learn TV writing from a working showrunner
In the summer of 1992, I moved to Los Angeles with the goal of becoming a TV writer.
There was only one minor obstacle standing between me and my dream: I had no idea how to write a script.
I knew I needed to study screenwriting, but from who? Or whom? I didn't even know the difference!
There was no shortage of teachers, but that didn't make them qualified to teach. And bad advice is worse than no advice.
I wanted to learn from an experienced sitcom writer. One who had made a career out of it.
Luckily, I found the right guy.
He was retired, but had written on some of my favorite shows. Get Smart, The Twilight Zone, The Andy Griffith Show... the list went on and on.
For a year, I studied under him, and the training eventually paid off when I was offered a job as a staff writer on Just Shoot Me.
Since then, I've worked non-stop on all the shows you see above. On many of them, I was the showrunner.
writing can be learned
Okay, here's an embarrassing admission. In college, I was rejected from the creative writing program.
They said my writing just wasn't strong enough yet.
"Well of course it's not strong enough. That's why I need to be in the creative writing program!!"
I've since learned how to be a writer. Hell, I was nominated for an Emmy!
I can teach you.
I can't guarantee you'll ever become a professional TV writer. I don't know your talent level, nor do I know how much work you'll put into your craft.
But I can guarantee that after completing my course, you'll be a much BETTER writer.
This headshot is 10 years old, but I'm too vain to post a current one.
Are you a david or a phil?
Several years ago, I had just finished writing on a show called Wilfred. I hadn't yet lined up my next gig, which was frustrating to no end. Sometimes in my line of work, you just have to be patient.
Around that time, I met an Italian screenwriter who had just moved to Los Angeles to make it in Hollywood. I speak Italian, and David and I quickly became good friends.
I decided that instead of worrying when my next job offer would come, I'd help him launch his American career.
Over the next few months, we met several times a week, and I shared with him all my knowledge about story structure, character development, crafting dialogue, pitching pilots... you name it.
It must've been karma, because soon afterwords I was offered a job as Co-Executive Producer on Brickleberry.
Tragically, David was diagnosed with brain cancer several years ago. As he lay in the hospital, I regularly brought food for him and his family, and translated the doctor's words into Italian for his parents.
After one of my visits, David weakly took my hand and said, "Grazie per tutto."
Thank you for everything.
Those were his last words to me.
Then came Phil.
I met him over the phone, when he was building my wife's website.
He dreamed of being a screenwriter and I needed someone new to help. It makes me feel good to set someone on their way.
I started teaching Phil over email, and shortly afterwards he earned a Robert Redford Scholarship to film school.
And get this: the lessons I shared with Phil, he winded up sharing with his film school professor!
Now Phil's in Hollywood working for the guys from Super Troopers.
If you spent a fortune on film school, don’t read this. it’ll break your heart
I still coach Phil, just like I coached David. This is what Phil recently told me.
"I wish I this knowledge was available years ago. I wouldn't have spent $120,000 on film school."
That's why for years, he's been pushing me to launch a screenwriting course.
Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, I've got the time to make one. See? Every pandemic has a silver lining. I guess.
I've spent tens of thousands of hours honing my craft, and I've distilled all my knowledge into a course that I'm proud of. I know it'll help you.
the showrunner's guide to tv writingThis is the process I teach novice writers on my shows.
Sitcoms, dramas, romantic comedies, plays, short stories and novels are all stories. They're just different types of stories.
The key is knowing how to "break" a story. That is to say, knowing how to structure all the wonderful ideas you want to express, so that your narrative unfolds in a way that engages your audience.
There's a PROCESS and I rely on it.
It's how I'm able to create 22 episodes of television per year, as opposed to one episode whenever inspiration strikes.
In this course, I share the process I use every day as a showrunner.
That doesn't mean your story will be formulaic or unoriginal.
The process is a guide, and allows for flexibility and creativity.
I also cover:
- What is a story?
- Incorporating emotion
- Approaching a sample script
- Breaking a story
- First drafts
- Pitching a pilot
- Character development
- Breaking into the business
- Writer's Room Etiquette
- Case studies of produced episodes
- Writing personal essays
- and more...
It took years of walking around like this, before someone finally said to me, "Uhh, you realize you have a red arrow over your head, right?"
During the course of my career, I've kept a composition notebook full of all the lessons I've learned. I look like a 4th grader on his way to getting his ass kicked. And now I'm going to share it so that you can:
- Write a killer script that grabs people
- Avoid painful, rookie mistakes
- Increase your chances of breaking in
- Learn how to speak to executives when pitching a pilot
- Navigate the writer's room
- Impress the showrunner
- Learn how to pitch ideas in the writer's room
- Unfold a story so that audiences want to know what happens next.
- Infuse emotion into your story
- Craft memorable dialogue
To ALL THE writerS who won't give up until they've made it in hollywood
This course has everything I wish I had known when I was starting out.
With 14 hours of video instruction, it's as if you were sitting next to me in the writer's room... without me stealing fries from your lunch order.
I can't promise you'll be hired on a show, but I promise to make you a much better writer. And there's no greater joy than learning how to move your audience to laughs and tears. Express your creativity!
Take the mystery out of writing a script
Over the past 25 years, I've learned from some of the best TV writers in Hollywood, including Steve Levitan & Chris Lloyd (creators of Modern Family), Greg Daniels (creator of The Office), and Mike Judge (creator of King of the Hill.) I'll share the lessons I've learned from them.
Break stories like a pro
The single most important skill a writer can acquire is how to break a story properly. This means knowing how to unfold a story, how to determine your act breaks, as well as knowing how to structure other key moments.
create engaging characters
I'll share the process I use to create original characters. This worksheet ensures that your characters interact in way that generates stories throughout the run of the series.
Express your ideas in way that's engaging
You probably have a million ideas for stories. But they're wasted until you learn how to turn them into stories.
Get an advantage on your competition
When I'm hiring for a show, I read tons of mediocre scripts from new writers. A mediocre script will NOT get you hired. This course will help you stand out from the pack.
write compelling dialogue
As a writer, your job is to create dialogue that transcends the ordinary. There are so many tricks I use to write dialogue that pops. I'll share all of them.
14 hours of video training
workbook to help you progress
case studies from produced shows
actual produced scripts
Live Q & A webinars
story structure template
private facebook group for students
Actual reviews from real people who've gone through my course.
"I have been studying screenwriting for a couple of years and have literally taken over 20+ writing courses, read just about all of the screenwriting "expert" books and listened to countless podcasts, YouTube videos, etc. Although I was hesitant at first -- believing I would only receive the same level of "theoretical" education I've received before -- something about Michael's personality made me trust him. I'm glad I did. No book, podcast, online or in-person class has broken down screenwriting the way Michael does. The practical advice coupled with his in-depth knowledge has truly made me a better writer. I will never recommend anything else to an aspiring screenwriter that is not this course."Valerie H.
"Michael Jamin’s course is a must for those of us who want to hit the ground running in a writing career. His over 25 years of experience as a writer and showrunner is evident as he navigates you through what a story should and shouldn’t be, to how to craft your own pilot script and avoid the potholes that slow other writers down. Where other “classes” leave you wondering where to begin, Jamin (with wit and humor) clears the path and gets you on your way.Scott V.
"I just wanted to say, thank you. I was skeptical about buying into your class. I really need some new equipment on my project boat. BUT... It was the lesson on what makes an audience cry. COURAGE. I write rom coms, and THIS is the one thing that no class has ever explained - how to make people cry at the end. And the funny thing is, I got this tip from a comedy writer. Keep that part. It is a very good tip, and that alone was worth the $900... The whiteboards, can't find that in any other class... I already found a way to revise a feature film script to make people cry with the father-child scene. I had been stuck on that scene for ages!!!!!!"Aiona B.
"As somebody who's worked at two major studios and for the most successful TV producer of all time... as well as as taught school and done instructional design of e-Learning courses, I'm thoroughly impressed by Michael Jamin's sitcom writing course. I originally signed up because I immediately sensed his sincerity and commitment to sharing his vast knowledge of the comedy writing process. But by taking the course and starting to apply what I've learned to improve my own development slate of TV and feature projects, I can truly say that I've struck gold! The online space is rife with courses from entertainment professionals who are great at what they do... yet not so great at guiding others step-by-step (and with brutally honest, insider information) through the complex creative and business processes. But Michael Jamin is a rare exception in that, from live action to animation, network to cable and streaming to YouTube, this writer, producer and showrunner is also something that a lot of others aren't. A GREAT TEACHER”Bruce G.
"I love this class! It’s been great. I was in the top 6% of NBC WOTV last year, so to get better I took a couple classes from other organizations. But for me, this course has been the best! It helped me understand a lot of sitcom concepts better and provided actionable techniques for plotting and writing effectively. And no BS or fluff to be found. Top shelf stuff.”Dave C.
"This course helped me to think of structure and characters in a new, yet familiar way. Not only does this course teach you, but you get to see first hand from a working showrunner as he breaks down scripts and explain how a writers room works, which will be valuable in the future. This course is by far the best one out there, better than the Aaron Sorkin Masterclass, and worth the money.
“Michael Jamin takes the writing process and distils it down to the most impactful essentials. Breaking it into simple and easy to understand steps to a completed script. As a working professional, he provides an insight into the business of sitcom writing that you can’t get in the classroom. I now feel I have the skills, knowledge, and confidence to jump into a writer’s room and start writing!”Julian B.
"I can't tell you how many books, podcasts, courses, and videos I've invested in. I've been to film school and I've been intimately involved in the Sundance Screenwriting Labs. Nothing is as clear and concise as this course. This is the course I've been looking for for over a decade.
Do yourself a favor. Invest in this course. You will be so happy you did!"
How is this different from masterclass?
I've watched a bunch of Masterclass videos. They feature amazingly talented writers talking about their craft. At $200, it's a great way to get exposed to their genius.
My course is not about getting you exposed. And I want to do more than just inspire you. I do a lot of hand holding in these lessons. I show you how to take a kernel of an idea, break it into a story with act breaks, then develop that story from outline to script.
I lay out the exact process that I use every day to write stories that make people laugh and cry. It's about creating an easily managed structure, so that the creative process isn't so daunting.
You should continue to draw inspiration from the masters. I certainly do. But if you need more than just inspiration, I can be your guide.
Apparently, I'm so good at my job I can do it with my eyes closed.
learn the skills you need to be a successful writerThis invaluable information took me 25 years to acquire.
I'm still a professional writer and I'm not doing this to make a quick buck.
I realize this is an investment for many of you.
If you're strapped for cash, and it's between this course and buying food, buy food.
But I know this information is priceless.
It can't be found in books, or by some guy who teaches at junior college, or in a fancy seminar.
These are the secrets that only showrunners know.
I've seen countless young writers waste their time and money on training that's vague or even wrong.
This course is full of practical knowledge that will help you elevate your writing so that you can tell stories that make people laugh and cry.
If you've been looking for help to unleash the creative giant within, this course is for you.