https://youtu.be/mnx18Qt30LU?feature=shared

In May I hosted a webinar titled “How To Get People To Attend Your Industry Event” where I discussed the idea of scabbing during a writers’ strike, how having people striking is shutting down productions, and how to get someone to read your script. This episode addresses questions you asked in our Q&A session that we didn’t have time to answer. There’s lots of great info here, make sure you watch.

Show Notes

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Autogenerated Transcript

Michael Jamin:
That’s how you do it is you really create relationships where people want to help you, but don’t send anything unsolicited ever. And I was going to do a post about that as well ever, because you expose people to liability. So this is one of those things where no good deed goes undone. If you send a script out to someone unsolicited like it, it’s just going to get that person in trouble. So that’s why we won’t do it. That’s why we won’t read unsolicited scripts. You’re listening to Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael. Hey everyone, welcome back. It’s Michael Jamin. I’m here with Phil Hudson. Hey Phil.

Phil Hudson:
Hey, every, everybody

Michael Jamin:
What up? He says, what up. Keeps it low key. So we are doing another Q and a episode. So every month Phil and I host a live webinar where we talk, we pick a topic, we dive into it real deep. The last one, this one is from May. The one we did in May had a bunch of questions and if anybody wants to go get that one, they’re all the webinars. By the way, Phil, you know this, but I’m telling everyone who’s listening, they’re all free. They’re all free. If you 10 live and we give you stuff like free stuff, download stuff that you can get if you 10 live and if you miss it, you can get a free replay 24 for 24 hours. But then if you miss that and you want to buy it, you can buy it for a slow low price on my website, michaeljamin.com. And this website, this sorry webinar was called How to Get People to Attend Your Industry Event Or Watch Your Stuff, right? Because everyone wants to entice industry types. So we give a whole hour long talk on that. And then we got a lot of Q and as, a lot of questions. And so here are the ones that I wasn’t able to answer and for your enjoyment and listening pleasure. Alright, Phil, hit me.

Phil Hudson:
So for formatting, again, I’ve kind of grouped them into topics. So we’ll go topic by topic. And again, if your question was asked and you don’t get an answer, we probably already answered that. Yeah, there are a couple questions at times that we re-answer or readdress because everyone asked that question and people don’t seem to get the answer when you tell them because you say it all the time. So yeah, that’s okay. That being said, a couple things about the rider strike, just because it’s topical right now, MB Stevens, w g a strike question. If the assistant loves our work and recommends it to an executive who wants to sign us, do we sign or wait until the strike is over?

Michael Jamin:
Oh, no one’s going to, one’s going to sign with you now. I really don’t think anyone’s going to sign. So you can sign, if they decide to sign you, you can go ahead and sign, but they’re not going to solicit work for you right now.

Phil Hudson:
Oh, you think you’re referring to agents and managers? And this question is about studio executives.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, studio.

Phil Hudson:
No. Yeah, they’re saying if recommends you to an executive, so the answer is no. Right? Because that would be considered scabbing and the WGA has documentation about that. There’s a whole site about it. You could go look up. But anyway, from an agent manager question, I think that’s a good question. Lots of people have.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, sorry, I was mis misinformed. Yeah, no, if it’s a studio, you can’t solicit any work for even try you.

Phil Hudson:
I think they said that even having a meeting with a studio executive about writing is considered an act of aggression against the WGA A and you’re hurting your future industry anyway, so you wouldn’t want to do that.

Michael Jamin:
You don’t want to do that.

Phil Hudson:
I want to point out too, Michael, I get it. For a lot of people this feels a little unfair because they don’t get any of the benefits of the W G A right now. However, the whole point of this is that they are fighting for your future rights. The way that other people fought for Michael Jamon rights and Steve Glam and Kevin ever, all the other people that we know who are writers, other

Michael Jamin:
Writers that just in the 2008 strike cost me a lot of money. A lot of money and didn’t, I’m not even upset about it. I don’t losing obviously that money, but I always felt like it. I wouldn’t have gotten any of this if it weren’t for the people before me. So it’s not really my money to have because it would’ve been zero without those people. So it’s just like this, it’s this honor thing that you have to do if you want to have any honor in your life. So yeah, don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Yeah.

Phil Hudson:
Awesome. Ryan McCurdy, are there riders who are striking trying to shut down current productions in protests separate from picketing outside of the major studios

Michael Jamin:
And they’re being very successful, they’re shutting down shows everywhere. I also know, I was talking to somebody about this just yesterday on the picket line, there’s like, I dunno what they call it, it’s like a guild strike force or whatever. And so they work the night shift from 6:00 PM to 6:00 AM and so it’s only a couple of hardcore picketers. They go up like it’s three in the morning and they start picketing studios if they know if that they’re going to be doing a production there. And as long as there’s more two or more people carrying a picket sign, people won’t break the line you, but there has to be two or more. And so the transpo drivers, they’re not going to break the line. No one, anyone who works in any union or guild, they’re not going to break the lump, but there has to be two or more. And so these guys I was talking to actually this friend of mines, Mike Paler who’s on Taco fd, he did it one night, he was there, it was 3:00 AM he’s like it was bleary. So yeah, they’ll shut down. And I did it as well back in 2008. I was running around as well to different sets. As long as there’s locations, as long as there’s two more writers, people honor that. The picket line.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. One thing that’s really important to note is that it’s a very unified front from basically everyone in the industry where they understand that this is a reflection of a trend in the industry for everyone. And so the transportation department is who I was thinking of in their contract. They’re allowed, they’re no, they cannot force their drivers to cross a picket line. And so literally transpo won’t show up to your set. And if you don’t have transpo, you don’t have a show.

Michael Jamin:
These are union guys and Teamsters. Yeah, teamsters. Teamsters. Don’t mess with the teamsters. That’s

Phil Hudson:
Right. They got good sandwiches. There’s your 30 rock reference.

Michael Jamin:
Oh that,

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. Liz Lemon. She like the teamsters show up and make sandwiches and she’s trying to figure out where they get their steak sandwich. It’s like a whole episode. It’s like a thing. Anyway, engagement. This is our next section, which I think speaks a little bit more to the topic of the webinar. And these are just the whole topic. The whole thing was about this, how to get industry people to watch your stuff, attend your event. So the meat of this is in the replay, which is available right now @michaeljamin.com slash shop. It’s just a nominal fee and it’s lifetime access. You on demand, you can watch as many times as you want. Yeah, Fran, yeah. Shop,

Michael Jamin:
It’s just kind of hard to hear. Yeah. Michael jamin.com.

Phil Hudson:
Shop

Michael Jamin:
With a P.

Phil Hudson:
Okay. S h o P. Yep. Fran, what if you don’t have an event or something to watch? What about reading your script? Meaning how would you get people to read your script?

Michael Jamin:
Oh, how would get someone to read your script that that’s a big ask of, I was going to do a post about this. Actually, that’s a huge ask and you only get to ask that once. And if it’s garbage or not up to snuff or mediocre, you forget it. You just shot yourself in the foot because you only get one chance for a great first impression. And it’s big. You’re asking someone in the industry to spend, let’s say two hours on your script, maybe spend an hour on notes, maybe another hour on a phone call, giving you those notes during which you are going to be very defensive because no one likes getting notes and it’s an unpleasant experience. I was the same way. I didn’t like getting notes. I want to be told my script was perfect. And I, I’ve done this enough where you start giving notes and people are like, they get defensive. It’s like, all right, look, I’m doing you a favor. It’s a huge ask. So the best way to do it is, is the best way obviously. And Phil, this the best way is to have someone owe you a favor and I’ve owed you, that’s how we met. You were very good to me and my wife and I felt like I owed you a favor. And that’s how I read your

Phil Hudson:
Script. And for everyone listening, I didn’t know that you were who you were. I didn’t, right, because it was the right thing to do and I would’ve done it for anybody in that situation. And I never looked at it as, I’m going to get something from this guy. It was literally like I just had to do my job and this was the ethical thing to do. And that paid off as, call it karma. It paid off the way it should have, which is you offered to read something, I sent you something and your response was, eh, it’s a bit of a Frankenstein here. And that hurt. And I didn’t ask you to read anything again for three years

Michael Jamin:
Until you, until were ready. But also, as far as I was going to do a whole, I could do a whole, I dunno, maybe a webinar in the future. So I don’t want to rob from that. But basically if it’s talking about agents, and I’ve spoken about this, you got to bring more to the table than just a script. But there are some agents that will read the unsolicited scripts, they will read from new writers, the big ones, you’re not going to have anyone at U T A or I C M or ca read your script, but that’s okay. There are much smaller ones, but you don’t pay them, don’t pay them upfront. That’s not what agents don’t do that. They work on commission. So that’s how you do it is you really create relationships where people want to help you, but don’t send anything unsolicited ever. And I was going to do a post about that as well ever, because you expose people to liability. So this is one of those things where no good deeded goes undone. If you send a script out to someone unsolicited it, it’s just going to get that. It’s just get that person in trouble. So that’s why we won’t do it. That’s why we won’t read unsolicited scripts.

Phil Hudson:
But to that note, Chandra Thomas, who’s in the writer’s room this season, she’s a strike captain, super go-getter. She was kind enough after the season to reach out to myself and Hannah, our writer’s assistant, and offer to read anything we had. I’ve never asked anyone else on, I’ve never asked our showrunners, I’ve never asked anybody to read anything except for Mike Rap who was a peer, who became a snap writer and we trade things. But beyond that, she offered. And that’s incredibly kind gesture of hers. I still haven’t sent her anything though. I don’t want to waste her. And

Michael Jamin:
That’s because you forged a relationship

Phil Hudson:
With her and I don’t want to waste your time, so I still haven’t followed up with her, but I haven’t sent her anything. I don’t want to waste her time,

Michael Jamin:
So,

Phil Hudson:
Alright, awesome. Josh Hunt does the book you suggest we publish, and I think this was you saying you need to put yourself out there and you need to do more. Don’t wait for people. Does the book you suggest we publish? Should it be the same story as an existing pilot, we want to sell it

Michael Jamin:
Could do anything you want. I mean, make a name for yourself. Make a name, you know, putting out a book and whether you indie, publish it or get it by, pick it up by a publisher. If it only sells 500 copies or whatever, that’s not going to move the needle. You have to make a hit, whatever. If it becomes a bestseller, people are going to reach out to you because they want to exploit you. When you want to be exploited, and I use the word exploit, it gets your attention. Obviously I’m being a little flip, but you want to create something that people want. And so if you create whatever your script is, whatever your book is, I don’t know, whatever you want it to be, as long when it becomes a bestseller because and because people want to read it, by the way, your poorly written book will probably not be a bestseller. Your well-written book might be. And so then people will come after you because you got something they want, which is basically a platform, something that’s comes with a built in audience. It’s all about marketing so much about Hollywood. Is it? It’s a business. I didn’t read Fresh 50 Shades of Gray.
It became a bestseller and they made a movie out of it. And that’s just how it’s done. And when you go back in time, this is how it’s always been done for 40, 50 years, you go, oh, I didn’t realize that was that movie that I loved was based on a book. Based on a book.

Phil Hudson:
Yep. Yeah, absolutely. Graham Garside. If established writers such as yourself cannot read established writer scripts for legal reasons or fear of co conflict of interest sake, who do you suggest we reach out to that can read them?

Michael Jamin:
Well, I kind of the same thing. You forge forge relationships. That’s why people, I say, do I have to move to Hollywood? Well, you don’t have to do a damn thing, but this is where you’re going to make relationships. I met a kid today just on the picket line and I was talking to, he was a nice kid and he was actually friend. Oh no, a student of one of my friends who teaches at local university and he goes, this student is really good. He introduced me to him because I don’t know, I can’t really help him at, it’s, we’re all on strike. But he wanted to help this kid out, make a relationship. And so that only happens by being out here and by being good. It wasn’t like the kid was bad, was a bad writer, he thought this kid had potential. So that’s why that came.

Phil Hudson:
Well, it’s right, there’s capital and we talk about this principle in business leadership capital. There’s capital being exchanged. It’s goodwill in that that’s that favor you’re talking about being owed, feeling like you owe someone. So your friend is not going to put you in a position to be around someone who they don’t think can, will make it or can cut it. Right.

Michael Jamin:
That

Phil Hudson:
Makes him, because it burns your bridge, his bridge with you. And that’s what people are asking people to do that. That’s literally one of the other questions here, deeper down, will I have to move back to Los Angeles to be successful at screenwriting? Don’t put it on here. You don’t because you,

Michael Jamin:
Right. What’s that, Phil? You don’t have to do anything you want. And I was going to do a whole webinar coming up. You know what to do if you absolutely refuse to move back to Los Angeles or move to Los Angeles. Is there, what can you do? I promise, well, not promise, but I’m going to look into trying to do a webinar based on that topic. But you are tying one hand behind your back for sure. It’s not saying it’s impossible, but you are making it, making, this is a hard industry to break into. You’re making it even harder because there are people here who are willing to sacrifice, give up, move away from their friends and families to start a new life in Los Angeles, maybe at the bottom. And they, they’re hungrier. They want it long, a harder, more, and they’re going to skip to the head of the line, deservedly so, because they’ve already sacrificed more than you have. So you don’t have to do anything. And like I said, I’ll, I’ll try to do a webinar on that topic, what I would do if I refuse to move to la, but you’re making it harder.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah, absolutely. Zachary Dolan, and this is shifting into craft by the way, which is alright, the art of telling story, the Art of screenwriting, Zachary Dolan, how much value do you give personal experience for inspiring great writing as a young person? Do I have to gain more of life experience to be a better or more authentic writer?

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, that’s a really good question. That’s the advantage of being older. You have more life experiences and you can kind of see things a little more clearly that you probably can’t see when you’re 20. I know when I was young, when I was in my twenties, early twenties, and I wanted to be a writer. Well, here, here’s a really good example. I loved the Well movie Biloxi Blues by Neil Simon. And then when I was in college, they were staging it. So I auditioned for it and I got one of the leads, one of the small leads. And because I loved that play and that movie, and I remember thinking at the time, man, because it was loosely based on Neil Simon’s life, and I remember thinking, ah man, Neil Simon’s so lucky that he was in the army and that he had an insane drill sergeant.
Then he got a movie and a play out of it how he’s so lucky. And I was like, if only I had been in the army and been abused like that as I got older and I wrote this collection, my collection of personal essays, I have stories just like that. I didn’t in the army, but I have interesting stories that I’ve just because I’ve lived life and I know fortunately I have the talent and the craft now to be able to turn that into an interesting story because it’s not just typing things up. So it’s definitely, that’s an advantage to being older. When you’re young, it’s easier to you, it might be easier to break in hungrier. You can live off less money, you don’t have a family, maybe you might be willing to sleep on the floor more. So it’s struggling is easier I think when you’re younger. So there’s that middle age, what is it, between 20 and 50? What is it? Is it 30? We don’t know. There comes a point where hopefully you’ll have enough experience to put into your work and until you do, it’s really important to learn the craft. Might as well, might as well use that time to write how to write.

Phil Hudson:
I’ll add that to as well and say it’s a level of life experience, but then there’s also a level of emotional vulnerability. I had a lot of life experience that most people don’t want to have. Very early on in life, I could not emotionally process that information until I was in my thirties. I know a lot of people who have a lot of life experience young and a lot of emotional vulnerability young, and they are the people who are doing amazing things at a young age. I mean, not that your daughter has gone through a ton of stuff, but you speak often about one of your daughters having something to say. Yeah, I had something to say, I just didn’t know how to say it. Despite having a phone to talk through, which is the form of screenwriting,

Michael Jamin:
Right? Yeah. See, that’s the thing, you’re right, Phil, you need two things. You have to have something to say and you have to know how to say it to be a good writer. And you had plenty to say you didn’t know how to say it, you know, had a difficult child, tough childhood, and now you can tap into it. I didn’t have anything to say and I didn’t know how to say it when I was 20. I have neither my

Phil Hudson:
Daughter who’s 20. That should make you all very happy by the way, everyone listening, saying you can make a career even if you can learn those things,

Michael Jamin:
You can learn those things. Yeah. My daughter who’s in college I think is amazing because she has a very high emotional IQ and she has something to say and I’m teaching her how to say it and she’s learning really fast. She’s really good. So everyone’s got their own path.

Phil Hudson:
But Michael isn’t that nepotism,

Michael Jamin:
Isn’t that right? But if your father was a mechanic or worked on cars, then you probably would learn how to work on cars just by being around them all the time.

Phil Hudson:
I was rarely have an opportunity to sit down on TikTok and scroll through things, but my wife lives on there and so she’ll send me things and I randomly one day stumbled upon this kid. He’s 20 years old and he’s a stone mason in Britain and he restores cathedrals. And I’m watching this 20 year old with a chisel do things that blows my freaking mind. And I’m like, it is so fascinating to watch this kid do this thing that’s basically a dead craft because machines should be able to do all these things and he does it as an artisan and he’s 20 years old and

Michael Jamin:
There’s probably four people in the world who can do it.

Phil Hudson:
Oh, that’s beautiful about it. Like how did you learn this? And then he shows a photo of his dad and he’s sitting beside his dad as a kid and his dad’s doing that job and he’s chiseling away practicing at eight years old. He learned from his parents the same way we all did for thousands of years.

Michael Jamin:
Right. Learned from your parents. So

Phil Hudson:
I asked that question facetiously. I know the answer is not nepotism. It is taking advantage of the opportunities in front of everyone, and there has never been a better time to get an advantage in anything you want to do than right now because of how accessible the internet has made people like you. Yeah. You are teaching people how to do that. You taught your daughter.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, exactly. I don’t know, she, it’s the

Phil Hudson:
Same stuff. It’s not special. Right?

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, right. Same stuff.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. Awesome. Similar to that Adam Biard talking about worldviews, is there a line where writers should shy away from content because they didn’t live it?

Michael Jamin:
Is there a line if they shy? I mean obviously you’re not, it’s hard for you to write a story, an authentic story about some in experience. I can’t write a story about growing up in the inner city. So if I were to write a story like that, I would certainly want a co-writer or someone who lived that experience so that it could be authentic. But that doesn’t mean they say write what, so if, whatever it helps, it helps to be able to write what it feels more authentic.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. There’s a writer, a New York Times bestselling writer that I was listening to and in an introduction in his book, he said, I’m not the guy who interviewed this guy who did this thing. I’m the guy who remembers what it was like to do it and that’s why my books are more authentic. I was like, oh, that’s deep. And that’s not to say, going back to what we were talking about, emotional intelligence and emotional iq, a lot of people with a lot of empathy who can channel a lot of those things, but never going to be authentic as someone who has the capability to say something and experience.

Michael Jamin:
It’s like when we audition for actors who come in for parts, a lot of actors have a wide range. Let’s say they have a wide range. Let’s say you’re auditioning for school bully or whatever, and a bunch of actors come in and they, they’re convincing, but then one kid comes in who’s a dick? You could just tell this kid’s a dick. Could they just exude it? And you go, you got the part because they don’t have to pretend you. They got that vibe. And I, we’ve cast people like that all the time who are so close to the part who basically are the part, they don’t need to act. They are the part. And so

Phil Hudson:
You told me about one of those people, you told me about one of those people and I laughed because like I imagine that person being that exactly that because they just live. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
So it’s the same thing for writing. It just, it’s easier if you are that part.

Phil Hudson:
I was listening to an interview with Chris Pratt and he said that his big hit was on Everwood and he read the role and he didn’t want to go do it. And so he is like, you know what? There’s this thing I’ve always wanted to do, which is just go in and pretend I was the person and not put on the scene, but just be the person. And it’s like the school bully. And so he’s like, I walked into the audition, I was like, alright, so here’s the thing. Obviously I am the star of this show and this kid is a punk and he wants to be with my sister, and that’s messed up and my job is to make sure he knows he can’t come into my world and mess this up. And they’re like, and then he walked out all egotistical, and then he said when he left, he turned to the door and listened. And they’re like, that’s our guy, right? Because obviously he’s not the main character, he’s the dick in the show messing with the main character, but that, and you say this all the time, the bad guy is the hero of the story in his mind. He’s the hero and he did it, and that’s how he got his break doing exactly what you said.

Michael Jamin:
Right, right. Interesting.

Phil Hudson:
Cool. Awesome. So next up we’ve got Linda Gakko. Is there a specific format for scripts? And I thought that would be something you haven’t talked about in a while.

Michael Jamin:
Well, yeah, there’s a format. Depends on what you’re writing. So the format is going to be different for a half hour multi-camera sitcom for a half hour live action single camera sitcom or an animated, they all have slightly different formats. There’s a different format for slightly different format from a movie. But to be honest, if you mess up, you’re not going to get hired. If the margins are perfect, the story has to be good or great. So you can Google all those formats and you can go on my website and even download some sample formats@michaeljamin.com. You could download some sample scripts and a couple different formats just so you get the margins just so it looks better. But to be, but honestly, if you get the margins slightly wrong, it’s not a big deal. I, I’ve written professional scripts, turned them in, and to have someone at the studio say, we don’t like your margins, I, I’ll change the margins. Why do I care? I’ll change the margins. But the story works. The story is the most important part. You can’t fake that part.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. And software does that for you now. Yeah. You don’t have to have a word to template that you handcrafted with the margins like you did in 92.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, right. A

Phil Hudson:
Awesome Joshua Drew, Joshua DeBerry, excuse me, Joshua. When developing characters for shows or movies, are certain actors kept in mind during the writing process or are they picked after the characters are developed?

Michael Jamin:
It, it depends what you want. I mean, my partner and I generally, no, pretty much always write with an actor in mind for each part. And it could be an A-list star, it could be someone we’re never going to get for the role, but we write with them in mind just to get their voice. It helps just to imagine, oh no, that’s not how that actor wouldn’t play that well or, oh, that they do snarky. So I can hear the voice. So it definitely helps, but I don’t need to, sometimes you’ll read a script and they’ll say, think Arnold Schwarzenegger for the whatever role. Okay, okay, sure. I tend not to do that, but some people do.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. Yeah. I tend to do that occasionally. David Booker, how soon in the script or novel do you need to identify the obstacle and goal or do obstacle in goal to find the protagonist? It need to be defined upfront.

Michael Jamin:
The sooner you, the sooner the better. The sooner the or the, and I have a free lesson. If anybody wants to download this, go to michael jamin.com/free where I explain this a little better in more detail. But the sooner you set that up, establish the sooner the audience is able to identify the hero and the obstacle and the goal, the better before any time until then, the you’re, you’re literally boring people. You’re waiting for them to do something else. So the sooner, the better that a common note we’ll get from any studio executive is can you start the story, the story sooner, and then you’ll get that on page three is pretty fast. Yeah, but can you do it on page two? Sure. And I’ve written stories in my book and Oh, I was going to talk about that. I’m glad we’re doing that. I’m making note where the story starts fast, really fast. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you for that question. Hey, it’s Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want
Me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You could unsubscribe whenever you want. I’m not going to spam you and it’s absolutely free. Just go to michael jammin.com/watchlist.

Phil Hudson:
Maria Perez, how do you trace a map? This is, I think is a translation. So how do you trace a map to a great story that has multiple layers? How do you outline a story that has multiple layers? Is I think the

Michael Jamin:
Most important thing you need to do is get the story, tell your compelling story that’s figure that out. Figure out how to break the story. Once that’s done and your story is rock solid and you can, you know how to hang that thread all the way through, then you can go back and add in the layers, the little themes that maybe people may pick up may not pick up. Then you can go back and say, oh, you know what? He should be watching the clipper game because it feels like a game. And so that’s later. If you do it first, you probably will fall in love with it and then you’ll bend the story to make that work. And it shouldn’t be. The story always comes first. Always talk to anybody. The story comes first.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah, that’s a solid note. When I was in film school in Santa Fe, I was, one night I was driving on a coyote, walked through the middle of the street at night and I was like, oh, that’s a cool moment. Let me put that in a script. And then later when I redid another draft on that script, it became a vulture because it was more on theme to what I was writing about with predatory people. So to your note, it’s just rewriting and

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Yeah.

Phil Hudson:
Cool. Next section is being a pro. Yeah, Yankee. Okay. What in your mind is a good balance of honing your craft at a higher level? Would you focus more on working with others voices, more solo work or like 40, 60 split between the two?

Michael Jamin:
Well, when, if you’re going to work in television, and most screenwriters, I think start should start in television, you’ll learn more about story structure on a TV show than you will trying to sell a movie on your own. So I always recommend starting TV first. And when you start in tv, you don’t need to have a voice. You need to capture the voice of whatever show you’re on. So it’s a little harder now because it’s a little harder. Now, new writers are also expected to have their own voice, which I feel is very unfair. So I do, I guess I would, maybe I’d make a case for doing both. I would say work on stuff, original stuff of your own that has a voice, and then also try to write sample material for shows that already exist. Or even if you want to do a movie, a movie that feels the tone of some other movie, so that you can develop two skill sets. One is being this mimic and one is having an original voice. Because when I’m, I’m working on a TV show, I don’t have to have an original voice ever. I’m capturing someone else’s voice.

Phil Hudson:
The terminology gets a little confusing here for people. So in features, a spec script is a script that you’re writing on speculation that you can sell it. And that typically means you get paid more to do it. You assume the risk, whereas an assignment is something a studio gives you, and you write that. But in the TV world, a spec script is writing a sample of an existing show,

Michael Jamin:
But you’re not going to try to sell. It’s just a writing sample.

Phil Hudson:
And going back to the second thing I ever had you read, it was a spec script of Mr. Robot that I wrote for a TV writing class I had, and your note feedback was different. I can tell you’re a competent writer, you captured their voices, these things, but it’s good, not great, and you have to be great. And then I was like, ah, crap. And then I took three more years to send you something else, right? But it was a good exercise for me to say, can I do the job of writing

Michael Jamin:
A show? But along the way, you’re al you were always writing, always working, and get working to get better. And you saw improvement in yourself, like others you didn’t even have to ask to see. You saw it in yourself, right? The more you wrote, the more better you got

Phil Hudson:
For sure. Yeah. And I think there are a couple things I’ve picked up from you that we’ve talked about on the podcast and we definitely talk about on the webinar. I wish I would’ve caught earlier. The big one for me was when I was going to send you something and you’re like, do me a favor and print it out and then send it to me so I don’t have to print it out. And I was like, huh, okay. And so then my rewrites, the process that really changed this for me was this. I print out my script, I take a red pen, I just sit down in a chair and I read it, and I do no editing on the computer because for years I would just beat up the same script and polish the same first act and never really get anywhere. And now I take the lessons from your course and I’ll whiteboard, what are my three acts, what are the structure points that need to be there? And then I write the page count there just to give me an idea of how balanced the script is. And that all comes from the course, but the printing things out thing really did it for me. Yeah. I stopped polishing the turds, and

Michael Jamin:
That really helps to look at a hard copy. Yeah.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. So yeah, to answer your question, yes, I was learning. But those things, for anyone listening, that’s just learn that now and save yourself a couple years of pain sitting in front of a computer. Great. Rich Scott, any thoughts on a daily goal for your writing? What is a successful day of writing for you?

Michael Jamin:
Well, for anybody, it depends what your schedule is. If you can write 10 or 15 minutes a day, if you’re super busy and you can do 15 minutes, great. That’s a successful day. It just depends what your schedule looks like. If you’re a weekend and you only have nothing to do and you only write 15 minutes, that’s not successful. If you could have put in more hours. But again, to me, I don’t measure success by page count because I’ll often put out pages which are unusable, but what it does to me is hopefully gets me closer to what is usable. And so to me, a successful day is, it can even be when I’m driving in a car and I’m working on a story problem, just one problem, not working on the whole story. I’m just thinking, well, how do I make this entrance work for this character? How do I give them a good ENT entrance? Or what is the story really about? Well, I’ll focus on one problem, I’ll turn the radio off, and if I can find the answer to one problem during a half hour commute or whatever it is that’s successful, I make a note. And now I go home and I can write it later. You can get a lot done. You can get a lot done in a half hour car ride if you just focus on one problem.

Phil Hudson:
That was the other big piece of advice you gave me. So funny how that’s lined up. So as a pa, I would spend so much time driving around LA and sitting in traffic, and I’d listen to podcasts and stuff, and you were like, you asked me, do you listen to podcasts in the car? I was like, yeah. And you’re like, stop.

Michael Jamin:
Just

Phil Hudson:
Start working on yourself. So I would turn on voice memos and I would just talk out loud to myself to solve my problems and I’d get home and oftentimes I didn’t even need to reference it, but I had it so I didn’t lose anything, and it was really, really helpful. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Turn off the radio.

Phil Hudson:
A lot of people in the webinar also commented that they loved that piece of advice you gave. You had given it earlier, and a lot of people said it’s really turned things around for them, which is turning the turning stuff off in your car and focusing on even just 15 minutes a day of just working on a store problem. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just nuggets of gold being dropped by Michael Jamin here.

Michael Jamin:
Oh,

Phil Hudson:
Don’t pick your mic up and drop it. We still got a podcast.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, we got more to talk about.

Phil Hudson:
All right. David Kepner, excuse me. Super speed. 2, 3, 7, 8. Do you as a working writer still find time to make what you consider art? Or do you get enough joy and fulfillment out of the business side, the stuff that makes money?

Michael Jamin:
No. I get more joy and pleasure from my side project. I’ll plug it now. A paper orchestra, which is just my passion project, which is a collection of personal essays, which hopefully will be available soon for purchase for all of you. But to me, I get more pleasure out of that when I write for a studio, I’m getting paid and I have to give them what they want, and that’s fair. It’s a fair trade. And sometimes I’m writing stuff I’m not crazy about. That’s okay, I got to pay the bills totally fine with me. But when I’m writing this on the side, this is, and I’m not sure if I struggle with what art is. We’ve had this conversation, what is art? But to me, this is closer to art than what I did when I do as a sitcom writer, just because I think it’s coming from a more truthful, emotional place, and I struggle with what art is. So I think maybe this is closer to, I think this is maybe art. I know it’s difficult to do for me to do, but I get a lot of, and I don’t get paid for, or I haven’t gotten paid for this yet, at least. So it’s not about the money.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. David Kepner, what’s the difference between writers and script doctors?

Michael Jamin:
Well, there’s really not such thing as a script doctor. So every writer, I mean, anyone who’s ever doctored a script, which is this crazy term, I guess Carrie Fisher wants, everyone’s referred to Carrie Fisher as a script doctor. The script is dying, bringing in the script doctor. It is not really a thing. You’re just a screenwriter. Every screenwriter will work on trying to sell a movie or a TV show, trying to write something original, working on someone else’s project. Sometimes you get called in to do a rewrite on someone else’s project. And I guess you could say that person is a script doctor. Some people say, I want to be a script doctor. And there’s no such thing. You want to be a screenwriter who maybe gets side work doctoring someone else’s script, fixing someone else’s script. But by the way, no one’s going to hire you to fix someone’s script if you can’t do it yourself.
If you don’t write a good script on your own, no one’s going to pay you to fix someone else’s. Like we’re, it’s just such a amazing, there’s so much bad knowledge on the internet that people are just fishing out and they’re thinking, well, I don’t really want to write a screenplay. It’s a lot of work. I don’t really want to learn how to write, but I don’t mind fixing someone else’s piece of crap. Who do you think is going to hire you if you can’t do it yourself? So you need to learn the art of, in the craft of screenwriting, you need to learn it. So this thing about script doctoring, it’s just a fancy word that, what are you talking about?

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. There’s another avenue to this, and without naming names, there are people who call themselves script doctors who will read your script, Michael, for $500, and give you notes and tell you all of the problems and help you fix. Yeah,

Michael Jamin:
I’d like to read their script and find out if they can write and, well, I’d like to read, I’d like to see their credits. I’d like to look ’em up on I md. But what have they done that so good at telling you how to do that job? Really,

Phil Hudson:
It’s a lot of money being spent by naive people who want to be rider and people selling the dream. And you don’t do that. You sell the reality, the harsh reality.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. And I know say that even at the end when I’m talking about my course, I’m, listen, I have a course, you can get it or not. Okay. If you don’t want to get it, just keep following me. I offer a lot of free advice. I’m not trying to trick anybody into buying anything.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. And you also tell ’em like you’re not going to make their career

Michael Jamin:
Like you. No, I’m not. Yeah. All I can do is help you. I can teach you what I know. It’s up to you to who knows what kind of talent you have and who knows what kind of work ethic you have that’s on you. So yeah,

Phil Hudson:
Ariel Medley, I’m an aspiring screenwriter with a two-year-old child. Should I ever get into his writer’s room? Any advice on balancing the long hours with parenting? And I thought this was a good one because you had kids when you were writing, right? You were in your career.

Michael Jamin:
Sure, I have. And I was just talking to my friend Cliffy, Carrie Cliffy yesterday, and she has a kid, and so it is hard for her to have long hours. It’s hard, especially, I think this is a woman who asked this question.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah, I heard Ariel, so I’m assuming the mother. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
So yeah, it’s definitely hard. I mean, the hours in TV can be really brutal, and you will probably be away from your child for long hours. So how do you balance? So that’s just the job is the hours are terrible. It might not be for something that you want to consider until your child is a little older. So in the meantime, work on your craft, become really, really good so that when your kid is in high school and wants nothing to do with you, you don’t feel so bad when you’re working till midnight every night. And at that point, if you’re worked on your craft so long, you’re going to be really good. Perfect timing is perfect. You’ll spend next. Why not spend the next 13 years getting really good at writing so that when you get that job, woo, you can start flying.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. Yeah. It’s tell you, it’s tough. I was working 14 hour days as a producer’s assistant on a feature film when my kid was born. And that was just, I would go days without seeing my kid leave before she got up. And that sucked really hard. I miss those days, but I cherished and treasured those midnight cry sessions and the weekends. So yeah,

Michael Jamin:
Just

Phil Hudson:
Make the most of the time and be as present as you can be. Paul Cromwell. Do aspiring writers ever make it after turning in a bad draft and burning their one shot?

Michael Jamin:
Well, I, if you’re on, I, do they ever make it? I can’t say ever. I can’t speak for all of Hollywood
When I’m on staff of a TV show. If a writer turns in a draft that’s unusable, then you got to measure it. Well, how good are they in the writer’s room? How much do they contribute that’s usable? They may be terrible in the room and their scripts are terrible. Well, that they’re not going to, they’re gone. But they may actually have really good ideas, but still need a little more handholding, a little more mentorship. And maybe it’s a diamond in the rough. But the problem is that these days have changed. When I broke in the writer’s staff, the writer’s rooms were much larger. And so you could hide if you’re a young writer and you didn’t really know how to do it yet. Most don’t. You could hide a little bit. Today, the writer’s rooms are smaller, the budgets are smaller, so there’s, there’s fewer places to hide. And so you really want to be prepared. You really want to understand story structures so well that you can turn on a draft so that you don’t have to worry about being fired because a shame, it’s hard enough to break in and then now you’ve fired. Great.

Phil Hudson:
And tying it back to what we talked about at the beginning, specifically for aspiring writers, I effectively burned my one shot with you when sent you my first script. It was not a good script. I understood nothing about story structure. I just knew how to put some things together and some formatting, but I didn’t burn my bridge with you because of the goodwill I had earned and the understanding of where I was at and your mentorship. But I understood also sending more bad stuff real quick was a quick way to burn that bridge, which is why I didn’t. So you just got to be conscientious and you got to have social skills. The social awareness is a really key thing. And I apologize, I didn’t write this person’s name down, but I’m a student and I don’t have the money for the course. This is speaking about your screenwriting course. If I could do a monthly payment that is not one quarter of my entire paycheck for my minimum wage job, is there any way I could get it cheaper? And I thought this was an interesting one because there are a lot of people who want to know, can I take your course? I can’t afford the course right now. Any thoughts on that?

Michael Jamin:
Well, I mean, yeah, we have a monthly payment plan. So where it’s a hundred something a month for six months, which is not terrible, but if you’re making minimum wage, everything’s going to seem expensive to you. I mean, a bar of soap is going to seem expensive. So right now, you have to prioritize, you need to pay, eat, you need to pay your rent and have food. That’s the most important thing until you start having more money, then you have a little more spending cash. But I never try to convince somebody to pay me over putting food in their mouth, in their mouth, eat first. Yeah. That’s more important than taking a class for me.

Phil Hudson:
And that’s why you do so much in terms of podcasting and the webinars and all these things, just so that you can give that stuff. And it’s really a quality check on the people entering the private Facebook group and those things, it’s important, valuable information, that’s why.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. But I give up plenty, like Phil saying, I give up plenty of free knowledge all the time, so that go enjoy that. So that’s okay. Yeah.

Phil Hudson:
Awesome. And then the last three questions here. I know we’re getting close on time, the Jovin Sure has two questions. Alright. What’s the difference between a studio wanting to cast someone and to develop them?

Michael Jamin:
Oh, well, often when you’re developing a TV show, I’m sure probably the same for movies, but you’ll have talent attached or you’ll think of attaching talent. Hey, if I go in with this actor, well, can I sell it? And sometimes you’ll be told that actor is casting, or sometimes you can say no, they’re development and it, it’s up to the studio to decide whether the character, whether that actor is casting or not. Which in other words, do they have enough, does the studio want, is willing to pay to put them in the middle of a show? I mean, Tim Allen is not casting Tim Allen you developed for, because he’s done so many hits. And so anytime he’s attached to a project, the studio’s going to probably green light it. And if you go in with Tim Allen or your pitch, it’s sold and it’s probably on the airs.
But if you went in with someone who was like Tim Allen, funny, like Tim Allen, and only using Tim Allen’s name because someone mentioned him on the picket line today. If you went into someone like him who had done a couple of guest spots where maybe he’s a standup, but no one’s heard of he, that’s casting. So those questions, and I’m not the one, like I said, I’ll often ask my agent or managers, this is this actor, this famous actor who we’ve heard of. Are they casting or are they development? Can you? And sometimes my managers say, no, no. As famous as they are, they’re casting.

Phil Hudson:
That’s wild. I just learned something. I had no idea the difference in this terms. And that’s backwards of what I expected that to be.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, really? Yeah.

Phil Hudson:
No, that’s awesome. Thanks for the question. Follow up. Another question from the Jovin Insure. What’s your take on modern Multicam shows? It’s clear, clearly not as popular as it used to be. That’s a bit of an opinion. And the writing quality seems to be less than most other single cam comedies.

Michael Jamin:
Well, the studios are always, or networks are always saying, we want more multi cameras because they’re less expensive to make, but they seem to always buy single camera shows. I think single camera shows lend themselves to a higher level. They just have a patina about them. And by the way, I’ve written both and I don’t really have a preference as to which one I want to write. They just seem to have a patina. But that’s not to say friends. Friends just say, great. And that was a multi-camera show as Seinfeld as well. So yeah. Why do they do less? I don’t know. It can be eggy. Sometimes they have cornier jokes. That’s not really a good thing. It’s just the writing isn’t as good. Whereas on a single camera show, often you can go straight. You don’t have to have corny jokes. Why is this? I don’t know. This is just doesn’t, it’s such a weird thing to say because back in the seventies there were many multi-camera shows that were not corny and they didn’t have a lot of jokes. It’s just that styles have changed. And often these networks, they want to have more jokes per page. That’s just kind of what they want.
Yeah. I didn’t answer the question. I’m sorry.

Phil Hudson:
I tried. No, I think you did. I addressed the core of the question. Okay. Writing quality seems to be less than, and it’s

Michael Jamin:
Just part of it. Yeah, sometimes it is and sometimes it’s not. It just depends on the show. Friends is really good.

Phil Hudson:
And you’ve had a ton of really strong multi-cam showrunners on the podcast interviewing, talking about things. So if you haven’t gone and listened to those episodes, go do that. And you can see these are people who are pros at the highest level doing their job as best as they can. But oftentimes you’re working for someone else, you’re giving them the show, right?

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Right. Yeah. So,

Phil Hudson:
All right, last question from Angelina. What opportunities are best to learn from and take advantage of while being a current college student?

Michael Jamin:
Oh, any opportunity you go make a friend, make a movie with your friends, with the other film students or whatever co college students your opportunities are to write, act, perform, make whatever opportunity is in front of you. Take it. If it’s helping somebody out on a student film, do it. This is your start at the bottom. Any opportunity if you have on the week during summer break, if you’re able to get any kind of job as a receptionist in a production house or a studio or anything to get, but take it. Whatever you can do to get closer to your goal, whatever your job is, physically closer, take it. There’s no opportunity that’s wrong. Yeah. You even if you want to work at a med, you get a job as at a working for a talent agent. Alright, that’s better. That’s closer than you were before. Don’t stick it out longer than you have to. But you’ll learn just even if you want to be a screenwriter, you’ll learn a little bit about the business by working for an agent or a manager.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. I wish in film school I would’ve spent more time taking advantage of production opportunities, but I was so focused on being a writer. I didn’t do that. And then when I got to Los Angeles, I would’ve had far more opportunities if I’d done that. Yeah. Yeah. I had to do things. I knew how walkie works. I knew kind of the basic job of being a pa. I knew what CS stands were. I knew all that stuff, but just didn’t quite get the scope of work entailed to do something. So make sure you get those opportunities. That’s it. Michael, that’s, those are your questions from our May webinar.

Michael Jamin:
We did it, Phil. Thank you everyone. That’s it. We are continue to, I got a newsletter. Everyone should be on that. You should be watching as much as you can. It’s free. You can go to michael jamon.com, you can find all this free stuff. I got a free screenwriting list. I got a free webinar that I do once a month. I got a newsletter. We have downloads, we have all this stuff to make your life easier to get along your, to get your dream of whatever it is to become working in Hollywood. So there’s plenty of resources. Go get it. Go get it. You know? That’s right. Phil, anything else?

Phil Hudson:
Yeah, the only thing I wanted to point out, I don’t think you said it for information about your book, Michaeljamin.com/upcoming, which is also on the site, but particular because you brought it up. I want to make sure knew about that link.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. That’s a collection of personal essays and some of the stories are for me working in Hollywood and some are just are not. But you’ll see when you read it, I hope you all read it. These are little stories and each one could easily be a movie or an episode of a television show. And these are true stories for my life, and you all have the same thing. And in my course, I teach you how to write stories like this and it’s lovely. So if you want to go be notified when I start touring to come to your city, go to michael jamon.com/upcoming and I hope to see you there.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah, it’s a really great example for anybody interested in being a writer or an actor or anybody, either. There’s a lot of nebulous terms that have been in the industry for a hundred years and write what is one that may not make sense to a lot of people, but yeah, that is a really strong example of doing that. It’s mining your life for stories and those kinds of things. Other thing I wanted to point out, we do a webinar every month. Like you said, there’s one coming up. Make sure you go to michael jamon.com/webinar. Get on the list and register. It’s completely free. You can catch the replay if you can’t make it to the official thing, but that’s incredibly valuable information that you provide to anybody.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, so we’ll see you there. Alright, awesome, Phil, thank you so much everyone. Until next week, keep writing

Phil Hudson:
Cha Chow

Michael Jamin:
Cha Chow.

Phil Hudson:
This has been an episode of Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamon and Phil Hudson. If you’re interested in learning more about writing, make sure you register for Michael’s monthly webinar@michaeljamon.com slash 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 Jamon 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.

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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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