https://youtu.be/0sZ9Olf3oCg?feature=shared

This week, Producer Jim Serpico joins the podcast. Jim’s career has included shows like Lie To Me, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, and Maron, where he worked with Michael. Dive into his history and a deep conversation about writers from a producer’s point of view.

Show Notes

Jim Serpico on IMDBhttps://www.imdb.com/name/nm0785351/

Jim Serpico’s Websitehttps://jimserpico.com/

Bread For The People Podcasthttps://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/jim-serpico-bread-for-the-people-business-food-life/id1617829952

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

Jim Serpico:
We just, whenever we set up a project, we were on the set for the project and we, we started to do it so many times, we would learn what that meant. We would go on the location scouts we would do things that producers generally thought they were above doing.

Michael Jamin:
You’re listening to Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin.

Hey everyone. Welcome to Screenwriters. Need to hear this. This is Michael Jam. And Phil is doing some more work today, but I got a special guest star and he’s a, he’s a producer. He’s gonna ask a lot of, a lot of you wanna know how to become a producer. I don’t even know what a producer is. We’re gonna find out. But I’m very happy to have Jim Erko here. He was, listened to his credits cuz Hold on, pull over if you’re in your car. All right. I’m just gonna mention some of your credits, Jim, and then I promise I’ll give you a chance to talk or, or not. So executive producer of the job, a bunch of comedy central roasts can to Canterbury’s Law, a bunch of Dennis Leery specials Rescue Me. He executive produced. And if you want, it’s sirens as well.

Benders. You’re also the show owner and and writer you know, which is the head writer of that. And executive producer. Executive producer of Maron, which is how I met him. And then sex, drugs and Rock and Roll, a bunch of other comedy specials. You have a, Jim’s got a big specialty, you know, his niche is comedy. And I gotta say, and I think I told you this Jim, years ago. I know I did. So, Cause sometimes people say like, How do I become a producer? Or, because it producers this vague catchall term and it can mean, it can, a manager can be a producer, a writer could be a producer. But when I honestly, when I think of producer, I, I, producers who do the job, who get their hands dirty, it’s, it’s Jim Sego and his partner Tom tti. And I, I, I’m sure I told you this, Jim, we were, we had a, Well say hi so people know you’re here,

Jim Serpico:
<Laugh>. Hey, hey, I’m here. Thanks for, Cause

Michael Jamin:
I’m doing a lot, I’m doing a lot of talking <laugh>. But I wanna, I wanna kiss your buffer just a second cuz I, I think it’s important people know this. Years ago, my partner and I wrote a spec script, and we wanted to get a, a producer attached. We sent it out. We, we had a meeting with a producer who had a production deal. And this person was an ex studio executive. And as part as their compensation, you know, part of their package was they got a deal to be a production deal. So we go meet with them, I wanna say who it was, and they’re excited about the script. And they go, Oh, the script’s great. You know, who will be the perfect star for this? And I, and they mentioned this actor, and we were like, Yes, that he would be perfect for the star.

And then this producer said to me, the words that crushed me, the producer said, Do you know how to reach them? And I was just like, But that’s your job. Like, what do you think you are doing? And the thing is, Jim, if if it was you, this is what you would’ve said. You would’ve said, All right, I’m gonna go to this costume store. I’m gonna get a, I’m gonna rent a pizza delivery costume, <laugh>, I’m gonna get a large pie and I’m gonna deliver it to them with the script inside. Cuz that’s what a producer does.

Jim Serpico:
I I appreciate that.

Michael Jamin:
A producer’s a hustler

Jim Serpico:
For, well, some are, some are not, not always required. But yeah, I have a lot of thoughts and I could say a lot about all this, but that’s what I would do. I, I’d like to think that I am very resourceful in an honorable way. I have done things like I forget who was running HBO at the time, but I was, I was shopping a, a cookbook called the Mafia Cookbook with these recipes. And we wanted to do these short films tied around the recipes. And he was based in Los Angeles, It was Bob Cooper actually. And I had this $300 basket made with Italian pastas and homemade sauce and mozzarella copies of the cookbook and all this stuff. And I had it delivered to his home on the weekend. And I had never met him. And he called me on the weekend and he, he goes, I’ve never met you. I don’t really know who you are, but I must say this was one of the most unbelievable presentations I’ve ever seen <laugh>. Right. And then the next time I talk to him, he passed. But at least I, I got the look, I got the look.

Michael Jamin:
But that’s, but I, even when we met on Maron, like you were always very hands-on. Some producers will say, Okay, and then they pass it off. They, they order someone else to do it. This is what we need to do. Now you do it, you pick up the phone and you do it. Like, you’re always very hands on, like, I will get this done. You know what I’m saying?

Jim Serpico:
Yeah. I mean, for better or for worse, I had to figure out this job kind of on my own and find mentors along the way that would show me like what to do as a producer.

Michael Jamin:
And then what do they teach you?

Jim Serpico:
Well, so, so going back, you gotta understand, like I, I started representing comedians, which is a way into producing for a lot of people, I guess. But also that I didn’t learn from anyone. And

Michael Jamin:
How did you get into that then?

Jim Serpico:
I was an assistant. Okay. This, this relates to what you were saying right from the very, very beginning. I graduated college, I got a job at a music booking agency. And I was an assistant, you know, what are what other jobs? But getting an assistant job is one of the best things you can do. If you wanna break into show business, you know, whether an assistant at a management company, an agency, a writer’s assistant, whatever. I always, I believe in that. And I also believe in the philosophy while you’re there, you don’t have to worry that this isn’t the exact thing I want to do. The person I’m assisting doesn’t have the job I want to have, so then I’m gonna be miserable every day. No. Instead, you should still do the best job you can because that person as well as the others around are gonna really like you and root for you and help you in some way.
But I was an assistant at a music booking agency that had Wilson Picket, Bo Didley, the Village people, Ronnie Specter, you know, these old, these groups. But they were credible people. And I said, I want to, I want to be a booking agent. Like who, you know. And I was vocal about it, and it was a small enough company. I could have those conversations with the owners. And they gave me three states to appease me and shut me up. They said, All right, you wanna be a booking agent? We’re giving you bolded Lee and Wilson picket. You, you have North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Good luck.

Michael Jamin:
Three worst <laugh>. Yeah. Okay.

Jim Serpico:
And this was about 90, 90, 19 90, 91. And I literally would go and I went to the bookstore. I got this book on blues clubs and I would call information. And in 1990 when you dialed information, you would get a local operator. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And I literally would have conversations and say, You, I represent Bold Didly. And they’d be like, What? And I’d be like, Yeah. Do you have any ideas on who I could call to try to book Bo Diddley? And I had no leads on where to book ’em. And I would call hotels and I would call bars. And I came up with a list of people and they were like, Are you telling me for real? You could get Bo Diddley here? And I’d be like, Yeah, I could get Bo Diddley here. And I remember we, we got a booking for, and my bosses were like, We gotta get the 50% deposit wired cuz I’d never heard of this place. Was it real? And we ended up booking a tour for Bo Didley in those three states. Wow. And and I had never met Beau at the time. And about six months later I met him and he goes, You’re the motherfucker that booked me in North Dakota, South South Dakota in February. You know how fucking cold it is in February.

Michael Jamin:
<Laugh>. All

Jim Serpico:
Right. But he was joking and he was cool about it, but it was me being resourceful. Right. and then my next step was booking comedians. Not in those states, but in colleges. And I went to NA at convention and, Wait,

Michael Jamin:
What is that? That’s the college convention, right?

Jim Serpico:
Was it? Yeah. I don’t even remember. It’s like the, I don’t even remember what it, it’s something College association. It’s like all the people who run student activities at the colleges around the country. There’s one big national convention where everyone, all the big players in college go and then they break off into these regional conventions. So I went, the first one I ever went to was the big one. And I was 22. I was barely older than the college kids. And I met these agents who had been in the business, they were five years older than me. And they were like, to me they were big shots cuz they worked at places like William Morris and apa mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, but really within the company, they were like, it wasn’t the the most prestigious thing to, to be known for as an agent. All right. You’re gonna handle these college kids.

Right. But to me, they were big agents at big agencies and they, they were selling people like Adam Sandler whatever anyone who’s anyone as a standup comedian would want college gigs cuz they would pay $5,000 to 50,000 a gig. So, Right. I, I became friends with some of the agents who were there. We would hang out, we would have a couple beers. I actually threw a party in my hotel room for the student buyers and I had the agents there and I filled up my bathtub with beer. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I was networking with people and because they had fun, they would come down to my booth and book these comedians and magicians that I was selling for colleges. And those agents specifically at APA said, We are not going to these other 12 conventions. You are. Why don’t you handle our comedians for us and be a middle agent and your company will get 10%, our company will get 10%.

So that’s what I did. And one of of those clients was Adam Sandler. And I started booking Adam on college shows around the tri-state area. And then I would drive Adam to the gigs that I booked. And that’s when I got hooked on comedy and, and realizing that comedy and representing and working with comedians was a business. You know, cuz I had this personal relationship with the guy who was going on stage that night and he seemed to appreciate the fact that I was getting him these gigs for over 20,000 a night. Right. And he would then put, Is

Michael Jamin:
This before Saturday Night Live?

Jim Serpico:
This was right at right during it. Okay. D during it. But I remember he had Chris Farley call me from the set of Saturday and Night Live trying to convince me to take him on as a client to book him at colleges. And then I went into full on comedy representation at a small management company based on that. Why

Michael Jamin:
Would you need to be convinced of that though? Like, what did you say, Yes or no?

Jim Serpico:
I did, but it never ended up working out. I think he was just like, you know who I am, I don’t know if you know who I am. I do this guy De Bears and he starts doing the impression of <laugh> of the thing he’s doing. And at the time I was also at a photo shoot with someone who became a client and ultimately my partner Dennis Leery, that’s when that call happened. Right. Yeah. And then Dennis and I bonded and I went on the road with Dennis as a tour manager for six months with him and his band. And we became close, he started to take off. He had an opportunity based on heat to start a production company.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Jim Serpico:
He saw something in me to ask me to do it and run it for him. I had no experience.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, you had no experience in

Jim Serpico:
That. Yeah. I think he just trusted me and none of us really knew what it was or what it meant.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Jim Serpico:
He, he, he never had a tremendous trust in the typical Hollywood person. So I think, I think he felt better with kind of like a young person who we believed would be honorable not wrong and look after and

Michael Jamin:
Look out for his personism. Yeah.

Jim Serpico:
And, and well he was still surrounded by these other experts, you know, cuz cuz you know, at that point you know, he still, he had agents at the big agencies.

Michael Jamin:
But were you intimidated when you were in those early meetings with agents and other, and writers and producers and, you know, you’re brand new?

Jim Serpico:
Yes and no. I think there’s certain people that get off on trying to control the room and make people like me feeling intimidated. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And it’s weird because on one level I’m a very quiet, shy person. But in another, there’s another part of me that’s very confident. And like I could read the room and I could be tough when I have to be tough. And I don’t know, I just kind of fit in. And the other thing that happened was, a pivotal moment in my career was Dennis did a movie and we got to see the movie before it came out. It was me, his agent, and somebody else.

Michael Jamin:
And at this point, you’re working in, in the capacity of his, basically you’re running his production company.

Jim Serpico:
Right. But also handling all his business. I was his defacto manager.

Michael Jamin:
Okay.

Jim Serpico:
But my role was, was officially, you know, partner in the production company.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Jim Serpico:
And, and I saw the movie and I said, This movie is not good. This is gonna be a problem. And the agent said he doesn’t know what he’s talking about and said a lot of good things. Right. And the movie came out and did not do well.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Jim Serpico:
And there was forever a bond in trust. And no, I didn’t do it for that reason. I was just telling the truth of what I felt about the movie. And I wasn’t trained, by the way, I have no training in writing or I didn’t go to school for movie and film production or development. Right. I went to school for music.

Michael Jamin:
But did you, when you said it was no good, like what were you hoping to happen from that?

Jim Serpico:
Well, you got, you gotta immediately get into defensive mode and figure out what our stance is gonna be. How much press are we gonna do?

Michael Jamin:
Oh,

Jim Serpico:
Okay. You know, what are we gonna say to people? Your name’s all over this <laugh>.

Michael Jamin:
Well, did he But he didn’t write it. He just, he was just starring

Jim Serpico:
At it. He did write it No,

Michael Jamin:
<Laugh>. And you had the boss to tell him it was no good.

Jim Serpico:
Yeah. I mean, wouldn’t you want that if serious?

Michael Jamin:
Well, at the script stage, but I don’t at that point, what are you gonna do other than I guess recut it. I mean, you can’t reshoot it.

Jim Serpico:
Oh no, there was not, no, the movie was coming out, man. There was nothing. But you do have to, there’s a whole nother part of this when you’re representing talent is like, what is our position when they’re asking us, they, the, the movie studios or whoever’s putting up the money is going to ask the talent to promote the shit out of the project. Right. Right. Because that’s all they have. It’s very hard to get free press unless it’s amazing. So they’re gonna push and push and push. Yeah. You have to be smart and pick your shots. Like if you know it’s a dog, you can’t say yes to all that stuff.

Michael Jamin:
But you’re distinguishing, he, you’re basically asking him to distance himself from his own project.

Jim Serpico:
Correct.

Michael Jamin:
<Laugh>. But is there any way to do that? If you, if you, I mean like, have to time. I had nothing to do with this. I don’t know

Jim Serpico:
What happened. No, you don’t. You just don’t do interviews certain months.

Michael Jamin:
You just Okay, okay. And you just, and then you just lick your wounds and, and then figure out your next plan.

Jim Serpico:
I, yeah. And, and long story short, our next plan was to go into the TV business

Michael Jamin:
<Laugh>. Right. Right. And then what, So what, what show came after that? What, what show came next?

Jim Serpico:
So the first All right. I mean, the truth is we took a deal to develop television early on without the intention of ever developing television.

Michael Jamin:
Right. Why? It was the money

Jim Serpico:
We had the rent paid, we had salaries paid. We, we would buy time to develop new movies.

Michael Jamin:
Okay. So you were gonna put it towards movies, but not tv. That’s

Jim Serpico:
All. But the deal was for television <laugh>.

Michael Jamin:
But then, but why, So what was your plan then, if you weren’t gonna do, like, what were, what did he wanna concentrate on? Movies and, and guest stars or something.

Jim Serpico:
See what happens. Buy in two years, we’ll see what happens. Right. You know, and, and at that point the deal was with Dreamworks and Jeffrey Katzenberg was involved and he had, we flew to LA to meet Jeffrey and it was Dan McDermott, Justin Fery d or Frank at the time. Yeah. these all big executives. Yeah. Daryl and Justin still run Dreamworks television today. Yep. they were some of my first friends in the business and we, we had some conversations. Dennis had done a movie a police movie where he was, I don’t know, like the third lead or something. And he got really close with one of the police techs and mm-hmm. <Affirmative> always thought it would be a cool idea for a movie or TV show. We had that conversation with Katzenberg and the next thing you know, he somehow hooks us up with Peter Tolin. Yeah. And once Peter Toll’s evolved was, we’re like, well, wait a second. Maybe tv. Let’s see what this is about. He’s,

Michael Jamin:
He’s a big shot writer. He’s a great writer. Peter Tollen. Yeah. Now I, I know I’m skipping around a little bit, but I you, cuz you guys, I should mention you’re New York based as you know, as well as that all you guys are New York based. Is that, now, do you find that know people, Hollywood is in Hollywood? What’s that like for you?

Jim Serpico:
Oh, me, you have to Personally, I, I love it. I love leading a regular non Hollywood life mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and popping in. And when I say pop in, I, I, I dedicated a lot of my life to knowing as many players in Hollywood or more than the people who live in Hollywood. Did so

Michael Jamin:
And how’d you do that? But,

Jim Serpico:
Well, let’s go back one second. Yeah. You asked me who, who my mentors were. Yeah. Before we really did that TV show, we set up a couple independent movies. There was a guy named Bobby New Meyer, who we were partnering on a project that never ended up happening, but he became a really good friend of mine. He produced the first hit independent movie Sex Lives and Videotape. He, for some reason, every time he came to New York, which was every three months, he and I would go out for lunch or dinner for years. And he would teach me a lot of stuff. And if I ever had a question in the business, he would teach me

Michael Jamin:
Give gimme an example. What, what he might te teach

Jim Serpico:
You going forward. Line producers are amazing. Do you need to give away 50% of your business to have one as a partner? No.

Michael Jamin:
To have a, to have a line producer? Oh no.

Jim Serpico:
Yeah. Right, right. Things like oh, you love this book, here’s what you do. You know, here’s, you go to this person at this agency or these several people to try to find a writer that’s really meaningful. But I’m 25 years old, How could I sell a book? That doesn’t matter. As long as you have something they want, you have a good writer. So the other thing that happened was around the time of the, the movie I was talking about not doing so well, we rejiggered the team around Dennis professionally and Dennis, I mean this, this, this, this is the luck part, but it’s also the fact that I was resourceful enough and maybe naive enough and ballsy enough, I went to LA myself and hired a new agency team for Dennis without him being there. Anna Lou lawyer did.

Michael Jamin:
He was, was he aware of this, that you’re doing this?

Jim Serpico:
He asked me to.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, okay. Okay.

Jim Serpico:
Right. But I became the point guy now cuz they, they were like, Jim brought us in, We’re working here for Dennis. It’s Dennis and Jim. But I was a very important part of the team now. Right. I wasn’t just some, like at the other place, I was just some assistant peon. Now I was the guy who them to be on the team and they already, they, they would get me any meeting, whether it was with Dennis for him to be in or not. And I remember within a year and a half of, of working at this production company with no experience, I sold at least one or two projects to Mike De Luca that were based on books. Right. because the agency and the specific agents at that agency really were trying to help me build my business.

Michael Jamin:
Right. Interesting.

Jim Serpico:
Interesting. And, and at that point I was like, I could sell anything. I wasn’t. And I know it sounds cocky. I what I really mean is like, I have done it already, so why, why, why do, I’m sure I could keep doing this and I would sell projects,

Michael Jamin:
But isn’t there an element cuz there’s like the produ, there’s so much to being a producer. Some of it is selling and some of it is actually making and doing and being on set and like, there’s more than, you know.

Jim Serpico:
Well, that’s the other thing. And, and I, because I didn’t learn, So Bobby Newmeyer was a hands-on producer. He did not represent talent. And the beauty of of learning from a guy like that was, you know, he was teaching me how to produce from the ground up and get the film sold and made. Cuz that’s what he did Without having, without just leveraging talent. So many producers come up through the agencies in the mail rooms and, and by the way, I’m not shitting on that way of coming up mm-hmm. <Affirmative> or producing. I do think those people deserve producing credits. But we just, whenever we set up a project, we were on the set for the project mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and we, we started to do it so many times we would learn what that meant. We would go on the location scouts we would do things that producers generally thought they were above doing.

A lot of producers. Yeah. Like Bobby Newmeyer would go on the location scouts cuz he was an independent filmmaker and producer. We would go on the location scouts and by going on the location scouts and paying attention and just being so involved, we became, we, first of all, we were able to learn every aspect of filmmaking. It was our film school. Like the DP would talk about why this room’s great, why the light’s gonna look amazing, or what we need to do to light it to make it look like the way, you know, we want, why this apartment is not configured correctly. Or while this room is amazing, there’s nowhere to stage all the equipment we can’t shoot here. It’s like everything. Yep.

Michael Jamin:
It’s, I remember and I remember you doing that when we were scouting Marin and I was like, I was just watching you cuz you were, you were, That’s exactly what you were saying was like, eh, this is not, Yeah. Where do we put video village here? Where do we Right. It’s too close to the street. We’re gonna get noise. I mean, you know, we were, you were dinging places until we found the right place.

Jim Serpico:
Yeah. You know? Yeah. I mean, and I, that’s just what I learned by producing the way I figured out how to produce. And I didn’t have a lot of, I didn’t, a lot of these managers that, that produce work at management companies with, there’s a lot of pressure to earn and they only earn based on the commissions their clients are bringing in. And they’re so busy doing that that there’s, there’s not, it’s not possible for them to leave the office mm-hmm. <Affirmative> for six hours or four hours or a day. I mean, you know, like I would literally, I moved to Los Angeles for three months at a time for three years. I didn’t do the fourth season in person, but you know, like I would be hands on, very hands on, but, and have enough time to try to continue to develop my other projects and and nurture my relationships. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And that’s another part of it. And I don’t know if you want me to keep rambling.

Michael Jamin:
I know you’re, I think is all, this is stuff I don’t even know. So it’s not just my audience, it’s me. So please go

Jim Serpico:
On. So the other thing that I did when I put together that team for Dennis, and then we had the shows on the air that one of ’em was very successful. And the deal was the, the Project Rescue Me was financed by Sony Pictures television. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. We ended up having a deal with Sony to develop more television mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And I would, you know, after the first couple seasons of Rescue Me, I would, I really concentrated on building out the rest of the business and I opened an office in Los Angeles for us. And I would go to LA a week, a month mm-hmm. <Affirmative> every month. And I would take meetings with agents managers, writers, and certain talent. And I, I made sure that over the course of 10 years, I had a personal relationship with anyone that could possibly buy from us. Right.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Jim Serpico:
I, I also, you know, when we had shows on the air, I did a lot of work with the people at the studios and the networks in all different departments. So like my guest, I have this podcast now, my, it’s called Bread for the People. And I, I, I’m a bread maker but I also obviously still produce television. And I, I have people from the entertainment field on the podcast, and I’m on the podcast next week is the guy who is a market analysis research guru who tests television shows. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So like, I would, I would talk to these people and I would learn from them. You know, especially in particular that show when we talk about it on this coming episode, the testing of the original pilot informed a reshoot that we had to do to the end. Mm-Hmm.

<affirmative> of that, of that pilot. And, you know, that reshoot helped make it become successful. But I always enjoyed meeting people in the business who worked in all different fields and learning from them. And I really dedicated my life to it. And in some ways, I would say, and I still do this, like I work a lot, you know, I, I try to take some time for myself, but I work many hours a day to this day. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you know, I, I’ll work from seven in the morning to 11 at night. Oh yeah. I’ll, I’ll schedule social things and I’ll put that in my day. But I always did that and I always was willing to travel Right. For the job and spend a lot of time away, away from my family. But I would do everything I can to be back on the weekends.

Michael Jamin:
Right. Interesting. So, yeah, you made your sacrifices. Tell, I wanna talk to you about Marin because that show came about. It was a real low budget show, and it came about in an interesting way. So tell us about the beginning of that. Bef even like before I even, I, me and Si got

Jim Serpico:
Involved. So I had, I had known this manager named Olivia Wingate. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> a little bit. We didn’t know each other too well. Actually, I was listening to Maron’s podcast and I believe it was around episode 14, I’m guessing that he had Judd Aow on and around the same time he had Louis CCK on, This

Michael Jamin:
Is really right in the beginning then

Jim Serpico:
This was the beginning. Yeah. And I was blown away by the podcast and I was like, I wonder if, in my mind it was like a Larry Sanders type of show around Mark Marran doing this podcast. And that’s all it was. Right. I, I wasn’t even writing at the time and I spoke to Olivia and she was very warm and welcoming. You know, you have a lot of managers out there, especially today, it’s harder than ever. They, these gatekeepers that do not want an outside guy, especially like me, who also manages talent mm-hmm. <Affirmative>

Michael Jamin:
Because she think he might poach,

Jim Serpico:
She didn’t, but most, they don’t even give me the opportunity. Some do. Right. You and I just had an experience where mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, I reached out to a manager of another piece of talent and he was also very warm and open. Right. Right. But a lot of the guys at the big places won’t have that conversation. But she was cool. And then she set a meeting with, with herself and Mark and me in New York, and we worked on developing an idea for a good year with a writer director that had a couple of cool credits. But it never worked out

Michael Jamin:
In, in the sense that you weren’t happy with the script. You mean,

Jim Serpico:
I don’t even know if it went to script. It, it, it definitely went to some kind of outline. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, there was definitely something, but I don’t know that there was a script. And then, Oh. From the management company I had, I had a manager representing writers that had a client named Duncan Birmingham

Michael Jamin:
Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>.

Jim Serpico:
And we decided to give him a shot at meeting with Mark in writing the original pilot

Michael Jamin:
Script. And Duncan was basically a no one. He didn’t even have any credits at that point. Right.

Jim Serpico:
Duncan was a no one. Yeah. And this script came out, I thought, pretty great. Yeah. And, and I had a deal with Fox Television Studios at the time and went to Fox and said, Listen, this guy Mark Marron is blowing up. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, we have this really good script with a concept where we could bring in guest actors every week. I think we could produce this at a low budget every week. Here’s what I want you to do. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> instead of paying script money, cuz pilot script money Right. Is a minimum of 75 grand.

Michael Jamin:
Okay.

Jim Serpico:
I said, give me $30,000 to go out and shoot something. That’s it. That’s, that’s what you’re investing. And for these companies, that’s nothing.

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 jamin.com/watchlist. And did Duncan get, So Duncan didn’t get any, any script money or he got the difference <laugh>, you know what’s saying?

Jim Serpico:
I, I honestly don’t think Duncan got money at the time, but Duncan had a chance to get a move, a short film made, like we kind of called it a short film. It

Michael Jamin:
Feels like a presentation. It was kind of like, I seem to remember it was like maybe 15 minutes or something you shot of the,

Jim Serpico:
Was original it was at least 15 minutes. Which, which by the way, a full episode would be 21 minutes. Right. So

Michael Jamin:
It was not shorter.

Jim Serpico:
Yeah. It wasn’t that much shorter. Yeah. And I had these guys from New York that did me a favor. They came out, I mean, we, we did this whole thing that looked like a television show mm-hmm. For 30 grand.

Michael Jamin:
And That’s amazing. And so who was, who was getting paid? I mean, there’s production costs. Like I don’t, I don’t know how you do it for 30,000. You rent a place or did you get the place for free? Like who? Everyone, You must have just paid people in pizza because there’s certain fixed costs that you have to pay the camera and stuff like that.

Jim Serpico:
I don’t think we had to pay the camera. I think I got No, the guys flew out with their cameras. I got these guys in New York who wear commercial

Michael Jamin:
Oh.

Jim Serpico:
You know, filmmakers that wanted to get into scripted had a line producer that wanted to get scripted and a lot of people did favors and, and you know, it’s back to the resourceful thing. Right, Right. It’s going out and, and and thinking outside the box

Michael Jamin:
For

Jim Serpico:
Sure. My favorite, my favorite quote of there was a writer Don Oldtimer, what the hell is his name? It’ll come to me. But he, Oh, you, you definitely know this guy. Okay. Well known comedy writer. Right. But he, he said, his quote was, when they zig we zag. Right. He never wanted to do it the way everyone else was doing it. And that’s kind of my thing. It’s like, I’m gonna make stuff happen. Like I’m gonna make it happen and we are gonna go out and figure out how to shoot it. Do I know how? No, but we’re gonna figure it out. I know that. And we

Michael Jamin:
Did. Yeah. That is unusual. Cause usually just some people were listening, you would write, someone would get paid to write the script, they’d read the script and then they’d, they’d pass on it. That’s how it usually goes. <Laugh>. But Right. So you shot it thinking that it would help get it picked up. I I, Which is unusual too, because it doesn’t necessarily help, but It did.

Jim Serpico:
It doesn’t necessarily help usually because it’s awful. You know, It, it, everyone thinks they’re gonna go out. Shoot a good one. Including me, <laugh>. But you know, we took out the tape, we did screenings, we went around to the networks, we had meetings and off that tape we got an order to series and then we started meeting showrunners. Right. That’s where I met you guys.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Jim Serpico:
And we, and we reshot the pilot and rewrote the

Michael Jamin:
Pilot. Right. Did we rewrote the pilot? I

Jim Serpico:
Don’t, I think so. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
So did we, So yeah. So you met with a bunch of, Cause I remember, I think we met with you years earlier. I’m pretty sure we did before Maron. And then you met with showrunners and I remember meeting Marks and I met Mark at, at a at a diner. And, and I think he, I don’t even think Olivia was there and a diner on Sunset Boulevard for breakfast. And Mark ordered steak and eggs. I was like, Who has steak and eggs? <Laugh>.

Jim Serpico:
That should have been the sign. <Laugh>

Michael Jamin:
That. And then yeah. And then we got, and then we got that. And that was a great gig for us. I mean, that really was a, a good, really good four years. But yeah. Super low budget. But it was great experience.

Jim Serpico:
Yeah. I loved it. Yeah. I loved it. It was my first thing that I ever shot in Los Angeles. It was, it was hard to, to leave New York for so long, but it was just something like thrilling about it. Yeah. and we were really breaking new ground. I think. Like we, we really shot it for a quarter of the budget of most shows. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> through Mark and his podcasting, we were able to get the guests that actually did the podcast. And that was pretty cool.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. He called in, he called in favors. But it was yeah, it was an interesting job. It was wonderful.

Jim Serpico:
The other, the other thing we did was on that presentation was we took a shot with a director that was not a television director. He was a, a filmmaker who won the Academy Award for best short film. And it was Luke Mathen

Michael Jamin:
That, So Luke Oh, right. So he did, he directed the pilot. Right,

Jim Serpico:
Right. And that’s how Luke got so involved. You know, we, we were loyal to everyone who was involved in the beginning. Cuz that was the promise. Right. We’re gonna do this, we’re gonna get it picked up. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and when it does, this is your way into television.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. And it

Jim Serpico:
Was, he

Michael Jamin:
He directed a bunch of episodes. He’s really good. Yeah.

Jim Serpico:
Yeah. I think he’s doing really well right now is and he’s a really talented director. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
And, and then, and you actually wound up directing some episodes too on Marin.

Jim Serpico:
I did. I did. I’m very grateful to you guys and to Mark for the opportunity to do that. You know, that’s, I was doing it. I was in, I started this business in my early twenties and you’re standing around the sets and it, you start to learn the things Right. You know, and you wanna continue to evolve. Right. So it was different and scary, but it was cool. And then I went on to direct sex, drugs and rock and roll and some of the ben there stuff.

Michael Jamin:
I remember when you were directing you, you bought a binder <laugh>. Right. Especially it zipped. And you go, you gotta get a binder. So I went out and bought a binder from when we were, I got the same exact one. <Laugh>.

Jim Serpico:
I mean, I had a very specific way Yeah. To direct. And I know I came up with people who did that. Right. So I learned from them mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and it was very helpful. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And it’s a skill set that I still have and bring to the things I do now. I’m not currently in the pool to direct episodic television. I think the next shot I’ll have is probably something I create.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Well, and let’s get talk about that cuz you and your partner Tom created Benders. How, you know, and that was your first time that your first real writing did you had writing? Much writing.

Jim Serpico:
We had some episodic credits.

Michael Jamin:
Uhhuh

Jim Serpico:
<Affirmative> shortly before that. And yeah, we, we, I I, it came up through a phone call with one of the executives at ifc. I don’t know if we wrote it on spec first or if we found an area that they liked and then they ordered the script. I think that’s what happened. Right. I think we found an an area that they liked.

Michael Jamin:
And that, And so that was you guys running and you had a, you had a small writing room, right? Or No,

Jim Serpico:
We actually did that one also on Orthodox. And we freelanced two two or three writers, Uhhuh <affirmative>. So we would write outlines and ideas and and we would write some of the episodes and they would write some of the episodes that we assigned to them.

Michael Jamin:
Well, that’s interesting. Why did you wanna do it that way?

Jim Serpico:
It’s the same thing as the show that we did Maron. Like we just didn’t have the money. Uhhuh writing staffs cost a lot of money mm-hmm.

Michael Jamin:
<Affirmative>.

Jim Serpico:
Yeah. And you’re not necessarily required to have a writing staff <laugh>, you are required to farm out episodes, at least to a season. Right. so we just did it the bare minimum.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Jim Serpico:
And you have more experience on that than me. I’ve never worked on a writing staff. I don’t know how I, I know that in sitcom world it’s very effective and it’s almost necessary. Right. I never found in the dramas I did that it was helpful and I felt it was inconsistent. And that ultimately the, the big show runners that I worked with had to end up rewriting everything

Michael Jamin:
That, that happens if you don’t have the right staff. For sure. Yeah. Interesting. And then, and do you I mean, so what did you think of it? Did you like, I mean, did you like the whole writing that whole process for you?

Jim Serpico:
Oh yeah. I loved it.

Michael Jamin:
If you were gonna do one, if you had a truth between writing, producing, directing, that’s it. Which, which would you wanna put your energy into?

Jim Serpico:
It would not be directing. I could weed that out by process of elimination.

Michael Jamin:
Why is that?

Michael Jamin:
It’s stressful. People don’t realize how stressful it is, but

Jim Serpico:
It’s stressful. And to what end in television, it’s like you’re really executing the creator’s vision. Right. And in television, the creator is the person you know, whose vision it is. Right. So I I would say it would be the writing, to be honest. I, but I also love the producing mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, I, I really feel like it’s all been a gift. And many people only get so many shots. Like, there’s so many writers, there’s so many producers that have had one show on television and never had anything again. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. I’ve had a pretty decent career and I get those other shots coming up. I’ll be very thankful for whatever they are. Right. So, you know, but yeah, I, I’m, I have, Tom and I have one series we’re about to pitch, hopefully within three weeks. We’re very excited. And

Michael Jamin:
It, comedy

Jim Serpico:
Drama, you know, the dream is, it’s a comedy, you know, the dream is that that gets sold and we get a chance to write the script.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Jim Serpico:
And we get a chance to have health insurance <laugh>.

Michael Jamin:
That’s a big deal. Wait, do do you get, are you, you must be in the direct, you’re in the Producer’s Guild as well,

Jim Serpico:
Right? I’m in the Writer’s Guild, The Director’s Guild and the Baker’s Guild. I am not in the, in the producer’s guild. The Producer’s Guild has no benefits. It’s not the same.

Michael Jamin:
They don’t have benefits.

Jim Serpico:
No. I think you get a discount on car rentals.

Michael Jamin:
Well, that’s nice. There’s

Jim Serpico:
Nothing else <laugh>

Michael Jamin:
Interesting. I didn’t know that. And so then, alright, so that’s, that’s what’s on, on tap for you guys there. And so, but you still you know, do you still manage people at all or what or no,

Jim Serpico:
I do. I manage a couple of People com comedians. I can manage a Yeah. It would always be comedians only. I manage less people than I did. I’m just putting my time and energy into the people I represent as well as the creative projects we have. Right. And this other business that I started. But you know, you, you asked something earlier about produ types of producers. Right

Right. And there’s, there are, So it’s, it’s, it’s hard to define what a producer is because the truth is there’s like 50 types of producers. Right. You have the, at the basic level, you have a creative producer who might own a book or property or some intellectual property. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Like that’s always what I was. And I am, and even, even if it’s not intellectual property per se, I went out, talked to Mark Marin and, and convinced him to do television. And we came up with a night deer together that was at least the seed, that was the intellectual property. Right. And then in my role, I see it through from inception all the way to the end. And I’m also involved in the ad campaigns when the network has, you know, the pitch to what’s gonna be on the poster, They run it through the executive producers.

Michael Jamin:
Interesting. Okay.

Jim Serpico:
Right. So I’m, I’m that kind of person, but I am never hired by anyone I have to generate or I don’t. Right. It’s eat when you kill. Yeah. So I have to self generate, I get a project like that going. I need a line producer who’s only gonna work on that project while it goes.

Michael Jamin:
And then why don’t tell everybody what a line producer does.

Jim Serpico:
Well before that, one of the reasons a line producer does the nuts and bolts of overseeing the way it’s scheduled out to shoot, which all has to do with the money. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> hires the crew mm-hmm. <Affirmative> the crew answers to him or her and their team. And again, they work specifically on that show where I can have one project or five projects going at one time. Right. And then I would need five line producers to work. Right. And then under them, they have producers that work on just certain things. Right. Production managers. Right. Who really are the day in and day out of having the department heads report to them. Right. And then there’s writing producers, which you could speak better to than me, but, you know, on television there’s a million producers. Yeah. Most of those producers are writers. Right. You know, at some level on the staff that there’s a hierarchy. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, there’s, you know, the more seasoned you are, generally the higher credit you have based on precedent the more valuable you are or have made yourself, they need you. And also associated with those production credits is the amount of money you make. Right. You know, that’s the other secret. It’s like when you’re looking at those credits, the people with the higher production credits are making more money than the people with lower production

Michael Jamin:
Credits. Except on Marin, everyone was equal

Jim Serpico:
<Laugh>. Yeah. Everyone was Maron. None. No one made a ton of money on that.

Michael Jamin:
Made money on. Right.

Jim Serpico:
Which I think is ultimately why it ended earlier than it could have. Like the show was performing the same mm-hmm. <Affirmative>.

Michael Jamin:
Well, Mark didn’t wanna, he felt we took the, the show as creatively as far as we could. I mean, and then I remember saying to him, you know, he’s like, What do we do? We’ve done everything from our life. And I was like, you know, Mark, we’re writers. We can come up with stuff. And he comes looked, he was like, What do you mean <laugh>? And so that’s, you know, he

Jim Serpico:
Was surprising. It’s interesting. I mean, that that is probably true. And that was a conversation you guys had. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> my conversation was more like, we reran these on Netflix and it got triple E amount mm-hmm. <Affirmative> of, of viewers, or not way more than triple, actually. Like, why am I doing this show originally for this type of network? Yeah. Right Now, I think I’d be better off in my career to move on. That’s how I saw it. There,

Michael Jamin:
There was that, And I, and I always like, I always disagreed on that. I was like, but the fact that we get paid less, the budget’s lower means we get to do what we want creatively. And I like that part. You know, I like getting, because Iffc was a good partner. They really let us do, as long as we were on budget, they let us do what we wanted to do. Which is not always

Jim Serpico:
Agree with that, but I agree with that. But, you know, he’s done pretty well since he left. Yes.

Michael Jamin:
<Laugh>, I think he probably did. Okay. Yeah. He made the right, the right call.

Jim Serpico:
I think it’s a personal decision for each person. Like, I, I would, did, did Mark think they were great partners? I don’t know what his answer really would be. He didn’t really have any context. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Jim Serpico:
Right. I’m not sure if Mark thinks anyone’s a great partner. Right.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Jim Serpico:
So I don’t know. Yeah. I don’t know. Yeah. So, oh, the other producers are, are the people who leverage their way in what they have and is the control of the talent. Right. There are certain management companies that are just famous for that. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you know, there was a, there was a, a wave in Hollywood where they were trying to cut it down, but they haven’t cut that shit down.

Michael Jamin:
No. Right. No, it is, Yeah. Agents were trying to get on a as that’s basically what happened. They tried to get on a, Looks like that’s over with. Yeah. But yeah. Interesting.

Jim Serpico:
Oh,

Michael Jamin:
And so, Oh yeah, go on. Yeah. I didn’t,

Jim Serpico:
No, I don’t know. I don’t know what you wanna cover. No,

Michael Jamin:
I, you know, I, we’ve talked about plenty, but I don’t know. What do you have, what advice would you have for someone who’s trying to get in other, other, I mean, you kind of stated, you know, basically started as an assistant. But I, I, because I kind of said something the other day, and maybe I was talking out of my butt, but someone asked me you know, how do I become a producer? And I go, producer’s one of the most creative jobs on set because, you know, basically a writer comes up with an idea and hands and says, Can we make this happen? And the producer says either the a good producer say, All right, I’ll figure out a way to make it happen. I don’t, you know, and then I don’t wanna know how, Don’t tell me how you’re gonna do it. Just make it happen. And so if you’re asking, How do I become a producer, you’re missing the point. You just do it. That’s you a you’ll, you invent it, you find a writer to team up with, you find a project, and you just make it happen on whatever money you can come up with. If it’s $30,000, you could, you could’ve done it for less. You could’ve done it on an iPhone if you had to, you

Jim Serpico:
Know? Yeah, I, I agree with you a hundred percent. And in some ways I’m glad I kind of came up through trying to generate independent film, cuz that’s exactly what it was. Mm-Hmm.

Michael Jamin:
<Affirmative>.

Jim Serpico:
But, you know, it also depends on what kind of producer. When someone says, I have to, I wanna become a producer. How do I become a producer? Do they really know all these types of producers? There are no, You know, and I, I’m, I’m living through this now. Right. My, my son graduated school out in LA and he’s working in the business. He doesn’t really know for sure what he wants to do, and I didn’t either. Right. So that’s, I think that’s for me, I think it might be too narrow to say I want to be a producer. I think it’s, it’s cool to be open minded and say, maybe I’ll be a producer. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. But I think to me the best advice is get in the business and work really hard and become recognized and find mentors. Right. And find a path that may or may not be a producer. Like, if I didn’t have all those steps that added up to where I am now, I probably would’ve had some other steps that added up to something, if that makes sense. But I probably wouldn’t have been a producer.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, really? What

Jim Serpico:
About? Well, I didn’t know I wanted to be one. Right. So like, I got a job in music and worked hard enough to book a tour, which led me to people who wanted me to book comedians, which led me to comedians wanting me to represent them, which led me to comedians wanting me to shepherd their material.

Michael Jamin:
But what about developing for your, the comedians that you work with now? I mean, what, you know, or, you know Yeah. Creating

Jim Serpico:
Shows for Yeah. But I have that, I have the, the the history and the experience to be able to do that. Right.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Jim Serpico:
You know, that the other way to do it is, the most common way to do it is, is leverage your way in. Get a comedian, represent a comedian, work at a management company where the comedians young and ultimately 6, 7, 10 years later become really mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, attach yourself to that person and you produce with them. Right.

Michael Jamin:
Right. And that’s very common. Right. That’s,

Jim Serpico:
It’s more common. But you’re, you’re probably not gonna have the freedom to leave the office and actually produce.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, you think, Well, Uhhuh well I guess spends how many clients they have and, and how, you know, it’s like you’re saying, I would think they want you to protect them. You know, you know,

Jim Serpico:
Well, the problem with management is it’s a 10% business.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Jim Serpico:
So to make a real living and how much money is your, your guys or girls making, how much are they making? You know, and that’s what the pressure is. Like these, these managers at these brillstein grays are, they have to have a book of business of two to five to $10 million. Right. Right. So they’re in the office.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. And then what, So what exactly. All right. So what would a manager, since you’ve known more about that, that area than I do, what, what exactly are they doing for their clients? These managers,

Jim Serpico:
They’re putting pieces together. They are moving, they’re taking stuff in. They’re calling, they’re reading the coverage, and they’re calling up somebody at a studio and saying, This script is amazing. They never read the script. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And they’re selling it. They’re selling shoes. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, they happen to be in the form of a script, and they’re getting people and they’re putting people together. They’re moving, they’re having lunches. It’s all the stuff I did. Except they have a, a, you know, they’re doing so much of it that they can’t really do anything except put pieces together.

Michael Jamin:
Right. And they just hand it off to the next person, hand it off to the writer or whatever. Right.

Jim Serpico:
Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
So

Jim Serpico:
Interesting. I mean, there, there might be people listening to this that completely disagree with me. And listen, there are, there are plenty of Judd a Patel was a guy who could do everything. Right. He’s a writer. I mean, I wish I was Judd Ato to be like, like he does it all. He really produces those movies. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you know, he knows how to sell. He knows how to do everything. Right. So they’re those people. But there’s, they’re the exception.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, I think so too. Right. It’s a little different. Cause once you create that big hit, your next show is much easier to sell, you know? Oh, yeah. You know, Much easier. So interesting. It’s interesting to hear your point of view.

Jim Serpico:
Like for me, I’m still, you know, like you could say, people could say about me, whatever they want. Like, I’m, I’m 54 years old, I’ve been doing this for a long time. I no longer run that production company, but I could still get in the door. Right. Everywhere. Right. So I have that shot. So now they don’t, they don’t buy as favors, really. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>

Michael Jamin:
Not anymore. Were they doing it? In the beginning

Jim Serpico:
It was easier for people right. To buy as, you know, favors and take shots. But now they’re really you know, are they programming it? Is it good? So we can at least get in the door and give it our shot? And we work really hard to present something that is worthy of being bought. And once it’s bought, we’re in the game. Right.

Michael Jamin:
There’s, but do

Jim Serpico:
You think it’s different, different now there’s,

Michael Jamin:
Do you think it’s a little different now on streamers selling your shows? Like is, you know, as, as opposed to a networking cable?

Jim Serpico:
No, not at all. It’s just more competition. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, there’s a lot more players. There’s a lot more pressure to take pictures from a diverse group of people, whether or not everyone’s has experience, which I think is great. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And there’s a lot less money because there have been so many mergers. And these companies have all kind of combined. They don’t spend the development money. Like the, the rule used to be they buy a hundred scripts in network television. Right. To make seven to eight pilots to put everywhere from anywhere from two to eight pilots into production and four series on the air.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. And two of them have already been canceled. I mean, but you’re not, you’re not exaggerating, you know, That’s exactly

Jim Serpico:
Who it was. No, no. These are the real numbers right now. There’s no way they buy more than 30 scripts. You’re

Michael Jamin:
Talking about networks or who are they Big networks or who

Jim Serpico:
Yeah. Well, anyone. There’s no way FX is not buying. I mean,

Michael Jamin:
Well, but I, but I’m, I’m thinking I’d

Jim Serpico:
Be surprised

Michael Jamin:
Cbs, you know,

Jim Serpico:
I don’t think CBS is buying more than 30 scripts.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. I think you’re right. It’s very hard. Yeah.

Jim Serpico:
So everyone’s like, Oh, there’s so many places to, you know, to sell to. There’s 350 million people in this country, this 300 directors that make a full time living directing television. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. You know, that’s why I, you know, this whole thing about being open minded and just doing the best job you can and figure out the path as you go. I think it’s very important because the odds are against anybody at any age. Un unless you’re a naturally gifted singer at six years old saying, This is what I want to do. Your life is probably gonna change and take a turn. You’re gonna end up doing something else, and that’s okay. Right. And it could be better than you ever imagined. You know?

Michael Jamin:
Are you, are you talking about in or outta the business? You mean?

Jim Serpico:
It doesn’t matter. I mean, I, I think it, if you want to get into the business, I think that’s perfectly, That’s, that’s what you’re saying. I wanna get in show business. I want to get in television. Right. I don’t necessarily think, you know, I know that people listening to this are writers. They wanna write the great thing about writing. Yeah. You know, you could always write just like I did. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I wrote on the side while I was running the production company and yeah. I was in a position, but I had to overcome like the not step over that line because cuz people didn’t wanna look at us as writers. Right. We weren’t like people who we represented didn’t want us to succeed as writers.

Michael Jamin:
If Well, they didn’t wanna help you that cuz it was an easier No, it was an easier hill to, to climb as a producer. Cuz that’s where people know you, you know? Right.

Jim Serpico:
Yeah. Right. I’m talking about agents and talent.

Michael Jamin:
Well, this has been a very, very illuminating discussion, sir. Sober, but okay, I wanna thank

Jim Serpico:
You. Let me say one thing please. To the writers. Yes. Yeah. Let me say, you know, you gotta write, you gotta write every day. You gotta read every day. I’ve had the benefit of being able to read for 30 years. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, which helped me become a better writer. Am I the best writer? No. there, there is another path that I haven’t talked about as much and I’m sure you probably can mm-hmm. <Affirmative> better at another time with your listeners. Like if you go to school or you write at an early age or whatever age you could get in as a writer. And your writing just has to be so exceptional. And you have to understand that no one cares about your ideas cuz they all have ideas. So you need something that they can’t get. Which may be getting the rights to some really important article or interesting article. So even if your script is a B and not an A, the concept is so great. That’s sellable the property. And if someone’s gonna rewrite it, great. And that’s, you know, take the credit.

Michael Jamin:
You’re saying something which I say over and over again. Right. I mean, and so when you’re reading scripts, how, like, how many pages in before you give up on it?

Jim Serpico:
Not many. Yeah. I hate reading scripts. They’re so bad. It

Michael Jamin:
Are so bad. Right. And you’re reading scripts from these are professional cal, these scripts that came from agents and managers, they’ve already been vetted to some degree. Right?

Jim Serpico:
Absolutely.

Michael Jamin:
Right. So, and even then, if they’re not hooking you, you’re just gonna toss it. And so

Jim Serpico:
A hundred percent Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
And so many people

Jim Serpico:
Think, but there’s nothing better. There’s nothing better than sitting down with a script that, that hooks you and you’ll, you re he actually read it and you know what? People are gonna gimme shit, y’all. You don’t read the thing. You know, I spent so much time. No, I’ve got fucking 100 scripts a weekend to read. I’m not gonna fucking read ’em all.

Michael Jamin:
But this is exactly what I say. And I also say, if you were watching a TV show are you’re gonna say, Well it’s gonna get good around the 40 minute rock. No, I’ll just click, I’ll find something else. I mean, they’re the same, the viewers the same way. Like there’s too much choices. I don’t have to suffer through it. And if it’s gonna get good on page, you know, 50. Well, it should have been good on page two. Sorry. Yeah.

Jim Serpico:
But if I, I could like for, and it’s also personal. If I love the script, even if it’s hard to sell, I’m gonna try to sell it. Right. You know, like I’m okay if not everyone’s gonna love it. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you know, as long as it fits something that I would watch. Cuz that’s the other thing I’ve always done. Would I watch it? Right. I’m not just trying to develop something I could sell.

Michael Jamin:
Right. <laugh>. Yeah. Right. That’s

Jim Serpico:
So funny. Why are you laughing?

Michael Jamin:
Because I say all this and sometimes I think, and so people, sometimes people are like, Man, this guy’s spitting truth. And it’s like, Yeah, but I’m not making it up. It’s just like, this is what, this is how it is. It’s like I, I think there’s a misunderstanding of the reality of what he, what show business is like. It’s like, you know and

Jim Serpico:
It’s a hard business, man. I’ll, I’ll end it with that. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. It’s cutthroat. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. It’s not easy to, You could go get a show, maybe you could make a script deal. Can you make a 40 year career out of it? I don’t know. It’s

Michael Jamin:
Getting harder. It’s getting harder for sure. <Laugh>, It’s getting harder. Yeah. <laugh>. Yep. <laugh>. On that note, Jim Cerco, thank you so much for doing this. Is this is a great talk. I knew it would be, but I want to remind everybody, go check out your podcast Bred for the People. It’s on every podcast platform, right? Yeah.

Jim Serpico:
The Steve, every podcast platform, the Steve Leb bla episode relates to television and data and testing and it’s pretty interesting. Yeah. Think people get a kick out of it.

Michael Jamin:
Is there social media people should be following you too, or what?

Jim Serpico:
Yeah. on Facebook we are Bread for The People Podcast. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> on Facebook and then on Instagram at Jim Serpico.

Michael Jamin:
Go follow this guys. This guy’s spitting truth. Thank you my friend. Thank you so much for, for doing this. This was

Jim Serpico:
A pleasure. Thank you.

Michael Jamin:
Okay everyone, thank you so much. Until next week. Hey, it’s Michael. One more thing. Come see me perform. I’m going to be in Boston area, actually Amesbury, Massachusetts on November 12th and 13th at the actor studio performing my show, a paper orchestra. And then I’m gonna be back in Los Angeles on December 10th and 11th again at the Moving Arts Theater Company. So tickets are on sale. Go get ’em at michael jamin.com/live. It’s a small, intimate venue. I’m gonna be performing for my collection of personal essays and each one’s gonna be followed by like a 20 minute q and a. We get to talk about the work. It’s a fun event. So I hope to see you there. Go get them tickets again are at michaeljamin.com slash live. And of course, sign up to my weekly newsletter that’s called the watchlist michaeljamin.com/watchlist

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 @PhilAHudson. 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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