Emily Cutler is a writer/producer known for Community, A.P. Bio, Fresh off the Boat, and The Michael J. Fox Show. Join Michael Jamin and Emily Cutler as they dive into her history as a stand-up comedian, improv actor, writer, and Co-Executive Producer.
Emily Cutler on IMDB – https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0193915/
Emily Cutler on Twitter – https://twitter.com/cutleremily
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Emily Cutler (00:00:00):
You have to start from a place of, I’m really passionate about this. You know, a lot of times before a season when you go to sell something, you’ll say, what are they looking for? Well, this network is looking for family, and this one wants workplace, and this one wants, you know, and so you try to go, okay, well, what do I ha? But you still have to come from some seed of something that makes you giggle or something that inspires you, or it’s just gonna be flat, it’s not gonna be good or original.
Michael Jamin (00:00:25):
You’re listening to Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin.
Michael Jamin (00:00:33):
Hello everyone, it’s Michael Jamin. Welcome to another episode of Screenwriters. Need to hear this. I got another fantastic guest today. I’m starting to think that my listeners don’t deserve me because I have so many great people on this podcast. And my next guest is no exception. Emily Cutler, all Bribery. Welcome. So let me go through your,
Emily Cutler (00:00:52):
Michael Jamin (00:00:53):
Let me go through you from your credit so people know who you are. Just to refresh their me my memory. Okay. As well as you know, the people listening. So Emily has written for, I’m gonna just blow through some of your credits. They’re really pretty impressive. Zoe. we we’re gonna start with the start with the beginning. Zoe Duncan, Jack and Jane. Rude Awakening. Good Girls. Don’t, I don’t know how you got that one. Less than Perfect. That’s a pretty good, pretty good show. Love Inc. Blue Collar tv, far Poolers, community Free Agents, atory, how to Live with Your Parents. The Michael J. Fox Show growing up, Fisher The Odd Couple. This is the one with Jack Klugman. No, not that one.
Emily Cutler (00:01:35):
<Laugh>? No. Tony Randall. It was, yeah. Yes, it was
Michael Jamin (00:01:39):
AP Bio Bio and Fresh Off the Boat. You have a lot of, do you take your jobs based on the location of, you have a lot of jobs at with locations in them?
Emily Cutler (00:01:49):
No. And Oh, I thought you meant the location of where you’re actually doing the writing in that
Michael Jamin (00:01:54):
Case. Oh, no, we all do that. <Laugh>
Emily Cutler (00:01:56):
Closer to my house. Yeah.
Michael Jamin (00:01:58):
Yeah. Close to your house. So, man, thank you so much, Emily. Let’s just start at the beginning, because you started as actually as an actor and you were, you were a local celebrity in la That’s when I first found out about you. You were the host of Nine Line
Emily Cutler (00:02:12):
Michael Jamin (00:02:13):
You were started as a
Emily Cutler (00:02:14):
Comic Nine Line, which was a, a tiny ridiculous little show, interstitial show that came on between the Mory PO Show and the Jerry Springer show. I popped in and did a little terrible comedy,
Michael Jamin (00:02:25):
But we all knew about you. And you, so you started as a standup, right?
Emily Cutler (00:02:29):
A little bit. I was a very, I dated a lot of standups, so I did a tiny bit of standup, but I spent a lot of time in the clubs watching standups. Yes.
Michael Jamin (00:02:38):
But then how would you,
Emily Cutler (00:02:39):
Michael Jamin (00:02:40):
So that, what was your goal then? Like when you moved out to la what was your goal? Did be a writer, an actor, or what? Standup No,
Emily Cutler (00:02:46):
Acting. Acting. I was an actor. I was on a, you may have seen me as the driving instructor on Beverly Hills. 9 0 2 10, the first
Michael Jamin (00:02:54):
One. Now I, now I know the first one of those. The first one, <laugh>. And then what made you decide to transition to, to writing?
Emily Cutler (00:03:02):
Well, it was really one of those things where I’ve, I’ve written all my life, I’ve written little books and songs and movies, just constantly writing. And so I decided I’ll just write in my downtime from acting mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And as you know, you have an enormous amount of downtime from acting. So it, it, the writing just sort of took off and the acting was kind of, you know, it was not as fun. So I kept with the writing. Oh,
Michael Jamin (00:03:26):
Because the, the acting wasn’t as fun in terms of waiting to get a job, you mean, or no. Did you Yes. What was not
Emily Cutler (00:03:32):
Fun? Going years without a job? Yes.
Michael Jamin (00:03:34):
Or, or was it just like being, like, is, was the acting not fun or like, the process of getting jobs not fun?
Emily Cutler (00:03:41):
The process of getting jobs. Right. The acting is great. I mean, it’s just the, the business of acting is, you know, not for the faint of heart. And I was writing and it seemed to be taking off, and I enjoyed it so much. I figured why not do that? And then I don’t have to lose, you know, 30 pounds and go to auditions in horrible heat and
Michael Jamin (00:04:03):
All that kinda stuff. Yeah. Came the ass. And then how did you, so how did you transition to getting your first gig? Like how did that work?
Emily Cutler (00:04:09):
I was doing a show, an improv show called The Dysfunctional Show at a little theater in Hollywood. And
Michael Jamin (00:04:17):
Producers with a
Emily Cutler (00:04:17):
Comedy show and asked me and one other person Yeah. Okay. In, in in Hollywood and, and produced a lot of people came to see it. It was a very funny show. And they, they said, would you and one other guy who was the friend of mine in the show, like to write a pilot Oh, wow. For Brandon Tartikoff. Years and years ago, it was a, a funny pilot spoofing spoofing. It, it’s about a, a network news host that, like a, a Ted Bull who falls on hard times and winds up getting a job in a small town. It’s the only job he can get. And so and, and the lead in that actually was Matthew Perry’s father, John Bennett Perry.
Michael Jamin (00:04:59):
Wait, so a little bit, I’m sorry. So they actually produced this
Emily Cutler (00:05:01):
Pilot? Yeah, they made the pilot. It was a lot of comedians. It was very it wasn’t like a, like a, it was more, it was a comedy sketch sort of show. It wasn’t a sitcom or anything like that. And then from there, I wrote a movie for Jason Alexander, who I had met in the Dysfunctional show, which didn’t end up getting made, but I got an agent from that. So it was a lot of sort of acting moments. This is pretty impressive. That led me into,
Michael Jamin (00:05:34):
So even, how did you get these industry types to sh I think so to show up to your, to your, you know, show your little, what was like a, it was like a 99 se sea
Emily Cutler (00:05:41):
Theater. It was a, it was a really tiny show, but all the people in it, it was Improvd, it was basically on a huge show. But Improvd and we were making fun of talk shows. And so a lot of comedians who were in the clubs would just stop by because it’s, you know, for an hour and play a character on a panel. And you know, let’s see. It was Bob Odenkirk, David Cross, Warren Hutcherson, Brian Regan. I mean, there was a, just a ton of comics who showed up to do this. Wow. And I think Jason Alexander knew someone in the show, and he was, he was a guest in the show. It was different every week cuz it was like a talk show. So different subject every week. And then you’d kind of get a character and then it was just improvd from there.
Michael Jamin (00:06:22):
See, you just made a really good case.
Emily Cutler (00:06:24):
It was just good exposure.
Michael Jamin (00:06:26):
It’s because people ask me all the time, all, and I mean this, I know it sounds like I’m saying this, but like, like, do I have to move to Hollywood to make it in Hollywood? And like, you just made a really good case for like Yeah. Because this is where it is. You know, you have to put yourself out there. Or do you disagree now?
Emily Cutler (00:06:42):
And I think that as a, as a writer, no, I completely agree. I think you have to be, it doesn’t mean if you’re a film writer and you wanna write a film in some other part of the country, eventually you will have to come here to have meetings or, I mean, now with Zoom, maybe it’s not as difficult, but you just wanna be around people. You wanna meet people that can either help you or advise you or influence you in some positive way. And so I would say if you’re really serious about writing for TV and film, you should think about coming to LA for a while. Maybe not forever, but for a while.
Michael Jamin (00:07:15):
Right. For sure. And yeah. And you, now you, so you’ve been here, you’ve been here, what, when you right after college, you moved, you moved here, right? Or did you do something before?
Emily Cutler (00:07:22):
Oh my God, I, no, I went to New York first. I went to New York cuz I was gonna be a serious theater actress. Really? And then I quickly gave that up and, and came to
Michael Jamin (00:07:30):
LA Yeah. But why, what was that like?
Emily Cutler (00:07:32):
Well, I came to act, I was kind of like theaters, tons of people in LA and I wound up getting an agent, a musical agent. I had to sting for them. And they said, come out to la we need funny women. Yeah. And so I came out and then just never left.
Michael Jamin (00:07:50):
And funny women are in demand. I’m
Emily Cutler (00:07:51):
Contemplating leaving there, there are funny women. I heard there weren’t any Yes.
Michael Jamin (00:07:57):
No, but I’m saying they’re, they’re in demand. Sar I mean, like, if you’re a funny woman, you’ll work, you’ll, you know, show yourself.
Emily Cutler (00:08:03):
There are a lot of fu funny women. There are a lot of funny women who don’t work. They’re funny women who do work, but they’re an enormous amount of funny women. Yes.
Michael Jamin (00:08:11):
Yeah. And so, wait, did you, at some point, were you joking? Did you want to turn around and and leave LA
Emily Cutler (00:08:16):
No, I’m, I’m thinking about that now because A, we have a strike coming and b I wanna live in an enormous house with just a staff of people to wait on me hand in foot. So I figure I’ll go to a small town and just buy a small town. And
Michael Jamin (00:08:31):
Where would you go, how that goes? I know you’re, I know you’re, I know you’re being facetious, but where, I don’t
Emily Cutler (00:08:36):
Know. That’s why I never go anywhere. I, you don’t, I do, I think, you know, after my kids to college, where could I settle down that wouldn’t be as, you know, wouldn’t be a big city. And I’d have my neighbors and I would be close friends and we’d all get together at barbecue and walk down to a beach and there’d be no crime and all of this. And then I realized there isn’t that place. Or if there is, I don’t know what it is.
Michael Jamin (00:09:03):
So that’s lazy. You’re not going any further than that. You’re not really is
Emily Cutler (00:09:06):
Too lazy. Cause then I’d have to move. I’d have to call people.
Michael Jamin (00:09:09):
I’m, I’m trying to figure out. No,
Emily Cutler (00:09:11):
I, I I, I, I, I don’t need, I don’t think I’m leaving my house. Oh, okay. No, I’m not serious. I, I, I could leave Uhhuh <affirmative>, but it would require paperwork and phone calls and faxing and, you know, does your husband,
Michael Jamin (00:09:25):
Does your husband feel the same
Emily Cutler (00:09:26):
Way talking to others? And I just can’t do any of that.
Michael Jamin (00:09:29):
Does your husband feel the same way? My
Emily Cutler (00:09:30):
Husband was born and Ray will never, never leave.
Michael Jamin (00:09:35):
He’ll never leave forever. Right. So he loves it here. Okay. Okay. Now, but you’re in Angelo now you’re saying I,
Emily Cutler (00:09:40):
I’m seriously doubting it
Michael Jamin (00:09:42):
Now. I wanna know I guess of all your credits, maybe the, maybe the highest, you’ve had some high profile shows, but maybe the most beloved one is community. What do you think is that the one people wanna know about?
Emily Cutler (00:09:52):
Probably tell us. People are obsessed with that show and they’re still obsessed much. I mean, I know it’s airing now. It was on Netflix for a while. I wonder if it’s still on Netflix. I and it’s on the planes. It’s on people are, are very we have great fans for community. Yeah. And
Michael Jamin (00:10:09):
What was it like working on that show? Because it seems really hard. So it’s a hard show to write for. It seems.
Emily Cutler (00:10:14):
It was a wonderful and nightmarish pool of madness and joy. It was Why the best of times and the worst of times. Well, the show creatively was absolutely wonderful. There was a lot of freedom. The characters were great, the actors were great. The writers were great. Dan Harmon, who was running the show was incredibly brilliant and interesting and strange. The hours were insane. And I had two young, young children at the time, and I was often there overnight. You know, I had my toothbrush and blankets in an office. So that wasn’t ideal. <Laugh> if you’re a parent or if you have a, a life outside of the show.
Michael Jamin (00:10:58):
But why was it, what, what was, was he taught? Who was someone tossing on scripts? Were they, what was, why was it so late?
Emily Cutler (00:11:05):
Have you been on, have you not been on a show where you’ve had hours like that?
Michael Jamin (00:11:09):
Emily Cutler (00:11:10):
Michael Jamin (00:11:11):
Not real, like just shoot me. We would work. We had a couple nights where we worked till four in the morning. But that’s only cuz like, there was something blew up. There was a script was, you know, thrown out. Right? Of
Emily Cutler (00:11:19):
Michael Jamin (00:11:20):
Course. But it wasn’t a regular day and it’s
Emily Cutler (00:11:21):
Normal to stay late sometimes. This was, I think that not all artists are good at running a show are good at time management and managing. I think that’s a different skillset. And Dan Harmon was really brilliant at writing and creating and everything except time management and not overthinking things and really understanding to respect other people’s time. I think you would say that as well. Yes. See
Michael Jamin (00:11:55):
That’s the thing.
Emily Cutler (00:11:56):
You’re kinda in his mind. You’re in the showrunner’s mind when you’re on a show. And if it’s really messy in there and disorganized Yeah. The show will be too.
Michael Jamin (00:12:05):
People don’t realize that is that no one becomes a, a commentator cuz they want go into management. They become comment commenters so they don’t have to go into management. Yes. Then they get a job where they’re running, they’re managing people and it’s a different skillset. And
Emily Cutler (00:12:18):
Yes. And a lot of people, I have talked to writers when I say, do you want your own show? They say, I wanna write my own show and I wanna see it happen. But the thought of having to do that massive amount of work mm-hmm. <Affirmative> in meetings and executives and storyboards. It’s just, it’s can be really overwhelming. It’s not the writing part that you signed up for. It’s a whole different thing.
Michael Jamin (00:12:39):
Even the writing part is a i people say I wanna be a show winner. You’re saying that only cuz you don’t know what a show winner does. Right. You know? Yeah. It’s it’s funny, I had Steven Kel on a while ago. He kind of said the same thing. He was like, you know, it’s, you’re, it’s tankless comes the show. It’s, and yeah. Yeah. I we were, same thing when we were running shows before we started running shows. It’s like, I could do this and then you do it like, oh my god, what did I sign up for?
Emily Cutler (00:13:04):
And why do I want to do this? The fun part is being in the writer’s room and creating things. And I don’t wanna be, you know
Michael Jamin (00:13:10):
Emily Cutler (00:13:10):
Out what type of ice cube you’re gonna use in this scene. I mean, there’s, you know, some people love that, but it is a different, I wouldn’t say that writers necessarily naturally have that skillset.
Michael Jamin (00:13:22):
Yeah. And, and so, okay. So that’s a good enough reason to be, that’s bad for morale too. Yes. Especially when you got two kids. You wanna be home, you don’t wanna live there.
Emily Cutler (00:13:32):
But also, if it’s a show I created, I’m much more likely to wanna get into the minutiae of things and do that job. I, I never understand what a showrunner takes over a show that they didn’t create. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, maybe they don’t even love the show, but they take the job and just do such a massive amount of work for something that’s not really
Michael Jamin (00:13:50):
Emily Cutler (00:13:51):
Giving them the joy or satisfaction of their own creation.
Michael Jamin (00:13:55):
And then what then was like maybe your favorite show that you just loved every second of being on and often it’s not the most often, it’s not the show, the people we even heard of.
Emily Cutler (00:14:05):
No, I <laugh> I had a phenomenal time writing for Blue Collar tv, which was a sketch comedy show for Jeff Foxworthy and Bill Engal and Larry the cable guy. Right. all whose politics I do not agree with. However writing for it, it was just hilarious. I mean, it’s wonderful if you, if you enjoy writing sketches, greatest group of people. We were all starting out and never done anything before. And we, we got to go down to Atlanta and produce it and see what people responded to and what they didn’t. Different kinds of comedy. And it was just fun and silly. It was silly. We got to be silly, you know, all day.
Michael Jamin (00:14:44):
But then tell me about writing than sketches because you need a whole separate packet you didn’t make. Yes. It’s a whole different skillset. Like,
Emily Cutler (00:14:51):
It’s completely different. But I came up doing that as an actor with friends. We did a lot of sketch comedy and we wrote for sketch comedy groups. So that was in my wheelhouse. And also, it’s not as, it’s not as daunting. It’s not 30 pages, it’s not 50 pages. It’s like, Hey, I just have to write three funny pages that have a beginning, middle, and an end. I can do that. You know, but it’s,
Michael Jamin (00:15:13):
When you’re, it’s all premise. You have to come up with a premise that’s funny on its own. The, the one liner has to be, and, and then you have to establish these characters in 30, not even, whatever, 15 seconds and then go, you know. And also
Emily Cutler (00:15:26):
I’m kind of picky. Like, I don’t like sketches that just ramble. Like when you have a funny character that has some kind of catchphrase mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, it’s not enough of a sketch for me to just have that funny character say that catchphrase over and over and everyone like, like I really do believe in building a little story and having it end in a satisfying way. So that, that is challenging. Do
Michael Jamin (00:15:45):
You do any sketch writing still?
Emily Cutler (00:15:48):
Oh God, I haven’t done it in years.
Michael Jamin (00:15:50):
No, I haven’t done it in years. So what is, is it your main Yeah. Narrative sitcoms. Are you, are you doing dramas as well? What are you doing?
Emily Cutler (00:15:57):
No, mostly sitcoms. A lot of single camera half hours. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>.
Michael Jamin (00:16:03):
Do you prefer that for any reason?
Emily Cutler (00:16:06):
I always multi camera. I, I always prefer the one. I’m not doing <laugh>. Yes. Whichever one I’m doing. I say, well, it’s just cuz I’m doing this kind. I should go back to multi cams cuz I love them. And then I work on Multicam and go, why am I doing this? I should be writing a single cam.
Michael Jamin (00:16:18):
Yeah. Yeah. I think it’s so funny. I mean, I feel the same exact way and I think we all do. I think it’s like, eh, you know, when I, same thing with animation, I’d rather do live action. Whatever you’re not doing is what you <laugh>.
Emily Cutler (00:16:29):
I’ve never done animation though. I’m almost scared of it because it’s so you can do so much. There’s no, not as much structure. You can kind of just think outside the box, which I think is wonderful. But I’m also terrified.
Michael Jamin (00:16:41):
Take comfort knowing that it’s not Writer’s Guild. So <laugh>, it’s never covered by the Writer’s Guild. So you’ll make less money.
Emily Cutler (00:16:48):
So, so Simpsons and Family Guy, those shows must be, well
Michael Jamin (00:16:52):
Simpsons and King of the Hill are, but the King of Hill didn’t start as an writer’s guild. But now whenever you sign, we’ve sold a bunch of animated shows and it’s never writer. They, it’s like it’s a deal breaker. Nope. It’s Aii. And so that’s
Emily Cutler (00:17:07):
So crazy because it’s so much writing and so much work mm-hmm. <Affirmative>
Michael Jamin (00:17:10):
Emily Cutler (00:17:11):
And so much thought goes into it
Michael Jamin (00:17:12):
Seems illegal to me because they can, the studios get to choose which guild, which you can be covered by Aii or Writers Guild. And you always choose writers guild, but they say II cuz you, they can pay you left. It’s like, well how is that legal? I don’t understand what,
Emily Cutler (00:17:24):
That doesn’t seem fair. Yeah. You know what we should do Michael? We should go on strike.
Michael Jamin (00:17:28):
When, how about May 1st? What <laugh> when you are you, I guess you’re doing a lot of development now. Is that what you’re, is that what your focus is on? What are you Yes. What are you up to? Yeah,
Emily Cutler (00:17:37):
I’m doing a some pilots. I have a pilot that I wrote with another person that’s floating around. I have a pilot I just finished that’s floating around. I have a pilot I’m supposed to do for that I haven’t even pitched yet. And we’re supposed to go on strike soon, so
Michael Jamin (00:17:53):
Sit backwards. Really. But when you say floating around, you mean you’ve written the script first and you’re trying to sell it or what?
Emily Cutler (00:17:58):
Michael Jamin (00:17:59):
Yes. And you like, you like doing that because usually we don’t
Emily Cutler (00:18:01):
Do that. Oh, the two that are floating around, then I have some that I’m supervising. No, I don’t like doing that. It depends on if I have a, an idea that I feel I need to execute for someone to really get what it is, then I’ll write it myself. But I’d much rather gee, I don’t know, be paid to write it.
Michael Jamin (00:18:20):
So write to pitch it. Yes. And then you’re supervis cuz even supervising. I’m not crazy about doing, but you’re doing. It
Emily Cutler (00:18:25):
Depends. I only supervise if it’s a project that comes to me that I really, really love and can’t say no to. Other than that I don’t, I get offered a lot of jobs of, well you supervise this show about a young, you know, Chinese woman who has a dumpling factory and whatever crazy thing I get. Unless it’s something that I go, that’s hilarious, I wanna be a part of it. I just don’t do it.
Michael Jamin (00:18:51):
And who, how are these coming to you through your agent?
Emily Cutler (00:18:54):
Random ways. Yeah. They kind of float to me through my agent or, or a writer will call me and say, I’m working on something. Would you be willing to supervise? You know, stuff like that.
Michael Jamin (00:19:02):
Oh, like a writer that you’ve, a young writer you’ve worked with in the past, you mean? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. Interesting, interesting. Yeah, because yeah, that’s the thing. Go taking an idea out rather take the idea out than than, yeah. It’s hard. It’s hard out there.
Emily Cutler (00:19:17):
It is hard. And the thing is, and I it’s, it’s hard for writers who are, you know, a a lot are very introverted, is you have to sell something in a room to people mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, which means you have to kind of come out of your shell a little bit and do a performance, a stale. And again, that’s another skillset that I imagine as a lot of writers have to learn, you know. But
Michael Jamin (00:19:43):
I imagine as an actor, that part probably comes easy to you.
Emily Cutler (00:19:45):
That is easy to me. And it’s fun. I I like doing it. I don’t mind doing it. Even when you get a very bad audience of people just not laughing and staring at you as if you’ve offended them and they hate you. Uhhuh <affirmative> I don’t mind doing that. But there are a lot of writers who just, it’s terrifying and they don’t like it. And it’s a whole new skill they have to learn, you know? Yeah. And be be warned before you move out to LA that if you wanna sell ideas to people, you will become a, a bit of a salesman and have to do a sales pitch. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>.
Michael Jamin (00:20:16):
Now I’m skipping around here a little bit cause I have a lot of questions when I ask you, but when you, when you did the odd couple, you were briefing, is that the right word? A a show that’s been on, there’s been multiple variations of that show. Yes. And so what was that like? You know, actually he worked with yeah. What was that? Gary Marshall with Gary Marshall. He was in the room a lot, a little,
Emily Cutler (00:20:36):
He came to every taping. He came to the room for a while and then, I mean, he would just show up whenever he felt like it. But I think he came to every taping. He was wonderful. It was fascinating to sit with him and, and hear about his experiences because he’s, well, so he would sit Hollywood, he would sit
Michael Jamin (00:20:53):
In the writer’s
Emily Cutler (00:20:53):
Room. Yeah. Yeah. And every time I saw him I would give him a kiss on the cheek. But I gave him a kiss every time I felt it was something I had to do.
Michael Jamin (00:21:01):
I mean, we grew up with all those shows. I mean, yes. I mean, was that, I mean, that’s just such an honor, but did he give notes or was he just like, ah, holding court
Emily Cutler (00:21:10):
A little bit of giving? No, he took it seriously. He wasn’t there just for the hell of it. He, he took it seriously and he listened to all the jokes and he commented on things. But he didn’t he didn’t get in the way of anything. He wasn’t in the writer’s room that much. But he would send in jokes sometimes for scripts that he’d read, he’d send
Michael Jamin (00:21:29):
In his pictures. Oh, really? Yeah. What’s, what kind of story do you remember? Like what kind of stories? What was it like when he was in the room?
Emily Cutler (00:21:36):
His stories were a little more broad. They were of a different time. Sometimes it would be like a monkey gets loose in the apartment and both guys have to go and find who’s gonna take the monkey. And you’re like, well, maybe not that.
Michael Jamin (00:21:49):
But how do you say no to him? How do you say no to Gary Marshall? When did he,
Emily Cutler (00:21:52):
I don’t think you do. I think you just say That’s interesting. Yeah. We were thinking about this and he was very collaborative. Uhhuh <affirmative>. I mean, he didn’t, there was no ego there that I saw. He was just happy to be there and be around writers and have the odd couple coming alive yet again.
Michael Jamin (00:22:07):
But, but I actually, what I really meant was like, did he, he must have told stories from his past, like, you know, working with I dunno, the Fonz or whatever.
Emily Cutler (00:22:15):
<Laugh>. Yes. And he also gave, this was a lesson I took from him that I will never forget. He said, don’t make your work your life. Have a life uhhuh and work. And don’t just work. Don’t just, did you read,
Michael Jamin (00:22:29):
Did you read his book? Wake Me When It’s funny.
Emily Cutler (00:22:32):
I remember. No, I never did. I never did. Oh,
Michael Jamin (00:22:34):
I remember reading that just before I was breaking into the business and it was just so, it was like, ah, I wanna work in that business. Like, it makes you wanna work in Hollywood. So, so it’s like lovely. Yeah. But he tells a story, I think it was on the, the odd couple. They couldn’t make a scene funny. Like he was like, it is missing something. So like, they give, like, I think the solution I’m getting, I’m sure I’m getting this, the character wrong, but it was like they, they gave Felix a big spoon or something, <laugh>. He was like, give him a big spoon. And then it was funny.
Emily Cutler (00:23:01):
And, and also well yes, I think he told that story in the room too. <Laugh> give someone a prop. And often I think we did maybe give Matthew Perry a prop here and there to Uhhuh <affirmative> give him something to do. <Laugh>, did
Michael Jamin (00:23:13):
You guys watch, I mean we all saw the odd couple, but did you go back through old episodes and go, you know what, we can,
Emily Cutler (00:23:19):
We can do this again. I’d seen a lot of them. I’d seen a lot of them. I mean the premise is really about the two guys. About two mis mismatched roommates and how they get along in the world. So yeah, you can do that a variety of different ways. I was surprised, you know, when Matthew Perry wanted to play Oscar because I had sort of seen him in ay way. Yeah. But he wanted to play
Michael Jamin (00:23:40):
Oscar. Maybe that’s why. And so what was it like working with him off of friends when he was at this biggest star in the, in the world?
Emily Cutler (00:23:46):
No, he wasn’t right off of friends. Many, many years had gone by.
Michael Jamin (00:23:50):
Oh, was it?
Emily Cutler (00:23:51):
It was a learning experience. Oh. you know I’ve also worked with Chevy Chase. Yes. And these were
Michael Jamin (00:24:03):
Difficult to have actors, <laugh>, what were the subjects?
Emily Cutler (00:24:07):
These are guys who have super, super talented, amazing comic timing. Mm-Hmm. But maybe have not taken the best care of themselves so they’re not able to do what they once were able to do. So that is always sad when you see that happen. And it was just challenging to work with Matthew cuz he was not in the best at his best. He, I mean at his
Michael Jamin (00:24:30):
Best he would probably, he’s probably come out and said that a million times over since then. He said
Emily Cutler (00:24:34):
That in his book. He apologized to the odd couple writers in his book.
Michael Jamin (00:24:37):
Oh, did he? He
Emily Cutler (00:24:38):
Did interest. Wow. Because it was kind of, it was a little bit weekend at Bernie’s.
Michael Jamin (00:24:42):
Emily Cutler (00:24:43):
Michael Jamin (00:24:44):
Oh wow. Just
Emily Cutler (00:24:45):
Keeping him, him going.
Michael Jamin (00:24:47):
And he was an executive producer on the show.
Emily Cutler (00:24:49):
Michael Jamin (00:24:50):
Yes. A lot of people don’t understand and that, and I, and I think you can count me as one of them. Like what more control, when an actor is an executive producer, they have more control, but to be honest, they have the same amount of control. Even when they’re not, you can’t force them to say something.
Emily Cutler (00:25:05):
Michael Jamin (00:25:07):
So you, you explain it to me.
Emily Cutler (00:25:09):
I also don’t, when a, when an actor is an executive producer, it means they can see the cuts. Right. And they can say, cut, cut this joke or put this in and Right. Again, I don’t know. That’s that their strongest skillset. Right. Their, so I never think it’s super helpful. There are some that are very smart and that mm-hmm. But I generally would leave that to the people who know more about that and leave the acting to the actors. Yeah. Generally would be my preference.
Michael Jamin (00:25:35):
Have you done, have you directed or have you, do you aspire to direct at all?
Emily Cutler (00:25:39):
Not at all. It’s the strangest thing. Cuz I think I’m a bossy person. Uhhuh. <affirmative>. And I do, when I’m on set, know exactly what I want, but I’m not I don’t think I’m visual enough to know exactly what a shot should look like. And then this, I just like the acting. I like working with the actors. That’s what I like to do. So camera stuff is not my
Michael Jamin (00:26:01):
So you do that a lot. Are you often the writer on set?
Emily Cutler (00:26:04):
Yes. I enjoy being the writer on set. I feel like I can speak the language of an actor. So it’s yes, and it’s fun. And there’s just a great sense of camaraderie and it’s nice to get out of the writer’s room and be on a set.
Michael Jamin (00:26:18):
But are you doing that for shows that that, are you doing that for shows that even that you don’t write, you know, you’re not the, the writer of that show? Or are you usually assigned? No,
Emily Cutler (00:26:26):
No, no. I have been assigned to set and I have mentored younger writers who’ve never been on a set before mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. which is a really good thing to do because you don’t wanna throw a younger writer on a set when they have no idea what they’re doing. But you also wanna make sure that that younger writer is on a set so that they are learning and can move up the ladder really knowing what they’re
Michael Jamin (00:26:44):
Doing. And that brings us to the writer’s strike, because that’s not really happening. It’s from where I’m sitting, it’s not really happening anymore because these ri young writers for the mo well, I don’t know, I haven’t done a network show in so long, but on, on these cable, these low budget shows that I’m on, often you’re just working on pre-production and then you, you’re done. And so the writers aren’t coming to set at all. There’s, you know, no one’s.
Emily Cutler (00:27:06):
And what’s happening is writers are moving up. In my day you had to be a staff writer for a very long time. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> before you got bumped up. I don’t know if people know, but on a staff there are different levels. And each level has different job requirements. And what’s happening is a staff writer will come in and write for a season and then move up so quickly. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> maybe bump up a few levels to a producer, and then they’re put on a set without having any idea what to do or what each person on the set does or what their role is. Yeah. and it’s really important to teach people at the early stages every aspect of a television show. And no, that is not happening very often.
Michael Jamin (00:27:50):
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 michaeljamin.com/watchlist.
Michael Jamin (00:28:14):
I see that as being really bad. Maybe you’ll feel, I wonder how you feel for, for like, I don’t know if there’ll be multi-camera shows in the future because you, there’s so much learning that you have to do and like, who, who’s gonna be, there’s no, you know, who, how are they learning this? There are no multi-camera shows anymore. Where, where’s the, the pool of talent, you know? Yeah.
Emily Cutler (00:28:35):
I, I don’t, I mean, I do a lot of mentoring through the Guild. You might do that too, where you work with writers. It’s a good thing to do. You should do it. Yeah. you mentor younger writers who are new in the Guild, maybe they’ve had their first job, but that’s about it. And you, they can ask you questions. Like, when I started, I didn’t have anybody really to ask, what does this mean? Should, what, what does this person do on set? Where am I supposed to be? What, you know, what is the blow to a scene? I didn’t know any of that stuff. Yeah. So I, I I kind of help them and give them a safe place to ask these questions, which is a, a it’s great. It reminds me <laugh> of all this stuff. Yeah. And and I get to be around fresh young hopefuls. So it’s, it’s a great thing to do. You know,
Michael Jamin (00:29:21):
You know, I remember one of the first times on set, you know, they give you the big director chair to sit and your name’s in it. And then I remember like dragging it to the next shot and I got such dirty looks. Yes. Like, you don’t touch that chair. That’s a union job. <Laugh>. Yes. Like, that’s a, all you do is
Emily Cutler (00:29:36):
To think, you feel like I don’t belong here. What am I doing? I don’t understand anything. You just nod lot and hope that no one will ask anything of you. But yeah, it’s much kinder to send people to set feeling prepared and feeling like they have something to contribute instead of them just being terrified the entire time.
Michael Jamin (00:29:52):
So you may have already answered this question then. Like, how do you see the, how has the industry changed from your point of view since you’ve been in it?
Emily Cutler (00:30:02):
Well, it’s changed a lot in, I mean, we’re striking for certain reasons. Rooms are getting much smaller mm-hmm. <Affirmative> it seems like there’s more product out there, but for some reason jobs are hard to get mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and there are sort of mandates on shows and mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and there are fewer writers and there’s shorter production time. Writers move up faster. That is something that happens. You don’t have to be a staff writer for a long time before you move up the ladder. And I think that’s, but
Michael Jamin (00:30:33):
I don’t think that’s a good thing, to be honest.
Emily Cutler (00:30:34):
I don’t think that’s a good thing. Okay. I, I don’t, I don’t know that you ha I don’t believe in staff writers not getting paid for a script. Right. I think that’s silly because they are writing and creating a product. They should be paid for it. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. But I do think that before you’re bumped up another level, you should really have a lot of experience and know what’s gonna be required at that second level and be able to deliver that.
Michael Jamin (00:30:56):
I actually think that that writers, I believe that was the guild’s idea to protect young writers. And I think it failed actually. Like, I think the intention was if you don’t have to pay ’em that way, that way they get to write a script and they learn. You know what I’m saying? Yeah. And so
Emily Cutler (00:31:11):
That was, but they are still writing and some staff writers are just fantastic and write a perfectly terrific script and don’t get paid for it. And I always found that. Yeah.
Michael Jamin (00:31:19):
Odd. Yeah. I I think that was like one of those things that backfired well meaning I could be wrong about that, but anyway, but, so yeah. That’s how it’s, that’s how it’s changed. What about selling shows, do you think? How’s that changed for you?
Emily Cutler (00:31:31):
Well now they have, and I’ve never used one pitch decks where you’re doing a whole visual presentation with your pitch. And I don’t, I, I don’t feel that’s necessary. But a lot of studios like that mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, it gives them an image in, in their mind of what you’re going for. That’s not,
Michael Jamin (00:31:51):
I always felt that was more for drama than spend comedy.
Emily Cutler (00:31:56):
I I think nowadays people will do it. They’ll do it for comedy, they’ll do it for drama. They’ll, you know, show pictures of actors that they think would be good in the roles. And I don’t find it necessary. But,
Michael Jamin (00:32:10):
And certainly whatever works, working with pods is probably a bigger thing now. Do you than it was like, there was a time you as a writer, you could just sell a TV show. You didn’t have to have all these people attached to it to sell a show.
Emily Cutler (00:32:22):
Yes. And a lot of times when you do that, you, you get a lot of cooks in the kitchen. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So the work that you start out with just starts to morph into something completely different than when you started. And I like, you know, for better or worse, I like a clear vision to a show. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> where, you know, and I’m sure you’ve been working a lot in streaming and stuff like that, where it’s someone’s voice like a Mark Marinn or something, and it actually comes through onto the screen. You don’t have to like it. Maybe it’s terrible, but it’s a clear perspective. And what happens when you have so many cooks in the kitchen is the perspective starts to get watered down. That’s one thing that Dan Harmon simply didn’t allow on community. He was very ballsy and was just like, this is what we’re going to do. And the studio would say, no, no, you can’t do that. And he would be like, yeah, okay. This is what we’re going to do. So like it or hate it, it made it onto the screen as a singular vision of what that show should
Michael Jamin (00:33:13):
Be. And it shows. But that’s so ballsy because there’s two things. I think you kind of have to be kind of like a genius level to pull that off,
Emily Cutler (00:33:22):
Which I think Yes. Which he, which he is,
Michael Jamin (00:33:23):
He was, but also you have to have this no fucks given. Like, I I, I don’t know many writers who would do that. You
Emily Cutler (00:33:29):
Have to be a little crazy. Yeah. And he’s a lot crazy. So it worked out well for him. He must also kind of, you know, felt like he was smarter than everyone in the room and probably was. Right. Which there are, there are many who think that, who aren’t. And he just would talk them in circles and finally they just couldn’t take talking anymore. So they let him do his thing. Then they fired him <laugh>. Right. And they brought him back, which was absolutely insane. I’ve rarely heard of that happening. Yeah. And, and he just really held firm because he knew what the show was and said, this is what we wanna do, and if you don’t wanna do it, let’s just not do it. But this is how it’s gonna go. And he just doubled down and did it.
Michael Jamin (00:34:12):
Where did he, what would you, you must know, what was his first job in the business that he, where did he learn from?
Emily Cutler (00:34:18):
He did a streaming, I think he had a channel, I can’t remember what it, what it’s called. Oh, people will know. Like Channel 24 or channel something that did a lot of a lot of internet stuff. And then I think his first job was on the Sarah Silverman show back when she, I think it was Comedy Central. I could be more about all
Michael Jamin (00:34:37):
Of this. Yeah. Sam Sterling did that.
Emily Cutler (00:34:39):
And they had, they did not get along. I don’t think they were the right fit.
Michael Jamin (00:34:43):
Oh my God.
Emily Cutler (00:34:44):
And then I, he, I don’t know, I think he went, actually went to community college and that community was based on his experience
Michael Jamin (00:34:52):
Because I, I think that showrunners kind of, they, they learn how they’re gonna do this kind of, they, from the first job they take, their first showrunner is the kind of the person they emulate, you know, and mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, that’s kinda the school you come out of. And if your first boss was organized, you’ll be organized. And, you know,
Emily Cutler (00:35:09):
Not for me, my first real boss on a sitcom was absolutely out of his mind. And an just, just a, a, a monster human who did everything. I, I just sat there going, this can’t be right. This can’t be Hollywood. All writers cannot be doing what we were doing, which is sitting on the floor and being screamed out about paint colors for his bathroom. And he was just insane. So I was like, this can’t, if this is how everything is run Hollywood, it was on a show called Movie Stars, which was Harry Hamlin’s comedic opus <laugh> and,
Michael Jamin (00:35:47):
And Wait, do you wanna say who the, who the writer is?
Emily Cutler (00:35:49):
Yes, I do. His name was We, Wayne Lemon, which already sounds kind of like a serial killer name. It’s like a great character name Wayne Lemon. And he, I think he was the son of a Baptist preacher and had no sense of humor and told us that on the first day. He’s like, I’m not funny. That’s not what I do. I’m not funny. I was like, well, it’s great that you’re running a comedy then. Oh my God. And we, there were only two writers. He, he didn’t want a staff, he wanted two baby writers. We and another writer named Bick Scahill, we had never done it before. And so we sat on the floor and we listened to him fight with his wife. He was really abusive. It was, it was a hilariously weird experience. But I remember thinking, this can’t be how every show in Hollywood is run. So I did not learn how to run a show from him. I learned very much what I don’t wanna do, which you can also learn from your showrunner.
Michael Jamin (00:36:38):
But I would’ve, I’m not joking, I probably would’ve thought this must be Hollywood. Like, I, I, I, I probably would’ve felt differently from you. Like, that might’ve scared me from ever working in Hollywood continuing. Well,
Emily Cutler (00:36:49):
I was terrified to say anything or ask anyone because you’re always afraid when you start out that you’re gonna be either discovered as a phony and fired. Yeah. Or you’re, you just don’t make waves. You don’t stand up for yourself at all. Cuz you’re like, if I say anything, I’ll never work again. So we just sucked it up. But it wasn’t until later when I got on a normal staff where people were saying that, I went, oh, okay. <Laugh>. That was not a normal experience.
Michael Jamin (00:37:18):
At what point, and I really mean this, like at what point in your career did you finally feel like, all right, I know how to do this job because it’s not on day one. It’s not.
Emily Cutler (00:37:28):
I’m not, I’m not sure. I I’m not sure I feel that way now. It it, it depends. There are shows that I go in and I feel like I got this. I know exactly what I’m doing. I’m fantastic. And then on the very next show, I feel the complete opposite. Why am I doing this? There’s no point. I have no talent I should give up. I think all creative people maybe ride that rollercoaster a little bit of feeling like I’ve got something to offer. I have nothing to offer really. I mean, I, I bounce back. It depends on the show and it depends on if I really think I can capture the voice of something and do it justice. Like if I went to write on succession tomorrow, I’d probably be a little nervous. I’d be excited to do it. But I might go, God, I hope I live up to this thing. Or I hope I can get into the voices of these characters. And then there are some that it’s just natural to
Michael Jamin (00:38:18):
You, but even in terms of like knowing how to break a story or when you go off on script and you look at that blank page, like, or you’re turning in your writing your outline. Like there, there must have been a moment where you’re like, okay, I think I know how to do this. Right. I mean, cuz like in the, honestly, it took me, it took years and years for me to have, okay, I think I know how to do that.
Emily Cutler (00:38:37):
<Laugh> Yes. I, I think it took years and years and I think I knew certain things. Well, I can craft a joke, but I don’t know, can I, am I really good at story? You know, in meetings people always ask and people ask your agents, are you good at story? Right. Or are you good at jokes and you seem to have to be in one camp or the other. Right. I think is absolutely stupid. But I go back and forth. I mean, I still look at a blank page and, and feel a sense of, you know, excitement and fear at the same time. And am I gonna do this? Am I gonna blow this? And I do a little of both. Right. I’ve written some scripts and I’m like, wow, this really, I crapped the bed on this one. And Right. Some that I’m like, all right, this is pretty good.
Michael Jamin (00:39:21):
Do you do any writing that is not for for sale? Like just for yourself or a book or something on the side or anything?
Emily Cutler (00:39:28):
I draw a lot. So I do that on the side. I used to write songs. I’ve written some poems. Uhhuh <affirmative>. I’m trying to think of what else I’ve written. You know, I have a friend who does game shows and I, I help him with game shows a lot cuz that’s super fun. And I have no, it’s not my job so I don’t have to panic and interesting worry about it. Right. Because that’s a whole other that’s a whole other, you know, crazy world. But that’s really fun to do
Michael Jamin (00:39:58):
Because the minute you put, the minute you’re doing it, it’s your profession. Things change, you know, like
Emily Cutler (00:40:04):
Michael Jamin (00:40:05):
Right. Well what’s your take on that?
Emily Cutler (00:40:06):
Well, I mean that’s why I write some pilots myself that I’m not gonna sell is cuz I come up with an idea that brings me some level of joy or that I feel I have a handle on. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and have that feeling like you’re talking about I can do this. Well if I can really do this, I should sit down and do it. And you know, it, it turns out well or it doesn’t. But I do that for myself. Yes. Do I hope I’ll sell it. Sure. Why, why wouldn’t I? But I just get it out of myself. Right. Because it’s a, an idea in my head. Just get it on paper if you
Michael Jamin (00:40:36):
Can, just to remind yourself why you like writing.
Emily Cutler (00:40:40):
Michael Jamin (00:40:40):
Right. Have you saw Adam? Don’t, I’m trying to remember. We’ve, we’ve written a, a handful of pilots on spec. I don’t think we’ve sold any. I think the ones we’ve sold are always saw on pitches. Are you able to sell specs or are they just writing samples?
Emily Cutler (00:40:55):
No, it’s always, it’s always been really pitches. I can’t think of a script I’ve sold, I sold a movie but never never on spec. On spec. Yeah.
Michael Jamin (00:41:06):
Sold them. How’d that go? What was that?
Emily Cutler (00:41:09):
<Laugh>, it was called Suddenly Yours. It was a test to see if I could write a romantic, a cheesy romantic comedy back when they made them like those great kind of formulaic mm-hmm <affirmative> romantic comedies that you see, you know, two of a year. And it got bought and then just nothing happened to it. It died because then Jennifer Lopez had a movie called Maiden Manhattan that was basically the same thing. And so, so funny that got made.
Michael Jamin (00:41:32):
That’s so, cuz we did, we sold a movie on spec though. It was called Only Child. And then that got killed because they had a movie in development called Middle Child <laugh>. And I dunno
Emily Cutler (00:41:43):
If they had anything, that’s all it changed. Of
Michael Jamin (00:41:44):
Course not. Other than the word child.
Emily Cutler (00:41:46):
Yes. My god. It’s a, another movie with child in the title. We must only have one.
Michael Jamin (00:41:51):
But you must have had to do some rewrites on, but after you sold it, they probably wanted rewrites from you now.
Emily Cutler (00:41:56):
Yes. And I got rewritten by another writer too, Uhhuh, who changed it into something totally different. It was, it was like a fascinating thing to see. It became this different creature, this completely different entity with like little bits of my script in it.
Michael Jamin (00:42:10):
But because sometimes I hear more often than that people are like, I wanna, I wanna write movies. I’m like, what you YouTube superhero movies? Yeah. What what? Yeah. Tv
Emily Cutler (00:42:19):
TV is movies now. There are no more movies for the most part. It’s, you know, big blockbuster superhero movies. There are few little ones and a few ones like, you know, maybe a Matt Damon movie that will squeeze in, but really television’s where it, where it’s at. Right. With streaming and everything.
Michael Jamin (00:42:36):
Did you, but did you even, did you even enjoy the process of writing movies?
Emily Cutler (00:42:41):
Michael Jamin (00:42:42):
You did? I did. I did.
Emily Cutler (00:42:43):
But I was, I was younger and didn’t know anything. It’s great when you don’t know anything and when you don’t know what, how the business is structured and you just come from a creative place and put something on paper that brings you joy. Right. That’s great. And as soon as you start getting paid for it and other people get involved, you can still have joy but it’s a different kind. It’s, it’s not pure, you know, it’s,
Michael Jamin (00:43:08):
Well the reason why I see it, cuz like when you, when you get a note on a TV script, all right. Even if it’s a giant rewrite, it’s still, it’s, it’s 30 minutes of television or whatever. 22 minutes of television. Yeah. If you could do a note on a, on a movie and maybe it’s a free rewrite that you have to do, talk about 90 minute movie. That’s a, like that that’s a lot of
Emily Cutler (00:43:25):
Work. Yes. That’s a lot. And a string will, a string will get pulled. That seems like nothing to the person giving the note. But that to you completely unravels the
Michael Jamin (00:43:33):
Entire thing. Everything right? Yes. I was like, I don’t know why, I don’t know. I dunno why people wanna write movies so badly. I think it like be just an ego thing.
Emily Cutler (00:43:41):
Yes. There are a lot of pages to a movie so it is daunting. But again, if you have an idea inside of you and you can see where it’s going and it just sort of comes out of you, it doesn’t feel like work. It just feels great.
Michael Jamin (00:43:54):
No, obviously you mentor people, writers and the writers, young writers in the guild. So that means they’ve already sold something. They’ve already steered a a hurdle. Yeah.
Emily Cutler (00:44:02):
Some of them are doing much better than I am. <Laugh>.
Michael Jamin (00:44:04):
Oh really? They’re
Emily Cutler (00:44:06):
Skyrocketing. I’m like, I hope you gimme a job.
Michael Jamin (00:44:08):
Wow. but so what advice do you have for people who haven’t even done gotten into the guild yet?
Emily Cutler (00:44:15):
Just keep, keep writing and keep, have an original voice and put stuff on paper.
Michael Jamin (00:44:20):
And where are you getting, where are you looking for your ideas? Where are you getting your ideas from?
Emily Cutler (00:44:24):
I try and get my ideas from my life or you know, a great way to get ideas. If you have a funny group of friends or a group of friends you hang out with and you’re just sitting and shooting the shit with them and making each other laugh. A lot of ideas, great ideas come out of that. A lot of ideas come outta my marriage. I get a lot of ideas from my marriage, from my kids. I never wrote family shows. I was never interested in that kind of stuff. And now that I have a family that sort of inspires me. So look to your life. Look to your extended family. Look to your friends. I have a friend, my current pilot is about an open marriage cuz I have friends who are having an open marriage and I think it’s just so hilarious and, and mortifying and ridiculous. And so I’m, I wrote a pilot about it,
Michael Jamin (00:45:08):
But no, but selling it, they always want to hear like, how are you the only writer who can write this? And so I see that’s why I understand you’re stealing from your family, but from your friends with the open marriage, even though it’d be fi are you at the mean, are you, are you prepared to answer that question? How are you
Emily Cutler (00:45:23):
Gonna answer? Yes, I am. How? Well I think you do have to personalize it because I think them having the open marriage caused my husband and I to have a discussion about could we ever, what would it look like? Were this just, you know, middle-aged suburban couple, like what is that gonna look like? So that pilot became about this really unlikely like coupled to do this kind of thing and what transpires because they choose to do it. So it would kind of be like, my husband and I made this decision to do this thing. Here’s what happened and how it went wrong.
Michael Jamin (00:45:56):
Where, so that’s interesting because you’re prepared. So that’s, you’re smart. Cuz you knew going into a meeting, that’s the question they’re gonna ans ask you. And so Yeah. Yes.
Emily Cutler (00:46:04):
They want something from your personal experience. And the truth is, you can make it from your personal experience however you like. You can, it doesn’t have to be, this is exactly my experience. I lived it, it can be, this is how watching somebody else experience else’s experience affected me and made me think of this. And I, you can kind of weave your own tail.
Michael Jamin (00:46:30):
But are you, are you going into, when you come up with your ideas to pitch, are you, is your target to sell it? Are you always thinking like, well what are they buying? What’s, what’s my version? Or are you just like, this is what I got in the tank.
Emily Cutler (00:46:41):
I used to be, that’s why I wrote that romantic comedy. I wanted to see if I can just, you know, churn out a pile of crap for someone who says we want a pile of crap. Right. And I could, but nothing great comes out of that. And I, I do do that because I panic about money and go, I have to sell this. And they wanna show about a, a flying dog, so I’ll stick a flying dog in there. You do sometimes compromise, but nothing great is ever gonna come out of that. You have to start from a place of, I’m really passionate about this. You know, a lot of times before a season when you go to sell something, you’ll say, what are they looking for? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, well, this network is looking for family and this one wants workplace, and this one wants, you know, and so you try to go, okay, well, what do I ha? But you still have to come from some seed of something that makes you giggle or something that inspires you, or it’s just gonna be flat. It’s gonna be good or original, I
Michael Jamin (00:47:31):
Think. And, and how much, when you’re not on staff of a show, how, what is your, what does your writing schedule look like?
Emily Cutler (00:47:37):
Oh, you said writing schedule? Yeah. that, that implies that I’m an organized
Michael Jamin (00:47:43):
Or So you don’t have one healthy
Emily Cutler (00:47:44):
Human? No, I’m the worst I’m supposed to be writing. You’ll always know when I’m supposed to be writing. My house will be clean. Yeah. I’ll be cook cooking something. Maybe I learned to bake bread, you know, I buy a new mascara and I put it like, I just procrastinate. Yeah. Forever. I’m the least organized writer. Again. That is another skillset. Like my friends who went to really tough colleges who are writers, learned how to study, and in learning how to study, they also know how to write and budget their time. I think you’re one of them. Didn’t you go to some didn’t. I went to some fancy some. You went to a fancy school. Okay. Well, I assume if you go to a fancy school like that, or, or grow up learning those skills from your parents or something, you know, how to manage time. I’m the worst at it, so don’t be me. Right. Learn how to give yourself a schedule. Be the kind of person who does that. You know, I guess it’s like going to the gym. I’m also the person who’s like, what’s your schedule for working out? Well, sometimes I go for a walk. Sometimes I sit on my ass. I just don’t, I’m not as disciplined as I should be.
Michael Jamin (00:48:50):
Well, it’s, I mean, it’s easier for me. I have a writing partner, so it’s like, we agree, you know? All right. We’re, we’re agreeing to meet today at 10 o’clock, but, so, and
Emily Cutler (00:48:57):
You and one pushes the other and goes, come on, we gotta, yeah. No, that would be great. I need to get, I need to get me one of those.
Michael Jamin (00:49:04):
Well have you written, but you’ve written projects with people. You have one right now? I
Emily Cutler (00:49:06):
Have. I’ve written, yes. And the one that I wrote the right now, one, she was great. She was super disciplined and would let me kind of, you know, I could just be funny and amusing and she’d be the workhorse. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. But then I had a partner we wrote some movies together where he was more dysfunctional than I was. Uhhuh <affirmative>. So we just, I’d say, let’s not work. Let’s go to Starbucks and get lattes instead. And he’d go, great. <Laugh>, <laugh>. Instead of saying, no, we need to work. We need to, yeah. We were, we were not a good influence.
Michael Jamin (00:49:36):
And do you have a, what, what’s your spot? Do you have a spot that you like to work in? Or are you wherever you take your laptop, wherever.
Emily Cutler (00:49:43):
It’s much better. It’s great. When I’m staffed on a show, when I’m staffed on a show, when I’m in the mindset, I like to work in my office there. Even if it’s on something else. Cuz it just gets me in the mindset. My house where I have two children who are now teenagers, is like a war zone. It’s really hard. I have an open house. There’s, it’s almost lofty in a way. So there’s nowhere to go to hide. Oh. Or, or to work. So I really try and go out or I wait till they’re at school and, you know, sneak in a room somewhere. But it’s, it’s, again, it’s not, it’s not orderly. I’m not in one place. I’m moving around and
Michael Jamin (00:50:20):
Emily Cutler (00:50:21):
Yes. Discipline. Discipline. Disciplined. Get some discipline.
Michael Jamin (00:50:26):
Then let me ask you one final question. I don’t know if, I don’t know if you can have an answer to this, but like, what gets you outta bed then? What, what is makes you excited to, for your, I don’t know, to
Emily Cutler (00:50:35):
Run career or in life? Well,
Michael Jamin (00:50:37):
Let’s, let’s do both. Let’s do both.
Emily Cutler (00:50:41):
What gets me outta my bed is my children. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, because they need to be taken places <laugh> and
Michael Jamin (00:50:48):
You’re the Uber driver.
Emily Cutler (00:50:50):
What makes me excited to write again is, and I mean this might just be me because I know a lot of writers like to sit alone in a cabin and write a book. To me that’s deathly. For comedy, it’s to be around people. Like even just talking to you now, it will spark something and, or make me feel like, you know, it’s why people go to the gym because you’re surrounded by other people doing the thing that you’re supposed to be doing. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And it helps you. So when I’m not on a staff, which is a very collaborative thing where you’re in a room with a lot of funny people and I’m on my own, it’s not as much fun. It’s much harder to get out of bed and motivate. So talking to you is helpful. My husband’s really funny, so I’ll run ideas around with him. I’ll call friends. For me, it helps me to be around other people who are doing what I’m doing, who are funny people. That’s what helps me.
Michael Jamin (00:51:44):
Emily Cutler (00:51:44):
That get inspired?
Michael Jamin (00:51:45):
So now that you mentioned it, did, did you find that intimidating in the, in your beginning of your career? Like pitching, trying to be funny around funny people? Like how, how did that work in
Emily Cutler (00:51:53):
A writer’s room? Yeah, absolutely. Well, one of the things I always say to writers coming in is, listen more than you talk. You don’t wanna come in and be the standup comedian who’s like, I listen and learn. And when you’ve got something really good to say, say it. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. But it’s, it’s kind of like a blind date. You’re in a room with some, someone in this case, several people you don’t know. And you’re feeling it out. You’re feeling out what the showrunner likes, you’re feeling out what the co EEPs, the upper level writers, what they respond to. You’re seeing the ones who need to suck up the oxygen and talk a lot. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you’re seeing who not to you. You get used to it. You sort of figure it out. You feel out the vibe of a room. And a lot of times, sorry. I was gonna say showrunner will take you aside and go, Hey, you’re pitching too much or you’re pitching too little. If you have a good showrunner or you have good upper level writers, they will hopefully take you under their wing and give you a little guidance
Michael Jamin (00:52:46):
Here. But certainly now, like you could join any writing staff or you’ve been doing it long enough, you could sit down in any writer’s room today, day one, and contribute in a meaningful way and not feel intimidating, intimidated, like you’d open your mouth and pitch and, and if it bombed, you’d be fine with it. You’d come up with something else five minutes
Emily Cutler (00:53:03):
Later. Oh, if it bombed, if it, yes, I’d be fine with it. But yes, Stewart’s intimidating. It is intimidating because there are writers that I look up to Uhhuh <affirmative> and shows that I am wildly Yes. I think for me, and I’ve said this before, it’s it’s safety in a room. If you have a showrunner that where you feel safe mm-hmm. <Affirmative> to pitch bad stuff. Cuz a lot of times something good will come out of something bad.
Michael Jamin (00:53:27):
Emily Cutler (00:53:28):
A safe environment. When you’re new somewhere, it doesn’t feel safe right away. You don’t know these people you don’t know, you know. But if you’re in a safe environment, be it on the best show in the world, the worst show in the world, you’re gonna do your best. It’s when you are clenched and, but
Michael Jamin (00:53:43):
Do you still feel that way now? You’ve been doing it all these years. You could jump into a show you, I don’t think you’d be intimidated on, on day one to open your mouth. I don’t think, I
Emily Cutler (00:53:52):
Don’t know, not to open my mouth, but, but again, it depends. Is it a new show and I’m coming in at the beginning and helping create and helping? Or is it a show that’s been on for three seasons and everybody already knows each other? I mean, it’s like going to a new high school when everyone’s been in school since kindergarten. It, it takes you a minute to just know where do I fit in and how is this room, every room’s different. Every room is run differently. I remember in the Frazier room, people were supposed to be silent and then only pitch when they had something brilliant to say. And then there are other rooms that are complete free for alls. So it depends on the room and it depends on who you’re surrounded by. I take on a lot of, you know, the vibe of the room.
Michael Jamin (00:54:30):
It’s so funny you say that cuz we did a show we did out of practice, which was Chris Lloyd and Joe Keenan Yes. To the, to the big, the heavy hitters in Frazier. Yes.
Emily Cutler (00:54:38):
I had a meeting with them that I will tell you about
Michael Jamin (00:54:40):
It. Oh. Oh, let’s hear that. Because the reputation, they, they were aware of that reputation and they didn’t, I don’t think they wanted that reputation anymore. Like I heard on Frazier Writer’s Room, they only ate on China like <laugh>. Yes. Like, I don’t think it was true, but that’s what you heard. And so they, they didn’t want that on, on out of practice. And they hired a fun staff and it was really loose. It was pretty funny to see these, you know, to see, you know, Joe Keenan loosen up and Chris Lloyd. It was, I
Emily Cutler (00:55:06):
Worked with Joe Keenan. And Joe Keenan was delightful and silly and ridiculous. And I had a fun time. But when I met with Chris Lloyd, I found him enormously intimidating because he’s, he just was, he’s
Michael Jamin (00:55:16):
One of the best writers in Hollywood <laugh>.
Emily Cutler (00:55:18):
That’s, and he was very serious. He was very handsome. Yeah. And the show was called Bram and Alice, do you remember the show? It was like Alfred Molina playing a Right. Kind of an in intellectual. And for some reason I put on a string of pearls because I thought, oh, it’s a show about intellectuals. I should Yeah. Hear a string of pearls for some reason to impress this. And yeah. So I mean, yes, I would get, I still get intimidated. Sure, sure. I do. Is
Michael Jamin (00:55:44):
That your, but is that your story? You’re gonna, you were gonna tell about Crystal that your Braman story, is that it?
Emily Cutler (00:55:48):
Well, the Braman Alice story was basically that I kept being told, you’re in the mix. I was like, did I, did I get the job? Did I not get the job? You’re in the mix, which is something people will say to you, meaning you, they’re still considering you. And my agent just said it for so long, he just kept saying it to the point that the show got shot and made. And I was like, it, the joke was just, I’m still in the mix. Graham and Alice <laugh> just kept telling me I’m on the mix, that I clearly was not in, not in the mix for some reason it just went on forever. So I’m still in the mix today for that show.
Michael Jamin (00:56:20):
Yeah, yeah. Well, phone’s gonna ring.
Emily Cutler (00:56:23):
But yes, I still get intimidated. Of course. Sure.
Michael Jamin (00:56:27):
Interesting. Interesting. Okay. It goes
Emily Cutler (00:56:29):
Away. It waxes and wanes, but it’s, anytime you’re in a group of new people you don’t know, you know, you don’t know they’re
Michael Jamin (00:56:36):
Cause you, because you have all these credits, you can say, you know, the joke is, you know, you’re in a room, well, you know, on Atory or, you know, when, when we, when we did community,
Emily Cutler (00:56:46):
That was a place I was very intimidated on, on both community and Atory. That doesn’t mean I didn’t do good work on the show. And that doesn’t mean that I didn’t sit down and write a really good draft or, or contribute something great. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. But again, it’s like a blind date. You know, you’re gonna vibe with some people and not with others. Their way of working is gonna be different. Will they get the best out of you? Will it? They make you clam up. You just don’t know. And on both those shows, I was working with really strong showrunners, Uhhuh <affirmative>, who were very talented and very funny. And I was in awe of both of them. And for me, it made me a little quieter, a little more reserved. I’m a very lively Right. Filthy right. Silly person. And I shut that off a little bit.
Michael Jamin (00:57:33):
Who was Atory? Who was running that?
Emily Cutler (00:57:35):
Atory was Emily Kaepernick, who I love. Oh, she’s just a force of nature. Just fantastic. Great writer. Yes. and I’d never really experienced anything quite like her. She, and the way that she approached her shows and her comedy mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And so I just, you know, get quiet and I listen and I absorb it. But yeah, you get intimidated sometimes. It makes you quiet. Sometimes. Depends. Just depends.
Michael Jamin (00:58:01):
What are your final thoughts on this whole writer strike thing? Potential, potential writer strike?
Emily Cutler (00:58:07):
I think that it is, it is the right thing to do. Yeah. I think in Hollywood there is more than enough money and resources for everybody. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And sometimes people tend to want to hoard that money and those resources and writers of a certain level, like a mid-level. You’re not a Shonda Rhimes, but you’re not just starting out. Can’t make a living mm-hmm. <Affirmative> in the, the current way that things are set up. So some changes need to be made. They’re long overdue. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And with streaming, everything has changed. Yeah. And it’s time to, you know, you gotta stand up and fight for what’s right. So that’s what we’re doing.
Michael Jamin (00:58:49):
Emily Cutler (00:58:50):
For the younger writers coming up too. Oh, you were gonna give a big sendoff.
Michael Jamin (00:58:54):
I was gonna give you sendoff. Let’s, they have something else to say.
Emily Cutler (00:58:57):
I always have something else to say. No, I’m done. I’m finished. <Laugh>. That’s it. You silenced
Michael Jamin (00:59:01):
Me. No, I don’t wanna silence you. I wanna encourage you to
Emily Cutler (00:59:04):
No, not at all.
Michael Jamin (00:59:05):
Cut outta your shell and say whatever you wanna say. I don’t wanna, I have taken a lot of your time, Emily, thank you so much.
Emily Cutler (00:59:12):
It’s my pleasure, my absolute pleasure.
Michael Jamin (00:59:14):
Should, should we, should we plug anything? Should we have people follow you somewhere? Is there someplace? Do you wanna have people to know what you’re up?
Emily Cutler (00:59:21):
I’m on Twitter. I think What’s your, again, the, the real Emily Cutler I think on Twitter. I don’t even remember my own name.
Michael Jamin (00:59:28):
Yeah. Do you think there’s other people trying to be you that you have to speak?
Emily Cutler (00:59:32):
No, but there were so many Emily Cutler’s, I couldn’t, I wanted to be the extra special. Emily Cutler. Yeah. So I said the real Emily Cutler. I’m still on aol, so I, I noticed that. I don’t, I don’t know what’s cool. Yes. Still on aol. Yeah. I noticed that
Michael Jamin (00:59:46):
When I got your email.
Emily Cutler (00:59:47):
Really sad Hitchy. Really sad <laugh>. Really dating myself. But yeah, still on aol, guys.
Michael Jamin (00:59:54):
All right. Well thank you Emily, so much. My pleasure for being in our show. You’re always at the
Emily Cutler (00:59:59):
Light. Thank you for having me.
Michael Jamin (01:00:00):
And I’ll sign off and then we’ll, we’ll, we’ll chat a little more after Chi Chat.
Emily Cutler (01:00:03):
Chat. We’ll, gossip.
Michael Jamin (01:00:05):
Okay. Thank you so much. So everyone, yeah. We got gr more great guests coming up. Thank you for listening. Go to my website, sign up, we got a newsletter and all that stuff. Michaeljamin.Com. I’ll see you next week. Thank you again, everyone.
Phil Hudson (01:00:22):
This has been an episode of Screenwriters. Need to hear this with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you’re interested in learning more about writing, make sure you register for Michael’s monthly webinar michaeljamin.com/webinar.
If you found this podcast helpful, consider sharing it with a friend and leaving us a five-star review on iTunes. For free screenwriting tips, follow Michael Jamen on social media @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow Phil Hudson on social media @PhilAHudson. This podcast was produced by Phil Hudson. It was edited by Dallas Crane. Music by Ken Joseph. Until next time, keep writing.