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

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

Show Notes

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

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Autogenerated Transcript

Michael Jamin:
All writers en very few working writers that I know enjoy writing. We enjoy having written. So it’s like, Oh, I just finished the script. That felt good cuz it was so hard. You’re listening to Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jen.
Hey everybody. Welcome back to Screenwriters. Need to hear this, our podcast. I’m Michael Jam, and I’m here with Phil Hudson. Welcome back Phil. Thank you. It’s good to be back. We, we have a special, It’s good to be back. We have a special a special episode. Phil has been, you know, he’s been doing co-hosting this for about a year now, and, you know, we’ve been handling a lot of stuff together and I guess these are your questions that you’ve had after a year of doing this. You know, I guess you have your own thoughts about what, what you wanna learn more, even though you’re so close to, to me and we’re doing it together. I guess you have more questions, so let’s dig in. Yeah. Does that sound what I feel?

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

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. You’ve come a long way in that time. Yeah. It’s come a long way.

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

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

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

Michael Jamin:
Career 1 0 1. Sure. Okay.

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

Michael Jamin:
And Yeah. More than anyone I know. Yeah, yeah,

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

Michael Jamin:
Don’t, The name doesn’t, it’s not familiar. No.

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

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, yeah. Like fencing?

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

Michael Jamin:
Hydrofoils. Right, Okay.

Phil Hudson:
So he is, he is a professional foiler now too. And he’s constantly mastering different things. One of the things he talks about, you know, he starts with fundamentals. You know, he says most people start with openings in chess or in juujitsu or whatever it is you’re doing. He likes to start at the end, at the end game and really say, Here’s where I’m headed. What happens if I get stuck in this position where there’s like three pieces on the board? And he talks about you have to learn the fundamentals, and then after you’ve done it enough times, you get enough volume of repetition in, you get to a point where you start looking at the, making what he calls, making small circles, big circles, right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So you, you examine one position in chess or Brazilian jiujitsu enough, and then you can find a thousand ways out of that, where someone might only have one.
And, and in this, in a world of screenwriting, I think about, okay, here’s story structure. Here are the three elements of story. Those are kind of the fundamental things you have to know to be able to write a script. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. But then there’s improving dialogue, improving jokes, all those things. I’m just wondering from your perspective, where are places people can look for those circles? Like, you know, I said a couple of them, you know, act breaks, you know, making those pop jokes, whatever. Just wondering if you have any thoughts on that. What are those circles where we can spend more time and really develop? Or where have you spent time?

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

Phil Hudson:
That’s awesome. Yeah.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Yeah. So that’s, he’s successful. So there you go.

Phil Hudson:
If you had to ballpark how many scripts you’ve made, how many do you think you’ve done?

Michael Jamin:
How many we’ve written?

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. You and c written just ballpark.

Michael Jamin:
Well, are you talking about ones that have been produced or like ones that haven’t sold?

Phil Hudson:
It’s just specs. You’ve written

Michael Jamin:
Specs. Geez. you know, dozens. He’s, I mean, I mean more than dozens specs that we’ve, I mean,

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

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

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

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. 50 may be a little high, but, you know, it’s a lot. Yeah.

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

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

Phil Hudson:
A divorce. Yeah, I saw that today.

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

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

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Right.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
I just love that. I love languages.

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

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

Phil Hudson:
I wonder how you balance that in a family. I

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

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

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

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

Michael Jamin:
Wow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. You gotta continue. Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Michael Jamin:
There a hundred would be a lot to break, but

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

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

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

Michael Jamin:
<Affirmative>. Yeah. You know, you,

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

Michael Jamin:
Just when you said the other, just when you said this, I was like, Oh yeah, I went, I went for run, I run three days a week. I used to do it more, but three days, like now I do other stuff and then I run past the same guy Henry, he lives in my neighborhood and I see him almost always almost cuz he’s outside his house almost at the same time. We always talk for a little bit and he is like, Boy, you really, you, it’s like clockwork, you’re always running. And I was like, I guess so I don’t even think about it. I just, every other day I just go running. It’s like I don’t even, you know. Yeah. It’s, there’s the discipline, they just do it. There’s no excuses, just do it. But in terms of the reward, you know, I am obviously I am, you know, you build, you’ll never get to the reward.
Like I heard Stallone say, he said like, this is what life is. You build a, you build a mountain, you climb to the top and then you build another mountain to climb. So is there ever, do you ever get there? Now you’ll never get there. You know, that’s, but the, the journey is what’s it, that’s what it all is. It’s just, that’s all part of it. And even now I have things that I, I’m chasing, you know, putting on my, my one man show and making that bigger and, and taking on the road. But I see other people who are doing it more successfully than I am for sure. And I’m, that’s, that’s my hill I’m building, so, yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Jamin:
<Laugh>,

Phil Hudson:
My car works just hard. Did

Michael Jamin:
You get, did you get a new car?

Phil Hudson:
We just bought a new car last night for her

Michael Jamin:
For her. What, what did, what’d you get?

Phil Hudson:
We got a VW atlas. We found a 2019 is with

Michael Jamin:
Is that like, it’s an suv,

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

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

Phil Hudson:
You love that thing though. You love your jeep.

Michael Jamin:
I do.

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

Michael Jamin:
Oh right, right, right.

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

Michael Jamin:
Shirt. Yeah, I remember that, right. Yeah.

Phil Hudson:
A funny, he remembers the noodles being on my

Michael Jamin:
Shirt. Not, no, I don’t remember that. But I remember going, getting far or whatever. Yeah. Right.

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Thank you.

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

Michael Jamin:
No,

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

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

Phil Hudson:
You go. It’s on the ground.

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

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

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

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

Michael Jamin:
I

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Michael Jamin:
I don’t even know about stoicism, but okay, maybe we should look into it.

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

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

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

Phil Hudson:
A couple things. You have p Orchestra coming to Boston.

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

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

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

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

Michael Jamin:
Show. Yeah, <laugh>, Thank

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

Michael Jamin:
Go get it

Phil Hudson:
Everyone. Lot, lots more beautiful stuff coming out.

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

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

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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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