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 –

Free Screenwriting Lesson

@DavidHSteinberg will read your script

Sarah Cooper is a comedian who grew famous for valuable content she put out on her own.

A behind the scene look at pitch fests –

Results of screenplay contests

Screenwriting contest from a Pro’s perspective

Film Festival and Screenplay Contest submission software

The Nicholl’s Fellowship

The Sundance Labs

The Black List main website

The Black List evaluations and script hosting

Writer’s Guild of America Dispute with Agencies Explained

Autogenerated 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)


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 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 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.

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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