https://youtu.be/ZVvjxsEeuPw?feature=shared

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

Show Notes

Michael’s Online Screenwriting Course – https://michaeljamin.com/course

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

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

Autogenerated Transcript

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

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

Phil Hudson:
I’m back. Thank you for having Me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

I don’t know.

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

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

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

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

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

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. Austin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Jamin:
And $500,

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

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

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

Michael Jamin:
I, I don’t, you know, be, do you have to do your due diligence as anything?

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Jamin:
Well, you have feed, you always have rehearsals, whether it’s single or multicam,

Phil Hudson:
But it’s not, I guess it’s not the story arc that you’re going through in

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

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

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

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

Michael Jamin:
That’s right. And so that, that’s

Phil Hudson:
Also, if it doesn’t work out for

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

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

Michael Jamin:
Right.

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

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

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

Michael Jamin:
Ind film. And he didn’t go to film school, Is that what you’re saying?

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

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

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

Michael Jamin:
It, Well,

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

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

Phil Hudson:
Got it.

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

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

Michael Jamin:
Getting your Yeah. Get

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

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

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

Michael Jamin:
Well, sometimes people think

Phil Hudson:
Probably sold a show.

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

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

Michael Jamin:
I was like, Oh, really? But

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
You gotta hustle. You gotta hustle and do, put your time in.

Phil Hudson:
Understand what plumbers to call and how to negotiate a cleaning contract. That’s what you gotta do. Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Jamin:
About it. It’s an opportunity for a good laugh. Right, right.

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

Michael Jamin:
I don’t know if I have an opinion on that. That sounds complicated. Yeah. <laugh>, I

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

Michael Jamin:
To do that. Yeah. I don’t think that would

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

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

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

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, Yeah, exactly Right.

Phil Hudson:
Our department stuff they’re doing mm-hmm.

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

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

Michael Jamin:
Right. Right.

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Just say bye

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

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

Phil Hudson:
Know. Yep. There you go. All right. Comrade big body.

Michael Jamin:
Oh,

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Phil Hudson:
I heard that number. 200,000 words. Is that number you’ve ever heard?

Michael Jamin:
I never heard of that.

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

Michael Jamin:
Okay. Okay.

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

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

Phil Hudson:
Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

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

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

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


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

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

Phil Hudson:
Yeah, absolutely. Awesome. let’s see. At j Chan 1215, do you think that’s Jackie

Michael Jamin:
Chan? I definitely think it’s Jackie Chan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

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

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

Phil Hudson:
There you go.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Yeah.

Phil Hudson:
That’s it. Do you want to turn the page?

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

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

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

Phil Hudson:
Revere. It’s Paul Revere, right? Yeah. That’s the Diane.

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

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

Michael Jamin:
I might take it. All right, everyone.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. Freshen up, Michael.

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

Phil Hudson:
Keep writing.

Michael Jamin:
Keep writing.

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

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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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