https://youtu.be/Duf5DTW3UDU?feature=shared

In July, I hosted a webinar called “How To Get Past Hollywood Gatekeepers” where I shared my thoughts on creative things you can do now with the strikes happening, as well as what you shouldn’t be doing. 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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Michael’s Online Screenwriting Course – https://michaeljamin.com/course

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

Join My Watchlist – https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

Autogenerated Transcript

Michael Jamin:
You shouldn’t. You should not try to work. I mean, you don’t go on any guild SAG projects or guild projects, but you could do, if it’s a non SAG project, like a student film or something, you can do that. You’re not violating anything. You’re not getting paid, but you can build your network. Exactly. Or make your own stuff. If you write your own mini scene or movie or whatever and you shoot it on your phone, you’re not breaking any strikes. You’re not selling it, you’re just shooting it. You’re listening to screenwriters. Need to hear this with Michael. Hey everybody, welcome back. It’s Michael Jamin. I’m here with Phil Hudson and we are going to answer some questions. So as you may or may not know, we host a webinar, a free webinar every three weeks usually, and I try to answer a different topic. And the last topic we did was called How to Get Past Industry Gatekeepers. And we did an exclusive v i P room afterwards where people could ask questions. This is where the questions are coming from, Phil, right?

Phil Hudson:
No, these are actually the ones from the webinar. We didn’t

Michael Jamin:
Oh, these are from the webinar. Okay.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah, because we shifted things up and for people who, dunno, you were spending a lot of time, we were staying on for an hour doing q and a with everybody, and so we just decided to give everyone an opportunity to hop in and get FaceTime with you. It’s limited seats of V I P Q and A, and this is for the people who ask questions during the webinar who didn’t get their questions answered right

Michael Jamin:
Now I’m confused. Okay. Yeah, so to be clear, the webinar is free, but we also did a little bonus thing afterwards that people can buy in so I can answer more questions. So these are questions. I didn’t get it. We didn’t have time to answer and Phil’s going to cue me. What is it? Yeah,

Phil Hudson:
No, I was going to say we’re going to dive in and I think it’s just two things. If you want to have a question answered by Michael, there’s two ways to get that done and you’re very, very open with your time. One is to join the webinar. We typically have one, sometimes two a month depending on the month, and it’s a different topic typically every time. But we have a couple that people really like, so we might be focusing on those. But if you can’t get your question answered there, the v i P is an opportunity for them to hop in with you and really just spend that time, time you turn your camera on. You ask my

Michael Jamin:
Question. Well, it’s not one-on-one. A small group of people.

Phil Hudson:
So it’s not one-on-one in the sense that you sit there and you get to talk to Michael. You don’t have to. It’s not, yeah. Thank you for clarifying. Yeah. So yeah, let’s dive in. And we’ve done previous episodes. I’ve broken these into subjects. So there are a couple key categories. This is heavily weighted towards breaking into Hollywood because that was the topic,

Michael Jamin:
But

Phil Hudson:
I think the craft questions are always good. So starting there, Norville, scs, if a character changes for the better over the course of a story, is there initial likability, something to focus on?

Michael Jamin:
Well, likability is a complicated thing. Sometimes people, you’ll get a note from the studio saying these need to be likable. And that’s not the same thing as the audience needs to the characters, which is a different, okay, so Tony Soprano is not a likable person. You don’t want to spend 10 minutes with the guy, he might kill you, okay? But the audience likes to watch him because he’s interesting. But often you’ll get a note from the studio saying, these characters, they’re too unlikable. I don’t have an answer to that. It depends if you’re doing a drama or a comedy, but generally the note you’re going to get is these need to be likable characters, especially if you’re doing a comedy. We’re spending time with them, we’re spending a lot of time with them. So even in Cheers, I’m sure one of the notes was Carla’s too unlikable, so they probably softened her up so she wasn’t, because you’re spending time with him, this is your family, I guess. I dunno if that answers the question. It’s the best I can do. Well,

Phil Hudson:
I think the question comes from Save the Cat, which you’ve admittedly never read and you’ve never read, but it definitely talks about how your character should do something to make us like them in the first three to five pages because we’ll want to root for them and it’s a redeeming factor and there’s plenty of evidence as to why that’s not necessarily

Michael Jamin:
Accurate. I don’t subscribe to that. I don’t subscribe to that. So yeah,

Phil Hudson:
As good as it gets. You recommended, I read that for a script. I was writing one point. Is that it? Where is that? Not Jack Nicholson.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, I mean I love that, but I don’t remember

Phil Hudson:
Telling you, but he throws the dog down the garbage shoot.

Michael Jamin:
Oh yeah, it was the first time we seen him. He throws the dog down the garbage shoot.

Phil Hudson:
It’s the opposite of saving the cat.

Michael Jamin:
And it’s

Phil Hudson:
A classic, it’s incredible film.

Michael Jamin:
And that’s a film, right? So that’s not a sitcom. So again, I don’t subscribe to this thing. The character has to do something likable. What is that? I mean, I think they have to do something interesting. Engaging and throwing a dog on a shoot is kind of interesting for sure. So

Phil Hudson:
Yeah, what kind of person would do that? Use his questions. Jackie Smite. What if you have a script for a very specific franchise? Is it simply foolish if you are an inexperienced or is it a bad idea in general?

Michael Jamin:
Bad idea in general. And it’s foolish. You got ’em both write. You can’t write for a franchise. You don’t own the ip, it’s not yours, let it go. You don’t write a Marvel movie, don’t write a Disney movie with the princesses. It’s not yours, so let it go. Don’t write anything with a franchise.

Phil Hudson:
This is a very common one. I mean, most people have an idea for a story and it’s based off of existing ip. I remember talking to a friend in 2008, a couple months after I really started studying screenwriting. She’s like, oh, I have this enemy franchise. I want to adapt for tv. And I was like, okay, I don’t think you could do that. And yeah,

Michael Jamin:
Reach out to, if you get the rights from them, then do it, but you don’t have the rights, so don’t do it.

Phil Hudson:
And that is a process and we’ll probably circle back on that because there’s a question about attorneys, which we’ll get to in a minute.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, okay.

Phil Hudson:
Cliff Johnson ii. I write drama features to half hour comedy and also differing genres. Is it limiting to spread myself thin or should I keep building a diverse portfolio?

Michael Jamin:
You don’t need a diverse portfolio. I’d say specialize in whatever it is you enjoy the most. Focus on that, get really good at it, and then market yourself as the best damn thriller writer there is. Or the best broad comedy writer there is. You don’t need a broad portfolio. You need to have a specific portfolio that really showcases your excellence in this one area.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. You’ve given advice as well in the past that let’s say you’re a sitcom writer, well get really good at writing half hour single camera sitcoms that do multi, then do animated. So you stay in that genre, but you can build a portfolio within that genre to show your base. But it’s different than writing violent westerns and Taylor Sheridan style.

Michael Jamin:
Yes. Right. I’m glad you pointed at that. So if you want to be a comedy writer, you might want a Yes. A broad you should have, should have a grounded single camera comedy, but it’s all comedy. Yeah.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. Awesome. Andrew James jokes, do you see everything from a certain comedic viewpoint when thinking of content or writing a script,

Michael Jamin:
A certain comedic viewpoint? I don’t remember. Not sure what that means. There’s things that strike me as funny. I’m not sure if I have. I think

Phil Hudson:
For me, I think I understand this question, but I don’t want to interrupt you if you have something.

Michael Jamin:
No, what do you think?

Phil Hudson:
I think what’s being asked is when I was told once that I have a particular view of the world and it often is a comical view of the world. I look at the ridiculousness of bureaucracy or rules and rather than get upset, I just make fun of them or I find ways to poke holes at them. To me it’s really that question. Do you have that point of view to say, this is my Mike. Judge has, I would say, has a really clear point of view and the way he does his things. Do you look at things through a certain lens?

Michael Jamin:
I don’t know if I do. I mean, I’m sure I have a voice. I’m always interested, I guess how do I like finding things, thinking of things that are funny, but I’m not sure if I have a specific I tact that I take, sorry, I can’t help them more. I got to think about that more. Do I have a point of view? I tend to think silly and stupid, but I think I’m smart. I mean, I went to college and everything, but I don’t think I’m dumb, but I think my voice is sometimes of a dumb person.

Phil Hudson:
When I think of your voice, I think of a lot of the things you share about the way you kid with your daughters,

Michael Jamin:
The way I kid with my daughters.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah, just like you’ve done a couple of social media posts where you’re like, it’s like dad jokes, but at a different level. It’s an elevated dad joke almost.

Michael Jamin:
Well, I’m their dad.

Phil Hudson:
I know, but it’s like dad jokes very punny. And then yours is one step further and you’ve done several of these quick bites on social media that are related to your conversations with your daughters. To me, that’s Michael Jamin and Comedy.

Michael Jamin:
Oh yeah. I love having fun with my kids. They’re so funny. Yeah.

Phil Hudson:
Cool. And then Phyllis Hill, Phyllis was pretty active, so we got a bunch of questions from her, but they were very good. I sorted through a bunch of ’em. And this is a little bit tied to something I know we’ve talked about before and I just thought it was good to put on the podcast. Have streaming platforms changed story structure, the same story structure that might’ve been used back during the day of network TV shows?

Michael Jamin:
Great question. Not in a hugely significant way. The biggest thing is probably, well, there’s no commercial breaks, but so what? We still break the story still the same. We just don’t go to commercial. But when we break it on the whiteboard, same thing. It doesn’t matter. The only difference is streamers sometimes want you to have serialized stories. So the end, they want to end on a pregnant moment where, so it’s continued. So the next story picks up where the last one ended. That’s sometimes what they want so that you binge, but that’s kind of easy. Often you can, if you go back and watch Weeds, the show Weeds, they did that really well see, they tell a full story and then at the end the story’s over. They just do a weird little thing at the end of that story. And then that story would be the beginning. That beat would be the beginning of the next story. So it’s super easy in terms of breaking it. It actually makes it kind of easy. It doesn’t make, it’s the same kind of storytelling. You’re just adding one more beat at the end.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah, that’s awesome. I think that’s a very concise answer, Michael.

Michael Jamin:
I get paid by Word.

Phil Hudson:
I love that. I was going to say Charles Duma is Alexander Duma. I don’t know who Charlie Duma is, but he’s probably Alexander Dumas’s cousin twice divorced. Some questions about your course which come up because during the webinar you’re often, one of the things, people have a chance to win your course, you get lifetime access to the course. One person wins every time, but also you give a discount to the course.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, if you’re listening to this, come to these free webinars that I div, we give a good discount to anyone who attends

Phil Hudson:
And that opens registration for that block of enrollment. Leonard h wanted to know, will the course do anything for someone working on documentaries?

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, I don’t know. I mean personally I think yes, but I’m not a documentary filmmaker, but I have watched documentary films where I thought this would’ve been better if they went through my course. They would’ve dove into the emotional moments that I feel. But having never made a documentary, what the hell do I know? But I have watched documentaries where I thought this was good, but it wasn’t great. It didn’t really move me emotionally or I should. I think that’s when documentaries really work is when or anything works when you finish watching it and you’re still thinking about it, you’re still feeling it the next day. So I don’t want to promise, but I would think it would help. But

Phil Hudson:
I have taken a documentary film class as part of my film school stuff. It’s honestly one of the better classes I took. It was taught by a guy named Hank who was a Sundance fellow in the documentary labs and he done multiple documentaries. That’s literally, he teaches and then he and his wife shoot documentaries and manage those tons of stuff in South by Southwest, the film fest, Sundance Film Festival, all that stuff. And absolutely story structure is a very vital part of that. And you get into the cinema verte and how you’re doing your documentary and the influence of structure and story, but the story structure had to be there, or no one wants to watch what you’re doing,

Michael Jamin:
Nobody cares. So the hard part is you can’t invent that. You have to hopefully capture that and then know, oh, I captured this moment. This would be a good first act break.

Phil Hudson:
But they’re scripted there. They’re scripted. You need to understand what things you need to get, what beats you want to get as you tell the story. And then it evolves out of that. You often are surprised by what you get, but then there’s the paper edit you do when you go into editing where you have transcripts of all the footage and you’re looking for things. And it was a little bit uncomfortable for me then and still is now. He even encouraged that it’s your job to tell the best version of that story as you can. And there is no such thing as cinema verite, truth of the camera, right? Truth of the lens. You can’t because the moment you’re there observing it, it changes. And that’s a law of physics. You observe an Adam behaves different. And so he says at the end of the day, let’s say that you filmed something out of order and there’s a clip that you shot two months from now, but it helps tell the story that you need to tell. He had no problem rearranging things or cutting people out of order to get the story that he needed at the end of it.

Michael Jamin:
So your point is the story, our course would help. That’s

Phil Hudson:
Your point. Absolutely. Yeah, I absolutely would help.

Michael Jamin:
Alright,

Phil Hudson:
There you go. There you go. A couple of questions from Phyllis. Please compare your class to screenwriting classes like the ones offered on Masterclass.

Michael Jamin:
Well, again, I haven’t gone through all the ones in Masterclass. I’ve watched a few videos of some of the speakers. I don’t know, I mean I didn’t watch all of it. I don’t know. I really can’t say having not watched all of it. I think mine is, I would expect mine is a little more hands-on in the sense that I’m teaching you literally how we break a story in the room. I don’t fill you with a lot of terms that we don’t use, but Phil, have you gone through Masterclass? Yeah. Maybe you’ll know better than I do.

Phil Hudson:
Active subscriber to Masterclass for a long time and most of them I can’t get through on Masterclass including, and look, I think Aaron Sorkin’s one of the most prolific author writers of our time and I love everything he puts out. But

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, he’s Shakespeare. He’s the Shakespeare of our time.

Phil Hudson:
Couldn’t get through it, couldn’t get through his course,

Michael Jamin:
Couldn’t get through

Phil Hudson:
It. No, a lot of, and actually I can tell you this because in my agency we have a client who is getting their own masterclass right now. So I’ve got a little view through the window of what that platform is. And I’m not saying all platforms are like this and I don’t want to be saying anything disparaging against Masterclass. I really enjoy masterclass, but the amount of content they shoot versus what you get, it’s like 20% of what that person did and they’re not editing it. So Masterclass does this stuff, they’re in Sorkin and then what you get on the back end of that or Shonda Rogers or whoever, you get to the end of that and it’s like 20% of what they talked about. It’s good, but it’s not the meat. It’s not the meat of what you want.

Michael Jamin:
I’ve watched some, not theirs, but I felt, and I love masterclass too, I felt you got a taste of everything. You can really learn a lot about cars and cooking and it’s a really great, but I felt like from what I watched, it didn’t go deep enough. That’s not what it is. It’s a sampling. And I thought it was interesting but not helpful for some of the ones I saw. Interesting but not helpful.

Phil Hudson:
The most practical one was Aaron Franklin’s barbecue cooking class. And I put that one to good use with my smoker because it is very much, here’s how you do it, here’s how you tip things, here’s how you wrap meat. It’s just actionable. So

Michael Jamin:
If I ate meat, I’d come over and make me a nice smoked dinner, but I don’t,

Phil Hudson:
You’d be very happy.

Michael Jamin:
I’d probably start sweating.

Phil Hudson:
I’ll meat sweats. Yeah, I’ll make you some nice broccolini. How about that?

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, that’d be nice.

Phil Hudson:
Alright, and then just another question from Phyllis, and I think this is more broad about you and what you’re doing for people online in the webinars with the course, everything. What is your motivation to offer this assistance other than money?

Michael Jamin:
Oh, well, when I broke into the business, this is back in the nineties, this was before the internet and I was living in New York. I knew nothing about the industry. I knew nothing. I knew no one, how would I know anything? So I just got in my car and I drove to LA thinking well get close. But now because the internet, social media, you can talk to people like me and get so much information for free and what a gift. And so I know people say it’s impossible to break into Hollywood. Yeah, yes, it’s hard, but it’s even harder if you don’t even know where to begin if you don’t have these resources. But now I started building my social media profile back a little over two years ago as a way of building my platform so that I have a book that’s coming out so that I could platform my agents has platform drives acquisition. I need a following to sell my book to perform and do all these things that I wanted to do. And so the way to build this platform was by just talking about what I know and giving 90% of it away for free. The other 10% is in this course that we have and that’s

Phil Hudson:
It. I a call from Michael and I was doing runs for Tacoma FD like season two or something. And you called me and you’re like, Hey man, can you come over? I want run some stuff by you. I know many people know this, but some people don’t. I know you through working at a digital marketing agency where I assisted your wife’s e-commerce website and just worked for her for a couple of years doing whatever I could to take care of her. She’d been ripped off by the sales guy who sold her some stuff that we couldn’t do and I had no idea who you were or what you guys did. And then one day you were going to join and it kind of put it together and you guys were just very kind and have always been kind to share your knowledge with me, but well,

Michael Jamin:
You started it. You started it by being kind first. Let’s be clear.

Phil Hudson:
It was the right thing to do, right? It’s a principle thing, which is very important. And at the end of the day, you called me over because I have that experience, that skillset, and we just had a sit down in your garage and you broke your Adirondack chair and then you told me that it was

Michael Jamin:
Already broken. Broken, it was already broken,

Phil Hudson:
Was a big guy. I was sweating that once. I had to buy you a director’s chair to replace

Michael Jamin:
It.

Phil Hudson:
But anyway, we talked about this, what do you need to do? And I was like, finally, because I’ve been begging you for years to do this course and to put your stuff out there just because the private email lessons and the conversations we had were so incredibly valuable to me. And I was in flu school at the time and getting more value out of an email you’d send me over a weekend than I was getting in a week of lectures at that school.
This is how you do what you need to do to sell your book and here’s how you give. And the mantra of any good digital marketing platform is give, give, give, right, give, give, give. And there’s an ask. There’s always a right for an ask in there as well, because you are giving, and we talked about the course and you were very clear, I don’t want to, you feel sleazy selling things. You don’t want to do that you’re, you’re a writer, you’re not a guy who does this. You’re not pretending to be the answer to all things. And I said, but people will value what you have and they have to pay for it to value it. So I’m the one who pushed it. I’m the one who pushed the price and you’ve reduced the price over and over again because you just want to make sure that it’s getting as many people as it can.
You do, A lot of people don’t know this. You offer basically free financing through yourself. People can sign up for the course on a three month plan, a six month plan, or pay in full and you don’t bill ’em any interest. And there are plenty of ways for us to get interest off of people or get people to pay interest and that’s just from my perspective, it’s 100% honestly. How can I serve as many people as possible so that I can get this passion project of my book speaking as you to as many people as I can.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, there you go. You answered it. Well, Phil, I think you said it better than I did.

Phil Hudson:
I’m growing long-winded in my as I wax old.

Michael Jamin:
Wax old.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. Alright, cool. Now to the meat of the episode for the webinar was about breaking in and so there’s some really good stuff here and so I know we’ll be quick on some of this, but if you want, this full webinar broadcast is available for purchase as well on your website. It’s like 29 bucks and it’s lifetime access and they can watch the whole episode of this webinar.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, go get it.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah, but Valerie Taylor, so once the script is done, what does it mean to build the mountain? What does the work have to do? And that’s reference to a podcast episode we did recently that a lot of people really liked, which is Build Your Mountain.

Michael Jamin:
There are people doing this. I didn’t come up with this idea. There are people on social media, content creators who are just putting their out there and because it’s really good they’re building a following. I dunno if that was their intention in the beginning, but that’s what they’ve done. One I always mention is Sarah Cooper, I wish she would do my podcast. So have you reached

Phil Hudson:
Interesting?

Michael Jamin:
I tagged her on something, but she’s busy. She’s busy, but I’m a huge fan of hers. So she’s this vicious woman, young actress who as far as I can tell she couldn’t get arrested in New York City. She just started during the pandemic posting kind of funny lip syncs of Donald Trump, but she wasn’t just lip-syncing, was plusing it. She was adding her own comedy to it and her own reactions and it was really, she was great and she’s just doing this and she wants to be an actor and a writer, but she’s doing this and she was so great at it. She built a giant following and because this following people discovered her and because of that she gets, I think she got a Netflix special. She got a pilot out of it and where the pilot, she can write her own stuff now. I think some of the projects never went to air, but she sold it. She made a name for herself and she will continue making a name for herself because she built it first. She wasn’t begging people for opportunities. It’s the other way around. She started doing it and then because she was so good at it, people came after her. People started begging her.
And you don’t have to, and I think maybe Phil, we might even do a whole, I may save some of this information from our next webinar. I want talk. Yeah, I’m going to save, but I have more thoughts to this I I’ll put in our next free webinar. Write. Write. Yeah.

Phil Hudson:
Can’t wait. Oh, by the way, Michael puts a month worth of effort into writing every webinar. I see the revisions and I’m always like, Michael, I need this so I can make the workbook. Michael, I need this. And he’s still editing. So Hayden, Sears, earlier you said to bring more to the table of an agency than a script. What else should I bring to the table?

Michael Jamin:
You could do what I just said with Sarah Cooper. She brought a huge following. She brought, you could bring talent, you could bring a movie that you launched, finance that you did yourself at Sundance that got accolades and now you’re this hot new director or writer or whatever. That’s bringing more to the table than saying, Hey, pick me. You’re doing it already. You are already doing it. You’re proving that you know how to do it. And people don’t do it because it’s work or they think it’s too expensive. But I have to say, it’s not the money that’s holding you back. The money. You can raise $10,000 or $15,000. I know it’s not nothing but it. We’re not talking about a million dollars, we’re talking about 10,000. You can raise it on a Kickstarter, you can raise it on a bake sale and you can shoot the damn thing on your phone and you can edit it on your phone.
You just need good sound. That’s what I recommend. But you don’t need great locations. You can shoot the thing one, I always mention this, Phil is the whale, the movie The Whale, which is based on a play that was shot in an apartment. So don’t tell me you need to have great locations to make something amazing. It was shot in a dumpy apartment and one of the most, it was a beautiful story. Beautiful. It was all because the writing, the writing was excellent and because the writing was X, it was able to attract great actors and the acting rose to the writing. If the writing was no good, who cares what the acting is?

Phil Hudson:
Yep. Cynthia always said that in our classes with Jill, your interacting classes, the writers put it on the page. Everything in actor needs to know is on the page. That’s where the performance comes from.

Michael Jamin:
If it’s a good script, yeah.

Phil Hudson:
Awesome. The cinema magician with the strike going on from both the writers and the actors now it feels like it wouldn’t be fair trying to come get work this moment. How can I try to try for work and support the union?

Michael Jamin:
You shouldn’t. You should not try to work. I mean, you don’t go on any guild sag projects or guild projects, but you could do, if it’s a non sag project, like a student film or something, you can do that. You’re not violating anything. You’re not getting paid. So

Phil Hudson:
Build your network.

Michael Jamin:
Build your network. Exactly. Or make your own stuff. If you write your own mini scene or movie or whatever and you shoot it on your phone, you’re not breaking any strikes. You’re not selling it. You’re just shooting it.

Phil Hudson:
Yep. Awesome. Love Leanne. Who is a member of your course, how should we speak to writers and other filmmakers on the picket lines? I’ve seen others not doing it very well and I’m kind of afraid to speak.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, well that’s hard. I mean, all you got to do is don’t act like you want something from them. Just act like you want to learn from them. Hey, tell me about your story. Tell me how did you start? How did you break in? What kind of shows do you like to write? What inspires you? Pretend like they’re a guest on your radio show or your podcast. Interview them. We don’t want anything from them. You’re just curious to get their story. People will talk.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah, they definitely will. And when I’ve gone out and done picketing, it’s really interesting. I don’t talk to people, I’m just, who are you? Tell me about you. What are you doing here? Why are you here? What are you doing out on the picket line? Cool. Are you in industry? Breaking in the industry? Oh great. Oh, cool. You worked on that show. I love that show. Awesome. And then they ask you questions too, because walking in circles for hours

Michael Jamin:
And you’re a human being and they’re going to make conversation. The conversation will eventually turn around to you and then you can talk about yourself.

Phil Hudson:
Have you noticed the people who put up their YouTube channel and stuff on flyers on the poles and stuff in the corners?

Michael Jamin:
No. I have not seen that. I have promoting their own channel.

Phil Hudson:
It feels a little skeezy to me. Personal. I’m

Michael Jamin:
Not. The problem is no one’s looking at him anyway, so Yeah.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah, you haven’t noticed. And when I see ’em, I’m just like, ah, man’s. I don’t know. That’s the way to do that. You’re basically saying, look at me. Look at me. Instead of being there, walking on the picket lines, talking to people and putting in effort to fight for the same things they’re fighting

Michael Jamin:
For. Yeah. You don’t have to promote yourself.

Phil Hudson:
Alright, Norville, scss. Does the strike lead to an increasing demand for scripts?

Michael Jamin:
Well, when the strike is over, there will be, everyone will flood the market with their scripts and that’s just the way it is. So

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. Demand, but also supply because all of these writers have time to write.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, right.

Phil Hudson:
Antonia, Roman. Hey, Michael, met you yesterday on the picket. I appreciate your insight. How many script feedback reads should someone actually pay for? Sometimes the feedbacks contradict each other.

Michael Jamin:
Thanks. Oh, Phil, I

Phil Hudson:
Know.

Michael Jamin:
Here we go.

Phil Hudson:
My purpose. Yeah,

Michael Jamin:
Many. If you’re paying in one of these services and maybe it’s like 150 bucks for one of these services, you’re going to get who you get who’s reading the script other than it’s someone who works at the service, they don’t know more than you do. They just work there and they’re making whatever, 20 bucks an hour or maybe less to read script after script. What’s their qualifications beats the hell out of me. Other than the fact that they’re working there and they’re not industry deciders. They’re not like they don’t have jobs in SC screenwriting. If they did, they would be doing that. So a service, I’d pay nothing, because that’s why you’re going to get contradictory feedback. What do they know? They don’t know more than you. If you can find a writer with experience, and there are writers who will do this as a freelance thing, check out their credits, go on their I M D B, what have they written? Ask to see their work. What have they read their work? Do you like their work? And if you do, then yes, then your feedback could be valuable. But I would never go through a service.

Phil Hudson:
Yep. We did talk about this where I sent Michael, I paid for feedback from some of these services on your behalf, listener to the podcast. And then I shared the emails back and forth from them, the reviews as well as when I questioned the validity of the feedback I received from them. I sent Michael those. And I think the feedback from the service was way more infuriating

Michael Jamin:
Than the Yeah, it just made you mad. It made you feel like you got ripped off. Hey, it’s Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative
Types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I’m not going to spam you and it’s absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.

Phil Hudson:
Awesome. Ruth W should emerging rider approach breaking in differently than before, given the strike, are there any new approaches that should be considered? Thanks?

Michael Jamin:
I don’t think, wait for the strike to end before you think about breaking in, but the landscape has changed so much with social media that you don’t need anyone’s permission. I just talked about this. You don’t need anyone’s permission to write and build up your brand. I’m not doing it. I’m not waiting for anyone’s permission. I don’t know why anybody else would. I have a good podcast guest this week? Well, I dunno when you’re going to hear this Mike Sacks, go listen to him. See, he’s an author and he talks about that himself. He has sold books to publishers and he’s also indie published it himself and he makes a really strong case for just doing it yourself. And he’s done both. And he’s an editor at Vanity Fair. So the guy knows how to write.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah, yeah. Also, definitely don’t try breaking him right now. They’re very clear rules that the writer’s guilds come out and said, if you even have meetings with producers, that is an act of crossing a picket line.

Michael Jamin:
No, I’m not talking to my agent, I’m not talking to producers. I’m not doing any of this. You

Phil Hudson:
Mean they will literally forbid you from joining the guild. So any short term win now is basically a nail in the coffin of your career later and as it should be, Susan Mark, when you get the low paying non-union screenwriting gigs over and over, how do you move from that into network shows with four question marks?

Michael Jamin:
The fact that you’re getting these jobs to begin with are great, even if they’re non-union. So good for you. I mean, this is where if these movies are doing or shows are doing well and if they’re well received and if they’re written well, and this is what you show to an agent and you say, here’s my body of work and here’s a movie I did that it cost 10,000 to make, and the return on it was a hundred thousand. That’s impressive. So that’s how you can parlay that into bigger opportunities. But the problem is, if you’re doing this work and the work isn’t coming out good, it still has to be good. It has to be good. And people have, it has to have be one or the other critically well-received or makes a lot of money. It has to be a financial success. One or both. One or the other or both.

Phil Hudson:
Awesome. Roxanna Black Sea. How do you get over feeling guilty asking a friend or a mentor for a referral and how do you know you’re ready and not wasting their time? This is a good one. I might as well wrote this, Michael.

Michael Jamin:
Well, if you have a friend who’s in the industry, I dunno if they’re in the industry or not, but you only have one chance to impress them. And if you give them something that’s not great, it’s a big ask. Hey, sit down and read this. It’s going to take them an hour and a half or whatever. And if it’s not great, they’re not going to want to do it again. They’ll do a favor once, but they won’t do it again. So there’s that. The get over the guilt. Well, if you’ve giving them a giant gift, you shouldn’t feel guilty If it’s giving ’em a piece of shit, well, you’re going to feel guilty, but you just need to know what it is you’re giving them.

Phil Hudson:
That takes a lot of introspection and a lot of self-analysis. I would also say it takes a lot of practice and study of existing high quality works to compare yourself.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, high quality. That’s the thing, Phil, if you’re watching some crappy TV show and you go, well, I can write a crappy TV show that’s not the bar

Phil Hudson:
Crap. Plus one that’s been around for since the a o l days crap plus one is I can do one better than that. It’s not good enough. Yeah,

Michael Jamin:
Not good enough.

Phil Hudson:
Alright, Ruth w again, if you know an established riders working on a new project that you have happen to have particular rare knowledge on, is it appropriate to contact that rider even to work for free? And then there’s a follow-up to this.

Michael Jamin:
Well, if they’re on a show and you have particular knowledge, they’re not going to let you work for free. You can’t work for free. But you can share your knowledge and I don’t know, it always, you can share your knowledge, but no one’s, you’re not allowed to work for free. So I don’t know what if they’re going to offer you a job or not,

Phil Hudson:
But is it okay to reach out to them?

Michael Jamin:
Why not? What’s the harm? Yeah.

Phil Hudson:
I think the benefit of that is you are going in to say, Hey, I saw you’re doing this. I happen to be a subject matter expert on that. Anything you want to ask me, I’m happy to go over with you and bring out any insights you want. You are now serving that person. You’re not coming in and say, give me a job, give me a job. And you might hop on a zoom with them and have an intro. Now you’ve got a foot in the door to have an extended conversation as someone, and you’ve provided value to that person.

Michael Jamin:
Right. Then you’re right. You’re not asking for anything in return, but people tend to give things back when people give first.

Phil Hudson:
Yep. And the follow up question, is it okay to contact an agent to get the contact information for that rider that you would like to help for free?

Michael Jamin:
So you don’t know this person. Yeah, you, the agent’s not going to do anything with it. I would doubt they’re going to do anything with it. You could reach out to them on LinkedIn, maybe you could tweet that.

Phil Hudson:
This might be a good time to slide into the dms. Right. And because you’re not asking, you’re providing value

Michael Jamin:
And

Phil Hudson:
Expect them not to reply.

Michael Jamin:
Right. Expect ’em not to reply. And it’s because you, maybe they get too many solicitations or maybe it’s just they find it weird. It’s worth a shot.

Phil Hudson:
It also might just be that they don’t have time to look at their social media, which is very real. Don’t read into it. Just shoot your shot. Move on.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, right. Don’t wait. Don’t hold your breath. Shoot your shot and keep shooting your shot. Keep working on yourself. Yep.

Phil Hudson:
Genova, is there anything we need to be wary of when approaching smaller agencies with our scripts so we don’t get screwed?

Michael Jamin:
Well, the agencies, first of all, don’t approach any agency that’s going to charge you for to represent you. That’s no legit agents work on commission. Now the big ones are not going to represent you. You have to reach out to smaller ones who are soliciting clients. I wouldn’t expect an agent to, I wouldn’t expect them to rip you off. That’s not what they do. They’re going to represent you and try to sell you. The agents are not producers, they’re not screenwriters. So to me it’s safe. But again, I don’t give legal advice if you have to do what’s comfortable for you personally, I don’t worry about that. That’s not something I worry about.

Phil Hudson:
And you started at a smaller agency that some could say screwed you, but I don’t know that you see it that way, right? Because you got hip pocketed basically as a baby writer.

Michael Jamin:
They didn’t screw me, they just didn’t do anything.

Phil Hudson:
That’s saying they didn’t screw you. But some people might say they screwed you because they didn’t do anything.

Michael Jamin:
Oh yeah. But they didn’t steal anything from me. They just didn’t help my career any.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah, and we talked about that in some of the early podcasts. If you want to go back and listen to those. I think it was the agents and manager episode is like episode five or something.

Michael Jamin:
So

Phil Hudson:
95 something episodes ago. It’s

Michael Jamin:
Great. Yeah. You remember this stuff.

Phil Hudson:
Shem L. Do you think New York and LA are still the places to make it?

Michael Jamin:
No. I think LA is the place to make it. Take New York off the list. Where is Hollywood? This is a trivia question. Find it on the map. Hint, it’s in Los Angeles. I understand that some television production or film production is done in New York. Some Where’s the writing done? The writing’s done in la. Same thing with Georgia or New Mexico. Sometimes they shoot things there for tax breaks, but the writing is almost always done in LA and even if some writing is done in these smaller cities, okay, fine, maybe you’ll get incredibly lucky, but you’re not going to be able to sustain a career there. The career’s here, that’s how I feel.

Phil Hudson:
All right. And Jill Hargrave. I’m a senior writer, 76 years old, transition from decades as a documentary producer to screenwriter. I have an agent and I’m in the news division with the W G A East. Any advice on how to get read by execs?

Michael Jamin:
I’m looking for, so she’s a news writer.

Phil Hudson:
Sounds like she’s a writer in the news division for the W G A East. She has decades of experience being a producer in documentary film. She has an agent advice on how to get executives to read your stuff.

Michael Jamin:
Sorry. Yeah, so you’re in the same boat as everyone else. I don’t think you got a leg up. You sound like you’re very competent news producer, but you might as well be an orthodontist. It’s a different kind of writing, but she

Phil Hudson:
Has an agent.

Michael Jamin:
Ask your agent. I suspect your agent’s not going to give a crap. Your agent is able to get you news jobs. That’s what you are and that’s what you bring value to them. But they’re not interested in you starting your career over from zero. My friend Rob Cohen talked about this in one of our podcasts. He was a very successful sitcom writer, wrote on a bunch of shows including The Simpsons, including Just Shoot Me where I was on maybe 20 or so years into his career as a TV writer, very successful TV writer. I ran into him and he’s like, I want to be a director now. I want to direct TV and film. I thought, well, how are you going to do that? He goes, I don’t know, but I’m going to make it happen. I said, well, is your agent helping you at all?
No, the agent’s not going to help me one bit, even though he’s a successful TV writer because it’s a different thing. It’s directing. They don’t want to sell ’em as that. They can sell ’em as a TV writer, but not as a director. So unfortunately, you’re going to have to start over. You milk whatever context you have. Maybe your agent can set you up with a referral with another agent at their agency that they should be able to do. But at the end of the day, you unfortunately have to make your career. They’re not going to make your career for you

Phil Hudson:
If they have an agent because they have some screenplay sample that they’ve submitted. My guess would be that that’s when your agent would show those. When we’re not on a strike, they’d take your samples and try to sell those things to people that get you staffed and they’re going to do that job for you. But it sounds like through the question that you’re right, Michael, that’s not a writing agent in this space. It’s documented or a new set,

Michael Jamin:
But talk to them, maybe get some tips. I mean, again, I’ve tried to do the same thing myself. My agents, I have big agents and manager. They don’t give a crap unless I can make money for them today in my field. They don’t really care.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. Awesome. Ruth w this is miscellaneous. I’ve got three more questions here. Excuse me for, is there any value in getting an entertainment lawyer? Does this confer any legitimacy when trying to get people to read your script? Or is it just a waste of money and Yeah, there’s some follow-up to this. We’ll get to that.

Michael Jamin:
So no, an entertainment attorney is the best money I spend. My attorney takes 5% of all the deals that I make and they help negotiate these deals. Money well spent, but it’s only when I’m negotiating a deal, that’s when they get paid. They get a commission. I would never pay an entertainment attorney upfront. It doesn’t help you make a deal. It doesn’t help you look more important. You’re just going to pay them a lot of money out of pocket for no reason. Attorneys are there to help you negotiate the deal and read the fine print so you don’t get screwed. That’s what they help you do, but you don’t pay one upfront for any. As far as I know, I would never pay one upfront.

Phil Hudson:
I’ve had two in my career and the first one didn’t do a lot. This one, and we worked with him on some stuff today, actually. You and I were going over some tree mark stuff with him. But anyway, he is great and he comes at it from the perspective of that, which is, my job is to protect you and I can be the bad guy. I can go fight the fight for you to get you what you want. And you can say, Hey man, that’s just what my lawyer does. You’re going to have to take that up with my attorney. And we talked in the podcast about this recent experience I had where he wrote this contract and the guy signed it and he ended up protecting my butt because he put a clause in that said nothing was executable until it was paid. Money was delivered.
And so because this guy never exchanged money, he only talked about exchanging money. I’m not obligated to do anything for this guy. And had I walked into that, I probably would’ve just signed something and not had the foresight to have that. He also had it paid in steps. So above and beyond the WJ minimums, he structured it. So I’d get paid more money upfront like you want money in your pocket? And he deals with Sony and major country musicians. He’s a real proper entertainment attorney. Incredibly valuable. And it looks like he answered honestly the question, what’s the difference between an agent who’s going to get 10%? What’s a lawyer do? What’s the difference? And the answer is the agent basically books the deal. The attorney gets you the most money they can out of that deal,

Michael Jamin:
And the agent’s not going to read the contract. They don’t read contract. They’re not lawyers. They don’t deal with that. So you need an attorney.

Phil Hudson:
Love it. Goddard Fin, any insight on getting a preliminary budget done by someone or a company like Mike Binder’s, budget company? I’m assuming is this for an indie project?

Michael Jamin:
I never heard of that and I wouldn’t know.

Phil Hudson:
Or it’s a preliminary budget on a script.

Michael Jamin:
I thought he was an actor. Michael Binder. I thought he was an actor. I don’t even know. I’ve never even heard of this, so I can’t even answer.

Phil Hudson:
My feeling is, from what I understand from this question is there’s zero value added to your script when you go to pitch your story by telling them, this is the budget I got for this

Michael Jamin:
For somebody. No, they’ll tell you the budget if that’s what that is. It’s interesting. Yeah. I thought maybe this is for indies. No, when you saw the MoVI, they’ll tell you what the budget is. It is their money. You don’t tell them what the budget is. They tell you.

Phil Hudson:
And the answer is in the indie film, if it is, that is you’re going to scrounge with every dollar you can get, and then you’re going to make what you can with the budget you got. And that’s what a line producer does for you. And they basically manage the contracts and make sure your people get paid. And you don’t go over budget and you can finish your project and they’ll tell you, Hey, you can’t do that. You don’t have the money to do that.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Phil Hudson:
Cool. Ruth w with another, one of the reasons I am reticent to fill my own stuff is because I don’t have any money to pay actors. Is it okay to ask them to work for free?

Michael Jamin:
You can often, actors will do this just to have tape so that they can submit themselves. But the work has to be good. You’re not going to, the better the script is, the easier it is to attract actors and better actors. And if it’s a great script, they’ll fall over themselves for to do this. So you ask them to do it for free. Definitely. You don’t want to abuse them. You want to make sure, buy them pizza, buy them lunch, make sure there’s water on set. Take care of them. That’s the least you can do.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. And people will absolutely do that. There’s also, if you’re a student, you can also look into sag, SAG after student agreements, which probably you might even still be able to do that during the strike. It’s not really a paid project, but they have agreements that you can work with SAG qualified actors and you have to abide by those terms if they are a SAG actor. But you can get them in your projects I did in film school.

Michael Jamin:
Right. Okay.

Phil Hudson:
Last question. As a showrunner, do you direct episodes two or just focus on running the show

Michael Jamin:
As a showrunner? I have, but I’m not in animation. I direct the actors for sure to get the performances out of them. But in live action, I’ve only directed one. That’s not my job. But my job is to be on set and to make sure I’m getting the shots that I want and to get the performances that I want. Ultimately in film, I’m sorry, tv, the director works for the showrunner. So on tv, the showrunner’s in charge, in film the other way around, it’s the director’s in charge. The writer is nothing. So does that answer your question? I think it does. Yeah.

Phil Hudson:
I think it just for you specifically, what do you do? But I do know showrunners who do direct on Taco fd. Yeah, Kevin. Kevin and Steve. They split ’em up and they direct certain episodes. They also,

Michael Jamin:
Those guys are tireless.

Phil Hudson:
Tireless. Yeah. I dunno how they do. I toured with them for a press tour and I was exhausted and they were just still going and happy to go. And I get emails from ’em at two, three in the morning and they’re just going, oh

Michael Jamin:
God.

Phil Hudson:
Oh God. But that’s how they made their career. I mean, this just ties it all together for Michael. Make it happen. Put in the effort. Those guys made their own things happen. They have shows their names and you know ’em because they put in the work. Had they not done that, they wouldn’t be anywhere.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

Phil Hudson:
Cool. Michael, anything else you want to add?

Michael Jamin:
That’s it. We did it, Phil. Yeah, we did it.

Phil Hudson:
So things people need to know. Michael, you got tons of free stuff. You talked about free samples of work, of writing.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, I do free work too. I do free work here. We got a lot of free stuff we give away anyway on my website. If you go to michaeljamin.com, you can get sample scripts that I’ve written. You can get a free lesson that I’ve planned about story. You can sign up for my free webinars, which are every three weeks, which Phil helps me out with. You can come see me tour on one of my book drops, a paper orchestra. You can sign up for all of that and much, much more. And also, of course we have a course but that you got to pay for. But you know what it’s worth. Every penny.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah, that’s right. And again, get a discount when you come to the webinar.

Michael Jamin:
Nice. Nice discount. Don’t tell anyone.

Phil Hudson:
And you could win a free access.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, you can win it. Yeah, you can win it.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Michael, thank you so much. Oh,

Michael Jamin:
And my newsletter. Phil, you can get on my free newsletter. I got that. Always forget

Phil Hudson:
That. We also forget that that list is 30,000 deep or something like that right now. That’s a good lists of people. That and industry, double industry open rates. People really like that list, that content.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. The people like that. So sign up for my list.

Phil Hudson:
Be like the masses, be sheep. People join us.

Michael Jamin:
Okay, everyone, thank you so much. Until next week. Keep writing, right, Phil, fill that up.

Phil Hudson:
That is Wright, w r i t e. Right.

Michael Jamin:
Okay. Alright. Thanks guys.

Phil Hudson:
This has been an episode of Screenwriters Need to Hear this with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you’re interested in learning more about writing, make sure you register for Michael’s monthly webinar@michaeljamin.com/webinar. If you found this podcast helpful, consider sharing it with a friend and leaving us a five star review on iTunes. For free screenwriting tips, follow Michael Jamin on social media @Michael Jaminwriter. 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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