band I'm making LACAs in my mother. And she carefully hand-selected each bland lifeless rock that would roll downhill into our stomachs. somewhere along the way, my ancestors had managed to take a perfectly good breakfast. The pancake removes the delicious doughy part and replace it with an edible tube or fried and grease. And we're gonna top them with apple sauce sheet, half of the added apple sauce. What am I? 80 frosty the snowman standing on the checkout aisle. Wasn't making me any less jealous with his corn car pipe and his eyes of coal. He was scrappy and delightful. what religion wouldn't wanna claim him for our own is frosty Christian.

Michael: (03:14)

I asked my mother, are you kidding me? He probably dries a Camaro. And she went back to belt to be honest, this whole Hanukah thing needed rethinking. Part of the problem is that you couldn't hype its arrival because it never felt on the same day. The Jewish calendar is lunar. Not solar. Sometimes Hanukah would land near Christmas. Other times it came shockingly early. Hey, did you know Hanukah falls on November 30th this year, November over sake. as it stood, I'd have to admire Christmas from afar until one Eve on foggy Christmas Eve. When I managed to experience Christmas as an insider, it happened while on vacation in the Amish country, Pennsylvania. It was my father's idea to introduce us to culture instead of taking us someplace good, like Disney world we checked in at a nearby resort. That was the vacation spot in 1958 once upscale and chic, the hotel had fall into disrepair. Yes, a fire roared in the lobby, but I can only imagine it was fueled by a mountain of status and safety violations. luckily, whatever money they saved in sprinkler upgrades that might save our lives was spent on Christmas decorations. That brought wonder to my Hebrew eyes flex of silver and gold were splayed everywhere, and they had a name for it. Tin learned other words too. The aging pianist in the lobby sang of magical creatures that were half reptile and half bird called turtles. They sounded tank .

Michael: (05:06)

There was a log called a U and an a bowl. There was a knock the pleasure was insane. On Christmas morning, we awoke to find fresh snowfall on the ground. Just let the movies promised my sister and I got quickly dressed and raced downstairs to so the Christmas tree like you're supposed to and they're handing out presents to a hoard of waiting. Children was a big man himself. Jo Saint Nick, go get one urge my mother, but we're Jewish he doesn't know that he's probably drunk go before my mother nudged me. I approached just as Santa was being handed a fresh stack of presence from one of the elves who I now recognized as our bus boy from last night's dinner. I said nothing though. We were both keeping secrets. admittedly, I took pleasure receiving a present from Santa Claus and the fact that I might be depriving a deserving Christian child, just because he was late getting to the lobby.

Michael: (06:06)

Didn't bother me in the slightest . Did that make me a bad person or had I already crossed that line? When I told Santa my name is Tim, I rushed to a quiet part of the lobby to unwrap my Christmas bounty. I was certain mine contained the perfect gift. The moment before unwrapping any gift is always magical because that's when the present is at its highest potential. It could be anything you wanted it to be. I suppose the same could be said about a Jewish child out to experience Christmas for the first time. Just imagine. And now imagine my disappointment. When I discovered what lie beneath the wrapping, it was a bargain rack board game that the hotel picked up at that thrift store. It was like Santa had known all along and he knifed me right in the Jewish gut.

Michael: (06:58)

And although I don't recall the exact name of this board game for the sake of things, let's just call it abject disappointment by Parker brothers. . I had betrayed my heritage by pretending to be Christian and for what a lousy board game to this day, Christmas morning holds an unsettling stillness for me when most of the population is inside unwrapping presents and spreading good cheer. We Jews wander the city, just like chase Joseph and Mary searching for a destination that will take us in. Usually it's a Chinese restaurant. So that's exactly what Cynthia and I did with our daughters. On Christmas day, it's strange to have a restaurant almost entirely to yourself. Even if you're with someone there's a loneliness to it, you can hear it in the silence. At least that's how I felt when our Mohu vegetables arrived. We sat at the window tables, staring outside where not even a mouse was stirring and closer to the door was an older couple who had grappled with a similar feeling, but ordered the noodles instead for a moment, the woman and I made eye contact on any other day, we may have both looked away, but this was Christmas, even though we were strangers, I think we wanted to share a feeling of connection or at least acknowledge our sense of isolation.

Michael: (08:28)

She gave me a smile that said, eh, what are you gonna do? When our meal was over, I ordered a serving of moon cake. Not much just a little sweetness to help enjoy the day as I ushered my family out the door. I set it down on the women's table, Merry Jewish Christmas. I said Merry Jewish Christmas

Michael: (08:55)

To you too.

Michael: (09:01)

Hi, it's Michael. Thank you so much for listening. I hope you enjoyed that story again. It's from my upcoming collection of personal essays called a paper orchestra. It's, uh, gonna be published soon and I hope you will consider joining my newsletter so that when it's you can go get it. I'm not gonna spam you. I'm not gonna sell you a bunch of stuff. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. It's just to be notified of my public events and, and things that I'm working on. So to sign up, just go to MichaelJamin.com/story, enter your email address. And again, I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna sell it or trade it or do all this nasty stuff your email's safe with me. All right. Thank you so much for considering it and, uh, Merry Jewish Christmas.

2021-12-19
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007 - How Do TV Writer's Rooms Work?

Michael & Phil tackle the subject of writer's rooms, how writer's staffs are organized, and the responsibilities of individual writers at each level. Learn more about the different jobs in a TV writer's room and some interesting ways to break-in.

Michael's Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Jim Serpico, EP of Maron - https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0785351/

Tom Sellitti, EP of Maron - https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0783418/

Javier Grillo-Marxuach Website - http://okbjgm.weebly.com/

Netflix in Albuquerque - https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-05-03/why-hollywood-is-moving-to-albuquerque

?Shit My Dad Says? Twitter Show - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1612578/

Michael: (00:00)

The next step below, that would be writer's PA and that stands for a production assistant. So the writer's PA usually, usually writers are veal. We are kept hostage in a, in a writer's room like for hours and hours and hours, you don't leave, but they bring you lunch. And when they bring you lunch, that person who is bringing you lunch is a hero because they're feeding you and you, you know, so that the writer's PAs is usually the one who goes out. On a running brings you lunch.

Michael: (00:32)

Welcome back everybody today. We're going to be talking about various creative jobs in Hollywood, and we're going to probably start, I think, with, with the writer's room. Cause there's a lot of myths that we're going to expose. I think it's a lot of people have misconceptions about how writer's rooms, um, you know, how they actually work. I fell.

Phil: (00:48)

Yeah. And, and, you know, to, to your point, I think there are a lot of people who don't even understand things like what a showrunner is or what the difference between a co-producer, producer, a story editor, all these different writer's terms. I once had a friend mentioned to me, she's a nurse. She wanted to be an actress. And she's just like, you know, when you watch a TV show and you see all the credits that they're getting that say producer, they're all just writers. And she said it like, it was condescending a little, this is like just writers, like, Okay.

Michael: (01:13)

She's right, unfortunately. Um, but yeah, so a showrunner is the boss and a TV show in a movie. Uh, the director is Boston. A TV show that the showrunner is the boss. The showrunner is the head writer. Usually the showrunners, the creator of the show, the person who sold it, but not always and often not always the case. So, um, a number of times my partner would have been showrunners and we didn't create that show where the hired hands, because we have experience and were brought on to run the writer's room and the writer's room can consist of, we've been on show, usually around eight writers, let's say, but we've been on shows where we've had as few as four writers. And when we were on King of the Hill, that was Maron. When we were on King of the Hill, uh, there were about 20, at least 20 writers it was a huge writing staff.

Michael: (02:00)

So there's, there's that. And then all the writers in the writer's room compose the writing staff, but there certainly there are different levels to, to writers. So the showrunner again is the boss, the showrunner decides what kind of stories to tell and how to tell them. And some people, I guess I can maybe I'll get to the misconceptions first. Some people think that well, so where do you get these ideas from? Does the network just tell you what stories they want to have? And no, cause there's no one at the network who knows how to do that. If they did, they'd be writers there, that's not their job. Right. They, you know, so we pitched them our ideas, but we come up with the ideas. We say, we're going to do an episode about X, blah, blah, blah. And then that works. Does that sounds good?

Michael: (02:39)

Go ahead and do it. And so we have to come up with the ideas and usually it's the writing staff that will pitch the ideas to the showrunner and the showrunner and say, okay, I like that one. Let's talk about that one. Let's turn that. Let's see if we can turn that into an episode or I like the beginning, but not the middle, you know? And so let's stretch it out. Is that that's how do we break that into a story? And another myth I heard all the time, well, years ago it was like, oh, what character? I was around. It came when I was on King of the Hill. They'd say, what character do you write for as if like every writer was responsible for one character's voice. And there are 20 of us and king of the hill. I don't know how many, there were like five characters or whatever, or maybe more there's cause there's periphery characters.

Michael: (03:16)

But so no. And I used to tell people, I used to write for the dog, the dog, obviously didn't talk or have any lines, but that's when I said, but you write for all the cat, your job is to you get an episode and you write all the characters and that episode. And that's how, that's how it works. And they're so the staff, the writing staff is composed of one or two showrunners usually. And then there's certain levels of writers. So the newest baby writer is called a staff writer. That's the person with no experience. They just broke into Hollywood. Usually, usually they're a staff writer then above them. They, they say they work for a year. They get a promotion. Now they're called a Story Editor. And you'll see that at the end of the credits off. And you see the story that, or it gets a credit.

Phil: (03:57)

Let me ask this question, because this is something that came up on another podcast. We did, you made a reference that all of these titles that you're probably going to go through right here, that the next year. So are you a staff writer, your first year writing and then you bump a story editor usually, or you're so bad that you could stay staff writer. Is that a chance or do you just lose your job at that point?

Michael: (04:20)

Sometimes? Yeah. You could lose your job if you're no good. Sometimes you'll be a staff writer on the on one year and then the show gets canceled and then you get another job in a different show and they make you repeat your staff writer. They say, yeah, you're not getting the bump because we don't have a budget.

Phil: (04:34)

The bump budget-based. I imagine usually.

Michael: (04:37)

Yeah. I don't know if too many people who had a repeat staff it's like repeating your first year of college, I guess. Right.

Phil: (04:45)

I got held back in preschool by the way. So

Michael: (04:47)

Yeah. Well, I can tell it's obvious when I talk to you.

Phil: (04:49)

Yeah. The adults don't set your kids in preschool in the middle of the year, guys. They just look stupid when all their friends move on.

Michael: (04:55)

For the rest of the let's talk about it. Um, so then after a story editor to become Executive Story Editor back in the sixties, the Executive Story Editor, or was they, that was the boss I'm executive story editor mean that was basically being called the showrunner, but these titles have changed over the years. And so executive story at a restorator is at one point it was like the most important person. And now it's one of the least important people on the staff. Um, I remember when I, well, I remember when I had, I had a writing teacher and he was, he like, he wrote on, uh, uh, Get Smart and Andy Griffith Show and all those great shows and Twilight Zone, the original Twilight Zone and all that. And he used to say that you just need to, you got to impress the story. It, the story editors that want to makes all the decisions. And, and this is back in like, you know, the nineties, I was like my old man, what are you talking about? The Story Editors at title has long since changed.

Phil: (05:47)

Uh, so I was going to ask, so my understanding here is that this changed because cause you're about to get into the producer titles, right? Yeah. So my understanding is that this changed because the story, the writing credit positions pay specific portions of their money into the WGA funds, but the producorial fees you get do not.

Michael: (06:10)

Yeah separately.

Phil: (06:10)

And the benefit to the, to the network and the studios is they don't have to match percentages of those funds, to the Writers Guild stuff .

Michael: (06:19)

To your health and pension. Right. It's separate. Exactly.

Phil: (06:23)

Where it changes, like how do we get these people and entice them to do this thing with us without having all the other expensive paying percentages of their, their fees?

Michael: (06:31)

Yeah. We'll give them a fancy title. Yeah. That'll tide them over there. Stupid. Um, so yeah, so there's executives. So is it okay to repeat Staff Writer, Story Editor, Executive Story Editor, then you get Co-Producer and then you become Producer and then you're like, wow, Producer, it's really just another level for a writer. Then you get, uh, after Producer becomes Supervising Producer, then Co-Executive Producer, which often means the number two, the number two writer, the like the number two in command and then Executive Producer. And so in sometimes there's also another title of Consulting Producer, which is just a fancy way of paying you even less money. Got it. So, but those are all just writers and there's very, you know, the producer aspect of those jobs are very limited. So when you're executive producer, you have, you do have many other Producer titles, like your responsibilities, you'll be responsible for casting or post-production... Supervising post production, or maybe editing stuff like that. The Co-Executive Producer doesn't often do those things, but is capable of doing those things.

Phil: (07:33)

And that's what you currently are on the show.

Michael: (07:36)

On Tacoma FD I'm a Co-Executive Producer. Right. But, but you know, in the past I've been Executive Producer on other shows. So, uh, you know, the difference in money there's a lot its not that much. Well, the Co-Exec... Co-Executive Producer that gets a good salary without all the stress of being executive producer. It's a good job to it's really the best job to have is a co-executive producer because he made good money, but you don't have all the stress of the boss.

Phil: (07:59)

Got it. So that's what to aspire to is not be the showrunner, but just be a co you'd be.

Michael: (08:03)

I remember years ago when I was, you know, thinking before I became a Showrunner, I was like, man, if I were a show runner, I'd do things different, do things better. And then, you know, cause you always think your bosses know what you're doing, they're they're doing. And then, then you become the boss and you're like, Ugh, I just wish I was a Co-Executive Producer.

Phil: (08:21)

Yeah. You always wish you had the less responsibility, the more, you know, the more, you know, you don't know. Right? Yeah.

Michael: (08:26)

So, but then, you know, those jobs basically at my level, like those, the two jobs I get, you need to be the boss or the second in command. So there's, I have to take whatever, whatever comes.

Phil: (08:36)

Now there is another executive producer on the show and that's typically the, basically the guy in charge of, or the woman, the person in charge of making sure that the show is happening from an actual producorial perspective. Right? So not always. So the production. So for example, to come at di we had a production company running things and the owner of that company had the title of EP as well. And that shows up in the credits and that person can be not a writer.

Michael: (09:03)

And I believe, I believe one of the, uh, managers, David Miner, I believe he's also executive to

Phil: (09:09)

Both of, both of the guys managers are on our show. They have EP credits because they brought the show to the network and said, we think you should buy this show.

Michael: (09:19)

Yeah. They help make it. They help sell it. They help make it possible. Yeah. But on other shows, I've worked on this. There's really only there aren't too many co uh, Executive Producers is their Showrunner and maybe no other executive producers, or maybe there's an actor who is so powerful to help got the show me, they might be Executive Producer or maybe often if the show is, is sold through a pod, you have a production company, then they'll get, you know, like you're saying, they'll have a Executive Producer title. Uh, yeah. So some actually that's not really no. And I say that now that I think about it. Yeah. I've always, I've been on other shows where there, there are other executive not they're called non-writing Executive Producers. So when I was on Maron, for example, uh, Jim Serpico, Tom Silletti, they were non-writing Executive Producers. They helps sell the show and their creative involvement in the show. It really depends on what their, what they have time for. Sometimes they're very involved in, sometimes they're not very involved at all.

Phil: (10:12)

Yeah. Okay. So that's an interesting note. I think, so those people have the same way now from an Office PA perspective. So during production, we still saved those people parking spots, and we understood who they were. And we made sure that they were included on every single email, every single notice that went out, anything that involved creative decisions, they were invited to all meetings. And it was always an understanding they could show up at any time, but also an expectation that they probably weren't going to show up. And so it's an interesting thing like, or, you know, one season of a show, I worked on the, one of these non writing Executive Producers showed up and our Office Production Coordinator didn't know who they were and it, but the secretary did luckily. So they were able to save that situation or it probably would have been a really, you know, egg on the face situation.

Michael: (11:00)

Yeah. Because sometimes they don't show up. Right. The homes that parking spot is empty all year. Yeah. But you know, sometimes they do show up cause they, yeah. So those are all, those are all creative jobs. So when you see at the front of a TV show, all those producers, like what are all these producers? Most of them are writers. And then some producers, there was always a couple of, there's a Line Producer, he'll get he, or she will get a producer title. And they're in charge of kind of, uh, they're in charge of the, the money and the budget. If, for example, the show runner says, Hey, I want to shoot a show, um, in a submarine. And like, I bet, you know, how do you make that happen? Well, the line producer, their job is to figure out how to make that happen to either rent a submarine or get a soundstage that looks like a submarine or tell you what, that's just too expensive. You can have to shoot it in a rowboat.

Phil: (11:43)

Right. Right. Yeah. And then, so there's a Line Producer and then a Unit Production Manager or UPM. Yeah. But there are different jobs or they are, or they're at the same job because I see it both ways I've seen it separated or they're the same person does both. Yeah,

Michael: (11:57)

Yeah. Yeah. And I, yeah, that's exactly right. And I don't, I don't really know what the difference is. Job responses, uh, job responsibilities are between the two, because on the shows that I've worked on, they've mostly been the same person. So.

Phil: (12:09)

Yeah. It's, I think it's just a level of authority and responsibility. So UPM is typically making the decisions to make sure everything happens in the line producer. My understanding is basically in charge of the budget and making sure you're not blowing the budget every episode and you can get to the end of the road and they're like your accountant almost, I guess you could say as the showrunner. Right.

Michael: (12:27)

Um, but we still have accountants.

Phil: (12:28)

We all see cameras like a CPA. Like they're like the CPA who says, we're a business manager, Hey, you need to cut your expenses here because yeah. This thing coming down the road.

Michael: (12:36)

Yeah. Often they'll negotiate, they'll, there'll be dealing with the unions and they, they, uh, they make sure that the show, they make sure that the physical production of the show actually happens. Yeah.

Phil: (12:46)

So, so, so this brings up what we're discussing here might be considered "above the line". Yeah. Goes right. Yeah. And, um, you know, we recently had an interesting conversation with someone who did not like the title above the line and also

Michael: (12:59)

A derogatory

Phil: (13:01)

It's like, you know, the union negotiates those things. So your union is responsible for earning you those credits and signing what goes where yeah,

Michael: (13:10)

I think it's, I think actually it's just like where you appear on the call sheet. It's like, are you above this line or below this line? That was my understanding. It's like, and it's just, it's just the line, relax everybody you're on. It doesn't mean, you know, you deserve to die, you know? Right. It's just an, it's a, basically an accounting formality. Yeah. Right.

Phil: (13:29)

Yeah. Okay. But, but you do not have control over who does that? Just to clarify, because this person seemed to think that you, in your role as an Executive Producer, Showrunner have the ability to dictate through your use of language who gets called what? So people aren't offended.

Michael: (13:44)

Yeah, yeah. No, I, I walked into, you know, it's so strange. It's like I walk into these terminologies, these, these, the terminologies were decided before me. And, uh, and somebody has someone thought that they were just very offended by that. And I'm perpetuating some kind of, I don't know, egregious, uh, you know, offense in Hollywood.

Phil: (14:01)

And not to get like super into the weeds on this subject. But I do know, um, this season on Tacoma FD, either production company did require us to use gender neutral terminology for things. So this is like a term for like the Best Boy or Best Boy Grip or Best Boy Lighting. And now that's like Key Lighting Person and it's like a term, um, different things instead of form. And it was for a person. And so I understand those things, but when we're talking about literally anyone below the line is garbage and trash and we stop and use it, that's not exactly what's going on in this space.

Michael: (14:31)

No, those people are kind of important because they're writers the above the line. People like maybe we were the dreamers that, Hey, what if, and the other people, the ones who are doing it, so you can't just have dreamers on set. They don't that nothing will get done.

Phil: (14:43)

Yeah. Right. It's like, uh, I, I did hear an example on another show I worked on where they're like, they want us to have 50 people with the exact same haircut sitting in a restaurant. It's like, you don't understand the complexity of, of casting that the complexity of finding those people, the hair and makeup, the costs for extra pay. Like we got you 10 of those people not 50. Right, right. Yeah. So, so those are all the, so those are all the jobs that are just the ones that you've talked about. And those that basically to get into Hollywood, you have to start as a Staff Writer.

Michael: (15:16)

Hi guys, it's Michael Jamin. I wanted to take a break from talking and talk just a little bit more. I think a lot of you, people are getting bad advice on the internet. Many, you want to break into the industry as writers or directors or actors, and some of you are paying for this advice on the internet. It's just bad. And as a working TV writer and showrunner, this burns my butt. So my goal is to flush a lot of this bad stuff out of your head and replace it with stuff that's actually going to help you. So I post daily tips on social media, go follow me @MichaelJaminWriter. You can find me on Instagram and Facebook and TikToK. And let's be honest, if you don't have time, like just two minutes a day towards improving your craft, it's not going to happen. So go make it happen for you @MichaelJaminWriter. Okay. Now back to my previous rant.

Michael: (16:02)

And yes, then how do you start as a staff writer? There are entry-level jobs. So there's no assistant writers. People often say, well, I want to be an assistant writer on your show. It's like that doesn't exist. There are Writers Assistance. And those are the people who will sit in the writer's room and they sit at the keyboard and they literally, they usually either take notes or they type, as we, as the words go up on the, on a monitor, we're watching a screen. And so they actually type the script as we pitch lines. And so that's, um, it's, it's a kind of a high pressure job because you have to know the pro word processing program, like the back of your hand, but also you have to be a good speller because if you are not, people will make fun of you. And you know, everyone's staring at you while you do your job and like busting your balls.

Michael: (16:46)

Uh, you know, so it's a, it's a high pressure job. You have to have a good sense of humor about it. And so, but it's a great job to have because once you're in the writer's room and like, you will learn more as a Writer's Assistant than you would the tenures in film school because you're watching professional writers do their craft. So it's a wonderful, it's a great learning experience. And how do you get a Writer's Assistant job? Well, the next step below that would be Writers PA and essentially a production assistant. So the Writer's PA usually, usually writers are veal. We are kept hostage in a, in a writer's room like for hours and hours and hours. And you don't leave, but they bring you lunch. And when they bring you lunch, that person who's bringing you lunch is a hero because they're feeding you and you, you know, so that the Writer's PA is usually the one who goes out on a run and brings you lunch. This is before COVID of course, I don't know what goes, no one brings me food anymore. No one gives within six feet of me.

Phil: (17:39)

That's right. That's not in your family. Right.

Michael: (17:43)

Keep an arm, social distance kids. Um, so that's, Writer's PA and then kind of not, I wouldn't say below it, but Jason too, it would be regular PA or Set PA, which that PA works on the set. Another job would be Office PA. And that PA you know, the set PA might run errands, or it might block off the set when like, you know, when they're shooting an episode, the set PA will be on the perimeter. And you had, I'm telling you, you had this job for a while. And they're the ones who are, let's say you're shooting on New York City street. They're on the perimeter stopping traffic and people, you can't walk here. We're shooting.

Phil: (18:14)

Yeah, no. And let me point out here, the, our Locations Guy, when I said that I was locking down traffic interjecting and said, you are not allowed to do that. That is illegal. The police lock down traffic. You were there to wrangle pedestrians.

Michael: (18:29)

Whoa,

Phil: (18:29)

Interesting. Right. Because we do not have the legal authority to stop traffic, but on a closed set, that was my first day of PA work was literally standing in the hot sun out in the middle of Southern California telling cars when to drive into the scene. Yeah. But it was a closed set. And I was, I was literally doing that. And you

Michael: (18:50)

Had, you had your piece in a headsets

Phil: (18:54)

[inaudible] or there, they literally call it background and you tell them to move. Yeah. Right. You

Michael: (18:58)

Tell them that would be a set. That's one of the responsibilities of a set PA.

Phil: (19:02)

Yeah. They're responsible for getting information to everyone. Um, locking down, set for a sound. It's another very common thing where you literally post up in a doorway and you hold stop people from coming in and out because they're shooting that direction and you don't want to walk through set, like one of the first days of shooting of season two of Tacoma FD I walked onto a set and I looked right at the set PA and she didn't say anything. So I walked toward her and ended up walking right through the shot, like, yeah. And they showed it to me. They showed me a post me Sasquatching and through the background of the firehouse.

Michael: (19:36)

And that's the job of the PA supposed to stop. You I've walked on sets before to have my own show where I was Executive Producer. And I guess some PA was too nervous to tell me not to walk on set. And I walk into the shot and I ruined the shot. And I'm like, dude, you got to tell me not to walk into the shot. It's okay. You can tell, don't be afraid of me. Tell me I'm not, not tell me not to ruin the shot.

Phil: (19:53)

Didn't you tell me that there was a, uh, you had to spend like a significant amount of money and post cutting a PA out of the background and standing behind a tree or something.

Michael: (20:01)

Um, I'm sure that, yeah. I'm not sure if the PA, but I remember sometimes you have to do that we're or you cut a reflection. Sometimes you see a PA or something, or somebody is a reflection in a window. You have to take that out. Yeah. Yeah.

Phil: (20:14)

Um, so, so I've had most of these PA jobs, so that's a Set PA and then Office PA, you're the one making copies. You're the one making the signs. You're laminating things and go, go runs. You're coming on, runs and picking up stuff. You're going to Home Depot to buy specific daylight, luminescent, light bulbs for the Makeup Department, because they need specific lights in the trailer. You're getting water, you're moving things around set. You're going out on a run to Burbank to pick up Audio Equipment for the audio team. Cause they always need something. Yeah. You know,

Michael: (20:48)

It's interest. Cause I posted a little bit about that on social media. I do like these little clips and uh, and, and someone said, you have to, you, you know, I said, it's an entry-level job. It's not too hard to get. And someone said, you don't know what you're talking about. You have to have a Harvard Degree. You have to degree a degree from Harvard or an MBA. And like you already your mind, like, I can tell you need a car.

Phil: (21:07)

That's it. You need a car and you need to breathe. Right.

Michael: (21:11)

The pulse, if you, if you're dead, you're going to have, you're going to struggle. But if you have a pulse, you be okay. It's like, I don't really care. I don't need to know that you have a degree from Harvard from what do I care? I want to know. Can you go on a run?

Phil: (21:23)

Do you think that's people who just assume it's all an old boys club and you ha it's about who, you know, and it's not about like, like, oh, Harvard Alumni will hire Harvard alumni. Is it that kind of thing? Or do you think they actually think you have to be like a Rhode Scholar to be a PA?

Michael: (21:38)

No, I think there's, you know, breaking into Hollywood is hard and it's, you know, that first job, the hardest one is that first job to get in. And so you have to hustle and you really have to like, you know, send out flight. You kind of have to really be in contact with people. And you've got a nudge way in and I, and it takes a lot of work. And I think people would much rather say, well, they're not hiring people like me. Cause you know, there's an excuse as opposed to, that's not true at all. It's like, you just have to do your end to the part. You have to hustle to get the job. Yeah. You know, it's just, there's so many excuses. And like, I always say like, you can, you can have results or you can have excuses, uh, or you can have excuses or you can have results, but you can't have both. Right. And people like to have excuses. It just makes them feel better for not trying or not trying hard enough.

Phil: (22:22)

Now, now I've been on a other side of things. I think my first PA job, um, you gave my resume to a show that you were running and I didn't get that job. And I didn't get that job because your writing partner also referred someone and that person had experience. Yeah. Right. Yeah. And so I didn't get that job, but because I did so well in the interview when they needed a day player to come out and just lock down set for a day, they called me and said, Hey, it's one day job. You want to come up and sit? Absolutely. What time? Where should I be? I showed up early. I was there. I ran around set the whole day. And it just happened to be that that day, the Office PA was called back in to his Fox show and he had to leave. And so the UPM who was on set with me, watching me work said, you should consider this guy. He seems good. And I got offered a full-time position as the office PA because of that. And so it was that

Michael: (23:16)

Is that luck. Was that, was that, did you get lucky or did you make your own luck?

Phil: (23:20)

I think that there's a, there's a level of luck, you know, there's this old saying that luck is where opportunity meets preparation. Right? Right. And so the opportunity came because I knew you and you were able to give them my resume, but I didn't get that job. Someone else got that job. And they had three other people who you and your running partner did not recommend who also got jobs because they had, and that's just the racket. But because I was willing to show up and I was prepared and I understood what was expected of me as a PA, I was able to prove myself on that, on that day, the chance I go, yeah.

Michael: (23:57)

We had a PA on Tacoma, FD, we talk about, I don't mention his name, but one day one of the writers asked him to get a, for like Tylenol or Advil or something to go to drugstore. And he kind of said, no, he was busy.

Phil: (24:10)

So we should talk about that too. So, so the Writer's PA job is not just lunch. Like you're responsible for whatever the writers need. Like the Showrunners asking you for binders, but not just not binders, but D clipped binders, full ring binders, because they don't like the way the dividers are. And it's my job to go get that for them. I'm also supposed to stock the fridge. I'm supposed to have first aid available. I'm supposed to clean up after them. And so to have a Writer's PA tell a Writer I'm busy. I can't get you medicine because you have a headache. But I think it was worse than that. I think it was. Do you know if we have any, I think they have some upstairs. Can you go get some, I don't think I can do that.

Michael: (24:48)

Yeah. And man and we all laugh when he said no and you know, like men just falls in this guy. Yeah. And then he didn't last much longer than that.

Phil: (24:59)

Well, he did some other stuff I heard too. I, I ended up replacing that guy that season. Um, but he did some other stuff too. Like you told me that he would just like stare through the glass at you guys while you were watching writing stuff.

Michael: (25:12)

Yeah. He just, I had a weird thing where like, he just didn't, he'd come into the room, the Writers' Room and he just wouldn't know when to leave. And he was like, you know, and it got awkward. It's like, Hey, did you got to leave? Now? We got to work. And he would just kind of stand there. I dunno, gabbing or, you know, watching and was just so uncomfortable. And the writer, we, we thought it was hilarious. Like this guy he's something else.

Phil: (25:33)

Well, he hit the nail in the coffin. And I think this is like a big note of what not to do is one of our Showrunners who is an actor on the show is like on Nutrisystem and like cutting weight to get camera ready, because he's going to be, you know, he's effectively starving himself to look good on camera. And he's entitled to lunch more than anybody else on the show. Cause it's his show. And one day he comes in, he's like today I want sushi. And he said, uh, we don't have the budget for that. Right. And he said, I don't care. I'll approve it. Cause he's show is responsible for the budget. And he goes, I've already put in the other lunch order.

Michael: (26:11)

Yeah. That's what it was about. And that, you know, and afterwards we were busting that actor's because you know, I, you're not in charge.

Phil: (26:24)

Yeah. You'll keep your job if you, uh, if you deny your showrunner on her food, the one time he asks for it and the whole season.

Michael: (26:32)

So that guy didn't, he didn't last very long. But, uh, yeah, your, your job is to say yes, not to say no as a PA. Right.

Phil: (26:39)

Well, yeah. Well, interesting stuff. And you know, ultimately like I got that job and I think to your note, one of the first things you told me forever ago is if, you know, if you want to make it in Hollywood, you have to be in LA because that's where the jobs are. And I think there's a caveat because this is a question I've seen in a lot of your social media people say, do you have to live in Hollywood to make it in film? And the answer is depends on what you want to do. Right? So for example, I went to film school in New Mexico and New Mexico is a smaller market that is expanding ridiculously right now. I think Netflix is investing a billion dollars in New Mexico and infrastructure expanding stages. And they bought the biggest stages there where they shoot Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul and all that stuff.

Phil: (27:17)

And so if you want to work in camera or you want to work in, you know, an office position or a locations or a costume position, my opinion is those exterior markets, Utah, where you have Park City studios, you have, um, Santa Fe or Albuquerque where you have a fast growing film industry. You have Louisiana, you have Georgia. Those markets is really easy to progress and move up the ranks in those craftsmen positions. Right. Right. But when we talk about writing, I really think the answer is you do have to be an LA because this is where the writing happens.

Michael: (27:52)

Yeah. All the writing, they even Handmaids Tale. They shoot that. I think in Toronto, they sh they write it here. Um, I'm pretty sure Breaking Bad. They, they, they

Phil: (27:59)

Wrote here in LA, in LA shot, in New Mexico.

Michael: (28:02)

Right. So if you want to be a writer, then you want to be a writer's assistant and you want to be a PA here in LA. So you can come up this way. But in someone, some of them had sent me, um, a question that maybe was on Tik TOK or something. And she was, she seemed very lovely. And by, so I still let her have it. She was, um, she was like, uh, I live in the UK and I would gladly, I really want to break into the business. And I would gladly come here to LA. If someone could guarantee me a job. And I was like, you know, there's no guarantee, you know, no, one's gonna guarantee you a job. Uh, first of all, there are no guarantees in Hollywood. Right. You know, you're not, um, you know, you're, you know, you're not Brad Pitt Brad Pitt.

Michael: (28:42)

He's guaranteed to get a dressing room and, and a driver. You're a PA you have no guarantees. If you came here and got a job, let's say the show would get canceled after 10, at 10 weeks, or you get fired or whatever, you're still out of a job. Now you're out of a job. And so you're still screwed. You have to come here first. And when they're hiring for those positions, that basically for any kind of PA position, the job is like you interviewed today to start tomorrow. And so you can't fly here. We're not going to get, I'm going to give you a week to fly here. And then a week to find a place then a week to get a car because you need a car. It's like, you know, no, you have to be here for those opportunities. There's no, there's no guarantees.

Phil: (29:22)

Yeah. That's what you told me. You said you have to be here because when they want to hire someone, they need you today. Right? Yeah.

Michael: (29:27)

And I, I called you. I remember when that opportunity came up on our current show, I said, Phil, can you, can you be here this afternoon? They're hiring you. You have to be here today.

Phil: (29:35)

Yeah. I think the exact text was, um, we need a PA the job sucks. It's low pay. Do you want it? And I said, I'll do that job for free. Right. And your response. Good answer. That's how I got my first paid job. Hold on. And they're like an hour or so later the Script Coordinator. Um, so basically shot me a text said, Hey, man, uh, it looks like, you know, we'd like to use you on the show. I said, do you want my resume? He's like, no, Michael Jamin's words. Good enough. And it's because you had proved yourself at that time. Right. So they took your recommendation. And I literally showed up the next day

Michael: (30:09)

And I have a new gun

Phil: (30:10)

And I haven't been working on the show in two years. I'm still on the show.

Michael: (30:13)

And if you had 'em right. And if you had, uh, you know, said, well, yeah, I'll be there next week. They would have found somebody else. Right.

Phil: (30:20)

Because, um, literally cause they were, they were buying their own. You guys were buying your own lunch at that point, I think.

Michael: (30:25)

Yeah. Like we, like, we need lunch. Yeah.

Phil: (30:29)

Carrie Clifford's like, I want my tuna where, which tuna do I get. Yeah,

Michael: (30:32)

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And so yeah, having a good attitude and being ready to start tomorrow is, is really key. Unfortunately, that's how you, if you want to, like, if you want to work in Hollywood, you have to be in Hollywood, you know? And, and sure there are other jobs like in Atlanta and, and, uh, Albuquerque, but often, um, like it may be harder to have a career in those cities because there's just not as many opportunities. So I'm sure people, you know, piece together careers. I just think it'd be easier to piece together a career in Hollywood. There's just more options.

Phil: (31:02)

Yeah. There's constant. There shows constantly shooting, especially right now with streaming and cable. There's not like a development season. Like there used to be right. It's

Michael: (31:11)

And you may have to move, you may, I know like costumers, they work here, but they have to take a job in some other state because that's where the show is shooting, but writers generally have to generally stay in LA. Yeah.

Phil: (31:23)

Yeah. So are there any other jobs or any other ways to break in to Hollywood at this point? I mean, is it, is it just, you have to work yourself way up as a PA or get lucky enough to, you know, be lucky enough and have the craft and skill to become a Screenwriter. Is there another option?

Michael: (31:38)

We talked about this in other episodes where if you have your own, if Hollywood is not going to come to you, unless you really make it worth Hollywood's while. So if you are blowing up on Twitter, if you have a giant Twitter feed or, uh, you know, Instagram or whatever, and, and you have a million followers, Hollywood will find you, you don't have to start at The Bahamas. Like, man, this person here, she's got it going on. Uh, let's give this person to show because they have a built-in marketing platform that often happens. Yeah. So there's a show on CBS, it'd be 10 years ago. Shit My Dad says, and that was based on a popular Twitter feed. Yeah. And so, you know, that guy just tweeted it from wherever he wanted and you know, just find stuff that his dad said.

Phil: (32:19)

Got it. So I, I do, you know, of other people who've broken in, so I'm another writer who is that a lot of stuff to put stuff out there as website he's got scripts and things. Javier Grillo-Marxuach who I think you might know. Yeah. He wrote lost. Yeah. Yeah. Lost. He was a showrunner on a bunch of stuff. So he, I believe was a development executive and he transitioned that position to being a writer. Yeah. So there are those other opportunities as well. Do you know anything about those?

Michael: (32:45)

I do know. I have a friend who we hired on a show, Glen Martin DDS years ago. And I didn't know him at the time we just hired him. We became friends. And I... I discovered after about a year that he was at one point a Development Executive at a studio and I was shocked. I was like, oh, I hadn't because it's a whole, whole different thing. Um, and he told me that most development executives from his they're, they're jealous of writers. They want to be writers. And so, because it's more creative and development executives or, you know, they, they tend to give notes, uh, but they don't do it themselves. And so, cause you know, it's one of those, like why would you want to become, uh, an executive at a studio or a network if you were not had that creative passion in you, you wanted to create. And so the closer I think they can get to creating the more fulfilled they would be, which is, you know, obviously writing is probably closer to... than giving notes to

Phil: (33:35)

Somebody. That makes sense. It makes

Michael: (33:37)

Sense, but I'm, I'm not gonna speak for all that. I'm sure there are many great development executives or creative executives who love exactly their job. But this is what he told me was that he felt that that many or most really wanted to be really wished they were writers. Right.

Phil: (33:50)

And I think that, you know, from my limited perspective, with the, the limited amount of work I've done, kind of the general vibe that I get from most people is that most people in most jobs in Hollywood dreamt of being a writer, director, producer, and they are now doing this other job, hoping to have the job that you're also trying to get.

Michael: (34:13)

I think many writers also want to be directors because it's not writing. It's like, Ooh, because writing is hard. You're like, well, directing it, that seems like something I could do. Was that, was

Phil: (34:20)

That your experience when you directed on Maron?

Michael: (34:23)

Uh, no. That was just an opportunity that came our way. We didn't want to say no to it, but I know other writers who want to get into, or have gotten into directing because writing is really hard. Writing can be difficult even like, I, I used to say like, if you think writing is fun, you're kind of, you're probably doing it wrong. It's hard to do it. Right. It's hard. Yeah. And so I think a lot of writers that well, anything about writing, so.

Phil: (34:47)

Right, right. Well, awesome, man. I think it was incredibly helpful. You have any other thoughts or?

Michael: (34:52)

No, I think that's, I think we covered a lot. We have, we have more podcasts come and Phil. We got to save it for the next.

Phil: (34:57)

Oh, I love it. No. So again, you know, I think that if you want any more of this information, definitely check out Michael's course because he goes into this more detail kind of what's expected in some of those positions and what it takes. But yeah, I think the big note that I would like to give or leave people with is that you don't have to have won the lottery or be born with a silver spoon in your mouth. I sure wasn't. And I live in LA and I work full year round as a PA. And I'm actively working on progressing towards being a better writer so you can make it happen. You just have to get rid of the excuses and just take control and just make decisions with what can I do today to improve things. And we talked about this on another podcast, like I've always was raised with this prodigy syndrome.

Phil: (35:41)

I feel like I have to hit grand slams with everything I do. And there's this framework that I've transitioned to, which is, you know, it's Moneyball, it's singles singles win baseball games. If I can hit a single today, like which might just be writing something, I can hit a single today. It's not sexy. If I hit a single tomorrow, it's not sexy. If I hit a single one day three, it's not sexy, but they, for you score it run day five. You score a run. It's about chaining those singles together. And that's how you ultimately win.

Michael: (36:08)

I think so. That makes sense to me. Yeah. Like people say like, well, how do I become a writer is like, you're, if you write every day, you're a writer, right? If you want to be a paid writer, that's a little different, but you know, but if you were someone new who wrote a script last year, you're not a writer. You have someone you're someone who has written. So a writer you're constantly writing, it's active. And, and that will make, that will make you better at your craft and will increase your odds of actually becoming a professional writer.

Phil: (36:35)

Awesome. I love it. Here's a great way to end. Thank you, Michael. Thanks everybody for listening.

Michael: (36:40)

Thank you.

Phil: (36:53)

This has been an episode of Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing leaving a review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. If you're looking to support yourself, I encourage you to consider investing in Michael's screenwriting course at MichaelJamin.com/course. I've known Michael for over a decade. And in the past seven years, I've begged him to put something together. During the global COVID-19 pandemic. Michael had time. And I have to say, I wish I'd had this course 10 years ago. As someone who has personally invested in most online courses, earned a bachelor's degree, and actively studied screenwriting for over a decade, this course has been more valuable to me than most of the effort I've put in because it focuses on something noone else teaches: story. In his course, Michael pulls back the curtain and shows you exactly what the pros do in a writer's room and that knowledge has made all the difference for me. And I know it will for you too. You can find more information at MichaelJamin.com/course for free daily screenwriting tips. Follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.filet Hudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas crane until next time, keep writing.

2021-12-15
Länk till avsnitt

006 - Working With A Partner

Michael and Phil discuss what it's like to work with a writing partner, how to choose one, and what to look out for. Dive deep into Michael's background with his partner Sivert Glarum and what they did to make it in Hollywood.

Michael's Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

Sivert Glarum?s IMDB Page - https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0321770/

Stephen Prestfield's Book - https://www.amazon.com/Nobody-Wants-Read-Your-Tough-Love/dp/1936891492

Warner Bros. Writer?s Workshop - https://televisionworkshop.warnerbros.com/writers-workshop/

Glenn Martin, DDS on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8hzMh1WQ6t5dwbnNop2fVA

The Complete Idiot?s Guide to Screenwriting by Skip Press - https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Idiots-Guide-Screenwriting-3rd/dp/1592577555

Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio?s Screenwriting Website - http://wordplayer.com/

Michael: (00:00)

I'm always reminding myself of the basics. Cause it's really, it's funny. I remember when I was on King of the hill, having a conversation with Greg Daniels who later created the American version of The Office, but I said, Greg, there is no Writing 102. It's all Writing 101. And he's like, "Yes! That's it." Writing one. It's all writing because it is, everything is all, it's all the basics.

Michael: (00:27)

All right, everyone. Hey, welcome back today. We're going to talk about working with a partner and how to find one and had a, had a, why you want one or why you don't want one. And because I've been working with a TV, writing... A partner, I've had a partner for Jesus. We've been together, you know, close to 30 years. I don't want to date myself. It's maybe, oh, maybe almost that many years. And so we always work together. His name is Sivert Glarum and we always work together. That's how a partnership is, but it's tricky, it's a tricky thing, finding a partner. So I thought I'd elaborate on that for anyone who...

Phil: (00:57)

I think it's an interesting topic, especially for someone like myself where, you know, I've... I definitely see the value of a partner, but I also see a lot of... My experience with having to rely on other people from group projects in school, down to actually trying to lean in and trust that someone will follow through on their end. My experiences have not been great.

Michael: (01:20)

Yeah. It's a marriage. And like, marriages are not always easy. Not, not, not everyone's meant to get married to other people. So it's really, you know, I think I got lucky, um, in comedy, it's probably more, it's more advantageous to have a writing partner in comedy because when you, when you say something funny, you don't know, it's funny until someone else is laughing. You may think it's funny, but you know, until someone, your partner laughs, then you go, okay, that must be funny. Um, and I'll just talk about how we met because when I talk in comedy, it's, there's so many ways. I guess when we, when we met, we were team... We were teamed up, uh, in comedy that like some people have partners and its common to have a partner. It's common not to have a partner, but when you have a partner, you literally split a salary for the rest of your career.

Michael: (02:06)

But, but it does make you, it, in theory, it gives you the advantage of getting hired more often, because you're kind of getting two for that. You're literally getting two for the price of one. And especially when you get high up levels, you're then you're running a show. And now, you know, when you are a showrunner that you have so many responsibilities. It really helps to have someone else take some of them off your hand. And if you don't have a partner, you gotta do it all. You know, so that's, but like I said, it is tricky because you have to get along and like you're pointing out, do you, you have to, you know, you have to really get along with this person. You just have to carry your weight.

Phil: (02:40)

I think that'd be interesting to get, I'm sure we'll get into this. I think it'll be interesting to talk about kind of your division of labor as you're going through the process of how you're writing. Uh, you know, I, I've heard of different processes based on different writing partnerships, whether, you know, it's the, the Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garrett process of they just assign scenes. So one person takes odds and one person takes evens and as they send them back, they're continuously rewriting each other. So by the time they're done with draft one, they have 20 rewrites done. Or is it that one of you sits at the typewriter or the, excuse me, not dating myself at all, sit at the computer and like type it out while the other one dictates or does it take turns? That's an interesting...

Michael: (03:23)

And I've seen partners do it both ways with the way we do. We literally write everything together. So we will sit at the same at the, at the, uh, you know, computer and one will look at the monitor and the other will be at the keyboard and we literally type at the same. So, you know, the one, I tend to be the one who does the typing, uh, mostly because I'm a better typer than S. It is, um, and frustrating to no end when I'm watching him struggle to put a word together. But, uh, but sometimes he'll do it. And I, you know, I I'll loss it and watch. And so, uh, it's nice. It's nice to have someone drive the boat a little bit, but I'll talk about how we, how we met. We were, uh, I was signed by an agent and, uh, my, you know, few years out of college and was a very big deal for me.

Michael: (04:09)

And she blew a lot of smoke up my and she's like, I signed one baby writer a year and, uh, I make a star out of that writer this year. You're the guy and congratulations. And I was like, wow, I'm on cloud nine. And she's like, in three years, you're going to be running your own show. I was like, oh my God running. I don't even know if I can write a, you know, an episode of TV, but running. And then, you know, when the smoke cleared a couple days later, I was curious about what had happened to the previous baby writer before me. And so I got through there, I guess, through their assistant, I got the name of this guy and I called them up. He was actually two years before me and I called him up and I was like, Hey man, what, what show are you running?

Michael: (04:46)

Cause you obviously must be incredibly successful. And he's like, dude, I work at a record store. And, uh, so he hadn't gotten staffed at all. And so we decided to team up, we had, there are two reasons to team up. Uh, one, I, I, I knew enough then to know, like I was, it was hard. I knew, I knew enough to know that I didn't know enough and that we traded scripts. I was like, man, this guy is, this guy is a better writer than I was. Even though we were both signed independently and I was hotter than he was in terms of, I was the new flavor of the week for this agent. And rather than compete against each other for the same job we teamed up. And, uh, and that's how we, that's how we became partners.

Phil: (05:28)

So, so how did you broach that conversation of, um, what do you think here? Is this something that you want to do together? Like how did that conversation?

Michael: (05:36)

Yeah, I think we were both interested in writing with a partner. He like, he had a partner many years earlier who decided to get out and become a socialist, uh, that how Sivert describes it. And so we were both open to the idea and, you know, we kind of met and we hit it off. We were coming from similar backgrounds. We're both from the east coast. Sivert a couple of years older than me, but, you know, close in age, we both played the trumpet and, you know, grade school, that kind of thing. Right,

Phil: (06:02)

Right. Mastering it in heaven.

Michael: (06:04)

Yeah, but a lot of partners are just, they, you know, they tend to be, Hey, we were friends in college and we both want it. I know that happens a lot. And so let's, let's go out to Hollywood together and become writing partners. So that often, that often is the case. Sometimes you see a husband and wife has a writing partner.

Phil: (06:20)

I've, I've seen that, um, a couple of times, some pretty big names or writing partners in our couples. So, so, okay. So that's, I mean, that's a fascinating topic. I was literally just listening to, I was out on runs for our show yesterday in post-production and I had to just drive all over Hollywood and Burbank multiple times. So I started listening to a Steven Pressfield book. He wrote The War of Art, um, Turning Pro... A bunch of stuff. He he's a screenwriter who did the novel of a Legend of Bagger Vance, and also wrote the film is multiple time bestselling author been in the industry from the advertising background. And he's got this other book that I never read. And it's um, No One Wants to Read Your Shit. Pardon that? Yeah. Interesting. That's the title. And his whole point is you have to understand whether you're in advertising, writing novels, writing screenplays.

Phil: (07:07)

No one wants to read your shit. And, and so you shouldn't be like surprised when no one gets around to it. And ultimately it has to be that good that they want to read it. But he talks about how he got partnered up with this big name. And ultimately he felt like he wasn't getting a lot of the credit for what he was doing because he was the writer and the other guy was the name. And his agent sat him down. Once he said, you need to understand that right now he is the known deal because he's had hits with his other writing partner. He's had hits with you. He's the common denominator. You're a nobody. So you need to understand your role here. Now, obviously your situation's a little bit different because we were both young baby writers who partnered up, but it sounds like there's even a little bit of that because you were the hot thing for you, right.

Michael: (07:52)

It was the hot, but he was trading. Cause we traded scripts. I'm like this guy really is a really good writer. I could tell just from reading a script, like he was, he really understood story structure. And, um, he had, he had sold on his own, an episode with his previous partner an episode of the wonder years. So it was like he had, he did have a little more, you know, he had one under the belt and I had none of the under the belt, but the truth is like, and I remember in the beginning there was a struggle between us in terms of, we didn't know how to trust each other. And, and of course I wanted more of my lines in the script and his lines and, you know, back I kind of thing. And then as you get older and more mature, it's really that ego goes out the window.

Michael: (08:30)

And it's more about whoever pitches the line that will get you home sooner. That's the one you'll do, you know? It's like, I don't really, if it comes out of his mouth, great, that's great. Let's use that one. I don't really care. And I think he feels vice versa. It's like, um, and often, you know, we'll do a rewrite on a script and he'll want to cut a line and like, no, no, no, no, that's the best line of the script. And it's his line, you know? And he's, you know, so I'm fighting for his stuff and vice versa, you know? So

Phil: (08:58)

It's interesting. Yeah. Yeah. So the pride dies as you become a pro is really what I'm hearing.

Michael: (09:03)

Yeah, I think so. It's also like in the beginning of the novelty of seeing your words on TV, it was like, oh my God, my lines are on TV, millions of people. And then, uh, you know, that gets, it's not that it gets old, but you've become accustomed to it. And then you're really, it's really more about just doing the work and finishing the work as opposed to like your ego, you know?

Phil: (09:24)

Okay. So you obviously knew he was, he was engaged cause he was obviously working on the stuff, but for people who are considering teaming up, aside from the benefit of, you're more likely to get staffed, you have someone to vet your jokes or your story against to kind of tell you whether or not it's good. How can you tell whether or not someone's serious? Like someone's a good partner.

Michael: (09:42)

The thing, cause we were both, we were both signed by the agent. So we were both, um, intent on breaking into Hollywood. So, you know, so it wasn't like, it wasn't like a fluke or it wasn't like a Lark, neither one of us. Like it was a Lark and we were both around the same time. And Hollywood, we were both like on a struggling PAs and we would work on the weekends. We were both very committed. So after work and on the weekends, every day we met and we wrote spec scripts over, you know, wrote and wrote and wrote. And so, because he was a couple of years older, he was also a little bit more hungry, a little more desperate. It was like he had to make a, this happened now. And so we both had that same work ethic in terms of like, and I was young, I was a little younger, but I was also like, I want to, I want it now. I don't have any patience. So was like, we have to hit this now. And so it was a sense of franticness and, and uh, urgency. And it wasn't like there was no plan B for either of us. Hmm.

Phil: (10:35)

So how, how, how long after your partnered, did you end up, uh, selling something?

Michael: (10:40)

I think, um, I'm trying to remember it. Like it was, we wound up selling an episode of Lewis and Clark that I helped get, because that was my, I, we sold it to my, my, uh, my bosses. I was working as their, uh, assistant at the time. So I got that because, you know, they were my bosses and that might've been a couple of years after we were writing, but then it took another couple of years before we were able to get staffed on our first job, which was Just Shoot Me. And so it took a few years. And in between then we also got into the Warner Bros. Writing Program, which really did nothing for our career, but you know, it was something, so it took a few years of struggling. And I remember like at that age, the years feel like decades, especially when you feel like, you know, um, you know, I should be doing more with my life. So yeah.

Phil: (11:26)

Yeah. So, so the reason I asked that is because what you're describing is everyday after work and on weekends, you're practicing your craft. So you've talked about in other episodes is a writer writes. That's what they do. If you wrote something a year ago, you have written, but you are not actively writing. And so what I'm hearing you say is, even though you had agents, which the big misconception is you need an agent to break into Hollywood and that's that's what does it for you that didn't help? Nope. And then even then you put in years of effort to make it to your first staff job.

Michael: (11:59)

Yeah. And the first spec script that we wrote together, it was a friend's I think it was a first one. It made me minimum the first, it was one of the first. And, but we just kept on writing specs. We probably wrote maybe eight or so specs together, maybe more of show like anyway, ironically it was at first, I think it was the first spec, a spec script that we wrote together that wound up getting work for us years later, it was a really good, uh, spec, but like, we just didn't quit. It was like, well, write another one, write another one, you know, let's get better. You know, so, and I'm, I haven't looked at it in years, but I'm sure I'd look at it. Go, Ooh boy, it's not as good as I remember it. You know? Cause you get, you get better as, as you get older.

Phil: (12:35)

Right. So, so there has to be a committed, uh, commitment to craft and professionalism is ultimately a good vetting benchmark for this. Are these people willing to work as hard as I am?

Michael: (12:46)

Yeah. And it's not a get rich quick scheme. It's not like, Hey, let's, you know, let's try this on a Lark and let's try, hopefully we'll sell us. It was like, no, no, we both want to become writers, professional writers. We will not going to stop until we get there. We're going to work our asses until we do.

Phil: (12:59)

Yeah. Yeah. Got it. Okay. All right. So similar goals, hard work, work ethic, all those things. Yeah. Are there any red flags that you can think of, "Hey, this is probably not a partnership that's gonna work out."

Michael: (13:13)

Yeah. I mean, like I said that the ego part of it, I also think part of our, what made us a good team, especially in the beginning was in the, in a comedy writing room. Usually, you get classified as a joke guy or girl joke guy or a story guy. And if I were to, I was definitely a joke. I and Sivert, it was probably a story guy. And so we had complementary skill sets and now, but years later, um, I've definitely moved towards the, towards the story person as well. It's like, cause the jokes, jokes are fun and it's like, it's like a lot of sizzle and you get a lot of credit and people love the joke guy, but the story person is far more valuable and it's a skill that's way more important to have, uh, than just being funny or jokes. Those are disposable. Really.

Phil: (13:57)

That's a note that I've seen from industry professionals that I know personally is, um, if you don't understand story structure, you don't know how to lay out a story. It's not helpful.

Michael: (14:08)

Yeah. And, and I sh no one does when they start out. Nope. Everyone thinks they do. And they don't. I mean, they're very, they're very few people who are born with that innate skill and they rise up to the top very fast. The rest of us have to learn it. And it takes a long, you know, it takes a while to learn that. So

Phil: (14:23)

Got it. And to your point, like, even though I've seen this, like you taught me this stuff, you have it in your course. I've probably seen you teach story structure the way you break a story. And in any room, I still catch myself on a first draft thinking, why did I just bulldoze that, uh, that plot point right there? Like why, why did I step over that story point?

Michael: (14:41)

Yeah. And I make the same mistakes all the time too. Like I'll sometimes all I'll read my work or what, you know, you need the distance, uh, some time to, to look at your working a wait a minute, this is why what's going on here because you get lost in the weeds and you have to go always go back to the basics. I'm always reminding myself of the basics. Cause it's really, it's funny. I remember when I was on King of the Hill, having a conversation with Greg Daniels who later created the American version of The Office and he was my boss on king of the hill. And I impressed him with something that I said, which was odd and it would impress him. But I said, Greg, there is no Writing 102, it's all Writing 101. And he's like, "yes, that's it! Writing 101." It's all writing. Cause it is. And everything's all, it's all the basics. But I think people will, there are people out there who will try to sell you Writing 102, because they can make a buck, but it's all 101 right. But you have to master that part, you know?

Phil: (15:33)

Yeah. The 102 does not help you because 101 has the mastery. Yeah.

Michael: (15:37)

It's like advanced screenwriting, advanced screenings, all basics, you know? Okay. Yes. Master the basics.

Michael: (15:46)

Hi guys. Michael Jamin here. I wanted to take a break from talking and talk just a little bit more. I think a lot of you guys are getting bad advice on the internet. I know this because I'm getting tagged. One guy tagged me with this. He said, I heard from a script reader in the industry. And I was like, wait, what? Hold on, stop. My head blew up. I blacked out. And when I finally came to, I was like, listen, dude, there are no script readers in the industry by definition. These are people on the outside of the industry. They work part-time, they'd give their right arm to be in the industry. And instead they're giving you advice on what to do and you're paying for this. I mean, that just made me nuts, man. These people are unqualified to give my dog advice. And by the way, her script is, is coming along quite nicely.

Michael: (16:25)

And oh, and I'm not done. Another thing when I work with TV writers who a new one, I'm writing staffs. A lot of these guys flame out after 13 episodes. So they get this big break. They finally get in and then they flame out because they don't know what is expected of them on the job. And that's sad because you know, it's not going to happen again. So to fight all this, to flush all this bad stuff out of your head, I post daily tips on social media. You can find me on Instagram and TikTok and Facebook @MichaelJaminWriter. If you don't have time, two minutes a day to devote towards improving your craft guys, it's not going to happen. Let's just be honest. So go find, make it happen. All right. Now, back to my previous rant.

Phil: (17:07)

So prior to COVID, I was doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu here in the valley with a guy named Romelo Barral and he's like a 10 time world champion. He's he's a legend, like UFC fighters, train at his gym. And he's just considered a master. And someone asked him the question what's better. Is it strength or cardio? And he said, cardio, because strength will fail you every time like strength will fade and your cardio can endure. And it's almost like what I'm hearing you say is understanding basics with story structure and storytelling. Those fundamentals are the cardio to everything else. It's the engine that keeps you running.

Michael: (17:40)

Yeah. And, and like, so few people really want to study that because that's not fun. You know...

Phil: (17:46)

And that's not sexy. And you know, it, it definitely feels at times it feels contrived or feels formulaic and what I don't think people understand and that I'm slowly learning is that is ingrained in us as a, as a species. It's whether you're talking Joseph Campbell or you're talking, you know, um, other psychological profiles in this stuff, like, uh, Jungian archetypes that storytelling comes from thousands and thousands of years of storytelling. And that's why Homer told his stories and the similar structure. And that's why Shakespeare did. And that's why we do.

Michael: (18:21)

Yeah. And it's just because it feels right. Something, it just feels right in your bones, but that's not to say it's cliche. Like you can always make cliche choices that you see a mile away. I mean, but you, if you follow the structure, there's plenty of creativity within those, within the points. So it doesn't feel cliche. You know, there's still a lot of choices that you can make and mistakes that you can make along the way. But if you have the structure, it really helps. It's like a house, you know, the houses you can decorate any way you want, but the house needs to have these things to stay up and not fall down.

Phil: (18:49)

Yeah. It makes sense. Yeah. Strong foundation. Right. You have to have it, the war house washes away. Yeah. So, so going back to the comment you made earlier, where you're talking about this division of labor. So we've talked about that when you first started out and we talked about in the writer's room as a Showrunner, as someone who has a show that you're managing, what's the division of labor for you and your partner when you become an Executive Producer.

Michael: (19:12)

Yeah. So that kind of started our first show that we ran together was called Glenn Martin DDS. And that was a little jem that no one saw and it was Kevin, it was animated. Oh, look at that. He's got a, you got... I gave Phil a toy .

Phil: (19:24)

I've got your DVD right here.

Michael: (19:26)

You can go find that. I think it plays on YouTube or make no money. So you can watch, you can watch on YouTube for free. And that was with Kevin Nealon. He did the voice and Catherine O'Hara was amazing. Of course he's hilarious. And Judy Greer that they what a cast we had. And, um, and so on, on once a week, I would have to, we'd have to record the actors and Sivert would stay in the writer's room, running the rewrite or breaking stories for the next episode while I was on the soundstage, directing the actress. I have a, I'm pretty good at that. I'm... I'm a decent, uh, I can hear the voices and I'm, I'm pretty good at directing and expressing myself and trying to get pulling out the best, uh, performances from actors and Sivert is great at breaking story.

Michael: (20:05)

So it worked out, it worked out really well. Um, yeah, that kind of division of labor. But if, if we were only one of us, then that one, you know, something would have suffered. Someone would have not either directed the actors, the right person, you'd have to delegate to like a number two that you trust. And the fact that Sivert, and I've been working for all these years, like we know like we have the same taste cause we, so we, I can hear his voice. He can hear my voice. We know it's, it's rare that we disagree on, on, on a story point or, um, you know, our take, you know, so it's a lot of trust and a lot of we have the same kind of brain even often. We're, um, I don't remember what we're doing. Oh, we were, we were, um, uh, meeting on another show and, uh, we had, um, we had the same, we both had this favorite episode. We were talking about it later, like, oh yeah, that's the episode I liked best. And he was like, yeah, I liked that one, the best two out of like the six that we saw and we'd liked it for the same reasons.

Phil: (21:00)

Right. Right. Do you feel like that's innate or is that your taste has grown together over time? Like being partners?

Michael: (21:09)

Uh, it's grown. We have a similar sensibility over time. Yeah.

Phil: (21:13)

Got it. Got it. So, so on the subject of working with partners, you know, you talked about people from college, you've talked about, you know, your agent in partnering with people, your agents repping. So you're not competing against each other. Are there any other ways you can think of to come up with and find a good partner if that's what you're looking for? Like sort of like a writer's dating apps.

Michael: (21:34)

Yeah. I have no idea. I imagine I would have no idea. I know people like in the course that I teach or that offer that, um, people, they reach out, they trade scripts that seems like could be, we have a private Facebook group. I dunno if anybody's teamed up from that. But that seems like a decent way to team up with someone because you're all serious about the craft. And you both have learned the language that I use in describing stories. So it's kind of like you have the same kind of, you already have the same foundation a little bit. I don't, you know?

Phil: (22:03)

Yeah. And then to your point, I think that that's a very powerful indicator to me of someone's seriousness in, you know, years ago, the first book I ever read on screenwriting was The Complete Idiot's Guide to Screenwriting by Skip Press. And he had a couple of resources in there. One of those resources is WordPlayer.com and that's run by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio who wrote like Aladdin, Shrek, Pirates of the Caribbean, Small Soldiers, basically every film... wrote on..., they basically every film I grew up with in the nineties and in the early two thousands. And they had a bunch of these articles back from AOL in the forums, right. And one of them was talking about professionalism and they said, you cannot call yourself a professional until you're willing to invest in your craft. And that doesn't mean scouring the internet, looking for free scripts. It means going down to a script shop and buying them or going on Amazon and buying a script, it's finding that.

Michael: (22:55)

That's something you do really well, by the way. Like you always invest in yourself. Always. Yeah, yeah.

Phil: (23:01)

Yeah. Well, I took, I took that note very seriously. And so I have, I had purchased many online screenwriting courses. I went to film school. I did all those things. And that's one thing that I appreciate about your course. Is there's, there's almost like a paywall that kind of keeps the riffraff out. And it's not saying that if you don't have the funds, that you're riff-raff what I'm saying is there's a level of seriousness that comes with and making an investment in yourself. Yeah. And all of the conversations I've had, I've given notes on scripts to multiple people in that group. It's, it's super helpful. They reach out to me proactively and ask what they can do for me to read my stuff and

Michael: (23:37)

A nice, yeah,

Phil: (23:38)

Yeah, absolutely. And the cool thing is we're also coming at it from the stories, from understanding how real writers break story in the TV, TV writers' room, right. Like they're, they're analyzing say, oh, you missed this point. And I don't understand how this pays off. And, and we're, we're speaking it almost like the same insider language.

Michael: (23:57)

Yeah. So yeah, that's, that's riding with a partner and, uh, it's probably less important for drama, but for comedy, it could be, I think it's really helpful. And, uh, it, you know, it's something to consider something to, you know, explore perhaps.

Phil: (24:10)

Yeah. I love it. Thanks so much, Michael. I appreciate the info and the insights and thanks to everybody for listening.

Michael: (24:15)

Yeah. Thank you. Everyone. Talk, we'll see you on the next

Phil: (24:30)

This has been an episode of Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing leaving a review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. If you're looking to support yourself, I encourage you to consider investing in Michael's screenwriting course at MichaelJamin.com/course. I've known Michael for over a decade. And in the past seven years, I've begged him to put something together. During the global COVID-19 pandemic. Michael had time. And I have to say, I wish I'd had this course 10 years ago. As someone who has personally invested in most online courses, earned a bachelor's degree, and actively studied screenwriting for over a decade, this course has been more valuable to me than most of the effort I've put in because it focuses on something noone else teaches: story. In his course, Michael pulls back the curtain and shows you exactly what the pros do in a writer's room and that knowledge has made all the difference for me. And I know it will for you too. You can find more information at MichaelJamin.com/course for free daily screenwriting tips. Follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

2021-12-08
Länk till avsnitt

005 - Agents & Managers

Michael & Phil tackle the subject of agents and managers and what new screenwriters need to do to attract representation. They also discuss pitch fests and screenplay contests.

Show Notes

Michael's Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

@DavidHSteinberg will read your script - https://twitter.com/davidhsteinberg/status/1430195753373167623

Sarah Cooper is a comedian who grew famous for valuable content she put out on her own. - https://sarahcpr.com/

A behind the scenes look at pitch fests - https://twitter.com/ChrisAmick/status/1420501613572022275?s=20

Results of screenplay contests - https://twitter.com/EricHaywood/status/1422615678436003842?s=20

Screenwriting contest from a Pro's perspective - https://twitter.com/matthewfederman/status/1422615672215900164?s=20

Film Festival and Screenplay Contest submission software - https://filmfreeway.com/

The Nicholl?s Fellowship - https://www.oscars.org/nicholl

The Sundance Labs - https://www.sundance.org/apply

The Black List main website - https://blcklst.com/

The Black List evaluations and script hosting - https://blcklst.com/register/writer/

Writer?s Guild of America Dispute with Agencies Explained - https://www.vulture.com/article/wga-hollywood-agents-packaging-explained.html

Transcript

Michael: (00:00)

Whenever I hear a writer, saying they're typing, they're working at Starbucks. I always laugh, come on, man. It's so cliche. I don't do that. It's very rare. Most people who work in Starbucks who are tapping on their computers, please in LA, right? They want you to think that they're a writer. "Look at me. I'm a writer." But if you are real writer, in my experience, it's like, you're not working in a coffee shop. You're working on a show. 

Michael: (00:28)

Hey, welcome back everybody. Today. We're going to be talking about agents and managers. Oh, that's a good one. Phil. Don't you think? 

Phil: (00:35)

I think it's probably the most vital thing for anybody to know about how to become a screenwriter. 

Michael: (00:39)

All right. Um, what are we going to do? Well, I guess everyone wants to know how to find an agent or a manager. What would the reason why you kind of need one is so first of all, you can't submit. I people often say to me, what can I give you? My screenplay? It's just, just so I get some notes or just so you can, you know, whatever, keep me in mind for something in the future. And the answer is absolutely not because I have to me and every other working writer in the industry, we have to protect ourselves. Like, let's say you, you have a talking dog cartoon and you say, Hey, I want you to read my talking dog cartoon. And I, and I get it or whatever. I open it up. I opened up the file like, oh, because now I haven't talking dog cartoon. 

Michael: (01:17)

We all have talking dog cartoons. It's not an original idea, but because I looked at yours now, now if I get mine on the ear, you're going to sue me because we both have terrible clammy ideas. And so naturally I stole yours and that's not the case. It's just like, these are ideas out there. And the same thing with like a joke or an area. So most TV writers will protect themselves. We will not read unsolicited scripts. We just will not do it. Even if you sign a waiver or not gonna do it. Like I, you know, it's just too risky. 

Phil: (01:45)

It's really interesting. So I just saw two cases of this. There's a showrunner who just on Twitter for his birthday announced, "Hey, I will read your script." You have to, he's a lawyer, by the way, you have to understand his, his career was "lawyer". And now he is a writer. Also he has a waiver, you have to sign and you have to agree to, and he gave very specific parameters to get your script to him. And then I, I just retweeted another showrunner today. And she's like, as a reminder, I will not read any unsolicited scripts because I have to legally can't cause I have to protect myself. Yeah. Right. So I'm funny. So, so the case where you're seeing it, you have to keep in mind, like, I mean, they are attorneys or in the case of other people who do you know, the return page counts of your scripts, they have attorneys who have drafted documents to protect them. 

Michael: (02:31)

Yeah, yeah. Right. I don't, I'm not an attorney. I'm not going to do it. Um, but so that's why it has to come through an agent for some reason, when it comes through an agent, you have a layer of protection, but a little bit of the, uh, you know, and that's what the Ford you. So, and I will only read a script by the way, through an agent when it's, when there's something in it for me. And by that, it means like if I'm staffing for a TV show, I need to hire people and then I'll read the script, but I'm not going to read it as a, as a personal, you know, my pastime, you know/. 

Phil: (03:00)

Well, right. And so obviously my, my response to you was a little facetious here. I was, I don't actually think that getting an agent or a manager is the most vital thing to your career. I think that anyone who's listened to any of the podcasts episodes so far understand the Michael Jamin answer to this is be a better be a good writer. Yeah. Right. Whatever. Yeah. Not even a good writer to be a great writer, be so good. I can't ignore you. 

Michael: (03:22)

Yeah. Right. Yeah. That's, that's another episode. We will talk about the future. I want to go into that in great depth, but, but right. And so often when you get made, if you have an agent that means you've, you've surpassed, you've gotten over the first hump, which is like an agent feels like you're good enough. Um, and then, then I'll read a ton of scripts. All the scripts that I read from new writers are they've already cleared that first hurdle. They're good enough to get an agent, but that doesn't mean they're good enough to get a job. Right. And so, you know, you have to be a, you have to have a great script. And if it's like, well, I don't have a great script. Well, I'll find somebody else who does, there's somebody out there who has a great script. 

Phil: (04:00)

Right. Right. So this is an interesting thing, because I think I put an overwhelming amount of emphasis on this question when I was first learning how to be a writer because you on forums and in screenwriting books and on websites, people say, well, you got to get an agent to sell something. And I think, well, I have an idea and I want to sell it. Thus, I need an agent. And the truth is, um, you have to be so good that the agent thinks he can sell you. Right? Yeah. It goes back to our conversation on our last episode about sales it's they are selling something and they were getting a commission for that. And they are not going to waste their time or energy on something, unless they think they can sell what you have, because you are a commodity. 

Michael: (04:43)

Yeah. And if you had, I guess, say an agent, it's someone, there's a couple of things I want to explore. One is if you're up for it, you want to get a staff writing job. You're not competing against other people on the outside who've never written before. You're also competing since staff writers who have already worked, who are willing to do another, do another year as a staff writer. So now you're competing against people who've never done it and people who have done it well, or, and then maybe you're competing as story editors, which is the next level up from staff writer who are willing to take a bump down in salary because they want to work. So now you're competing against people who have one year of experience and two years of experience. So you must be great. You have to be great. And then the agent who's going to sign you. 

Michael: (05:22)

They have a handful of clients and they're have, they have to service all those clients. They're already trying to get those clients work. So if they're going to bring on somebody new that person, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to sell you because they're don't, they already, you know, they got plenty on their plate. And so one way to make it easy is to have a fantastic script, not just a good enough script. And in other way is, uh, if you have a built-in, uh, Beltman, uh, marketing market arm, like you're already very sellable. For example, there was a woman named Sarah Cooper and she blew up during the pandemic because she used to make a viral videos of, of Trump, where she put Trump's speeches. And then she would kinda, uh, lip sync to them. But she wasn't just lip sinking. 

Michael: (06:04)

She would also add little comic touches to them and she'd edit it really clever. I, she put a lot of work into one and they were really quite, they were next level. It was next level stuff. And it blew up on Twitter or one of the social media platforms. And, um, it became so big that she became known... she was an unknown before this. She was, uh, an aspiring actor, comedic actors. She couldn't get, she couldn't get arrested. And because she did all this work on her own and she blew up on her own suddenly it was like, well, it was a no brainer for every agent to sign her. She's already got a built-in platform. She already has a built-in marketing engine. And so she had made it very attractive.

Phil: (06:45)

This is, So this is an interesting thing where I think, you know, again, my perspective on this stuff kind of comes from a capitalistic perspective because my business and marketing background, but we're talking about audience here and we're talking about, you know, attention. It's really what we are, what we're offering people is something to gather their attention and they have to be willing to trade their time and energy and focus for that type of thing. So when you're writing a script, you're basically have to write something so good that someone is willing to sit through commercials or pay a monthly subscription to be entertained. Right. And that's what they're looking for. And so what this girl has done is she has brought some value to the table because she already has interest. She's provided free entertainment to people. And so those people want to see more of what she does. She has that audience. So I think it kind of speaks to what we're seeing now, which you've experienced recently with your book that you want to do. These people care a lot about, do you have an audience because you're bringing interested people with you. Yeah. 

Michael: (07:50)

Right. And she also did... Sarah Cooper along with others who did the same thing. She did all this for free. She wasn't putting up her content and saying, Hey, someone paying you for my Trump impersonations. Right. You know, this was, she put a lot of work in it for free and expected, nothing in return and got something in return for it. You know? So she was smart. And by the way, she was just as talented before she started doing these videos as she was afterwards. So it's the same person. So talent isn't quite enough. You know, 

Phil: (08:18)

That's an interesting note, right? Like, yeah. Like, and I'm trying to think of the exact saying on this, but talent. There are lots of talented people who go nowhere because they don't have the work ethic behind it. 

Michael: (08:30)

Yeah. Yeah. And they don't have right. They don't, they're not, they're not then actually not seeing the problem from the end of the, the, the perspective of the buyer. What is the buyer one? And let's say the agent is your buyer. The agent is the person who want you, you know, you want them to buy you. Well, what's in it for them. They don't want to work that hard. They want to find a new client who is, requires the least amount of work on their part because they have, you know, they got plenty to do. And if they find with a, with a built-in marketing engine and is super talented and you don't have to convince someone to buy, you don't have to beg and plead and cold calling favors. You know, they don't have to hustle. No one wants to know Adrian wants to hustle for you. They want someone who's like a slam dunk. They want that person to hustle for them. 

Phil: (09:10)

Yeah. Yeah. That's an interesting take. So, well, let's just assume then that I have the talent and I've got the goods. Like I've got the energy and maybe I haven't, for whatever reason hit it. I haven't gone viral. I don't have the following yet. And I want to get an agent. So I'm just going to run a couple of situations by, and you tell me if you think these are good places to get an agent and you may not, you may not be able to answer these, but I think you were so, yeah. So, uh, number one, pitch fests. 

Michael: (09:38)

Yeah. So I didn't, that wasn't even a thing when I was coming up. And then when I found out the pitch fast, I was like, what is that about? That doesn't make any sense to me. I I'm gonna have to say no. I actually, I ran on Twitter, someone Tweeted out, well, I let my agent or whatever. I sold the project to a Pitch Fest. But for, I, for every one person who says that like 10 others say what a waste of time. They don't even send people. It's just like our, I think it's just a racket, honestly. You know? Cause why would, if you were a producer and you wanted to get in touch with, um, a talented writer for a project you're working on, like, why in the hell would you go to a pitch that you go to an agency you've called talent agencies say, Hey, I got an idea for a project. Uh, I need writers. And they, within 10 minutes, there'd be a dozen writers outside the door saying, yes, let's do this. Like, you wouldn't go to some unknown. You wouldn't say, give me someone who's never done it before at a pitch fast. And maybe you'll say, okay, well maybe they don't have much money. Well, if they don't have much money, how are they going to raise money for this movie? Or this TV show? Like, what's that about? You know, it seems, it just seems shady, shady, AAF. 

Phil: (10:44)

Didn't I send you a tweet by someone who basically was like, yeah, my first day or my first week on the job, I was sent to represent the company in a pitch Fest. And I wore a suit and tie to try to make myself look older. Cause I was like 21 and fresh out of college. 

Michael: (10:58)

Yeah. And so all these people were paying money to pitch this guy. It was his first week on the job. And he was like right out of college. How do you think that's going to go? 

Phil: (11:07)

Okay. All right. So that's a really so similar screenplay contests.

Michael: (11:12)

There. And I didn't even know that was a thing until you told me about it. And I was like, oh, that's a thing. Um, 

Phil: (11:17)

Well, we see a lot of members of your course submitting to screenplay contests and pitch fests and interesting. It's interesting. 

Michael: (11:24)

And some like, from what you've told me, there are two big ones, right? There's the Nichols, which I was like, but now I am aware of.

Phil: (11:29)

That's through the academy. The academy does that. And they pick like 10 or 12 different screenplays specifically features that they think have what it takes and they give them a grant to just be writers to finish that script. Right. So it's a big deal.

Michael: (11:42)

And then, and then it's on it's 

Phil: (11:45)

Right. So Sundance has a script and that's a little bit different because you're submitting information to join the, the, to become a fellow, a Sundance fellow. So you're joining either the director's lab, the writer's lab, the editorial lab, the documentary labs. And that's changed recently. And I've had, you know, fortuitously I've been able to attend to those. I've been a Spanish English translator for three years at the, at the screenwriting labs and one year at the director's labs. So yeah, definitely worth it. And that's an interesting thing too, for anyone sitting there, you know, they told me they're not just looking for a good script. They're looking for someone with a body of work. They're looking for a creative, with a specific vision or a specific story to tell and famous people like Tika Waititi who's blowing up right now. Uh, Ryan Coogler, they're all Sundance Fellow. So it's a legitimate, um, no, that's not even a competition now. It's, you're applying to be a fellow. Right. 

Michael: (12:43)

The other 

Phil: (12:43)

Ones that there are a couple of like, there's big, Big Break and like Final Draft and stuff like that. They, they have their own competitions. And I think there's some value in those because they do have actual industry professionals showing up to judge those and be involved. Does that make sense? Okay. Okay. But, but I definitely, you know, from my background in the independent world, I have seen the other side of this, where you go on different, um, screenwriting contest or film festivals, and you submit to win awards at these competitions. And it's basically like one or two guys, maybe a group of five to 10 people. And they're doing it as a way of bringing culture to their town or their small town. And a lot of time, what I've seen is that it's a money grab. It's a way to. You're making money and I'm making a living because every single person who submits on Film Freeway, and there's a couple others they're paying like 40 bucks a submission for these. 

Michael: (13:40)

Maybe we shouldn't mention any names.

Phil: (13:41)

Yeah. Well, film the Film Freeway is the software where you say, okay, it's not an actual film festival. Okay, good. Right. So I, I, you know, I've been to some great film festivals and I think it's a lot of the networking that I have has come from attending film festivals because there are a hungry filmmakers who attend those things.

Michael: (13:59)

But, but not as like a contest, not yet.

Phil: (14:03)

Exactly. But they do have a screenwriting contest portion where you can submit your screenplay and you just pay a nominal 20 to 40 bucks for us to review your screenplay and enter the competition. Right. 

Michael: (14:15)

But it's not like, you know, I think the best case scenario you can hope for any of these is like maybe an agent will find you. Right. I mean, it's not like you're going to the network is, would say let's put it on the air. 

Phil: (14:26)

Hopefully someone there. And what I've seen is typically the experts who are sitting on the panels and attending and watching films or judging those things, they tend to be some of the better contacts you get out of those events. Okay. But from your perspective, like, it doesn't really seem like you find much value in a screenplay contest. 

Michael: (14:43)

I didn't even know they were a thing and I've been doing this for 26 years. So, but maybe that's just my ignorance. Um, you know, so it's not like the winner's live land on my lap when I'm hiring, they don't land on my lap. Maybe they land, maybe if the big contest lands on an agent's lap and the agent will submit... submit it to me, that might, that might work, you know, but it's not, it's not a direct pipeline to success and I'm the guy doing the hiring. 

Phil: (15:05)

Right. Right. So that's interesting. Okay. Lastly, um, and I, you know, we've never really had a conversation about this, but um, how familiar are you with The Blacklist? 

Michael: (15:16)

Um, I remember helping my partner. I sold a screenplay a couple screenplays years ago. It was, we were hoping, cause it never got, we didn't get me, but most screenplays for theatricals don't they do not get made. And so we were praying that it would get on The Black List just because it would be an honor. And it would be that kind of, it helps to market yourself, Hey, look, I'm on the black list and it's hard to get off of The Black List to get produced, but occasionally it does happen. Um, but I, you know, it didn't happen. We didn't, we didn't make The Black List for, I don't know. Yeah. I don't, I think it's like a bunch of industry. People have to read it and they have to unanimously think that, Hey, this is really good. I don't think it made it. It was ours was even that widely circulated. So I don't think it was even an option. 

Phil: (15:56)

There's two sides to it. So yeah, you can be put on The Black List and this is, again, this could be wrong. So if you have more information for watching this on YouTube comment below or let us know, and we'll address this in a future podcast, but my understanding is it is, um, industry professionals basically submit you and vote and say, these are the best screenplays that were unproduced this year and films like Arrival who come off The Black List and been made. Right. Um, yeah, but then there's the other side of it where you can submit your screenplay and get feedback from industry insiders. 

Michael: (16:28)

Right. And now, you know, I'm not even, I'm not on the feature end, I'm in the TV. So I don't The Black List. They don't really take pilots. Do they... It's more Theatrical? 

Phil: (16:37)

Uh, I don't know. I think they take pilots. I think you can submit to television as well, but it definitely definitely theatrical focused. So yeah. That's another thing. We'll look at it too, but if anyone knows just comment and let us know. 

Michael: (16:48)

Yes. It's an honor to get on it and I know it's hard to get off of it, you know, to get produced, but uh, yeah. I don't know much about it. Okay. How much in the honor game, I just want to get money. Right. 

Phil: (16:58)

Okay. All right. So, so what do you think it is then? How aside from the Michael Jamin answer of be a great writer... how do you get an agent? 

Michael: (17:07)

Well, it's really, it's really what, what do you bring to the table? And it's not your willingness to work as a, as a writer, as a screenwriter. That's not anything, you know, like I said, if you bring to the table, your connections, if you are already on a show as, as, as a PA or the staff or a writer's assistant, and you're this close to popping and breaking in, and the showrunners was like, you, they want to hire you that you're bringing a lot to the table. You're already getting that first job basically. Or if you have a, like Sarah Cooper, if you already have a built-in marketing platform with a billion followers on Facebook, whatever the hell is on, you know, you, that you have that audience. So it's much easier. And it's, it's, it's sad, but that's just how it goes these days. It's not so much about talent. It's also about what do you bring to the table? 

Michael: (17:53)

Hi guys, it's Michael Jamin. I wanted to take a break from talking and talk just a little bit more. I think a lot of you, people are getting bad advice on the internet. Many of you want to break into the industry as writers or directors or actors, and some of you are paying for this advice on the internet. It's just bad. And as a working TV writer and showrunner, this burns my butt. So my goal is to flush a lot of this bad stuff out of your head and replace it with stuff that's actually going to help you. So I post daily tips on social media, go follow me @MichaelJaminWriter. You can find me on Instagram and Facebook and TikTok. And let's be honest, if you don't have time, like just two minutes a day towards improving your craft, it's not going to happen. So go make it happen for me at @MichaelJaminWriter. Okay. Now back to my previous rant. 

Phil: (18:39)

I guess here's the next question. What's the difference between an agent and a manager? 

Michael: (18:43)

Let me know. And I have both, um...

Phil: (18:46)

I, I have an external perspective of what I've learned from trying to get these over years, but...

Michael: (18:52)

What are they telling you? 

Phil: (18:53)

Yeah, so, so the agent's job is legally to sell the script. Like they, they're the only one qualified to sell a script. They cannot, managers cannot make deals, but managers bring people on and basically work through and support the project, give notes, provide feedback, and build relationships for that writer. 

Michael: (19:13)

Yeah, they do that in the beginning. You know, I was kind of being a little glib, but our agent, you know, our agent was the one who got us, our first job. And so yes, agents submit and they get you that job. And then as we rose up through the ranks eventually become high. So high that it's actually kind of hard to get a job on a staff. The next step is basically have your own show. And so you're either going to be a showrunner or maybe the second in command. And so to be a showrunner, or to get your, to sell your show, you often need to sell your project with talent. And so a manager can usually hook you up with talent. There are other clients, and that's how it's worked in the past. We've done, um, we've sold shows with, uh, like comedians, like mostly big name comedians that they pair us up with their other clients. And so that's what a manager can do is cause more of a long-term thing, but they don't. Yeah, you're right. They can't make deals. They can't really submit you stuff like that. And, and they also, a manager can own, not that this is a plus, but they could own a percentage of your project. They can, they can help you produce it. Whereas a manager or agents can't do that. Right. 

Phil: (20:16)

But, but, and so this is an interesting thing. So, um, do you know what the current, what the rate is for a manager versus an agent? 

Michael: (20:24)

Uh, well, our agent takes 10% and so does our manager. 

Phil: (20:27)

Yeah. And I have heard of instances where managers isn't taken up to 15%. 

Michael: (20:31)

Yeah. Yeah. And then there's nothing left for the writer. 

Phil: (20:35)

And then you have your attorney fees. Right. Which is like 5 cents.

Michael: (20:37)

That's 5%. Yeah.

Phil: (20:38)

So right out of the gate, you're between 25 to 30% of your income. Yeah. Plus taxes after that. Right. Yeah. But, but this is an interesting point. I've again, I come from a sales and capitalistic background of I have goods and I'm trying to sell goods. And so are there a lot of people who don't have that background who say, well, why would I want to give away 10% of my project and my responses will, 10% of zero is still zero that's. Right. Right. So if your manager can make the introduction and provide the asset to get the job done, right. Making connection with that actor who will go in and you can pitch that project with them and the agent does the job of closing that deal and getting you the best deal they can then that's money well paid because you're now getting 70% of whatever you sold instead of 100% of nothing.

Michael: (21:28)

Yeah. And there was only recently, like about a year ago, it'd be writers, Guild, uh, severed ties with all, all agents. So you had to drop your agent because, uh, the deal was, you know, there was, there was some shenanigans going on. So, uh, the writers had to kind of sever tires. And so we had to rely on our manager for work during then. And then of course it's been, it's been settled, but yeah, now we have an agent and a manager and a lawyer.

Phil: (21:54)

Awesome. Okay. All right. So what do, what, so we've talked about like we understand what to expect from them. Um, what else do you think, what else do you think is important to know about an agent and a manager? 

Michael: (22:04)

Well, an agent, this is kind of important, but agents, you know, I think that most people think, well, my agent would go and get me a job. They'll they'll hustle like the agent. That's not really the accurate, the agent's job is more like to field offers. So when the phone rings, "Hey, we need a writer," or, "Hey, we want to hire Michael Jamin and Sivert Glarum, his partner." And they, then the agent was stepping. They feel the offers. They're not going to hustle and fight too much because they have other clients, they have to maintain relationships. And if a deal goes south, like if, like, let's say, uh, you know, I, we have a pilot and it goes south, how hard is my agent gonna fight for me? I don't know. I, I suspect not too hard because he wants to make, he still wants to keep his relationship with the network or the studio, a good one because he has other clients to serve. 

Michael: (22:50)

So if you become too much of a squeaky wheel, if you become with your, when you have your agent and you start crying all the time, like in the movies, you'll see, oh, this happens all the time. Like, uh, you'll see a STR, a writer calling his agent what's going on. And I, and the agency I agents handholding. And then don't worry about me. I'm promising, I'm working hard for you like that. Does that call doesn't exist? I don't bother my agent with that kind of nonsense because you know, he's not a babysitter. And if I make myself too much of a nuisance, uh, he's not going to work for me. He's going to find somebody else to work for. 

Phil: (23:22)

Right. Makes sense. Makes sense. Okay. Yeah. 

Michael: (23:27)

All right. I wish I was a big, if I was a real big shot, then I could do that. But, um, you know, 

Phil: (23:32)

Okay, well, which, so which one do you think is easier? Like if I, if I'm a new writer, which one do you think is the easiest to get and where should I put my time and energy? 

Michael: (23:39)

I think it's probably easier to get a manager. I think there are, uh, yeah, I think in the beginning, and by the way, there, there are four big, as you mentioned, there are four big talent agencies in Hollywood. There's ICM, CAA, William Morris Endeavor, and UTA, United talent agency, and then are much smaller there are next tier, you know, Paradigm and APA there... and then there's some small boutique agencies coming out of the gate. You are not going to, no new writer is going to land it at UTA. 

Michael: (24:07)

Yeah. Unless you're in a situation right. Where you're an overnight success like this girl right who. Right. It's like, is that it's like CAA is like, okay, you, we have a rare opportunity here to capitalize on an audience, so we should take her on.

Michael: (24:21)

And, and so you, you most likely to start at a small agency and that's so fine, your agent will give you attention. That's good. But there's an advantage to being a big one, which is, for example, when more staffing on a show, the first call I make is to my agent. And I say, Hey, um, I need, we need writers. Submit me your writers. I need young baby writers. And so that's how it works. They like the first call is my agency to send me his, his writers. And those are the first ones I'll read. And if there's a good one, I'll hire that one. Why? Because I'm trying to make good with my agent. I'm trying to keep him happy. So, you know, but if there's no one that's right for the show, then I go to the next agency, you know? Um, that's how that works.

Phil: (25:04)

Got it. Got it. But a manager would be the easiest way to approach this. 

Michael: (25:08)

The manager will help... a good manager will help you land an agent too. 

Phil: (25:12)

Because they may have connections, right? Yeah. Right. They are a matchmaker. All right. That makes a lot of sense. So, but this all being said, you know, I shouldn't even bother writing until I have one or the other. Right. Because ultimately I need these things to sell myself. 

Michael: (25:26)

Yeah. No, you got to start. You have to always write. You have to always, right. I, um, you know, uh, the, there are, I can't remember what the numbers are. I ran the numbers, but there are slightly more active players in the NFL, including the practice squad. Yeah. There's slightly more working TV writers than there are at players in the NFL. Just a little bit more. I think it's like 2200 versus 2,800. It's not a lot of people. So if you were going to be in the NFL, do you know if your goal is to be in the NFL? Do you work out once a week or do you work out every single day? You know, 

Phil: (26:02)

Uh, I was, uh, I was just listening to a Joe Rogan podcast this morning. And he's talking about this UFC fighter, Conor McGregor, which I don't know if you know who he is. He's kind of Conor McGregor recently was in a fight with a guy named Dustin Porier and it was round three was their third fight. And Connor broke his shin in the middle of the fight. Yeah. Shattered it. And people were like, oh, he's old. And, and he should give up. And ultimately Joe Rogan made this point. He's like, that dude is a Savage because it was a known injury. It had it scanned. He already had a broken leg when he went in and he still went in, he still fought. And he was still kicking with that, leg, right. And he went in balls to the walls at the beginning, swinging as hard as he could try and to knock Dustin Poirer you out because that's who he is. 

Phil: (26:45)

And you have to keep in mind, this man has half a million, half a billion dollars in the bank. Oh wow. Because of other fights he's won sort of fight with that intensity to be that dedicated to your career, proves the level of integrity of energy and effort you need to be in. And they made this point. They said, you know, if I'm a professional athlete, you can be a good boxer and learn, takedown defense. You can stop someone with jujitsu or wrestling and you can get pretty far, but to be an elite level champion, you have to know jujitsu and you have to be really good at it. You have to know boxing, you have to know wrestling. You have to go to the cardio gym and you have to be working on all these facets of your craft to be a world champion. And, and it's, it's something most people are not willing to, to do. 

Michael: (27:31)

No, they just say, I have a script. Can't you get me work. Yeah. You know? 

Phil: (27:35)

Yeah. What can you do for me is I think the attitude I see a lot. 

Michael: (27:39)

Yeah. Yeah. Um, it's the other way around. It's what, you know. Yeah. 

Phil: (27:45)

The point, like, if you're playing, like if you consider that NFL analogy, it's it's you are playing at the elite level. Like how many high school athletes don't make it to division one football. Yeah. How many division one football players don't make it to the NFL combine, let alone get drafted, let alone play. 

Michael: (28:06)

And you're coming after my job. You think I'm going to let you have my job. Yeah. Right. Yeah. So, and I've been doing this for, for 26 years. I'm the NFL player who you, you haven't heard of, but man, that guy's still kicking around? Yeah. He's still on the team. Wow. Good for him. Yeah. That's why. Yeah. 

Phil: (28:22)

Yeah, because you put in the work, right. It's you know, and not, they're not people who work at coffee shops. Right. Or right at coffee shops, but something you told me when I first moved to LA is, you know, real writers are too busy to spend time at coffee shops. 

Michael: (28:34)

It's every time I, whenever I hear a writer friend saying they're typing, they're working at Starbucks. I always laugh. Like, come on, man. Right. It's so cliche. Don't do that. It's very rare. Most of the people who are working in Starbucks who are tapping on their computers, at least in LA, right? Yeah. They want you to think that they're a right. Look at me, I'm a writer. But if you are a real writer in my experience, it's like, you're not working in a coffee shop. You're working. 

Phil: (28:54)

And I'm sure that that's what we call "seamers" where I come from. They seem like they're doing the job, right? Yeah. 

Michael: (29:01)

Yeah. They want you to think that they're doing work. Like I caught me, I got a terrible, my opinion is a terrible place to work. It's not comfortable. The seats are hard. 

Phil: (29:10)

There's no whiteboard. 

Michael: (29:12)

Yeah. In a whiteboard. Like why would you work at a coffee shop of all places? 

Phil: (29:15)

Yeah. All right. So ultimately it comes back to the same thing we've been saying the whole time is ultimately you have to be good at your craft and not just good. You have to be great. I think that was one of the most helpful notes that you gave me. Uh, we talked about the spec script that I wrote or was, uh, a spec Mr. Robot for my TV writing class and... And you read it and he gave me a great note. You said is obvious. You're a competent writer and this is really good. The bad news is it's not great. Yeah. And that has stuck with me for two years. It's like, it has to be great to stand out. 

Michael: (29:48)

Where you're constantly working on it. So, you know, you have an advantage over people. You already have a huge advantage over everybody else. And that you are now an industry insider because you are working on the TV show. And because of that, you are around scripts and you're reading scripts and you're, you're around other writers and you're learning, you know, that's a huge advantage that you will, but that was because you made a sacrifice. You moved here. 

Phil: (30:09)

Yeah. Well, and it's, it is expensive and it is hard. And I could be living a very, completely, a completely different lifestyle if I lived anywhere else but California or in LA. Um, I think I read recently that the, the ave... The average income in America, is like is $36,000, but LA county considers the average cost of living your $53k.

Michael: (30:29)

A year. And that sounds low. 

Phil: (30:31)

Yeah. Like, like it's, it's a crazy expensive town, but you know, I will say that one of the benefits of busting my butt as a writer's PA and doing my best to provide as much value as I could in that position is they brought me back on to be a, an office PA, which was a position I'd already had. And then I also got brought in to be the post PA. And I've been working on the same show for two full seasons now nonstop because they like you. Yeah. But the cool thing is I get to see how you guys break the story. I get to read every draft. You can see how it changes. I get to go into production. I get to see how they shoot the show. I get to see what changes happen, the day of shooting. And then I get to go and post and I get to watch the showrunners, make that final cut of their show and make those decisions. And I've learned far more being a PA than I think I've ever learned in film school. 

Michael: (31:25)

Right. Are you sitting in on the mix 

Phil: (31:27)

Too? I probably could if I asked that this point, um, but I make it very clear that I don't, I'm not trying to get anything from anyone. So, I I've been invited and I probably could at any point, but you know, I'm here to run tapes around LA, right. That's my job. And I'll do it and I'll do it as fast as I can. 

Michael: (31:46)

All right. So good attitude. It's got a good attitude. 

Phil: (31:50)

Cool. 

Michael: (31:52)

All right. That's a good, that's a good episode of the podcast. 

Phil: (31:55)

I think. Very helpful. Yeah, absolutely. 

Michael: (31:57)

All right, everyone, thank you for listening. And we got more coming up, so, uh, you know, I don't know. What do you gotta do? So you gotta subscribe to podcasts. Is that what you do? 

Phil: (32:04)

Yeah. Make sure you subscribe, make sure you leave a review at this point. Give us that five stars. It helps with our rankings. Uh, make sure you share it on your social media. If there's something you find valuable. And then I would also encourage everyone to follow you on social media. 

Michael: (32:17)

Yes, please do. Uh, yeah. I'm at, especially Instagram @MichaelJaminWriter. I post daily tips on Instagram. So Coco. 

Phil: (32:24)

Yeah, absolutely. The right thing to go fall in there. I think that, um, the members of your course specifically who said that the content you're putting out on social media or their gems of information, and they've already been through your course, 

Michael: (32:38)

It's funny that they say people, I, people will say that it could, this is gold. And I'm like, I, I might, when I post on my social media posts, well, this is gold. I'm like, no, 

Michael: (32:46)

Dude, the gold is in the course. I wouldn't give you the gold. This is really, this is just really good. They're really, really good stuff. Isn't it? Is in the course.

Phil: (32:53)

Yeah. So it's good stuff. So check out the course again. And um, you know, I think one of the students in your course, you said, you know, if you can save up the money, it will be the most transformative course you'll ever take and he's taken multiple courses just like I have. And you know, I could talk all day about how much I love the course, and I'm glad it's there and you know, grateful that it's improved my writing. So thank you. Thank you. Okay. And we'll see everyone next week. 

Michael: (33:18)

Very good. Bye-bye now 

Phil: (33:32)

This has been an episode of Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing leaving a review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. If you're looking to support yourself, I encourage you to consider investing in Michael's screenwriting course at MichaelJamin.com/course. I've known Michael for over a decade. And in the past seven years, I've begged him to put something together. During the global COVID-19 pandemic. Michael had time. And I have to say, I wish I'd had this course 10 years ago. As someone who has personally invested in most online courses, earned a bachelor's degree, and actively studied screenwriting for over a decade, this course has been more valuable to me than most of the effort I've put in because it focuses on something noone else teaches: story. In his course, Michael pulls back the curtain and shows you exactly what the pros do in a writer's room and that knowledge has made all the difference for me. And I know it will for you too. You can find more information at MichaelJamin.com/course for free daily screenwriting tips. Follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

2021-12-01
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