048 – Writer/Director Rob Cohen

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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

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

Transcripts are Auto-Generated

Rob Cohen:
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:
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.

Author Details
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.