On this week’s episode, I have choreographer Phil Wright. We talk about the huge risk he took moving out to Los Angeles from a successful career in Miami. He dives into some of the famous people he has worked with as well as what his most viral video is. There is so much more so make sure you tune in.

Show Notes

Phil Wright on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/phil_wright_/

Phil Wright on TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@philwright_

Phil Wright on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@PhilWright

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

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

Join My Newsletter – https://michaeljamin.com/newsletter

Autogenerated Transcript

Phil Wright:
And it’s hard because we’re working when we’re not working, there’s no punching and punch out clock with

Michael Jamin:
Us.

Phil Wright:
So it’s tough. So getting the brain to relax and just actually sit down and watch a movie and not worry about camera angles, or how did he save his line to make him funny?

Michael Jamin:
Really?

Phil Wright:
I’ve lost, and which I’m trying to get back to. I’ve lost the concept of just being a consumer.

Michael Jamin:
You’re listening to. What the hell is Michael Jamin talking about? I’ll tell you what I’m talking about. I’m talking about creativity. I’m talking about writing, and I’m talking about reinventing yourself through the arts.
Hey everyone, it’s Michael Jamin, another episode of, what the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about? I’ll tell you what I’m talking about, guys. So as you know, I’m really into talking to creative people who’ve just done interesting things and have invented themselves in ways. And so ordinarily I talk to screenwriters and authors and actors and directors, people like that, but I just discovered this guy I want to introduce you to. His name is Phil Wright, and he’s the first dancer choreographer I’m talking to, which I think is so, I don’t know. I got a lot of questions for you. Phil. Welcome to the show. Thank you so much for doing this,

Phil Wright:
Dude. Thank you for having me. I’m such a fan, man. You don’t realize I’m such a good fan. I watch your page all the time. I’m always interested in what you’re getting into. Ah,

Michael Jamin:
That’s very kind. I’m a fan of you. I have to know doing something, which is really interesting. Not a lot of people can make a living as a dancer and even a choreographer that’s even fewer people. And yet this is, so where did this all begin then?

Phil Wright:
Okay, so originally from Miami, Florida. I moved to LA about 10 years ago. I had stepped into the dance world accidentally, I guess because I wasn’t really technically trained per se. I didn’t start at a young age. I started dancing on the streets. That’s when we had crews, and if you weren’t part of a crew, then you were a nerd. And I wasn’t a nerd by any means. I wasn’t book smart, so you had to be a part of a crew, and that’s what it was. So it sort of kept me off of the street, out of trouble and fast forward, moved to LA about 10 years ago and just rebranded myself in what I was trying to do with my career. I actually started teaching children to start things off. Kind of got like, you know what? I think I could do better. I think I could, when you

Michael Jamin:
Say teaching children, you were teaching at schools at where? Yeah,

Phil Wright:
Teaching at local dance studios around the neighborhood. And honestly, it just started off like, Hey, I need some extra money, man. So I’m serving tables at Applebee’s, serving two for twenties and three o’clock rolls around. I go teach a class and do my double shift, go right back to Applebee’s and do the same thing all over again. And we won’t talk about poker nights. But anyway.

Michael Jamin:
So you were starting at the bottom, but when you moved to la, did you hope to get in music videos? What was your aspiration?

Phil Wright:
Well, I mean, first off, I had sort of established myself in Miami. I started teaching for the Miami Heat Dance Team. Oh, really? Miami Billboard Awards, the Latin Billboard awards. And I had sort of caught fire in Miami, and I had an apartment in BIS Camp Boulevard. So I was fine. I didn’t really need to move.

Michael Jamin:
So that must have been hard. You’re going to leave all that behind.

Phil Wright:
Yeah. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
You wanted a bigger pool or what? It was

Phil Wright:
Huge. It was a huge sacrifice. And then at that time, my girlfriend, well, now wife, I just came home and I just sort of got motivated by my friends who had moved from Miami to la.

Michael Jamin:
And how old were you at this point when you decided to leave it behind?

Phil Wright:
Dude, I told my kids this all the time. It’s never too late. I moved to Los Angeles when I was 26 years old.

Michael Jamin:
Right. Okay. Well, you’re still young, but, but yeah,

Phil Wright:
But in artistry world, especially if you’re in front of the camera, not behind the camera writing or

Michael Jamin:
Directly,

Phil Wright:
If you’re in front of the camera and you have eyes on the camera, you have to be, I don’t know, fresh, I guess. I don’t know.

Michael Jamin:
Well, especially dancing, because it takes a wear and tear on your body. I mean, it really does. Definitely.

Phil Wright:
So during that time, you would consider that, woo, that’s kind of late in the game. So I moved to LA and started all over, man. I had gave up everything and I had dreams, and I gave it all up and moved to LA to sleep on the floor in my friend’s apartment, one bedroom apartment with roaches crawling on me, just,

Michael Jamin:
And then where did you start from? I should mention, because I haven’t said this before. You’re huge on YouTube. You’ve got well over a million followers. That’s a big deal, man. That’s a very big deal. Thank you. So I mean a household name, but you are making quite a name for yourself. You know what I’m saying? Yeah.

Phil Wright:
I like to say this broke, gets creative really quick.

Michael Jamin:
Yes. Tell me how

Phil Wright:
The motivation to, it’s not money per se, it’s sort of just being productive. You know what I mean? If I can stay productive, the money will follow. But when you don’t necessarily have opportunities knocking at the door every single day, you have to sort of create those opportunities.

Michael Jamin:
So how were you doing that? What were you doing?

Phil Wright:
This was the time when Instagram was around and we had our 15 second videos. These were 15 second videos. And I would go out on the street, gorilla style, no permits. I hope they won’t catch me now, but no permits, no nothing. And I would get the most popular song that would drop at midnight, photograph something, get two or three friends, and record a dance routine in the middle of the street.

Michael Jamin:
And this, was it Vine or Instagram?

Phil Wright:
This was Instagram during the time. This is after Vine.

Michael Jamin:
Okay.

Phil Wright:
Now, strategically, what I would do is get the teachers that were already teaching in the classrooms, but I wasn’t teaching during that time. No one knew who I was. I knew who those people were because I took those people’s classes. So they knew I was a great dancer. They knew I was good people. So they would say, sure, yeah, Phil, we’ll dance with you. And no one really, at that time, videos were not big. They weren’t a big deal. So I would get them and they would just, Hey, look. And my pitch was like, I only need 15 seconds your time. That’s it. 15 seconds, we’ll do two eight counts. That’s it. And you’ll make a new appearance and then you bounce out. But

Michael Jamin:
What was your expectation when you were putting these videos up?

Phil Wright:
My expectations were to get into classrooms, to teach classes.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, okay. Why? Because you need a following to get to teach in a classroom.

Phil Wright:
Absolutely.

Michael Jamin:
Really?

Phil Wright:
Absolutely. See

Michael Jamin:
That I did not know, even in a small little private studio, you need a following.

Phil Wright:
You need a following. If people don’t know who you are, they’re not coming to take class.

Michael Jamin:
But I would think that my daughters went to take dance class and there was a studio in the neighborhood, and we went there.

Phil Wright:
Yeah, I mean, well, I’m thinking, I’m talking more of entertainment, not your residential.

Michael Jamin:
So these classes are more,

Phil Wright:
These are professional

Michael Jamin:
Dance classes, classes,

Phil Wright:
Debbie Reynolds Dance Complex. These are where the pros go to

Michael Jamin:
Try. Okay.

Phil Wright:
And my hope was is to grab these teachers and let them be a part of my video, and I produce it. Well, I cut it. I get on my little editing app, cut it up really quick. And my hope was is if they were ever absent, the studios would see that and say, oh, wow, who’s this guy dance with? JR Taylor. Oh, Jr. R Taylor’s out next week. Let’s just get this guy, because JR Taylor must know this guy.

Michael Jamin:
So funny, because I did a post a while ago where I said, get in the neighborhood, get as close as you can physically possible to the person whose job you want, pick up their scraps. And that’s exactly what you did. You just pick up their scraps. And now you’re that guy now.

Phil Wright:
Yeah. And you know what? I actually had a friend of mine, we guess, I don’t know, associates, and he came to me, and during that time, I had asked him to be a part of my video. At that time, no one knew me or this and that, and he declined. He was just like, no, I don’t have time and everything like that. And now, fast forward six, seven years later, I invited him to my house, to my birthday party. Actually, dude, I’ve never told you this, but I have to apologize. I didn’t know you. I was like, dude, that’s water on the bridge. Doesn’t matter. You didn’t know me. You know what I mean? But I had to put myself out there for people to even say my name, whether if it was good or bad, at least I’m buzzing in some type of way. But

Michael Jamin:
You see, people didn’t know how serious you were. I’m sure you must’ve known people who did what you did and gave up after about a week and a half.

Phil Wright:
Yeah. But bro, I was on a tyrant. I would shoot, say five to seven videos a day, and remember, it’s only 15 seconds. So I would shoot that and then release ’em every day throughout.

Michael Jamin:
It’s difficult. It becomes, you’re never done. You’re never done. It’s like, I imagine it’s sorting the mail. The mail doesn’t stop coming, man. And that’s what posting is like. Do you still keep that same schedule?

Phil Wright:
Well, it’s tough. Now. I got two kids. I got a wife, you know what I mean? Now my home base is traveling. I travel a lot. I’m always on the plane. And I’ve already built up this sort of following online to where now I can, Hey, I’m in Arizona. I can put a post out and say, Hey, I’m in Arizona. And then I’ll just get a wild spread of emails. Hey, could you come to my studio? Hey, could you come here?

Michael Jamin:
Is that right? So that’s okay. So I want to know how that works. You decide what city you’re going to go to, and you’ll spend a week there. You decide, this is all your decision, right? I’m going to go to Phoenix. And then somehow, because all these people follow you on social media, these studio owners, they book you, and they know that the people, your fans are going to come see you at the studio. So it’s easy for them. It’s almost like a no brainer.

Phil Wright:
Well, that’s the hope. You know what I mean? That you post that and they hope that people come to the studio. But in reality, I do so much with posting and promoting their own studio. They’re going to go to Michael Jamin, writers Dance Studio five o’clock, see you there. Whether or not people come or not, the fact that I’m showing up there gives you such a boost to say, Hey, Phil Wright was at my studio. This is the footage. This is the class footage. You might want to check out Michael Jamin Writer’s Studio next time that you’re in town,

Michael Jamin:
But are you getting paid a percentage of the people who come, or are they just booking you? And regardless,

Phil Wright:
We’re past that,

Michael Jamin:
Steve. We can’t talk about that. I want to know how it works to be No, no,

Phil Wright:
No. We can definitely, no, that’s sort of like the beginning stages of things. People handle their own the way they want to, but I work off of a flat rate, so

Michael Jamin:
So they book, you get paid either way,

Phil Wright:
Right? They book the hotel, the flight, they booked me my

Michael Jamin:
Time’s. So interesting. So you’re almost like a comedian, except you’re doing dance.

Phil Wright:
Own my own boss, my own company. I created my own company for, right, Inc. And was able to go move off of that. So

Michael Jamin:
Do you have employees working for you? Is that what Well,

Phil Wright:
I did have an assistant that helped me all the logistics, like getting the flights and the hotels and stuff like that. But she’s moved on to bigger and better things. But now I’m just solely working for myself right now, just I don’t have How many,

Michael Jamin:
So you travel every week. Are you in a different city every

Phil Wright:
Week? Yeah. So I also do work for another company, a dance convention called Break the Floor. So they hire me seasonal throughout the fall up until the summer, and then I have that. So that’s where you see all, I’m in the ballroom full of kids in the classes. They have numbers on their chest and

Michael Jamin:
Stuff. And those kids, what do they aspire? What do those kids, when you say, what do you think they want?

Phil Wright:
Most of them want to be professional dancers. Some of them just want to be in the room, some of them. Or you get the families that were past pro dancers that are trying to get the other kids into their kids, into dancing. So the motivation is like, yes, this is a professional. We’re hiring Phil Wright, he’s coming to Nebraska. Get your tickets now.

Michael Jamin:
See? And you have to have the right temperament for that, because you have to have the right energy to deal with kids. I mean, I wonder if there’s a lot of people like you who do that.

Phil Wright:
Well, I would say there’s not too many kid teachers out there.

Michael Jamin:
It’s interesting. You’ve got this niche for yourself,

Phil Wright:
Enormous amount of patience. So

Michael Jamin:
Yes.

Phil Wright:
So I think that helps me out in my age. I’m very one of the very few that teaches kids. There are other few teachers out there, but I think that’s where most of my clock comes from.

Michael Jamin:
Do you have a community of other dancers like yourself who do what you do?

Phil Wright:
Yeah. I mean, some of them are more on the pro side, like, Hey, they work with artists per se only. Right?

Michael Jamin:
Interesting.

Phil Wright:
Luckily for me, I’m in a space where I get to do a little bit of everything,

Michael Jamin:
Really.

Phil Wright:
I choreographed commercials. I just finished a commercial with Kevin Hart and DraftKings. That’s going to come out later.

Michael Jamin:
You got to teach him how to dance.

Phil Wright:
Well, that was pretty funny. That was pretty funny. He came up to me and he was missing his cue, and I was like, because he was supposed to do a pump, and the pyro was supposed to go off in the back. And I go up to Kevin, I was like, Kevin, dude, you’re making me look bad, man. You’re not pumping on time. He goes, Phil, when you get to a status of mine, you’re going to do whatever the hell you want to do.

Michael Jamin:
Really? Oh, alright. As long as the director’s

Phil Wright:
Okay. I go, okay, okay. And I said, well, after we did the take, I go, well, I guess I’m out of a job then. Thanks cv. And he started laugh. So that was sort of a moment for me.

Michael Jamin:
I said this to my wife a couple of weeks ago because I was just, I don’t know what got me started. I was the thing about choreography, which to me is so, because I’m not a dancer, I don’t know how you guys do anything. It’s so interesting. I don’t know how you guys do it. It’s like you’re telling a story with movement and really good choreography is from my unknown. My opinion is, I guess just an outsider. To me, it’s so specific to that song. It’s almost like you can’t even use that move in another song. An extreme example would be Michael Jackson’s thriller. Okay, you’re dancing like a zombie. You can’t use those zombie moves in another video. It just won’t work. And it’s like, I don’t know how you guys do that. I don’t know how you even begin. Where do you begin when you choreograph a piece?

Phil Wright:
The creative process can be interesting for each individual choreographer. Everyone else has their own process. It’s like writing. You may burn incense and then get in, go into a dark or something like that. Whatever happens to me. But the creative process is quite different from a lot for a lot of different people. For me, per se, I go to sleep with the music on. I wake up to the music, I listen to the lyrics as much as possible, and I get into a very creative mode where it’s not manufactured. What I mean by that is it’s not like, okay, I’m going to go here and think I’m going to go here, rather than just kind of letting my body settle in and let it happen. It’s almost like, I don’t know, cold reading, if you will, just off the whim, let’s just go off of the cuff. And then that’s where my creative juices start to flow. Now I get into a mode where I do it very subconsciously. I try not to block out hours to choreograph. I sort of just go out throughout my day and create movement and live life as easy as

Michael Jamin:
Possible. But then how do you remember if you’re choreographing it on the fly, then how do you remember? What do you do? You film yourself?

Phil Wright:
Film myself. Yeah. Film myself real quick. It’s like an idea. Writing. Oh, an idea. Lemme write that down.

Michael Jamin:
And when you’re dancing, is it in your head or is it in your body? Where are you remembering these

Phil Wright:
Moves? Some of it is, is initiated with through feeling and emotion, man and heart. Some things just touch you all so much on an emotional level. That’s why I say manufactured is going through your head and trying to say, okay, let me form these shapes on the dance floor. And

Michael Jamin:
He shapes,

Phil Wright:
Yeah, shapes and movement and how you would love to see your class move.

Michael Jamin:
Well, that’s another thing. Now I’m thinking about you’re choreographing just yourself, but you might have everyone, I might be doing something different. It has to mesh together. And

Phil Wright:
I’m thinking about the masses, man. I’m thinking about what I would want to choreograph and how would this put me in a mood? Let’s just say like Beyonce’s new Renaissance tour album I put on her album. I’m thinking about arenas, I’m thinking about. So I think of that, and that puts me in a mode of larger movement to please a larger crowd. Whereas you take that compared to TikTok dancing, you have to say it in this little

Michael Jamin:
Box. Yeah, right.

Phil Wright:
Please. You’re more of a commercial. You’re trying to sell or promote something.

Michael Jamin:
It’s

Phil Wright:
Different. Yeah. It’s much, much, much different.

Michael Jamin:
Are you watching other dancers and saying, oh my God, how do I do that? Or that move?

Phil Wright:
I get inspired all the time. I know some choreographers don’t like to watch, but I love to watch. And you know what? To their point, you don’t want to watch so much because subconsciously when you get into your creative process, you end up doing what they do. You know what I mean? It’s like,

Michael Jamin:
Ah. Well, that’s the thing. Do you feel like you have a defined feel right style that you don’t want? Do you not want be inspired, too much inspiration from somebody else? Because you don’t want it to bleed into your work. You don’t want to dilute your voice.

Phil Wright:
My inspiration comes from hard work and ethic, or how they’re working and how they’re releasing their content rather than the actual material.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, I see.

Phil Wright:
Or how are they promoting it or how are they editing it? You know what I mean? Oh, what’s the new camera that they’re using? Are they doing depth? You know what I mean? So those are the things that I look for. That’s where my motivation,

Michael Jamin:
Because I was going to ask you, because if you saw someone with some move that you’ve never seen before, would you try it? Or would you feel like, no, that’s just not mine can’t.

Phil Wright:
There’s nothing new under this sun. It’s been done already. It’s definitely been done already. I don’t see anything. Oh, wow. You know what I mean? It’s more, for me, it’s about the work ethic more than

Michael Jamin:
Anything else. Interesting. So how

Phil Wright:
Are you changing the game from yesterday into tomorrow?

Michael Jamin:
Okay, so what’s your thought on that? How are you doing that?

Phil Wright:
It’s hard because, well, for me, I think there should be a, well, for me, I’m in a transition phase. In 2022, no, 2020, I sold my TV show to Disney Channel.

Michael Jamin:
Yes, I wanted to talk about that. But go, yeah, let’s talk about it now then.

Phil Wright:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So the big worry, and let’s just put this footnote, the big worry of every dancer is that, okay, my time is running out.

Michael Jamin:
What

Phil Wright:
I do, what am I, I’m not dancing anymore. You know what I mean? So I was approached by Irene Drayer, who saw an article that was written on me teachers about parents and students dancing. She said, Hey, I think this is a TV show. I said, lady, you’re wasting my time. I got to go teach class. She goes, no, I’m serious. Nine months later, we’re in Disney’s office. This is when Gary Marsh was head of television and programming at Disney Show. And he actually came to one of my classes and saw my class and was inspired. And nine months later, I was able to sell a TV show, a dance competition show to Disney Channel.
So let’s just put that to the side really quick. My hope was, okay, yes, I’m out. I got something, I sold a show. I don’t have to dance anymore, really. You know what I mean? I can be a personality now. I can promote myself in a different fashion. This is another mountain that I can climb and be successful at. Fast forward TV shows goes on. We do not so well, because it was during covid no’s watching TV there. Everyone was watching CNN. So our timing was off. And I went back to the drawing board. I went back to teaching. But

Michael Jamin:
You see, it’s a couple of interesting things. First of all, I don’t think you would’ve sold that show had you not already built yourself up. I mean, you have a big following. So it’s not like you were just the guy with an idea, Hey, here’s a show. You are a guy who had built something already who went in and pitched a show, right? I mean, it’s a big difference. But I don’t think people realize that. A lot of people are like, I got an idea on your first date in la. If you said, I want to sell a Dan show. Okay, well, sorry, it’s not going to happen. So you had to build it first. And then the other thing is interesting is that people think that you’re never done with it. The journey never ends. Wherever you are in career is more that you have to do, and you’re always thinking about the next thing. So yeah. So you aspire. Well, I was going to ask you. Yeah, because knowing that youth, you lose your youth in every creative industry, you have to be always thinking about the next thing. And so you’re just to be more of this personality, which you already are. I mean, maybe you don’t realize it. I realize it. When you’re booked to go to Arizona, it’s you. They’re booking. It’s not even your dance moves, it’s you. You know what I’m saying?

Phil Wright:
I tell my students all the time, like dancers per se, we spent a great amount of deal of creating and ultimately making these artists look

Michael Jamin:
Great on stage,

Phil Wright:
Either on stage or we’re promoting a commercial to sell something or whatnot. And a lot of times, and I’ve seen a lot of dancers go through this, they go through this real down phase because we spend so much energy making everyone else stars.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, really?

Phil Wright:
As opposed to us being the actual star, we’re stars, per se, among the dance community. But when it comes to the actual product of Target, target, target doesn’t give to pennies and a crap about us. We can be replaced under their watch. But in our dance community, we’re like, oh my God, Sarah’s killing it. You know what I mean? But we’re not, per se, really making our presence known and being our own bosses and being our own stars. And I think that was something that resonated with me. And I recognized very, very early in the game. So I wanted to put myself in the forefront to say, look, I know I’m helping you build your legacy, but at the same time, I need to build my own.

Michael Jamin:
So

Phil Wright:
That was a big, big, big thing for me.

Michael Jamin:
And so what do you do other than trying to sell TV shows? What do you do to do

Phil Wright:
That? I mean, ultimately that’s the big goal right there. I just want to sell ips,
Be able to, and right now, I’m currently in acting classes. I take acting classes here as well. But I tell my students all the time, man, I have to open up so many doors. Open up all the doors that you can. I’m in acting class. I actually have two pictures next week with Disney and Nicole Nickelodeon. I’m on social media all the time. And I believe that there’s three ways that you can do this. You can do this in person on social media, and you can do this on linear, on television. And if you can have those three lanes open, constantly rolling. When one door closed, God forbid we get hit with covid again. At least my online and television is rolling. Or if I don’t have a TV show going right now, at least I’m in person traveling from here to there.

Michael Jamin:
Is that exhausting though? Traveling?

Phil Wright:
Oh, so

Michael Jamin:
Exhausting. So I mean, it’s not like you want to do more of it. You’re kind of okay with,

Phil Wright:
I mean, look, the reason why I’m okay with, it’s because I’m so blessed to be able to create

Michael Jamin:
My own, to do it

Phil Wright:
And take downtime when I want to. I don’t have a boss. I am. I’m the guy. So that’s why there’s a certain level of gratitude there. And there was a time where no one wanted me in their city. No one cared. So for some people to be like, oh my God, we will love to. We will pay X amount of dollars for you to come here.

Michael Jamin:
You camp out at one city for a week. Or will you go from Phoenix to Houston in one week?

Phil Wright:
I used to be able to go there and just chill out for the entire weekend or whatnot. No, I’ll fly to New York, get off the plane, teach two or three classes, go back to the airport, go back home. The same. I want to be as efficient as possible. I want to be quick, fast. And for me, if I can make X amount of dollars in six hours with me just sleeping on a plane, then that’s fine. You know what I mean? Whereas I used to travel in my red Mitsubishi to San Francisco for 200 bucks. You know what I mean? So it’s a process. So it’s a level of gratitude that goes with it. But I’m fast, man. I get in and I get out, and if whatever it takes to get it done, I get it done.

Michael Jamin:
Hey, it’s Michael Jamin. If you like my content, and I know you do because you’re listening to me, I will email it to you for free. Just join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos of the week. These are for writers, actors, creative types, people like you can unsubscribe whenever you want. I’m not going to spam you, and the price is free. You got no excuse to join. Go to michaeljamin.com. And now back to, what the hell is Michael Jamin talking about?
I guess you’re a YouTuber, right? Are you in that community, that YouTube

Phil Wright:
Circle? I guess I made videos for a long time. I’m not as avid as I was before, but I was dropping videos every day. But now, here’s the problem with what I was doing, is that I was using music that was licensed to these big artists. And I would get notices on my YouTube all the time and say, Hey, there’s copyright infringement you can’t monetize. So I never made money from my YouTube per se. You know what I mean?

Michael Jamin:
But I see people on Instagram or TikTok dancing to popular songs. I see

Phil Wright:
That. I do that all the time. But you have to understand that that influences third party companies to come after you and say,

Michael Jamin:
Sure it does. Oh my God,

Phil Wright:
We see how many views do you have on YouTube? Can you shoot this Friz commercial? Or can you do this

Michael Jamin:
Target? Oh, okay. So they’re not monetizing, those people are not monetizing their Instagram that way. They’re monetizing by getting brand deals or whatever.

Phil Wright:
But now, don’t quote me on that because they may be monetizing. They may be. But I’m just talking about, for me, I never had the luxury of monetizing YouTube because of the copyright infringement clause. And

Michael Jamin:
On YouTube, did you teach yourself all this, or did you figure this out as you went? Or was someone helped you

Phil Wright:
Broke, gets creative really quick. I think we all established that, man, when you have nothing, man, when you’re against the wall, you find ways to succeed. And fortunately, I was able to find a lane and make it work. A lot of my friends tell me today, they’re like, I don’t know how you did it,

Michael Jamin:
Man. Really? Yeah. Really.

Phil Wright:
And I knock on wood, man, because I’m so lucky.

Michael Jamin:
What did your family think of all this when you’re starting out?

Phil Wright:
My wife is very supportive. I have a 3-year-old and a 2-year-old. So they’re very young.

Michael Jamin:
No, I mean your family, your parents, my

Phil Wright:
Family at home. Well, my mom passed it 2015. And you know what? I think that had a lot to do with it as well, because a part of the notion of moving out to la I’m the baby of the family, so I was the last one to leave. So my whole motivation was to make her proud, come back home, buy her a bigger house, et cetera, et cetera. Consequently taking her life in 2015. And for some reason, and no matter what you believe in or whatever, I felt like as an artist, for me, the universe kind of gives you an exchange for some reason. And for some reason, my career, just

Michael Jamin:
Right after that, you felt there was an exchange.

Phil Wright:
I swear to you. I promise you. I promise you. It was an exchange. And I had not booked a single job in LA for two years. I get that news, and it was actually on the same day that I had booked my job, and my sister called me, she told me the news, and at that point, I went from on cloud nine to zero. None of it at all at that point. None of it. None of it matters. You know what I mean? You give these jobs and you give these companies and you give all of these achievements, so much power over you. You sort of block out the real necessity in life is life itself. So shortly after that, Mike, my career just, I went crazy and YouTube started popping off. Instagram started popping off. I started to make a name for myself. People started inquiring for me and everything. So it was a pretty wild period for me. It was emotionally kind of weird because I was appreciative, but not as appreciative as I would be if my mom were still

Michael Jamin:
Right. Yeah, it puts it all in perspective. So you must’ve been dealt. I mean, people don’t realize the sacrifice. I don’t know. I think a lot of people, you took a giant sacrifice. You left your family, and a lot of people don’t want to do that. They talk about it, but they don’t do it. And so everything you gained, you paid for, you paid it.

Phil Wright:
Like I said, I swear to you, I just always see it as an exchange. I always see it as an exchange. And I tell my students all the time, you work hard at it, it’ll come. Talent is great. That’s awesome to have. But two main things are the main reason why I’m always booked is because people like me,

Michael Jamin:
Man,

Phil Wright:
I love people. I love to talk to people. Hell, I invited you to my birthday party. I don’t even know who

Michael Jamin:
You’re, you did. I said, let’s get you on my show.

Phil Wright:
But I love people and I love interacting and things like that. So I tell my students all the time, talent is great. It’s good to have. It’s a good weapon to have, but you have to be likable. You have to walk into a room and people light up because of you always have to stop if you can do that.

Michael Jamin:
And that’s very interesting because what you’re describing is people have to like you. What you’re describing is that, that you’re giving these people something you’re actually, and it’s not entitled. It’s not like, Hey, look at me. I’m the star. What can I give you? How can I be nice to you? How can I be kind to you so that you’ll like me as opposed to me, me, me, me. It’s really putting the energy out

Phil Wright:
There would be at ease. People will never book me on their two year tour if I’m going to be a paint. Right? People are not going to write with you for nine months straight. And

Michael Jamin:
People talk. People talk. Yeah. I’m always just shocked when I’m on a set and some young actor or actress will behave. When don’t you realize that when you leave, we all talk. We talk to our friends On other shows, you don’t understand that. So be nice to people.

Phil Wright:
Right? Right. Absolutely. And then no matter how much you trust somebody, everyone has secrets that they’re going to tell. So someone’s going to secret to somebody else. And for whatever you think you trust, it’s going to leak. But that’s funny about our industry is because networking is a huge about our industry in the entertainment world, not just dancing, not just acting, not just writing, not just producing just in general. You have to network. I got hired to do an NBA commercial because one of the producer is friends with one of the parents students that I teach.

Michael Jamin:
Interesting.

Phil Wright:
Literally, he was in the room and said, man, I need a choreographer. She goes, oh my God, this cool guy teaches my daughter. He goes, okay, cool. Send him the number.

Michael Jamin:
Well, you see, that’s how it works. It’s like you put the energy out there. It wouldn’t have worked the other way around. If you had solicited the NBA or whoever, it wouldn’t have worked. I’m a go away. But when you put yourself out there, you get discovered. It’s the energy thing. Absolutely. And so it’s the opposite of what so many people think. It’s like people always begging, hire me, hire me. And it’s not what you have to do. It’s the other way around.

Phil Wright:
The moment I started to pour more into myself. That’s when I started booking

Michael Jamin:
More. What do you mean pour more into yourself?

Phil Wright:
When I started to make my, when I prioritized me, the times wire knocking on the door, hello, hello. Hang on. Hey, look at me. Please, please, please. No one will give me a time. Yes,

Michael Jamin:
Nobody,

Phil Wright:
Nobody. But when I started getting my own stuff, creating my own videos that’s on the street for no dime, no nothing, just pure investment in art, all of a sudden everyone started to gravitate towards me and say, oh, okay. Well, we’ll hire you to come and teach at the studio. And look, when I was knocking at the door, I was only trying to make a buck. I was just trying to make a pig check. So it just,

Michael Jamin:
But think how empowering that is because you’re telling people you don’t have to ask for permission. Just do it. It’s empowering. You get to do it. You don’t have to ask, just do it already.

Phil Wright:
Yeah, just do it. And we’re so free to do that. And that’s why I always encourage dancers and any other artist to just give yourself that power. Believe in yourself that way, because that’s when you attract other giants to be a part of it.

Michael Jamin:
But that takes me to the next thing, which is you’re putting yourself out there. You’re exposing yourself to judgment, to ridicule. You’re going to get haters. You hate. Everyone does. Yes. So what is your response to that? How do you deal with that?

Phil Wright:
I mean, for every one hater, I have 10 people who love

Michael Jamin:
Me, right? But you see the hater first. I see

Phil Wright:
Hater. It’s like the hat that drops down on the stage. Everyone’s doing amazing, and the hat drops

Michael Jamin:
Down. I

Phil Wright:
Wonder who’s going to pick up that hat,

Michael Jamin:
Right?

Phil Wright:
But always, I don’t know. Obviously there’s a part of me that is a little disturbed by the hater. I’m like, you always ask yourself why? What possessed you to get your two thumbs? I just go to chitchatting like that. And I watch a lot of Gary V. I watch a lot of motivational speakers, and there’s always things that they say to kind of get me uplifted, but I’m not going to sit up here and pretend like, oh, they don’t bother me. And everything like that. Or the cliche, they make me work harder. I’m bothered by it. Absolutely. Because my fault is I want to please everybody.

Michael Jamin:
And

Phil Wright:
The truth is, you’re not going to be able to do

Michael Jamin:
It. But how do you deal with, do you block them? Do you talk with them? What do you do?

Phil Wright:
There was a point in time where I just unfollow. I was following people unnecessarily just because I want it to be in the face, and I want it to be. But now I’ve sort of shaved down that if I look, I’ll give you an example. If I was go on my Instagram page, I should be able to look at posts without even putting on the value and liking it. Everyone I follow is someone who I stand by and trust with my eyes closed. It’s like you’re watching a video and you don’t even have to turn on the Valium and they’re just talking. You like it because you just like it. Right? That’s whoever I follow is that’s the motivation that comes behind

Michael Jamin:
That. But when someone comes on your page though, and they call you, whatever they say about you, do you block them? What do you do at all? Do you just ignore them? What do you do? I

Phil Wright:
Don’t get too many, to be quite honest. If there’s, they come in sporadic moments, but if there’s an unnecessary comment, I delete it immediately.

Michael Jamin:
Okay. You delete it, but you don’t block ’em. Yeah,

Phil Wright:
Because I don’t even block ’em, because I’ve blocked some people before. It’s very rare,

Michael Jamin:
Because

Phil Wright:
Really got to understand, I work with children, I work with kids. I work with a lot of kids. So that’s not much negativity around the world to say anything bad about a child. Every now and then, I do other pieces of content where I’m not with children all the time, and then I get wacky comments or whatever. But I would immediately delete it because, just because I think negativity attracts more negativity. Positivity attracts more positivity. So I just immediately delete

Michael Jamin:
It. Yeah. I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to see

Phil Wright:
It. I don’t even really read it all the way through. It’s just see something. There was sometimes I put somebody in check. I kind of have checked somebody

Michael Jamin:
And did that work?

Phil Wright:
Yeah. Oh, because then all of my fans and all of my people are like,

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, I mean, I ask you, because I’m relatively new to this. And I always ask people, how do you deal with this? Because it’s putting yourself out there. And I think this keeps a lot of people from actually putting themselves out there. The negativity.

Phil Wright:
Yeah. No, but you know what? Sometimes it’s a blessing in disguise.

Michael Jamin:
How’s that?

Phil Wright:
It allows the people who love you to come to bat for you.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, that’s true.

Phil Wright:
They come to bat. And sometimes it’s okay. So the next time you get a hater, a writer writing, just fall back. Don’t even say anything.

Michael Jamin:
I do that sometimes. I’m not as good as you are. I’m not as involved.

Phil Wright:
Just fall back. Just fall back and just let, because

Michael Jamin:
Sometimes you don’t get that reaction. Sometimes you get other people saying, yeah, they jump on. That’s what I’m worried about.

Phil Wright:
But then that’s when you swipe and delete real.

Michael Jamin:
That’s when you just never know. I get some of that. I think someone’s going to defend me, and instead I get someone else piling on. I like, oh, man.

Phil Wright:
But you know what? It is good to know that you have people that support you in a way that they will. I think that’s important to do every now and then. But for the most part, I erase it, take it off. Because I don’t want more people to be attracted to that idea of negativity. I just can’t. I don’t.

Michael Jamin:
Do you still collaborate with other dancers and choreographers or No, not so much anymore.

Phil Wright:
Not too much. I used to, not so much, because my thought process is for the next 10 years, I want to get into a world where sitting behind a desk and I’m able to create, there are handful, few,

Michael Jamin:
But create what?

Phil Wright:
Ideas, ideas, television shows, also selling recreational programs. Like there’s this program I was just on, America’s Got Talent, and we went on as the Parent Jam, so where kids and parents can dance with one another, which was after that. So I’m trying to see if we can license that in recreational centers and dance studios, and maybe I can sort of get that abroad. But that’s a work in progress.

Michael Jamin:
I mean, it seems real smart, this little niche you got yourself, because parents will spend anything on their kids

Phil Wright:
And they will do anything for their kids,

Michael Jamin:
Right? So

Phil Wright:
They would get on the dance line. That’s what sort of kind of propelled the idea, because they were able to get on, oh, I’m a lawyer, dude, but I love my daughter, so I’ll do it.

Michael Jamin:
Right. They’re at that age until they get older.

Phil Wright:
Just thinking about trying to expand that idea, trying to be in that world, trying to land up a couple gigs as an actor, hopefully, fingers crossed. Trying to pitch another idea for a television show. Just trying to fill the void of being an entertainer fully.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Yeah. I don’t know. I’m inspired by what you’ve done. I really am. Because who are you? You’re guy. You’re just a guy who built it. That’s all. You’re a guy who built it.

Phil Wright:
You know what? It gets hard. Obviously. There are times where I work a little too much.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, really?

Phil Wright:
Yeah, man, that’s the tough part. Balancing

Michael Jamin:
You mean? Being on the road?

Phil Wright:
Being on the road and just not working. And it’s hard because we’re working when we’re not working.

Michael Jamin:
Yes.

Phil Wright:
There’s no punching and punch out clock with us.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Yeah.

Phil Wright:
So it’s tough. So getting the brain to relax and just actually sit down and watch a movie and not worry about camera angles or how did he say this line to make him funny?

Michael Jamin:
Really?

Phil Wright:
I’ve lost, and which is I’m trying to get back to. I’ve lost the concept of just being a consumer.

Michael Jamin:
Well, what’s interesting though, because when you go to acting, the first thing they try to get, you do this, be in your body, but you are a dance, are in your, I mean, that’s something you probably know better than other actors. How to be comfortable in your body and how not to be afraid of movement. That might look weird. You know what I’m saying? It’s like you have this comfort in you, and also you’re just naturally comfortable. You using a naturally comfortable person.

Phil Wright:
I’m fine with who I am, and I had to work on that to be okay with, because I’m from very the deep down south of Miami, Florida, so I didn’t speak as well as I do now. I still that now my appearance, I come from a city where they put goatee, thinner mouths, pants. It was a very rough part of the city. And I’m still working on that, just continuously molding myself. So it takes time and it’s a process.

Michael Jamin:
What do you think of this? So now that you’re getting into acting or in the acting classes, what do you think of it? I mean, what’s your,

Phil Wright:
It’s so hard, bro.

Michael Jamin:
People don’t realize it. You know what? I made a post the other day about how hard and people got on me for that, because laying bricks is hard. Well, yes, laying bricks is hard, but being on camera and being an actor, being good at it is hard.

Phil Wright:
It’s incredibly hard. Now, I will say, I have the comfortable state of performing. I’m cool with you. Get me standing up. I got my script. Okay, good. All right, good. Let’s go. I love that. I love that adrenaline rush. But the words on the page are, we’re fighting. And then my identity does this. And I have a big problem with sometimes ad adlibbing

Michael Jamin:
Goes,

Phil Wright:
The writers, they’re hired for a reason. Okay. Yeah. You’re going to make it better.

Michael Jamin:
Well, there’s truth to that. I mean, if you were a dancing in a big number with a bunch of dancers, you don’t get to ad-lib. If everyone’s doing, you got to do your piece.

Phil Wright:
Yeah. He would always say, if it’s on the page, it was well thought out. And that’s the way I want you to say it. Unless you’re Leonard DiCaprio or Denzel can’t do what you want, what

Michael Jamin:
Was your reason for going for ad-Libbing is you couldn’t remember it. Or because

Phil Wright:
Memorizing lines are hard.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, it’s hard.

Phil Wright:
Yeah, very hard. And not only that, memorizing and then attaching feeling and emotion to it. It’s incredibly hard. And then doing that in different ways and facets of it. You know what I mean? And then taking direction, okay, I did it this way. Okay, Phil, can we do that on the up now? But

Michael Jamin:
Maybe being an on-air personality is more, as opposed to an actor, maybe that’s more your thing.

Phil Wright:
Definitely. That’s where I live, my personality,

Michael Jamin:
Right?

Phil Wright:
The acting world. The reason why I keep challenging myself in that way is because I never know what if another TV show does pop off for me, I have to be ready. I can’t drop that ball. You know what I mean? And it also keeps me constantly reading. It

Michael Jamin:
Keeps

Phil Wright:
Me, and that’s how I kind of see it. I go to acting class once a week. I have that. And I block out that time specifically for that, just because it’s not only just for my goals and aspirations, but it’s more for training and reading and understanding scripts

Michael Jamin:
And enriching yourself. Yeah. Yeah.

Phil Wright:
Myself. And I love comedy. That’s why I was attracted to your page. You’re naturally funny. So dude,

Michael Jamin:
None of it’s easy. I know. I hope I make it look easy. I made a post the other day. It’s like I got a lot of stuff I don’t post, because when I watch it the next day go, this sucks. I’m not posting it. And then people are like, put it up anyway. No, I’m not going to put it up. No, I’m

Phil Wright:
Okay. So, so I have an opinion about that. So fuck. Okay, and this is quick story. I know we’re moving, but I post everything,

Michael Jamin:
Everything.

Phil Wright:
Every single thing that is in my camera roll. I try to post in some way. I

Michael Jamin:
Try to. Why?

Phil Wright:
Because look, I feel like we’re in a service business, and you hear this whole slogan of quality, of a quantity, this and that. And my whole notion is this, man, look, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. And just hear me out.

Michael Jamin:
I’m going to listen to you

Phil Wright:
Out. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I’ll give an example. My biggest YouTube video is baby shark.

Michael Jamin:
Okay?

Phil Wright:
Me in the middle of the classroom, baby shark. Guess how many views that

Michael Jamin:
Have? I don’t. 10 million. I dunno.

Phil Wright:
Now, mind you, igraph for mc hammer, right? I’ve been on the road. I’ve choreographed commercials, national commercials, I’ve danced with card B. All of this, my top grossing video, Michael, on YouTube has a quarter of a billion

Michael Jamin:
Views. Oh my God. Wow.

Phil Wright:
And it’s me standing in the middle of a play saying, baby shark,

Michael Jamin:
Isn’t that weird?

Phil Wright:
Now let’s go back.

Michael Jamin:
Oh my God.

Phil Wright:
As a choreographer, as a professional choreographer, I look at that and say, hell no. I’m not posting that. I would get crapped on easily. I posted that, and I say that. I tell you that story just because that put me on a different map.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, I’m sure it did

Phil Wright:
Put me on a different map. And had I been so particular about that moment, had I been so judgmental and critical on myself, and try hard and try to pick the bits out of it. Yeah, I know you’re going to have a hard No,

Michael Jamin:
You make a good case. No, you make a very compelling case.

Phil Wright:
Yeah. And it is a battle. It’s a battle. Because we go through it all the time. We want our best material to be viewed at all times. But I’m telling you, you are in the service business. It does not matter if one person doesn’t like it. I’m telling you, there are going to be people out in the middle of America in Idaho who thinks that joke is funny.

Michael Jamin:
I know

Phil Wright:
Not everyone’s going to laugh, but I get it. And guess what? That might be the kid that might make a difference in your

Michael Jamin:
Career, right? Well, the thing is, because I totally see where you’re coming from, but today, for things to really go viral, it has to be almost controversial. It has to be so extreme. It almost has to be. That’s why hate does really well on the internet, because it gets people riled up. And I often say to myself, yes, but is that what I want to be? What I’m saying is that what I, and I know we’re not really talking about that. We’re talking about jokes that maybe aren’t that funny. But I also have to worry about people, my colleagues, my comedy writer, friends, and I have many that follow me, some bigger than I am. Many bigger than I’m, and I don’t want them to think I’m terrible at my job.

Phil Wright:
And that’s the problem, though. That is the problem. Because ultimately, not all the time, but the people you least expected are the people who are going to put money in your pocket. People that you’re worried about aren’t the people usually put money in your pocket or give you an opportunity. So you have to take that into consideration. And yes, there’s a streamline there. Don’t just put up trash,

Michael Jamin:
Obviously.

Phil Wright:
But you should be a little bit more lenient with yourself and your art when it comes to posting and marketing yourself

Michael Jamin:
In the way. But Phil, you have given, I tell you’ve given this a lot of thought. You’ve given all of this a lot of thought.

Phil Wright:
It’s because of the experience, though. That’s only because of what I’ve been through. The top jobs that I’ve booked in my entire life sometimes aren’t the most enjoyable. They’re not. And guess what? Those top jobs don’t even pay top dollar.

Michael Jamin:
Really. Really?

Phil Wright:
No. Obviously, okay, my TV show, yes. Yeah. But I’m talking about working for a national commercial because you also have to understand that choreographers don’t have a union. Dancers have a union, but choreographers, I choreographed a commercial last month, and the dancers made more than I did.

Michael Jamin:
Really?

Phil Wright:
It’s because I’m my own boss and I don’t have a union to protect me.

Michael Jamin:
Tions. Do you have an agent or manager, though?

Phil Wright:
I do have an agent. I do. I work with a manager who’s on a theatrical side.

Michael Jamin:
Yes. Okay, so they don’t handle this part. No.

Phil Wright:
No. But you know what? Honestly, and it took me a long time to get to there, because I just hate, I don’t like the middleman.

Michael Jamin:
I

Phil Wright:
Don’t like people negotiating for me and telling me what I’m worth. I hate that I grind my teeth every day about it, because I just feel like there’s a slew of roster of people that they’re trying to satisfy.

Michael Jamin:
And

Phil Wright:
Bottom of the baro, I just got added onto their team. They have to come in. I don’t like kissing ass. I don’t want to bring you cookies because you,

Michael Jamin:
Well, that’s another thing. A lot of people think that an agent or manager is going to make your career, and I’m kneeling. No, guys, you got to make your own career, even if you have one of them, you got to make your own career.

Phil Wright:
Right? And even in that motion, I do believe in entertainment lawyers. You do have to have,

Michael Jamin:
Yes,

Phil Wright:
Get you a good lawyer, keep the contracts and get you in good standings. But yes, I currently do have an agent, and we’re happy. We’re good. Everything’s working. Everything’s

Michael Jamin:
So interesting. So we work in different parts of the field, entertainment. And I say the same thing, agent, the manager, sorry, the lawyers worth every penny. The lawyer. I just got an email from my lawyer for a contract worth every penny

Phil Wright:
Worth, every penny. But sometimes, I don’t know, man, once again, this is a challenge for me. I’ve been trying to get around to just trusting and letting them handle that section. Whereas I was always in control email fill Wright in seven, and I was the one who’s, Hey, this is Max, not Max, this

Michael Jamin:
Is

Phil Wright:
Max. Phil is busy at the moment. What would you like to book? You know what

Michael Jamin:
I mean? Yeah, right. That way you’re not the bad guy. It’s smart to do that as well. Exactly. That way you’re not the bad guy. Bad

Phil Wright:
Guy.

Michael Jamin:
Wow. You got to figure, I don’t know, man. You’re very impressive. You got it all. You’re younger than me, and you’ve got it more figured out than me. So I feel like you’re impressive.

Phil Wright:
I’m climbing up the ladder, man. I don’t know.

Michael Jamin:
You’re doing great. You’re doing, I’m absolutely very impressed by everything you’ve built. And let me tell everyone where they can find you as we wrap up our, so you have a website, dance with phil.com, check, and also follow everyone. Follow him on social media. Is it the same? What is your handle? I didn’t look that up.

Phil Wright:
Social media. Instagram is at Phil write, that’s PHIL, Wright, W-R-I-G-H-T.

Michael Jamin:
And just go check out what he’s doing. It’s just very positive. You carved out a small little niche for yourself, and by giving, now you get, it’s just like you’re saying it’s a trade. Everything’s a trade. Yeah.

Phil Wright:
And I think even, I’m going to take a nice insert of this, and I’m posting up my Instagram. Oh,

Michael Jamin:
You’ll

Phil Wright:
Absolutely.

Michael Jamin:
You know what though? It’s funny when you mentioned mc Hammer, I actually directed him on the phone right here where I’m sitting, but it wasn’t on Zoom, so I took a picture of my phone, but that’s it. I go, hammer, I’m taking a picture of the phone.

Phil Wright:
He’s awesome.

Michael Jamin:
He’s awesome. Yeah, he was very sweet. This was

Phil Wright:
10, 15 years ago. So legendary, man. So legendary.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. No kidding. Yeah, yeah. Anyway, Phil, thank you so much. Phil Wright, everyone, go check him out. It was a real pleasure talking with you. Wonderful conversation. Alright everyone, we got more great stuff next week. Until then, just keep creating. Be like Phil,

Phil Wright:
Love it.

Michael Jamin:
So now we all know what the hell Michael Jamin is talking about. If you’re interested in learning more about writing, make sure you register for my free monthly webinars @michaeljamin.com/webinar. And if you found this podcast helpful or entertaining, please share it with a friend and consider leaving us a five star review on iTunes that really, really helps. For more of this, whatever the hell this is, follow Michael Jamin on social media @MichaelJaminwriter. And you can follow Phil Hudson on social media @PhilaHudson. This podcast was produced by Phil Hudson. It was edited by Dallas Crane and music was composed by Anthony Rizzo. And remember, you can have excuses or you can have a creative life, but you can’t have both. See you next week.

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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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