Michael Jamin & Phil Hudson discuss the reason they started this podcast, how Michael got his start, and the biggest mistake most new screenwriters make when approaching Hollywood.

Show Notes

Michael’s Screenwriting Course –

Free Screenwriting Lesson

Writing for Dough: Adventures of a T.V. Comedy Writer Paperback – May 1, 1989, by Bill Idelson – Non-Affiliate Link –

Michael Jamin on IMDB

Autogenerated Transcript

Michael: (00:00)
I wasn’t critiquing her story. I was saying, okay, if this is the story you want to tell, this is what you need to do. I wasn’t telling her whether it was a good story or a bad story. I wasn’t like that, that, you know, that’s subjective. I said, if this is the one story you want to tell, this is what it needs. And at the end of our, we talked for about an hour. It was like she had witnessed a magic trick. You’re listening to screenwriters need to hear this with Michael Jen. So today’s episode, we’re talking about breaking into the business, how I got into the business and how this whole podcast even started. So I’ve been a professional TV writer for 26 years and fell here. My podcasting partner, he’s been bugging me for years to start an online screenwriting course, to tell everyone how, what I’ve learned, you know, as an opportunity.

Phil: (00:50)
Well, selfishly, I should add, like, this is something I wanted for myself. And so kind of like tickets to a step back here too. I have probably paid for every screenwriting program on the internet, and I’ve been doing that for the last decade. And then I went to film school and got a bachelor’s degree specifically in screenwriting. And I still feel like I’ve learned more from private lessons from you, or just off-the-cuff emails you sent to me reviewing something or giving me notes. And so when I say I’ve been begging for this course, I remember sitting in my car, it was on a business trip to Utah. And back in 2015, maybe you need to, you need to do a course on screenwriting. And I wanted this. I, it,

Michael: (01:30)
I was surprised that you hadn’t learned any of this in film school. That’s what always shocked me. I was like, well, what are you, what are they teaching you there?

Phil: (01:36)
You know? And, and I think for most people, you know, I consider myself an autodidact, meaning I, I teach myself things. And when I went to film school, it was more of a networking thing through, you know, being a Robert Redford scholar and trying to get somewhere ends in the Sundance independent community. But a lot of the things that they teach in film school match up with things that I learned in these other paid courses and things that I take taken online or in screenwriting books. And so for a while, I was like, oh yeah, this must be what screenwriting is. And then I remember, you know, to kind of give some background on how we know each other. I worked at a digital marketing agency and I was actually the account manager for your wife’s online business. And I never met you over the course of several years.

Phil: (02:18)
And there was at one point, your, your wife was like, oh, my husband, Michael is going to be getting on the call while he waits for his next show to start off, he’s going to help me out with marketing. And she didn’t know that I’d been wanting to be a screenwriter for this whole time and taking these courses. And I remember I said show, and she’s like, oh yeah, he’s a, he’s going to be running mark Marin’s new show. And I was like, okay. And I looked her up and I was like, oh, she’s an Angry Beavers, which I grew up at real monsters. And she’s an actress. I had no idea. And you, you know, it just goes to show, you never know anything about anybody. You can’t just judge a book by its cover at all. And then you were, I guess at some point I had generated enough Goodwill with you through her that you were like, oh, I was like, we got our car.

Phil: (03:01)
I was like, I’m trying to break in. And you’re like, I’m trying to break out like just a funny comment and say, you sent me some screenwriting books and got me a subscription to the writers Guild magazine, which was very helpful. And then I just remember the first email you sent and you’re like, what’s the definition of a story? And I gave it to you. And you were like, I think I said, uh, it’s about someone who becomes a, someone who goes through trials and ends up better in the end. And you were like, what about king Lear? He goes nuts. Right? And I was like, oh, I know nothing. That was about the point when I was like, I have learned nothing over all of this time learning formatting and how to use the software. So it that’s kind of about the time it clicked as well. But these people who are teaching things may not actually be teaching what the industry considers to be crafted. Yes.

Michael: (03:45)
That’s it cause like, I, I didn’t go to film school. I don’t know many writers or any that did go to film school. So w like film school is a mystery to us. I don’t know why people go, I don’t know what they’re teaching. And then I, I suspect that it’s being taught by professional teachers and not by actual TV writers or screamers with a lot of experience,

Phil: (04:05)
You know, I had, I had maybe one or two really good screenwriting professors in my bachelor’s program. And like, one of them wrote some major hits in the eighties. He’s a worker, he was a working pro and he was legitimate. We were on a working campus. So like there were stages and they shot the show Longmire. So we had the opportunity to have the showrunners of Longmeyer come in and speak to us. Those were probably some of the best things about going to film school. For me, I think a lot of people who want to learn camera work and want to learn how to, what it means to, you know, run a, run a set from a PA or a first director or to direct, I think there were a lot of benefits in that regard, but from a writing perspective, not a lot, man, my TV writing class, we wrote one spec script, the entire S like the entire semester, which seems like a lot, but it’s not when you’re a writer. Right. Right.

Michael: (04:54)
Well, and that was, that’s what led you were like, Hey, put together a course and I just didn’t have the time or desire, but then the pandemic hit and I had, you know, Hollywood shot. I was like, this is gonna, we’re all gonna be hiding under beds for a year. And I just knew it was going to shut down the industry, like immediately. So, and it did for me, for sure, everyone, like, we just had nothing to do. So I had all this time and I was like, all right, I’ll put together this course. And it took a couple of months. Uh, and so that we put together a course. And if anyone’s interested, I’d at Michael But from the people who signed up for it, they kind of became rabid and they just wanted more and more stuff. And then,

Phil: (05:33)
So lots of questions. We were doing webinars. We were breaking down case studies of stories and, you know, my technical background, I kind of step in and facilitate a lot of the technical side of this. So I saw a lot of those questions and, uh, met up with some of the members of the course that have been traveling. And yeah, it’s just a lot of the same stuff. There’s a lot of things people don’t know. And I’m, I’m low man on the totem pole, right? I’m a, writer’s PA and a PA in other regards, but I’ve had the ability to sit in that outside of the writer’s room and in the writer’s room on a few occasions, and it’s just a different world. So you know that the ability to learn things in a course for me to see what you look for as a showrunner and craft what your perspective is on selling a pilot and you know, that probably not going to happen. It could, but it probably not. And so what should you focus on craft and what is craft and how you actually work on your story and what elements belong to us. Right. Those are things I didn’t learn in a four year program. I had learned in other online programs. And so there’s a lot of value that came from that, but there are also a lot more questions, Ryan. And I think that’s kind of led to your social media stuff.

Michael: (06:39)
I started posting on social media and, you know, on Instagram and anyone listening to go follow me there at Michael Jammin writer. But then, and then it became, okay, well, the next step was, people would just want her to be her more, um, like, uh, so that became, this became the podcast. And all this stuff is like, uh, the course is really the nuts and bolts of had, okay, how do we literally, right? How do we become, how do we break it down as if you were in the writer’s room as if you are working for me, this, this is exactly the steps we take every day to turn an idea into an episode of television. And the podcast is more, um, kind of peripheral stuff about, you know, stuff, you know, how I got into the business, how you can get into the business and, uh, little things that are not quite so writing centric, but more,

Phil: (07:22)
There’s going to be some of that, but it’s really, there are a lot of questions, people asking. And what I’ve noticed from reading through your social media comments, cause you had some stuff on Tik TOK at like half a million masks known as a 400,300,000 on one, 200,000 on another. And a lot of the questions people ask are these same exact questions. Lots of people are asking these exists in resources. Like this podcast is not the only place where you can get to see a lot of this information. There’s script notes, podcasts, a bunch of other really good places where you can have actual working writers teach you great, valuable stuff. But in general, there are a lot of very specific questions aren’t that aren’t being answered and things that I wish I would have known earlier. Right. Which, which gives us the opportunity to talk about it from those two perspectives, you 26 years in and me a decade plus into my writing attempts and still learning every single day and learning what I don’t know now that I’m sitting adjacent to writers and writers.

Michael: (08:17)
Right. Right. So I guess we’ll talk about, um, kinda how I got, how I got into the business. Like I said, I didn’t go to film school was my childhood dream when I was first question cheers, uh, on, uh, you know, Thursday nights on NBC. I was like, I want to be the guy who writes the lines for norm. Like, I didn’t realize like the one writer writes the entire script. I just felt like maybe there was a writer who norms limes and there’s a different writer who does Diana. Like I had no idea, no clue. And so, um, that was my goal. And after college I graduated college, like two weeks later, I got my wisdom teeth pulled cause I had, um, I still had insurance. Then I got into my car and I drove from New York all the way to LA didn’t really know where I was going to stay. Uh, and then I found a roommate and, and uh, that’s kind of how I broke into the business. Um, just kind of like hustling and, and begging and sending out.

Phil: (09:10)
So let me ask you come from an economically wealthy background.

Michael: (09:14)
Yeah. Yeah. And, and you are impoverished, you grew up on the other side of the spectrum. Yeah.

Phil: (09:19)
Yeah. I grew up, um, you know, food stamps, social security welfare. Did the foster home thing as a kid for awhile. Yeah. I was definitely on the other side, but I it’s interesting because since I was 18 years old, I’ve really focused on personal development, what people might’ve called self-help and there are a lot of excuses that people will come up with about what it takes to break in. And then I think this is one of those, which is you have to be wealthy to break in, but I know plenty of writers who did not come from a wealthy background. Yeah. Yeah.

Michael: (09:51)
I mean, it was like, I didn’t have to worry, you know, I just didn’t have to worry about certain things. But when I got out here, I got, I got a job. Like I, you know, it wasn’t like I was getting checks every day from my parents. We were scooping ice cream. I was working at Humphrey yogurt and uh, yeah, there’s a yogurt store. Um, and so I did that. And then, um, yeah, then I finally got Phi was my first PA job. I think I was making $300 a week. And,

Phil: (10:15)
And then I’ll make it a little bit more than that in 2020. All right.

Michael: (10:19)
And we won and I mean, it’s interesting. So it’s like people say, well, you, it, you know, at least back then, and it’s true in LA in Los Angeles, when I was making money, I moved up to PA where I was making maybe $400. We can $400 a week allowed me to get a studio apartment where I could live by myself for, you know, cause it wasn’t that expensive. My rent was maybe 600 a month and now you can’t in LA you can’t get anything near that. So you have to get roommates. Right. So yeah,

Phil: (10:46)
I had five roommates at one point in the house. I still live in the same house. I’m married now with a kid. And you know, I had to build a bunch of businesses to establish myself. This was all part of a fricking ten-year plan to make it to LA and be able to do this. And so I get like, there are economical difficulties to hold you back, but there are ways to make it happen. Yeah. So I had an extra income that comes in from businesses that I own that, but I also have PA money that comes in to help me out and I can live in LA on peace at PA salary. I have proven that we had five roommates in a four bedroom, three bath house out in the middle of the valley. And my rent was like six 50. Right.

Michael: (11:23)
Split. So yeah. It’s can be done. I mean, I get it. I get, it was easier for me back then. But on some ways it was difficult, more difficult because there was no, this is 1992. There was no internet. And I couldn’t even the idea of becoming a television writer was like, well, I didn’t know any TV writers. I didn’t know anyone who was, I didn’t like now you can go on the internet and you’d get all the, there were no, you know, there are no podcasts you, I had, all I knew was if I wanted to work in Hollywood, I better be in Hollywood and then I’ll figure it out. But now it’s like, you can live across the, and get all this content like this podcast for free and you can learn so much without ever leaving your bedroom, you know? Yeah.

Phil: (12:00)
Yeah. And one of the things you talk about in your course not to bring it up again, but I think is really valuable is you have to live in LA because that’s where the writing happens, but you don’t have to live in LA to practice your craft that’s right. Right. And in some of the first advice you gave me is you need to be in LA because when they need someone, they need them today. And if you’re not here today, they’ll just call the next guy in line or the next girl in line. And there’s 10,000 of those people. Right. Right. Right. But being here helps. And you know, the show I work on now that you work on as well, that’s happened because I was available that day. Right.

Michael: (12:33)
And to get to your point about your craft, like, it doesn’t really matter. Like if you, if you’re not ready, if your, if your writing isn’t at that level, it doesn’t matter if you, if you have a, if Steven Spielberg owes you a favor, you know what I’m saying? Like, if you can get your script in Spielberg’s hand, if the script is no good, it’s not going to do what there is. Does it make, so it’s not really about who, you know, it’s about, are you writing at the right level before who, you know, and, and most people skip that, but everyone’s like, why they say like, how do I get my script in the right hands?

Phil: (13:03)
Oh, I have a personal story for this. Oh, we, I don’t think we’ve ever talked about, but I had a roommate. His dad was a college roommates with a pretty prominent, I mean, like very prominent, uh, show runner here in LA. I’m trying to anonymize this a little bit. Right. But when you think showrunners, you think of this guy and it was his brother. And so he got to sit in the writers room over a summer as an intern and literally sit in the writer’s room every day with this person. And then he said, when you have a script ready for you to see send it. So he sent it to the show runner and he blew his shot because was the, a script he set wasn’t. First of all, the script is that wasn’t even related to the tone of what the showrunner writes. And number two, it was not ready. He didn’t have enough peer review. You could even say, let alone have the craft skills. Right. And people that he lives in Colorado. Now he moved home

Michael: (13:54)
Blue shot. Right. And that’s a shame cause everyone thinks their script is ready. I guarantee you. And I thought when I was young, I thought my script was right.

Speaker 3: (14:04)
Hi guys, Michael Jammin here 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 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, it just made me nuts, man. These people are unqualified to give my dog advice. And by the way, her script is it’s coming along quite nicely.

Speaker 3: (14:43)
And Owen, I’m not done. Another thing. When I work with TV writers for a new one, I’m writing stamps. A lot of these guys flame out after 13. So they get this big break. They find it to 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 Tik TOK and Facebook at Michael Jammin writer. 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 you make it happen. All right. Now, back to my previous.

Michael: (15:25)
And so the people ask the question like, well, how do I get my script into the right hands? And I made a post about this few weeks ago and it kind of blew up and it was like, wow, that makes sense. My point is, you shouldn’t ask your, you shouldn’t ask, how do we get my script into the right hands? You should ask, how do I write a script so good that it doesn’t matter whose hands it falls into. And that’s honestly the truth because it’s like you write a script and it’s great. And then someone, you know, you give it to a friend of a friend or a friend who knows someone who’s in the business. They’ll read it. And they go, oh, this is really good. I’m going to pass it up the ladder because I knew because I, you know, if I I’m doing that person a favor, I’m giving them something.

Michael: (16:00)
That’s amazing. They’re going to thank me for this gem that I gave them. And then it’s going to finally align someone’s hand. Maybe that person is a producer. And that person is going to read and say, listen, I can’t do anything for this script, but you are an immense talent. And I want to work with you. Not because I’m trying to help you, but because I’m going to make money off of you. I’m going to exploit you. I mean, you’re going to be a great me. I’m going to explore you because I need what you have. And, and now it changes the whole power dynamic. Instead of you begging how do I get my script to the right end, begging people to read it. Now, people are begging you to work with you because you have something of value, but everyone skips that step. Everyone’s like, but I already got, I know how to write.

Michael: (16:41)
I know how to hold the pen. Therefore I know how to write, or I know how to watch a movie. Therefore I know how to, uh, re you know, re uh, write a movie, which is, of course, it’s just not like, it’s a skill. It’s like, I look at screenwriting as a craft and you have to learn your craft. It doesn’t, I wasn’t born with this. I believe in my first CRISPR, terrible. I had to learn all this. And so what I learned in this course is stuff that I learned from working from writers who were way more downloaded, one more successful than I own like Steve Levitan and Chris Lloyd and, and Greg Daniels, like all this stuff, they just passed down to me because I was on the writing staff. And, and then I eventually became a show writer. And I kind of have, I approached story a little bit differently than they do.

Michael: (17:17)
That’s not, that’s not to say better or worse. It’s just, I approach it a little differently. And would you call that voice? Is that what, when people say the term voice, your voice is different. Every writer has a different voice, but it also, in terms of how they approach story, um, everyone kind of, I find different writers. Some writers are a little more intuitive and I don’t like they just know in their gut, like, they’re just born with that gift. And I wasn’t born with that gift. So I have to, I have a process that I use and that I teach. It’s like, it’s the process that I use because I, I’m not a natural born storyteller. Some people are. And, but, but of like, um, like those people are very rare. I think.

Phil: (17:53)
So w what I’m hearing you say, as someone who, you know, has been told, I had writing talent, but felt very unfocused is that I can learn to focus the tone I have through that process. Yeah. Right. That’s a learnable. It’s not, uh, you know, a God given gift that you just have. You’re not some innate thing that evolution gave you. You can learn something, you can learn how to do this. Yeah.

Michael: (18:16)
And it’s funny. Cause I had, uh, uh, a friend of the family was here a week or two ago and, uh, she’s working on, uh, on a play. And so she stuck, she’s been working on this for months and she stuck and she wanted to bounce it off of me. And I go, okay, just tell me the story. And I kept on interrupting her. No, no, no, no. That doesn’t mean that doesn’t. And at the end, cause she was, she was blocked and the end, I go, okay, well here’s your story. This is what you need here. Bottom back one. This is what you need. Here’s what I, here’s what I would do. And it wasn’t like, I wasn’t telling her, I wasn’t critiquing her story. I was saying, okay, if this is the story you want to tell, this is what you need to do.

Michael: (18:56)
I wasn’t telling her whether it was a good story or a bad story. I wasn’t like that. That’s, you know, that’s a subjective. I said, if this is the one story you want to tell, this is what it needs. And at the end of our, we talked for about an hour. I, it was like, she had witnessed a magic trick when I, and it was very easy for me. It was like, oh, cause I do this every day. But she was like, wow, that helps that. Thank you so much. Now I know how to proceed. And I hadn’t critiqued it. I didn’t say whether it was good or bad. I just said, these are, this is what you need to do to tell this one story, you know?

Phil: (19:24)
Yeah. Yeah. I’ve experienced that with you as well. Um, I think you came over to my house to help me out, to break a feature on a whiteboard that I had in this office at one point. And it was like the same thing. It was just like literally watching like a master work. You know, I consider a craft to be like, I’m a carpenter. I can see like, look at me. Like I have a saw and I have a hammer and I have nails. Can I make a cabinet in theory? Yes. But is that a cabinet? Someone’s going to want to pay $10,000 to do an accustom remodel in a home. Absolutely not. And so my skill set as a writer 10 years ago, versus my skillset now, compared to your skillset as a showrunner is 26 years experience vastly different scale. And I think pace changes and follows that skill set as well. Yeah. Right. So what I’m hearing you say is there’s a craft, there’s a skillset. You can learn these things. It doesn’t change your unique perspective, your voice, your tone, um, the way you see the world, your life experience and all those beautiful things that you bring to the table that no one else can. Right. But it gives you a structure in which frees you up to, to express those things in your unique way. Yeah.

Michael: (20:38)
Yeah. And it’s almost like, it’s almost like connect the dots. It’s like, okay, for the story, you need eight point a B, C, D E, or whatever. And I’m not going to, I’m not going to budge. We need that point a, we need point B how you want to get from a, to base your decision. But I am not gonna let you, you know, we need to have a and B. Right. And so there’s plenty of room for creativity. Like, I’m not saying you, you know, you, you decide how you want to get from a, to B, you could take a plane, you could take a belt, you could take the car, whatever, but we need a and B. So, um, it was interesting that, cause she was so impressed. And I was like, I don’t know why it wasn’t that impressive. Um, from where I stand, I was like, oh, this is, this is like a day’s worth of work. It’s not really like, you know, this is what I do for a living. It’s not because I hit it on the head with lightning or anything. It’s just boom.

Phil: (21:22)
But it’s impressive when you watch somebody who understands the skillset. So like, uh, I was a missionary on the border for two years and I remember this one time we were out with this member of our church and we were talking to some people and their car was broken down and this guy was literally a master mechanic. That was his title. And he walked over and he’s like, ah, what’s going on? And they’re like this, he’s like, try to try to turn it over. And they did. And he did pop the hood and he grabs a cable from one side and another cable twist them together. He goes, try it. And it just fired right up. Right. Because he understood from the sound, it made how to make that work. Right. But it just looks like magic the source.

Michael: (21:59)
Yeah. Right. And it’s just a craft. So I always encourage them. Most people don’t want to learn their craft. They want, they just want the big bag of money with a dollar sign on it or they want,

Phil: (22:07)
Yeah. So, so when you moved to LA, um, you sold your first pilot right away, right? Like the first thing you wrote something.

Michael: (22:13)
Yeah. Right. It was so super easy. I just walked up. I said, Hey, Hollywood, I’m here. And they just, they back up the Brinks truck. It was so easy. Um, that’s the fictional version. The real version is, you know, I had to, uh, I, I, first of all, I sent out resumes to try and get a job as a PA. I just wanted to be on a stage somewhere on a soundstage. I want to be honest. I want to be a sitcom writer. I want to be somewhere at Jason’s sitcoms. And um, I sent out tons of resumes, no one wanted to hire me. And finally, after, uh, and I was that’s when I was working at the yogurt store, finally, my roommate said, you know, listen, you’re, you’re just sitting here. Y you know, you can do work at the overstory at night, during the day.

Michael: (22:50)
Why don’t you just tell them you’ll work for free. So fine. I, I called up, uh, at the time it was a show called evening shade with, uh, with Burt Reynolds. And I, I, I had already sent out resumes to the people there and I called him up again and he said, listen, what if I come in? And I worked for free, the producer was like, sure. Okay. We can work you for free. And I, so I went in and I was wearing a suit and tie, right? Like, you know, like no one ever Susan side, but for some reason I had to press him with a suit and tie. He goes, okay, you can start tomorrow. And I’ll pay $300 a week. Cause they had, it was a hit show. They had a little discretionary money. And I was like, wow, $300. I was like, this is a blessing because I would’ve done it for free. Right. And so that, that was how I got in. And then six months later, all these other resumes that I had sent out earlier, they started coming and then people started responding to me because, you know, there were just no job openings then, but they eventually, if you send it out enough, they will come.

Phil: (23:42)
Well, that’s an important point too, is this, this industry is very seasonal. Like there, there are seasons when they’re shooting pilots and their seasons, when you’re in the writer’s room. Typically I think Cove, it’s kind of changed a lot of that.

Michael: (23:52)
It’s also cable, a cable and streaming has changed a lot. So, but at the time, right. It’s like

Phil: (23:57)
We’re in development season and now we’re shooting pilots,

Michael: (24:00)
Shooting our show. That’s what it was then. Yeah. Yeah. Like I arrived in PA in Hollywood, in June and I arrived literally like three weeks too late, you know? So yeah. Um, but yeah, so, but, and that was just hustle. And then of course then from there, it wasn’t like I became a writer wetter right away. I managed to find, I wanted to learn how to be a screenwriter. And I was lucky enough to find an old crotchety, retired TV writer who taught lessons like Emma’s standing room table. And I was like, that’s why I want to learn from it. I didn’t want to learn from a professional writer, a professional teacher. I didn’t want to take the standard classes that everyone else has taken. I wanted to find from someone who had the job that I had, that I wanted. And so this guy he wrote on like so many amazing, he wrote on the, the original you run and get smart, uh, the original Twilight zone, the original Twilight zone.

Michael: (24:47)
Right. Um, all these were the Andy Griffith show. And so now he’s retired. He cause he, you know, he just taught in his living in his, in his dining room. And um, I learned so much from that guy. And then from there, yeah, that was writing for DOE. That was his book. But Phil, I Olsen, that’s a great book. Um, and then from there I, uh, I managed to, you know, write enough good spec script and I managed to get an agent. And then my agent teamed me up, uh, with another writer who, um, and I wrote a story about this actually. Uh, and he was, I, I was like the new hot baby writer. She actually hires, she she’s assigned. She brings on you, don’t hire an agent signs, a new baby writer every year. And she blew a lot of smoke up my.

Michael: (25:29)
You’re the baby. I’m going to turn you into a show runner. You’re going to be star in three years. You’re gonna have your own show. And I’m like, oh my God, this is amazing. And then I kind of sobered up and I was like, oh, I wonder what happened to the baby writer from the year earlier. And I called her up, I was just curious. And then she gave me his name and uh, I called him up and I was like, Hey, so, um, I have your, we have the same agent. What ha what show are you running? You must be running a show now. And he was like, dude, I work at a record store. And, um, you know, so it had, it didn’t happen for him. And then I, then my heart sank, I was like, oh my God, it’s not going to happen for me either. And I, I read some of his work and he was actually a better writer than I, I was able to look at his work and the next to mine, I go, oh my God, this guy’s better than me, but I was hotter than him. In other words, I, I, I was the, the flavor of the day, according to this agent. And so we teamed up rather than compete against each other. We teamed up and we started writing together and that was, you know, years ago. And we’re still writing together today. So, yes.

Phil: (26:27)
Awesome. So it’s not like, uh, I, what I’ve learned from all the writers, I know professional writers and all the, the majority of the writers that I’ve listened to on podcasts, there are overnight. Success is not an

Michael: (26:41)
Overnight success. Doesn’t happen. Yeah.

Phil: (26:43)
No. So it’s not something that one should expect. It’s not typical. And that’s why working on focusing on your craft is so important. Like you said, you have to be able to write something so good that the other person has an opportunity to exploit for lack of a better term. Like they see value. They’re going to get value out of it, either clout with their boss or money. Right. Cause ultimately if a producer brings this stuff in and they’re going to be signed on and they’re going to generate revenue off of this, in addition to revenue, they make off of view. Right. But

Michael: (27:15)
Also some people think, well, I have this amazing screenplay. How do I sell my screenplay? And I always it’s, you’re not, it’s a calling card for you to get more work. Like no one, no one wants to make your screenplay. They want to make their screenplay. The producer wants to make their project. The studio wants to make their project, but they need a writer who knows how to do that. So if you have a great screenplay, that’s a calling card and they say, okay, we’re not going to do this, but let’s work with you on something else. Are you going to say yes or no? So like, some people are like, well, I, you know, I just want to sell I’m I’m really a plumber. I’m a dentist. I just want to sell the screenplay. Like as if it works, like it doesn’t work like that, dude.

Michael: (27:50)
They don’t, no one wants to help that person. They want someone who is serious about the craft. Someone who’s dedicated, you know, their career to this. That’s the person they want to work with. They’re not, they’re not looking at the plumber. What you think there’s a shortage of ideas in Hollywood. There’s no shortage of scripts here. We don’t need to go to New Jersey from some plumber to buy their script. Right. But if you want to become a screenwriter, you need to learn the craft. It’s a calling card and then you’ll, you’ll get more work. So it’s one thing, you know, it’s one thing to, to sell, um, or to sell your script or even to get on writing step. But it’s another thing to turn it into a career it’s much, much harder to make a career out of it, which is something which I’ve been, I’ve done fortunately for 26 years. So, uh, I’m, I’m certainly not a famous screenwriter. There’s are there aren’t many, to be honest, there aren’t many household names for TV writers. I mean, that’s just not, no one knows who we are, but I’m, I’m the guy, um, you know, I’ve been kicking around. I mean, I’ve made a career out of it and I’m fortunate enough to be doing it for 26 years.

Phil: (28:48)
Oh, that’s awesome. And you know, for me, I think there’s a dearth of experience there, right? There’s just so much experience that we can learn from. I’ve definitely learned a ton from you. Yeah. I think the people who’ve taken your course, I’ve learned a ton from you. So hopefully this podcast is a way to bridge that and help share some of that information with other people and share that. So that kind of backs me to a pretty important question, which I think I’ve always asked, which is what are the skillsets that I need to know in order to make it as a writer. And that might be a broad question, but I’d love to hear your answer. Well,

Michael: (29:20)
At first and foremost, it’s, it’s like I said, it’s one thing you can get, like, you may get lucky and get on staff, but if you do not know how to write you a flame out and you will not write it, you will not get hired again. Like, so, okay, you got it. And you see this having a lie, like you’ll see someone teaching at a film school and they had one run one credit, or you know, that that’s kind of their calling card is out there shot.

Phil: (29:43)
Well, not to put it out, like put out like a, an ominous tone. And that was something you told me when I asked you, I said, Hey, you know, I want to move to LA because you gave me that advice. You have to be in LA, but at the same time I’ve been offered this scholarship opportunity to go to film school. And you said, well, you know, here’s where the writing happens and film school, you’ll probably get a network out of it that might help you. But the other benefit is you’ll, you’ll probably be able to teach a university someday if it doesn’t work. Yeah. It’s like, oh, oh, because you have to have a master’s degree to teach at a university. That’s right. That’s the benefit is there’s some job security that you can then go teach that same stuff you learned in school to other kids who are in school.

Michael: (30:23)
Right, right. That interests you. Right. But it’s, um, you know, a lot of people that means you. My next point is people say like, um, you know, can I break into Hollywood without going to Hollywood? So you’re basically saying how they would come to me. I’m unwilling to go to Hollywood. You have to come to me. So if you want Hollywood to get off its and come to you, you better really be offering something pretty special. And it can’t be a mediocre script. And you were like, well, but how would we fill with mediocre scripts? Okay. Whatever we can argue for that, maybe it is, but they don’t need your mediocre script. They’re not going to come to you. So if you want Hollywood to come to you, you better well know what you’re doing. And that means knowing your craft and, and other things if we’re talking about another podcast, but, um, there’s really no substitute to being an excellent writer and it’s not good enough. It’s not good enough.

Speaker 4: (31:13)

Phil: (31:25)
This has been an episode of screenwriters. Need to hear this with Michael Jackson 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 feel can to support yourself. I encourage you to consider investing in Michael’s screenwriting course and Michael 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. If someone who’s 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 put in because it focuses on something. No one else teaches stories. 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 slash course for free daily screenwriting tips. Follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and tech talk at Michael Jammin writer. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Tik TOK at Philly Hudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas crane until next time, keep writing.

Michael Jamin, Showrunner, TV Writer, Author

Michael Jamin

For the past 26 years, Michael Jamin has been a professional television writer/showrunner. His credits include King of the Hill, Beavis & Butthead, Wilfred, Maron, Just Shoot Me, Rules of Engagement, Brickleberry, Tacoma FD and many more.

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