• 084 - "Dream On" Showrunner Stephen Engel

    Stephen Engel is an Emmy Nominated Showrunner of Dream On. He's known for The Big Bang Theory, A.N.T. Farm, Mad About You, and Just Shoot Me! Join Michael and Stephen as they discuss how Stephen broke in, what it takes to make it in Hollywood, and how he approaches story.

    Show Notes

    Stephen Engel on IMDB - https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0257145/

    Stephen Engel on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Engel

    Free Writing Webinar - https://michaeljamin.com/op/webinar-registration/

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Auto-Generated Transcripts

    Michael Jamin:

    You're listening to Screenwriters Need to hear this with Michael Jamin.

    Hey everyone, this is Michael Jamin. Welcome back to another episode of Screenwriters. Need to hear this. My next guest is a great dude and one of the first dudes I've ever worked with in Hollywood as a TV writer, Mr. Stephen Engel. And his credits are, well, geez man. These guys come fantastic credits. Dream on which you ran. He was the showrunner of Dream on. I did. We're going to talk about that because that was one of my favorite shows. Mad about You. All right. Already. Which you created. You co right? You co-created it or

    Stephen Engel:

    You created I didn't create it. I ran it though. You ran it? Executive. I supervised an executive who the pilot and then ran the series. Co-ran the series.

    Michael Jamin:

    All right. Okay. Just shoot me, which we worked on together. Work With Me. Which that were you cr Wait,

    Stephen Engel:

    Did you create That? I created, that I created

    Michael Jamin:

    Now was it work with Me or Work With Me? It

    Stephen Engel:

    Was work with me. It was work with me. It was Work with me

    Michael Jamin:

    Inside Schwartz, which I know you created and I, yes. Remember I helped out for a day or a day and a half. Yeah. I think I gave you a three hours worth of work in a day and a half.

    Stephen Engel:

    It was very appreciated.

    Michael Jamin:

    The big house. Yeah. Quintuplets, the war at Home, big Bang Theory. Ant Farm, mighty Med Sigman and the Sea Monsters. Yeah. Yeah. You got a lot of credits, dude. Now I,

    Stephen Engel:

    I've been around. I've been around. You've

    Michael Jamin:

    Been around. Tell me, well, let's first begin with the beginning. Okay. Because I know you started as a lawyer.

    Stephen Engel:

    That is correct.

    Michael Jamin:

    And how long were you lawyering?

    Stephen Engel:

    It felt like forever, but it was really only three years maybe. And

    Michael Jamin:

    This is in New York, right out of law school.

    Stephen Engel:

    I went to law school, which was a very big mistake. I knew within a month that I'd made a terrible mistake, maybe sooner.

    Michael Jamin:

    But why?

    Stephen Engel:

    I just got there. I went straight from college. Really? Cause I didn't know what else to do. And back then I didn't know I lived in New York. I grew up in a town away from you. And I didn't know what the TV was. I didn't know anything about. And so I was good at going to school. So I went to law school, I applied, I got into a good law school. I went and I just got there and it was like just stultifying, if that's the word it was. But

    Michael Jamin:

    I thought, what I've heard is that law school is interesting. It's being a lawyer. That's not fun.

    Stephen Engel:

    No, I had all through college, I wasn't really do a lot of creative writing. I didn't take creative writing courses. But I was actually looking back at some, I found some of my old economics papers and I reread them and I wrote them as if they were Woody Allen vignettes for the new they, they had these big tee ups that were comedic. And then I would get into the substance, but it was with examples that were funny. And then I would sort of sum them up at the end and my professor would always be like, thank you. After reading 25 papers, there's a pleasure to read something that was entertaining. Oh,

    Michael Jamin:

    That's nice. So

    Stephen Engel:

    When you get to law school, there was no leeway for that. It was, everything was just completely dry. So intellectually it was kind of interesting, but it was very creatively stifling.

    Michael Jamin:

    But as a kid you didn't do any creative. No. You were in the theater, you weren't doing anything like that?

    Stephen Engel:

    No, not really. I mean, I was interested in comedy. If I look backwards, I could see all of these things that I did. I did a TV show in college, a game show that I wrote and hosted. I taught a class on 20th century humor and satire. So all of the things were there. In retrospect, you could see a path that was leading to writing comedy. But I didn't know that it was a job. And it wasn't really until law school that I started exploring doing comedy. I started doing standup a little bit. Really?

    Michael Jamin:

    I didn't know that.

    Stephen Engel:


    Michael Jamin:

    But then how did you realize it was a job? At what point?

    Stephen Engel:

    At the time, I had a friend who was doing from college who was doing standup also. We, our girlfriends were best friends and he was a year behind me. He was applied to law school, didn't go and decided he wanted to try to break into writing. And we were both doing standup. And then we said, we just started talking and said we should write a movie. We're like, okay. So we kind of got together one weekend. He was living in la I was in NYU law school. I interviewed for law at law firms in California. So they would fly me out so that we could get together and talk about movie ideas.

    Michael Jamin:


    Stephen Engel:

    Wow. Yeah. So we came up with an idea. We started writing separately and we knew nothing. We literally knew nothing about writing screenplays. We just had seen movies and you knows. And so we were like started writing this idea that we thought it was really great. We had about 50 pages that we thought were fantastic. So we ended up through, a friend of a friend had lunch with a guy who was a professional screenwriter and he told us, you know, should read this book screenplay by Sid Field, which everyone should read. They're trying to write. So we read this book and we're like, oh no, you're doing it wrong. We dunno anything. And we realized that the 50 pages that we wrote that we thought were gold should have been five pages. Nothing was happening. It was just character development, character development, joke, joke, joke, joke, joke, funny scenes. So we took those 50 pages, compressed them down to five pages and came up with a proper structure. And then we were writing this whole movie. Well, he was pursuing his career and I was a lawyer guy guy's name by the way is Rob Burnett, who we were writing partners. And he went on to great success at David Letterman. And he was executive

    Michael Jamin:

    Producer of le. But was he the head writer or executive

    Stephen Engel:

    Producer? Head writer, executive producer. And basically president of Worldwide Pants. And we wrote five movies together for studios, various studios. And ultimately I got a job on Dream On and moved out to LA to write by myself because he was writing a Letterman by himself. And at that point we didn't need to collaborate because we both had individual careers.

    Michael Jamin:

    You skipped a step. How did you get hired on Dream On?

    Stephen Engel:

    Okay. He and I were writing this movie. I got a law job when I graduated. They, I'd worked there for the summer. They offered me a job when I graduated. And I did the first risky thing I'd ever done in my life. I had never done anything remotely rebellious. And I decided that I was going to take probably the first gap year that anyone ever took. Oh wow. I asked the firm if I could defer my job for a year because I was trying to write. They're like, okay, yeah, no problem. You'll have a job waiting for you in a year. So during that year we kept working on this screenplay and trying to finish it and hone it. And he was still working at Letterman and he at that point had had risen from an intern to work in the talent department to being a writer.

    So he worked with a woman, we finished a screenplay and he worked with a woman. He shared an office in the talent department with a woman who had been there a long time and decided to leave to become a manager. And her only client at that point was I think Chris Elliot who had been on Letterman. So he knew, she knew that we had this movie because Rob had mentioned, she's like, let me see it when you're done. I'll see if I could do anything with it. So she read it and she sent it out and got us hired to write a movie for 20th Century Fox. Oh wow. A week before I started my law job. And I didn't want to not start the law job because we were a writing team. It was like guild minimum. I thought this may be the only writing job I ever have and I have a pretty high paying law job. Let me try to do both and keep both paths open as long as I can. So I did that essentially for three years. I practiced law while I was writing the entire time writing movies for studios.

    Michael Jamin:

    And Wait, and you were practicing law out here in la?

    Stephen Engel:

    I was in New York. You

    Michael Jamin:

    Were still in New York?

    Stephen Engel:

    I was still in New York. And essentially the law didn't know what I was doing. So I had this double life where I was treating my law job, this very prestigious law job. I was a bartender gig writing movies at the same time. And eventually I couldn't keep all the balls up in the air. The law firm said, you know what? We want you to go, we got a great treat for you. We're going to send you back to law school at night to get your master's in tax law. I'm like, that's fantastic. And I didn't tell them was, now I had two jobs and I was going to school at night

    Michael Jamin:

    And you couldn't turn down. You couldn't turn on their offer.

    Stephen Engel:

    I couldn't tell them. And eventually I couldn't do it anymore. I was getting too much work at the law firm. I had school screenplays, deadlines. I just finally kind of went into work one day and just kind of said, I no moss.

    Michael Jamin:

    How'd that go over?

    Stephen Engel:

    They were like, you know what, this makes so much sense because we were all, you seem really smart and you're really good at what you do, but it just didn't feel like your heart was in it. Yeah, right. So they could tell and it answered a lot of questions for them. So then I quit and decided to write full time panicked that I had just thrown my entire life away. So we ended up getting, because by the way, that manager was Lori David. She went out to marry Lori Leonard who went out to marry Larry David and divorce Larry. David and then produce an Inconvenient Truth as she won an Oscar for that.

    Michael Jamin:

    But then she submit you to get, how did you your Hands fund for

    Stephen Engel:

    Dream On? For Dream on. So I had, eventually what happened was we got a second screenplay deal to write another movie and she said, by the way, I am not allowed to negotiate your deal cause I'm a manager, so I'm going to bring an agent in to negotiate your deal. And we kind of said, well then I guess maybe we should look for an agent rather than just have this guy come in and do the deal and I'm not sure we really need a manager and an agent. Back then you didn't. We ended up getting an agent at icm. Right. A feature agent. And we then did a couple of other projects and eventually I started between drafts of a movie I was writing. Rob by the way, was at this point a writer at Letterman and I quit my law job. So I was like, well if he has a day job while we're writing movies at night, I need my own career as an individual.

    So I wrote a movie by myself, gave it to my agent, he shopped it around. I got a lot of meetings and stuff. And then I wrote a just a TV spec on the whim between drafts of this movie because I felt like taking a break from it. And I gave that to my feature agent. He gave it to a TV agent at ICM who loved it and started submitting me around. And I ended up meeting with Kaufman and Crane for a show, not Dream On, they had Dream on. And they had another pilot that was going to series on nbc.

    Michael Jamin:

    What show was that? And

    Stephen Engel:

    It was a show called The Powers that nobody saw. It was with John Forsyth and Right. David Hyde had an amazing cast. So I go to meet with them and my agent had sent me episodes of Dream On and had sent me the pilot of the show. So they come in and they go, what'd you think of the pilot? I go, yeah, it was pretty good, but I really like Dream on. I'd never seen it before. And I kept talking about Dream On and how much I loved it. And we had a really good meeting. And then when I get back, my agent calls me and says, just so you know, when you go up for a show and someone says, how'd you like the pilot? And that's the show you're up for. Yeah. You loved the pilot and it gets the show you want to work on. Right. They're not hiring for Dream on right now and they don't want to hire you on this pilot cause you didn't seem interested, interested. I'm like, okay. Yeah. And then a month later they were hiring for Dream On and they remembered me and they hired me for that instead. So I did. And in fact, I ended up back backing into this job that I much preferred.

    Michael Jamin:

    How, but how many years were you dream on before they bumped you to showrunner? Okay,

    Stephen Engel:

    So I was a stor. I went as staff writer, not had not worked a day in television. Really? Andy Gordon was Andy and Eileen. It was their first day right writer named Howard Morris. It was his first day. We were all three staff writers, but I had written five movies. So I had a pretty good understanding of story structure and if you can write a movie, you can write a tv. So I did the first season Astor as staff writer. The next season I was a story editor and then the showrunners left and they needed to find a new showrunner and they couldn't find anyone they liked. And eventually they just said, I think Stephen can do it. So I literally went from being my second year, I was a story editor or executive story editor, maybe I got a bump at the end to showrunner.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's crazy.

    Stephen Engel:

    So I was, I didn't know if I was ready at all. I was just, the only reason to say no would've been out of fear. And I realized worst case scenario, if I completely flame out then so they bring someone in over me and I'm still in the same position.

    Michael Jamin:

    And then what were they? Or they fire you, but they get

    Stephen Engel:

    Rid of you. Well, I don't think they probably would've just kept me around because I was the only one who knew the show.

    Michael Jamin:

    And how many years did you run it for?

    Stephen Engel:

    I ran for the next two seasons, the last and then the show ended.

    Michael Jamin:

    And why do you think they left? Why did they leave the show? Their own show. They had a deal somewhere.

    Stephen Engel:

    Har and Crane created the show, ran it for three seasons. They were getting paid like a dollar to do this. They had never done anything. It was insane how little money they were making. And they got a deal at Warner Brothers. So between season two and three, they had created a show before Friends called Family Album. And I went and worked on that between Seasons of Friends, between Seasons of Dream On. And then I went back to Dream on as the showrunner. So the season, the second season, two other writers who had been on, who had been producers, Jeff Greens son and Jeff Straus rose to showrunner, then they left and took a deal at Universal. So there was nobody, because they weren't paying a lot, so people were going to more lucrative jobs. So they needed a showrunner and nobody had else had worked on the show. And they were like, we could bring in someone else who doesn't know the show or we could let Steven try.

    Michael Jamin:

    And I mean, you were not intimidated by, I mean, I

    Stephen Engel:

    Was scared shitless.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. I mean,

    Stephen Engel:

    I didn't know what I was doing. I had no idea. I learned, fortunately I learned from really good people,

    Michael Jamin:

    But I remember when we worked together and just shoot me the first six episodes. First season, yeah. I was, was useless. And I didn't know what to say. And I would look at you guys, the more senior writers. I'm like, how did they know what to say? How did they know? I mean it was real. I was so lost. Yeah.

    Stephen Engel:

    I think part of it had been that I was a little older than you were. I had already been a lawyer for, so I was like 30 when I had my staff writer job. So maybe I was a little bit more confident just in Gen general. You were like 25, 23.

    Michael Jamin:

    I was 26. I was 26. Ok. But ok.

    Stephen Engel:

    So I had gotten my first writing job when I was 26 writing a movie. And I, so I done a bunch of movies, I understood structure, I had a confidence in that I knew how to tell a story. So I guess I kind of, the first day of Dream On, I remember pitching something where they were telling a story that had a fairly conventional ending where everything worked out really well. And I pitched this subversive twist on it where the character looks like the character was going to win. And then at the end it all got pulled out from under him. And they were all, I think that's better because I had just not really been around network television or even any kind of television. So I was pitching kind of a lot of, I don't know, movie, more movie-like ideas I guess.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's so interesting because I really remember, I remember on jhu Me, you would stand at the board a lot. I remember, to be honest, we often disagree with Levitan. And you made such a compelling case and you're always at the board. You had immaculate handwriting and you're always standing at the board breaking the story and you'd make an argument. And it was so compelling. I'm like, maybe we should be listening to this guy. It was dooms. If we don't what's going to happen, of course there's many ways you could do it, but of course I was like, of course. I was like, wow, what's going to happen if we don't do it that way?

    Stephen Engel:

    It's very funny. I remember the first season of Dream on Howard Morris who I love. He's a great guy, very emotional guy. And I was very logical in a lot of ways. And he had written a script and he had this whole run that he really was in love with. And the script was long. We needed cuts. And I was like, I think we can cut from here to two pages later. And you really, the story actually, not only would you not miss it, but the story would actually be working better and be more tight. And he was like, you can't do that. You can't possibly do that. This is the greatest thing that's ever been written. It is really good. But I think we need cuts. And I don't think it's actually, and one by one, everybody in the room was like, I think he's right. And he was losing his mind. He was like, right, don't listen to him using his logic on you. He's a magician. And we ended up cutting it and it ended up working better. So it's funny that I guess the legal training came in, I guess to some use

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, yeah, I, but I also remember you saying, I quote you as this saying this, that I have to get this right. Your worst day as a writer was still better than your best day as a lawyer.

    Stephen Engel:

    It was probably, I'm not sure that's true anymore.

    Michael Jamin:

    I believe that

    Stephen Engel:

    For a long time that was true. I would say there have been some dark days. But what

    Michael Jamin:

    Do dark days look like then for you? Yeah. What is

    Stephen Engel:

    It? Well, the day your show gets canceled, right? There were days, there was a, one show got canceled where I was like, oh, thank God. Right? Because I had a deal behind it and it was like a nightmare. And I hated going there every minute. And I was like, I had to go into the room and pretend like I got really bad news. Everyone, the show's been canceled. I was like, this is the best thing that's ever happened to me. There are sometimes when it's so bad you're like, just end it. Just fucking euthanize me. So that there are days where it show you isn't going badly, gets canceled and then it's kind of heartbreaking.

    Michael Jamin:

    Now do you have a preference? Cause you've done a lot. Do you have a preference between working single camera R? Right. Writing.

    Stephen Engel:

    I prefer single camera. Why? I think it comes from my feature writing career. It was funny, I made such a conversion when I worked on that show family album with Kauffman and Crane. We went in and there was some joke in my script and it was a good joke I thought. And we go to the table read and it doesn't do great at the table. This is my first time I've ever had been to a multi cam table read ever my first multi cam script. And everyone in the room is kind of like, yeah, I think we maybe want to punch this joke. And David Crane to his credit was like, no, I believe in this joke. And there's a really good smart joke. So we go to the run through first run through, it dies. And again, everyone's like, maybe we want to pitch on this. And David's like, no, no, I really, let's give it one more day. I don't think, I feel like they didn't do a great job on it. Let's give it one more day. By the third day it dies again. And same thing. And David's like, let's give it another day. He goes, I think it's rye. I'm at this point I'm completely converted. I'm like, fuck rye. Rye is fucking crickets.

    We could pitch 20 more jokes. It took me three days to realize that, you know, can't get away with clever. You need to get real laughs.

    Michael Jamin:


    Stephen Engel:

    And I'd like, I like it. I just like the storytelling in Multicam a little bit better. Or

    Michael Jamin:

    Just you, the storytelling multicam better.

    Stephen Engel:

    No, no. In single Camm a bit better. Yeah. Frankly, I used to think a perfect job for me would be you write the scripts and then you send them out magazines. You don't actually have to produce them. Oh yeah. That was always where the hard,

    Michael Jamin:

    It's never as funny as it is. It's never as

    Stephen Engel:

    Funny. Sometimes it is. It depends on your cast. But other times it's the rewriting and the endless rewriting. It's just have them read it and let them imagine what it might look like.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's called a book.

    Stephen Engel:

    It's called a book. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    There was a episode, I think it was, not sure if you were there then, but I, I was fighting, I fought with Sievert, my partner about a joke that I wanted in the script. I go, this joke is going to kill. And he's like, this joke is terrible. I'm like, it's going in, it's going. And we got blows over it. We put it in the script, we go to the table and the joke just dies. It gets nothing. And then I start laughing hysterically. He goes like, cause how could I have been so wrong and so arrogant? And I'm laughing hysterically Now everyone's looking at seabird because they're like, it's his joke. You're laughing at

    Stephen Engel:

    Him. And now I'm

    Michael Jamin:

    Laughing even more. I'm like, yeah, it's his fucking trouble.

    Stephen Engel:

    There's nothing more humbling than watching your jokes die on a stage. Like after a while you get used to it. But the great thing about single cam on, dream on, we'd write it, we'd go out and film it. And if no one's laughing, you never know.

    Michael Jamin:

    You never know. Right. But did you can't believe in it. But you did table reads for Dream on, I'm sure, right? Did

    Stephen Engel:

    Not do table reads.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's so interesting. How did you get away away with that?

    Stephen Engel:

    They had no, they didn't. They gave no notes. H B O gave no notes. I remember getting one note one time and being like, I can't work like this. This joke is, I'm not changing this joke. And I was like, indignant a playwright. Eugene O'Neal had been

    Michael Jamin:


    Stephen Engel:

    To change a stage direction. And then I got to network and it was like, oh, okay.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Now these are notes. This is how it works. When you were, now you've done also a lot of kit shows. I mean, you get a lot of notes on Kit shows more or less. Oh my

    Stephen Engel:

    God. Yeah. You'd get tons of notes

    Michael Jamin:

    More than networks.

    Stephen Engel:

    I did. Oftentimes you get a note, it's like, I please take some of these jokes out. I we doesn't need to be this funny,

    Michael Jamin:

    Real, what's the problem with, all right,

    Stephen Engel:

    I can get you the best punch down. Writers in. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    Bring them in. But really they don't want fun. Is that what kind of notes they give you in these show? I did a

    Stephen Engel:

    Show, did a show this, show this Sigma and the Sea Monsters reboot, which was

    Michael Jamin:

    Very scary

    Stephen Engel:

    For Amazon. And the first thing we turned in there, it was very funny. And they were like, we don't really do this. It's like, we don't want this to be funny. As nearly as funny as this script is, it's just don't feel compelled to put a joke on every page. I'm like a joke. You don't want one joke on it on every page. And they're like, no, if it's warm and fuzzy and they just were afraid that it was going to feel too Disney or too

    Michael Jamin:


    Stephen Engel:

    Jokey networky or jokey or whatever.

    Michael Jamin:

    Because when you look back at sitcoms from the sixties and seventies family affair, there weren't a lot of jokes in Family Affair. I mean,

    Stephen Engel:

    No, I think that's what they were going for. They were going for just kind of poignant and sort of warm. They, I feel they felt like jokes would alienate people and be too controversial. Or they kept referring to their viewers as customers,

    Michael Jamin:

    Buyers. They

    Stephen Engel:

    Want buyers.

    Michael Jamin:


    Stephen Engel:

    Our buyers, our customers don't really want that. I'm like, okay, all right.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's so good. I wonder if that's, that's really how they saw them is like, yeah, what else were they going to about?

    Stephen Engel:

    Yeah, yeah. It was,

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh my God. Did that make the hours easier since you didn't have to punch up

    Stephen Engel:

    Or doing a sort of family shows?

    Michael Jamin:

    Are you getting out earlier?

    Stephen Engel:

    Yeah. Yeah. I think so. For the most part. We never phoned it in. We were always trying to do, and we never wrote down the shows that I worked on. We made them as funny as we could and as bendy and weird as we could, oftentimes we would get notes saying, this is too, I think you're, you kids aren't going to get this. But what they don't get, they'll ask their parents or their older siblings and let's not underestimate the audience watching Bugs Bunny cartoons. You're going to still laugh and you may not get every level. So we were kind of writing it for the adults.

    Michael Jamin:

    You were able to push back on that.

    Stephen Engel:

    Yeah, yeah. I mean, I guess their recourse was ultimately to cancel you if you weren't doing what they wanted you to do.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, do they have different ways of I they must, different ways of measuring. We haven't done too many streaming shows, but measuring when people are dropping off, what kind of stuff they like more statistics. Do they share that with you?

    Stephen Engel:


    Michael Jamin:

    No, never.

    Stephen Engel:

    I only did mean the Amazon was the only streaming show and they never really wanted this show. I don't think to begin with. I think it was inherited from the previous regime or something. It was like the whole thing was driven by puppets and they were, if we had our druthers, we wouldn't even have the puppets in it. Well, well the main character is a puppet, so you're kind of stuck.

    Michael Jamin:

    So, oh man, that's Hollywood man. Yeah. Now do you, but you must get more obviously opportunities in the children's businesses.

    Stephen Engel:

    I don't. I don't. Don't. And I don't pursue them. I didn't really want to do it. Right. I basically did it. I only did it because it was a show writing opportunity and I didn't want work on someone else's show at that point. And I also leveraged it into, I wanted, I said, I'll do it if I can direct.

    Michael Jamin:


    Stephen Engel:

    So I ended up getting in the DGA and directing a handful of episodes.

    Michael Jamin:

    And they were single camera?

    Stephen Engel:

    No, they were multi

    Michael Jamin:

    Camera, multi and so interesting.

    Stephen Engel:

    And it was kind of fun. I mean, I had just sort of aged out of coaching my kids little league and basketball teams and stuff. So they were now just had just more or less finished that. So working on a show, that was almost like being a coach or a camp counselor in a weird way. You'd go to the stage, the kids would be thrilled to see you, you'd get down on one knee and get eye level with them and give them a compliment sandwich. Do you know that from coaching?

    Michael Jamin:

    No. What is that?

    Stephen Engel:

    A compliment sandwich is basically in baseball you would literally get down on a knee and you'd say you're doing tee-ball. And in tee-ball what happens invariably is a kid hits the ball to left field and every kid on the field runs to get the ball from every position, or at least a handful of them do. So you get down on the knee and you go, I love your hustle and great enthusiasm. Then you put the criticism in the middle and you're like, but you know, need to stay where your position is so that everybody has their own spot. And if the balls it to you, the ball, you know, field it. If the balls it to left field, they field it. But again, great energy and keep up that enthusiasm. So you put the constructive criticism in between two compliments. I

    Michael Jamin:

    Would think that they would remember the first thing and the last thing they heard.

    Stephen Engel:

    Well, that's great job. We did a joke like that. We did a joke like that where a character on an forum was giving a note to somebody. They were doing a musical performance or something, and the main character said to this other character, I really like your enthusiasm. Try to hit at least any of the notes if possible because your singing's not good at all. But again, great energy. And the character goes, thanks. Hey, thanks.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, that's what I would, so that's so interesting. And were you dealing with a lot of parents on adult momager or

    Stephen Engel:

    Whatever? Yeah, there was a lot of that. It was fun, but creatively it was like, I'm done. This I just want to do, I'd rather not work and just write stuff I want to write than write on a kid show at this point. Because I also felt like they weren't really looking for you to do anything smart and that smart or that funny. It's changed. I think they're trying to be more creative and more inventive now, but at the time it just felt like, I don't really feel like doing this anymore. It's just not like someone would say, what are you working on? I'm like, it's not important. Don't worry about it. You're not going to watch it. It's fine.

    Michael Jamin:


    Stephen Engel:

    Fine for what? But I don't watch it. You're not going to watch it.

    Michael Jamin:

    But when you say working on your own stuff now, so whatever, you'll just write stuff on spec and hope to

    Stephen Engel:

    Sell. Yeah, I'll pitch stuff. I'll write stuff on spec. I've written a bunch of specs recently where I've tried every possible way to skin a cat in this business. I'm like, it's all I'm going to write spec scripts. That way they'll totally see what the show is. And then I would have a bible behind it to pitch all of these things. And I've had a couple of things where I had studios say, let's go out with this, but let's pitch it. You didn't write it

    Michael Jamin:

    Right yet.

    Stephen Engel:

    I'm like, well, why would you do that? Because I've got it right here. And

    Michael Jamin:

    Because they want to put their thumbprints on, they

    Stephen Engel:

    Want to put their imprimatur on it. So the way I put it is, if you give, give someone a baked fully baked cake, they'll be like, this is a, it's a good cake, but I've got this recipe for a cake. Yeah, that's going to be the best cake that's ever been made and we're going to put in all these different ingredients and make it even better. And then that gets turned in and they're like, it's a cake. There's always that unknown potential of what a pitch is going to be. Whereas a spec, they'll go, well, there's this one thing I'm not sure about or this other thing and they want to get involved.

    Michael Jamin:

    But have you ever sold anything on spec? Because

    Stephen Engel:

    When you, honestly, I don't think I have. I

    Michael Jamin:

    Know haven't written a few.

    Stephen Engel:

    I have a project, I have a project right now that it, we're going back and forth on negotiations, negotiating an option for them to, to option the script. And they're trying to decide whether we should go out with the script or go out or whether I should reverse engineer the pitch.

    Michael Jamin:


    Stephen Engel:

    We have an option. They have an option for a year within a purchase with a purchase price to buy the script. What would happen is if we pitch it, they would basically go, okay, just wait three months and then turn in the script that you've already written because we left the script. But again, it's unclear as to what my feeling is. We should send out the script because the idea and it's in and of itself is not necessarily that unique. It's the execution of the idea. That's unique. Of course. And I think that's what got you interested. If I had just pitched you this idea, you probably would've said, well, I don't know. It seems like there's stuff out there like that. But it was my script that got you excited.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right, right. I remember early on, I wonder if you still feel this way. I remember I just shoot me, you telling me, yeah, because you were ready to leave, move on. And you're like, yeah, I want to go back to running a show. And then you did couple many shows. Yeah. But do you still feel that way? Do you care so much whether you're running it or,

    Stephen Engel:

    No, I've had good experiences and bad experiences doing both for a while after the big house, which was a good experience. My kids were at that point, maybe, how old were they? Eight and six. And I was running a show was very all consuming. And you, yeah, you never go home. I mean, yeah, even when you're home, you're like, you've got outlines to read, you've got cuts to watch, you've got the weight of the show on your shoulders at all times. You can't get away from it. And I was like, I really want to be more present. I want to be able to go to my kids' games. I want to be come home and be able to relax. So I'm like, I want to go on be someone else's, like consigliere, I'll be the number two. Yeah. I'll go, here's what I would do. Do it. Don't do it whatever you want. And then go home and be like, I'm done for the day. And I did that for a while. And I think in retrospect it sort of took me off of the showrunner showrunner's list for doing that for three or four years. I think people were necessarily remembering or thinking me necessarily when they were looking for showrunners because I was all of a sudden now someone's number two. But I don't regret it because I got to spend the time with my family.

    Michael Jamin:

    But now I now want to go back to running. I mean, it is a lot of work,

    Stephen Engel:

    My kid, well, right now, honestly, nobody, you know me, but anyone under the age of 40 doesn't, has never worked with me and doesn't know who I am. So for me to get a job on another show, because I, it's been a while since I've worked on a show where with people who would be young enough to go, oh, we need to work with this guy. He's really smart and good and funny. If I'm going to get a job, it's because I'm going to create a show myself and run it. And that's the job I'll have. I don't even know if my agent even submits me. I have no idea. So I'm back to just pitching and writing my own stuff and if it sells, of course I'll run it. So look, they both have their perils. I missed my kind of adolescence as a TV writer. I went from being right a second grader to a college student. I never had that. So I got to go and be on someone else's show. And sometimes it was good and sometimes it was bad. I worked in the Big Bang theory and it was not fun

    Michael Jamin:

    From a lot of people. The

    Stephen Engel:

    Most fun place to work, it was delightful show. But I used to not going to work every day. Right. Cause I didn't take the tone of the show, the work environment, I mean the tone of the show, I was fine not dictating the tone of the show, but I was not enjoying the tone of the work environment.

    Michael Jamin:

    I got you. I know what you're

    Stephen Engel:

    Saying. So it was not a good experience. I dreaded going every day. It was a job. It, I might as well have been a lawyer again.

    Michael Jamin:

    Hey, it's Michael. 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.

    Yeah. You've had many experiences like that though. Were you like you pitting your stomach every morning?

    Stephen Engel:

    Not that many once on my own show, just because I had a difficult situation with one of the stars who it's not worth going into, but

    Michael Jamin:

    At least on the air.

    Stephen Engel:


    Michael Jamin:

    That? At least? At least not on the air. Not

    Stephen Engel:

    On the air. But most shows have been, some are better than others. I worked on a show that it was very dysfunctional and I've gone into work on shows where, where I had a deal where they were like, we need you to go help on this show. And it's kind of in shambles. I'm like, I'll go in and help, but I'm going in between the hours of 10 and seven. And if they start at five, I'll be there from five to seven.

    Michael Jamin:

    But okay, you can make that deal with the studio. But then the minute the showrunner finds out about that, during I made it

    Stephen Engel:

    With the show, I made the deal with the showrunner.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, okay.

    Stephen Engel:

    Because they needed the help. And I was like, I'm not going down this sinkhole. I've already, I'm in a deal. I don't, I'm doing this. I'm helping out because I want to be a team player, but I'm going to help out within the hours that are reasonable hours. And it was so dysfunctional, people would show up and play guitars for four hours and play ping pong. And I'm like, are we going to work or not work? So I'm like, let me know when we're starting and I'll be there.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I know. I wonder, I don't know if that happens so much anymore. I think that's something that's been cleaned up a little bit.

    Stephen Engel:

    I don't know. I don't know mean, look, some shows, some showrunners are not, some creators become writers, become creators are not prepared to be a showrunner. They don't know how to manage a business. That's

    Michael Jamin:

    Exactly right.

    Stephen Engel:

    And it's a different skillset being a talented writer and being a manager or a C E o or different skillsets. And some people are lucky enough to have both skills. Some people are good CEOs but not great writers and they need a better team. And some people are great writers and need someone to help them literally get through the day. And

    Michael Jamin:

    People don't realize that because no one goes into comedy writing to become a manager of people. No.

    Stephen Engel:

    And if you have the talent, you eventually rise to a level where you're expected to all of a sudden be in charge of 150 people and to show up every day on time and to try to be responsible and actually conduct yourself in a way that's professional. And not everyone can do that.

    Michael Jamin:

    And always the trickiest thing. I think as a show runners, no one went to push knowing how far you can push back against a network note or even a difficult actor. Yeah. And what's your thought on that?

    Stephen Engel:

    Well, what I used to do is they never would give me a note. The trick to getting and addressing notes is to get them to realize that they're being heard. And you'll say, we're not going to figure this out right now together. I hear you. I know what, I know exactly what to do. And then go off and change it enough that they feel like you've taken their, at least into consideration their thought, their thoughts into consideration. But oftentimes what I would sometimes do is they'd give a note. I'm like, we can do that. But just so you know, here's the ripple effect. If we do that, then this scene here no longer makes sense because this scene that you really love won't make sense because we've already revealed this information. So this scene doesn't play and then this scene doesn't work because whatever this and this and this, we can do it. And I'm have to change those scenes and I'm willing to, but just realize that it's not as simple as making this one change here. There are ripple effects throughout the rest of the script. And they're like, you know what? You're right. Stuff's working great. Don't worry about it.

    So they don't know. They don't necessarily always see the big picture and understand how pulling one thread could unravel the entire sweater. So I just present it to them and go, would you like me to do that? We can do that. And then they go, no, no. Like I, I hear what you want and I'll massage it without having to do those things. But I hear what you're saying and I'll try to adjust it as best I can without unraveling the whole script

    Michael Jamin:

    And then working. What about working with difficult actors?

    Stephen Engel:

    That's harder. That's harder because you can't

    Michael Jamin:

    Put the words in their mouth. You can't make mistake, you can't

    Stephen Engel:

    Make them do it. I mean, had an actor who literally was so he just wanted to take over the show and was, he never should have done it. They backed up a money truck to get him to do it and he didn't want to do it. And he did it reluctantly and didn't wanted it to be his show and not my show. So I think wanted tried to get rid of me and came to table reads with sunglasses on and just looked down the whole time. And which was the best thing that ever happened because the network saw that he was not doing his job. He was doing my job, but he wasn't doing his. But they're

    Michael Jamin:

    Still going to take his side. The

    Stephen Engel:

    Show went down, but I didn't get, they were like, you handed yourself really professionally. And that person,

    Michael Jamin:

    Were you worried so much about that? Are you worried so much about protecting your reputa reputation like that within the industry? I mean,

    Stephen Engel:

    You always have to be a little bit worried. I, I would probably think that just given my, I don't know, I guess I have a, it's maybe it's coming from being a lawyer. I can see, if you tell me, like I mentioned, if we should change this joke or this line or this, do we need this? I can see all of the ramifications all at once. So sometimes I will, by pointing out the flaws in the note, some executives don't want to hear that. They don't want to know. They just want to think that they're right. Or they also want you to basically, I remember in one situation on a show where they were like, we've got great news. The network wants to do a mini room. I'm like, great.

    Michael Jamin:

    How's that? Great news? The news?

    Stephen Engel:

    I thought the deal was they're either going to pick up the show or not. That's why we went there. It's

    Michael Jamin:

    Great news for us.

    Stephen Engel:

    They're like, well, why wouldn't you want to delve into the characters more? And I do, but that's not the deal we negotiated and now you're basically, I have to do all the same work for one 10th of the money. And they didn't want to hear that. So I think sometimes it's just best to be like, and I would also maybe sometimes have a tendency if somebody is lying blatantly to me and I say, wait, I don't understand last, yesterday you said X, Y, and Z, but now you're saying A, B, and C. So I'm confused. And they just want to go. They don't want to be called out on that.

    Michael Jamin:


    Stephen Engel:

    So they're like, look, why are you being difficult? I'm like, I'm not, I'm just asking for clarification. Cause it seems like you're telling me two different things and I don't understand as opposed to just going, okay, I hear you. We'll do it without any. So I think sometimes you just have to swallow your pride and just eat shit and not speak up about it.

    Michael Jamin:

    The problem is you're saying, I feel like most of those fights are not winnable.

    Stephen Engel:

    They're not winnable. So there's no point in pointing it out. But sometimes I'm just, I don't, don't understand. Just tell me what, what's going on and then we can move forward. But they sometimes they don't even remember what's what they're spinning.

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't think I've ever convinced an studio or network executive that I was and they were wrong. I don't think I've

    Stephen Engel:

    Ever, it may have been a per victory, but I have.

    Michael Jamin:

    You were fired shortly afterwards.

    Stephen Engel:

    No, I mean it just may be whatever. Yeah, you're right if you're doing it this way. But in the long run, they just maybe weren't that happy with the direction, general

    Michael Jamin:

    Direction. Right.

    Stephen Engel:

    I did the show where this kid show, and it was about a superhero hospital and there were villains and there were heroes and superheroes and super villains. And we wanted the villains and the heroes to have distinct personalities and flaws and be funny. They could be a villain and be funny at the same time. They're like, look, just have them villains. Just be scary and don't give them, they don't have to be funny. But we're writing a comedy and eventually we took a lot of the jokes out, but we didn't want to deliver a show that we didn't believe in. And then ultimately they were like, we did two seasons. And they were like, this is not really what we want to do. So they didn't do a third season. So you either go down with your ship and what you do, the show you want to do and have it not get picked up for another season or do a show for four seasons that you don't believe in.

    Michael Jamin:

    Though a lot of people on social media, they say, well, they don't understand. I think all the writers in Hollywood terrible, because if all the shows I'm like, you don't understand how shows are made. It's like, no, no. Sometimes the system is designed to make a show bad and there's really nothing you can do about it other than either,

    Stephen Engel:

    I mean, no one's looking to make a show bad. It's just what the creator thinks is good and what the network thinks is good may not be the same thing. There's that famous story about what those guys who did that Stephen Weber show called Cursed,

    Michael Jamin:

    I dunno if I know this story. Okay.

    Stephen Engel:

    Steven Webber did a show, there was a show starring Stephen Webber, it was called Cursed. It was for n b NBC back in the nineties. And the premise was, Stephen Webber is like this kind of womanizing dating machine who goes on this date and with a I, you shouldn't even say Gypsy, I guess, I dunno if it's derogatory, but a woman who puts a spell on it, he basically ghosts her or doesn't call her or is not nice to her on a date. And turns out she puts a curse on him that he's never going to find love and oh, his romantic life is going to be a disaster. Okay. So the cast, Steven Weber, he's super charming and funny. They decide to pick up the show and they go, we're picking up the show, but we have one elemental change if we'd like to pick. It's a small note. They're like, okay, what is it? He goes, we don't want him to be cursed. They're like all cursed. They're like, well, we can change it. We'll like so. Well, well, the Steven Weber show.

    Michael Jamin:


    Stephen Engel:

    So now what's the premise about Steven Weber dating?

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, okay. But he is not having a hard time dating. He's

    Stephen Engel:

    Just, he either is but there's no curse.

    Michael Jamin:

    There's no curse.

    Stephen Engel:

    Yeah. Okay. Nig did a show called Inside Schwartz, and the whole idea of it was that you're inside the main character's head. Right. So the idea is that, you know, get to see his internal and hear his internal dialogue with characters he's talking to that only he can see. All right. And at one point about halfway through the series, the president of the network came to run, came to talk to me after a run through and said, look, we really like the main character. He's a great actor, but he's like, we want it to be more of a Michael J. Fox character dives into things without thinking. I'm like, well, the character is written is an overthinker and he's thinking about everything. And we dramatize those in the forms of him talking to these people who only he sees. He goes, well we, no, we don't. We want him to not be an overthinker. We want him to be just to jump into stuff. I'm like, so I'm writing inside Schwartz and you want outside Schwartz, right? And they went exactly perfect. I said, all right, I guess. But at that point it's like, how do you turn a aircraft carrier around

    Through, and you've got four or five scripts that are ready to go that are all, hold on, I'm

    Michael Jamin:


    Stephen Engel:

    That are written inside Schwartz, and you want outside Schwartz. And they're like, well come up with new scripts, you know, can take an extra week, a hiatus and change. So we had to basically change course and make an adjustment. So just because they think, what if they changed their minds? They love something when they saw it and then they start to panic that they think it should be this, and they the next day have a completely different idea. But it, it's just, that's the idea they woke up with.

    Michael Jamin:

    Or often it's whatever was a hit over the weekend, that's what they want and make it more like that.

    Stephen Engel:

    Exactly. Exactly. So that has ramifications and real life ramifications that you've then got to make work. And it's your job, unfortunately sometimes is to try to turn a cat into a monkey. It's just like, all right, that's what I'm going to have to try to do.

    Michael Jamin:

    And are you able to do this with a good attitude?

    Stephen Engel:

    I to, I think I have probably, I have a better attitude about it now. I'm just more mature and it's like, all right, it is what it is. I understand it. Back then, I think I took everything much more personally and I was agonized more about it. Now I'm just like, I come, it's coming and you just have to deal with it or not deal with it or whatever. I, I've walked away from it. I've walked away from a deal on a show where I was like, I didn't feel right about it.

    Michael Jamin:

    What do you mean you didn't feel right about it?

    Stephen Engel:

    I just didn't, I don't know, I just wasn't comfortable ultimately with the people I was going to be working with. As I got to know them better, the deal wasn't the greatest deal and I was like, I don't think this is worth it. I think this is going to be a nightmare. And I just said, I turned wouldn't, they didn't come up. I just said, you know what, no mean, at the time I was running a different show, so this was development behind it, so I didn't need the job, but I was like, I see the writing on the wall here and if I can't, you can't meet my numbers and this is going to be unpleasant. And I can already tell. And

    Michael Jamin:

    How do you think they took it when you did that? No one likes to hear that

    Stephen Engel:

    They were really not happy. I mean, yeah, really. I said, look, I'm just not comfortable with it. And I just, things had changed. It was an idea that it's not worth going into. It was easier to just say, forget, don't rather not do it than go into what I know is going to be a shit storm

    Michael Jamin:

    Right now. Not enough money. The industry has changed so much even in the past maybe 10 years or so. But I dunno, what are your thoughts on it? What are your thoughts on where it's going? Look,

    Stephen Engel:

    I'm one of those people who, whatever, everyone who's not in the industry says, oh, must be so great now, all these different streaming networks and some to sell shows. I'm like, it's not great. First of all, these places are, you know, do all the same work and you're doing six episodes or eight episodes or 10 episodes, and that's exactly when the curve starts to get, there's a very steep curve getting a show off the ground. And then it's like, now I get the show and now it's sort of the, it's heavy lifting at the beginning and then it sort of tapers off and it's always heavy lifting, but you start to figure it out. And then for the back nine it's like, it's not as hard if you stay on top of it and you get stories broken on time. So you're doing all of the heavy lifting without any of the economies of scale and you're only getting paid by the episode and you're working 40 weeks to do seven episodes or eight episodes instead of 40 weeks to do 22 episodes.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. So in, cause they make, that's not the case on many of the shows we're doing. Maybe they're lower budget, they just usually bring you on thete, the writing staff in pre-production. And so then you're the show

    Stephen Engel:

    Runners. But as a showrunner, you've got to do, you're there for whatever the eight saying you're doing eight episodes, you're going to do eight weeks of pre-production and writing. You're going to do eight weeks or more of production, then you're going to do eight to 10 weeks of post. And yeah, you're working 35 weeks to do those eight episodes. Whereas if you're working on a network show for 22 episodes, you work 40 weeks and you do, you get 22 fees. So the writers who come in and do their six or 12 weeks get paid for their eight episodes and not, that said they work there eight weeks and they do their 12, their eight episodes. Do you

    Michael Jamin:

    Feel this affects the quality of writers that you're able to hire now because they have less training?

    Stephen Engel:

    I think so. They're not around production. They don't understand or understand production as well. It, it's tricky. I also think that to some extent, I may be alone in this. I think that some of the storytelling and streaming, it feels like a lot of shows feel like they, someone took a movie and they probably didn't sell this movie, and they said, I got an idea for a series and it would be a great movie. But what they end up doing is they, it's those chest spreaders if you were to have a heart bypass or something, it's like they put a chest spreader into the screenplay and they open it up and they jam six episodes of filler in the middle. And the beginning is the first half of a good movie. And the last two episodes, this is the second half of a pretty good movie, and the middle is just treading water. And you're just like, yeah, each episode becomes a chapter in a book. So a lot of writers are not learning how to tell an episode that has a beginning, middle, and end because it's all middle.

    Michael Jamin:


    Stephen Engel:

    Episode one is a beginning, episode eight is the ending, and everything in the middle is middle. No. Those episodes don't have a beginning, middle, and end. They're picking up from the middle and ending somewhere else in the middle. They're moving the ball down the field. But you don't have a kickoff and you don't, I think a lot of writers maybe don't know how to tell a complete story anymore because there aren't any freestanding episodes.

    Michael Jamin:

    How do you think these new writers are breaking in today? It's very different than when we were breaking in. How are they getting in?

    Stephen Engel:

    I teach a course at UCLA and I always, they always ask the same question. How do you get an agent? How do you break in? I guess it's not that different other than the fact that there are maybe fewer barriers to entry. You want to write a web series and shoot it on your phone and send it out to a million people on. Now the trick is it's getting people to see it, but no one was going to read your screenplay. If you're a new writer and you say, Hey, will you read my script and you're in my class? They're like, Hey, can I send you a new script I just wrote? I'm like, no. Yeah, I'm not going to read that. But if they send me, Hey, I wrote a one minute episode, you want to, would you watch it? I'm like, okay. I mean, I could watch a one minute episode of something.

    Right? And if it's interesting, then you could go, that's really kind of interesting. Let's talk about it. So there are ways to get in. I hired a writer on an farm I was writing with a guy named Dan Sinner. Sinner, great guy, funny writer. And we were looking for an assistant. So we met this woman and she came in and she had no experience as an assistant, but she had just graduated from Harvard six months earlier. But she mentioned she had a Twitter feed and that she had written a couple of jokes that somehow Maude Aow had found. And she was like 12. And she tweeted it, retweeted it, and then because Judd Aow followed her and saw the jokes, he started following her and retweeted it. And then a lot of his followers were started following her. So all of a sudden I had 10,000 followers.

    So anyway, we finished interviewing her. I really liked her. And I'm like, what's the feed? What's the Twitter feed? She told me And I went and I read it and there were, I read the first 10 jokes. Eight of them were a plus jokes. And I said to Dan, I'm like, let's hire her as our assistant. If we need jokes, we, she's really good at joke writing and we're still looking for a last staff writer. And she was our assistant for a day. I'm like, do you have a spec? You've written? Like, I wrote a 30 Rock. So I read it and it was green, but first five pages, five great jokes. So finally Dan and I were like, let's hire her today because in three years we're going to be looking for her to hire us because she was that talented.

    Michael Jamin:

    Have had three years passed.

    Stephen Engel:

    She very quickly became very successful and has over a million Twitter, Twitter dollars.

    Michael Jamin:

    But is she working as a writer?

    Stephen Engel:

    She ended up working on Silicon Valley and Oh wow. Parks and Rec and she ended up working on The Simpsons. And so

    Michael Jamin:

    You were right. The good place.

    Stephen Engel:

    Yeah. I mean she was really talent. It was undeniable. So I always tell writers, write Jo, if you could write jokes, you'll work to, you're 90. To the extent shows like to have jokes anymore, which a lot of them don't. Right. I always think about that joke. I dunno if you remember this from the Emmys, maybe like four or five, six years ago, Michael Chay and Colin Jost hosted the Emmys. And I always tell this to my class, Colin, Joe says that the opening monologue, he says, tonight we give awards for the best comedies and dramas in television. And for those of you who don't know, a drama, a comedy is a drama that's 30 minutes long.

    Michael Jamin:


    Stephen Engel:

    There's just so many shows now that are not really that funny

    Michael Jamin:

    That I ain't going for it. What is this club, what's the class called that you're teaching at U ucla?

    Stephen Engel:

    It's in the professional program through the school of the Film School write writing a half hour pilot.

    Michael Jamin:

    So a graduate. So they have a grad, graduate

    Stephen Engel:

    Program. It's not a M ffa and it's not undergrad. It's like a professional program where you can apply, it's a one year program. You take three quarters, 10 weeks each, and you go from basically Idea to finish script in 10 weeks.

    Michael Jamin:

    And it's at, you say, so it's not used to extension, it's something else.

    Stephen Engel:

    No, it's not Extension. It's a, it's through the School of Television, film and theater. Wow. That's theater, film and television, I guess it's called. Yeah. So eight to 10 people. And you're kind of, wow. I kind of act as the showrunner, but I want to hear, get everybody's input. Everyone gets input from each other about their ideas. So it's like a writing class group.

    Michael Jamin:

    They'd be lucky to get in your class. For sure.

    Stephen Engel:

    Yeah. I tend to give them a lot of, I think, very thorough notes and hopefully it's helpful. And I don't mince words. I mean, I'm gentle with it. I'll always, I'll do my notes and then I'll go back and soften them. I'll be like, instead of this, I don't think this is working. I would say, I wonder if some readers might think this is a bit confusing as opposed to, this is confusing. Or I remember confusing.

    Michael Jamin:

    I remember. And just shouldn't be turning to you. I can't remember. It was a script. Levi 10 was running the show, and I think we had a problem with the scene. And I seem to remember you helping us. You pulled you aside, Hey, how do you think this scene should work? Because we were lost and you were very helpful.

    Stephen Engel:

    Well, I had at that point already run Dreman for several years and and had some showing experience. And look, Ste, Steve was a great showrunner and one of his, he's smart enough and secure enough to know that I will benefit by having other experienced showrunners on working with me and other very experienced writers. Cause I may not have the answer all the time.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, I also remember thinking that I don't want to bother the boss. I'll bother someone who's not the boss.

    Stephen Engel:

    Yeah. But again, was you were your first job and you're want to make sure you don't do any. I've worked on shows where staff writers are told, don't even say a word.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, really?

    Stephen Engel:

    More or less. It's just you're there to generate jokes on your own and just keep quiet. Which is to me is if I can get a joke from a pa, I'll take it. I don't care where the joke comes from. If it helps make the script better. If a PA comes in and delivers a pizza and goes, what'd be funny? I'm like, that is funny. Right. I'll put that in.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. Yeah. You whatever gets you home earlier. Yeah. Yeah.

    Stephen Engel:

    And makes the script better. And hopefully makes the script better. It's all going to make you look better as a showrunner.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, it was. And you're right, dude. I mean that show that it was really top heavy, just shoot me. It's top heavy. And it was, that's probably what was so intimidating to me was everyone was so funny. And I remember even turning to Marsh after several weeks. It was like, Marsha, I, I'm laughing too much. I'm not pitching enough. I'm enjoying myself too much. Right. What do I do? Because I'm not here to observe.

    Stephen Engel:

    I can see how it would be intimidating. I was lucky enough that on my first job it was Kauffman and Crane were the showrunners. Greenstone and Strass were like the producer, co-producer, exec producer, kind of supervising producer level. And then we had three staff writers who were all pretty new. So it felt democratic. But you come into a Topheavy show and you're, you were the only staff writers. Yeah. There.

    Michael Jamin:

    And there's Tom Martin. There's Tom Martin. Oh,

    Stephen Engel:

    Tom. Right. Tom, Tom Martin. And I know that he was probably a little intimidated at first too. Cause everyone seems to know and what to do and it's like, I don't even understand what we're trying to,

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't even understand what we're trying to

    Stephen Engel:

    Do here. Yeah. So it's complicated. But you guys were funny and you guys figured it out. And you stayed on the show for how many seasons?

    Michael Jamin:

    We were there four seasons. Okay.

    Stephen Engel:

    Yeah. So, you know, grew up on this show.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. And in many ways

    Stephen Engel:

    You get more experienced and confident and then you rise up in the ranks. And

    Michael Jamin:

    That is the, that's kind of the school that we came out of it. It's like you learn how to write a show from basically the first person who you work under who runs a show. Hopefully you get their,

    Stephen Engel:

    I hate, hate to use this metaphor, but it's a little bit like abused children become abusive parents if you grow up, your first show is a show with a dysfunctional environment. Always just how you learn to run a show. Hopefully I'm never going to do that. But I grew, my first showrunners were Kauffman and Crane, and they could not have been a better showrunners to model your career after, in terms of being kind and smart and funny. And it was ideal. My dog was insisting that I'd do something. I don't know what, feed her or whatever. Can you see her back in the door? I saw

    Michael Jamin:

    She, oh yeah, I do actually. She, she's staring at you. She's giving you the occhio evil, evil

    Stephen Engel:

    Line. She's thing. So I was fortunate enough to learn from really smart, good, kind, supportive people. And I hope I became all of those things as a result. I mean, I think people are wired. Look, you're, you're a good person. You're going to be a good person as a showrunner. If you're a broken person, you're going to be a broken person as a showrunner. Right. No matter who you're training, who gave you training.

    Michael Jamin:


    Stephen Engel:

    Sure. And we all know that A lot of writers are not necessarily the most intact.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Right. I mean, you don't go into comedy writing because Well, you're necessarily, if you're well adjusted, but,

    Stephen Engel:

    Well, some people do, but a lot of people don't. Yes.

    Michael Jamin:

    Stephen Engel, I want to thank you for taking your time out your day. Thank you for

    Stephen Engel:

    Being such a good interviewer and

    Michael Jamin:

    This is helpful for me.

    Stephen Engel:

    It's always a

    Michael Jamin:

    Pleasure. It's 20 years ago,

    Stephen Engel:

    It's always a pleasure to see you and talk to you.

    Michael Jamin:


    Stephen Engel:

    And it was fun.

    Michael Jamin:

    It was great. Don't go anywhere. All right. Alright everyone, thank you so much. Another great episode. For more information, go to michael chapman.com. You want to get on my newsletter, get him my son up, my webinar and all that. And that's it. Until next week, keep writing. Thank you.

    Phil Hudson:

    This has been an episode where Screenwriters Need To Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving a review, and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

    1h 4m | Jun 7, 2023
  • 083 - March Webinar Q&A

    This week we tackle questions from our March Webinar titled The Secret To Getting Ahead in Hollywood. We host a webinar every month. Register for the next one using the link below.

    Show Notes

    Free Writing Webinar - https://michaeljamin.com/op/webinar-registration/

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Auto-Generated Transcripts

    Michael Jamin:

    You're listening to Screenwriters Need to hear this with Michael Jamin.

    Everyone, it's Michael Jamin. Welcome back for another episode of Screenwriters. Need to hear this. We're doing a q and a, another q and a as if you're new here. So at once a month, Phil and I, we do a free webinar on screenwriting. And sometimes we talk about writing, sometimes we talk about breaking into the business. Sometimes we talk about at Get industry types to attend your event that's coming up. Each one, each month is a different topic and it's about an hour long and it's free. But we got a lot of questions at the end and it can only have time to answer so many of them. So here are the ones that I missed. So thank you all for coming, for listening. Here are the ones that I couldn't get to.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. And this is for the March webinar. And we also have the April webinar questions to get through too, because oh, we

    Michael Jamin:

    Got some many questions. A lot,

    Phil Hudson:

    Lot of questions.

    Michael Jamin:

    The March webinar, what was on, I'm so sorry Phil, I'm putting you on the spot. What was that one for?

    Phil Hudson:

    Let's, let's see if I can pull it off. One second.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    Pressures on. Ding to, I've got it up. The secret to getting ahead in Hollywood. Four things you must know.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, the secret to getting ahead. Okay, so here are the questions. Yeah,

    Phil Hudson:

    So hit me, Phil. Now to be clear, there are several, there were a lot of questions here. I mean, there were like 70 questions we didn't get to. That webinar is an hour long and it's dedicated to 15 to 20 minutes of q and a. And you actually, you try to push through a lot of the stuff to get to the questions. And despite that, we still have so many. So I have removed duplicate questions. So in our last episode, doing the February q and a, you answered a bunch of these and there are other questions we've already talked about on the podcast or you have talked about on your social media. So if your question is not here and we don't answer it, apologize. But that's already been discussed pretty in depth. So lots of great content just go to at Michael Jamin writer to learn more or look at past podcast episodes related to your topic because we've covered a lot of this already

    Michael Jamin:

    @MichaelJaminWriter on Instagram and TikTok and Facebook.

    Phil Hudson:

    So yeah, @MichaelJaminWriter, right?

    Michael Jamin:

    Just making sure. No, I'm sorry. I dunno,

    Phil Hudson:

    My own name. Mi... Michael Jamin, some other guy.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    So cool. Well, question number one, Robert Cowie asked, is there such a thing as a perfect script or is it in the eye of the beholder?

    Michael Jamin:

    No. Such a thing. As a matter. As a matter of fact. And it's a great question. I remember working on, just Shoot Me, this was my first staff writing job. And some of the older, more experienced writers, great writers in that show, people Hall I'll interview on the podcast. They turned a script. And I remember reading it thinking, oh my God, this is hilarious. This is gold. And then they would get notes from the Showrun. I'm like, w w what? Why are they getting, this is perfect. And you can always improve. You could always make it be better or slightly different. The Showrun runner was looking for something a little different, but there's no such thing, no writer ever turned a script. You could be Shakespeare, you would get notes. It's just how it works. So there's no such thing as a perfect script.

    Phil Hudson:

    Writing is rewriting, and eventually you reach to a point where you stop because you could just spend forever trying to make it better. And then five years from now, you're going to look back and think, that was horrible. I could have done better. Yeah, because you're progressing in the art, right? Yeah. You use Picasso as an example all the time about mastery. And in the course, I think he even show examples of his work as a teenager moving into his twenties. And then he becomes so good at the rules, he can bend the rules and become something truly unique. And that's the path of mastery in any craft.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah. Cool. And that's actually part of the fear as I was talking to my wife Cynthia this morning, cause I'm putting, getting ready to put my book out, a paper orchestra, and I'm like, once I put it out, I can't stop tinkering with it. I'm done. I no can no longer tinker with it. I'm done. And that's going to be a little difficult for me because I can't, there, there's always things that I wish I could do different when I look it over and it's like, no, you got to let it go. And now she's like, well, that's what your second book is for, is to do things differently in your second book, but you got to let it go at some point.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, excellent point. Jenin, Macumba music. And I apologize if I mispronounce that I have a pitch meeting with a big league company. I am terrified. Any tips on how a pitch meeting should go?

    Michael Jamin:

    You should pitch them what you think it should be and then you should be open to hearing their ideas and incorporate their ideas and make them feel ownership in it. Because if you say, no, no, no, this is my way, the highway, well, they're not going to have any pride of ownership, but if they bounce an idea off you and they go, oh, and that excites you. Oh, that's interesting. Yes. Even if it is your idea, but they're just rephrasing it. I love that. Make them feel like it's their idea. Make 'em feel like you're being heard, that they're listening, that you're listening to them. That way they will fight more because it's their own, now it's theirs. So they'll fight for it. So 'em in them in

    Phil Hudson:

    It's a collaborative medium, despite the fact that you're the writer. It's many hands, lots of people, lots of iterations of it. What gets submitted and is not what you shoot. What you shoot is not necessarily what's going to air because there's editing, there's lots of iterations of this.

    Michael Jamin:

    And I tend to fall in love with whatever draft I'm working on, and then we'll get a note that's terrible and I'll do the note and I'm like, oh, this is pretty good because I fall in love with whatever. And then my partner will say, don't you remember how much you hated this note.

    Phil Hudson:

    That's so funny. One note, it's a bit of a tangent, but I think is an important note here. You've said in the past what you do when you're doing a new version is every day when you sit down, you save a new draft of your script so that you can always go back and you keep that. That's not directly related to pitching, but I think it does speak to keeping your versions so that you can see how it changes and grow and go back.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, that's a good point. I'm going to talk more about that. But the truth is, I save him to make myself feel better, but I almost never look at 'em. I almost never go back to them. But

    Phil Hudson:

    Glad when

    Michael Jamin:

    You have to allows me the, but it gives me the freedom to tear it apart. I go, I still have it, I have it. If I want it now, I can just tear it apart and feel good. But if I didn't save it, I probably wouldn't want to let go of it.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, it's playing. That's what your wife taught me in acting classes we're we're going to play. Yeah, right. Cool. Bobby Kin, excuse me, Bobby Kenon, any thoughts for making the transition from playwriting to screenwriting or television writing?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, it's good for you that you're doing that story. Story. What difference does it make whether you put it on a stage or a screen, a large screen or a small screen, who cares? It's funny, when I'm writing for television, do you think I care if someone watches it on 40 inch television or on their six inch iPhone? Do I care? It doesn't change the way I'm writing it? Maybe they'll be able to see less, but I don't really, that's not my business. That's their problem. So it doesn't really change anything. It tips from becoming a playwright. Well, obviously now you have more sets to play with because on in a play, you literally can't have too many sets because where are you going to put 'em all? How are you going to get stage them? And so plays tend to be a little more talky, whereas a TV show or a movie tends to be like, well, let's wa what are we watching now? Oh, the characters on a rollercoaster. Okay, you can't do that in a play. But is story structure a story structure? And if that's something you want to learn, for sure, we got a course, you've go to michaeljamin.com/course, and we teach story and story structure. So

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, there's another question in here and it's kind of buried, so I apologize. I'm not going to find the person who said it, but they asked the question. Oh, here it is. Mark Mohawk. And I think that's a fake name. It's not really. Yeah, mark Mahaw. I was going to say, yeah, I, I'm worried I'm saying something.

    Michael Jamin:

    I was going to make a joke about his name.

    Phil Hudson:

    Can you talk about

    Michael Jamin:

    Mark, what is it

    Phil Hudson:

    In? I think this relates to that, talking about different sets and things. When you talk more about shooting things on your own, when shooting diy, would you prioritize dialogue for budget purposes?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, I prioritize story. The priority is you could shoot everything on your phone. The only thing you have to have is good sound. And I would, that's critical. If the sounds bad, I don't care. You don't want to, if I'm hearing wind noises more than the dialogue, if I'm hearing the background actor of more than the foreground actor, that's a problem. So sound is really important. More so than camera, work lens with camera, you're going to shoot it on, but prioritize dialogue. You should prioritize tell telling a good story. So if you could tell a story with no dialogue, that's fine too.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Aaron Sorkin, lots and lots of dialogue. Yeah. Lots of other writers. No dialogue. I think the movie Drive, have you seen Drive?

    Michael Jamin:

    Loved it. Very fluff. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Blew my, blew my mind. Dude. Barely talks. Barely talks. Yeah. But it's so emotive and so expressive and it's just so masterfully shot. Yeah. Yeah. So you're saying if it calls for it or if that's your style, and maybe that will develop your style. I think in film school, it was an indie film school that I went to, and they focused a lot on that. It's like what assets and resources do you have? And utilize the tools that you have to make what you can. Yeah. That might be a park bench. And you've talked about that as an example in the webinar you did.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    Park bench. Two people talking could be boring. Put it in the living room. It's one of the greatest shows ever made.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. All in the family, right? Yeah. Yeah. Yep.

    Phil Hudson:

    Cool. All right. This is another one of those dub boy, d a u boy. B o y I. Sorry, I slotted that. All right. Your recommendation for new writers to be good or contribute in a writer's room?

    Michael Jamin:

    What's my recommendation? Yeah,

    Well just know that you're not getting paid what the more senior writers are getting paid. And so, God, I was just listening to, who was I listening to? Saying the same exact thing, which is relax. I mean, you're a new writer. Just relax, soak up, learn, be a sponge. Don't feel like you have to argue, don't feel like you have to contribute too much. Y you're Jo, you're going to be white knuckling it the first several months, if not seasoned, because you're going to be in way over your head. So just absorb, don't feel compelled that you have to contribute as much as everybody else. My feeling, because just talking to hear yourself talk is not helpful to the rest of us.

    Phil Hudson:

    I was talking to a friend who is a staff writer on his first season, and he said, I asked him how it went and asked him if he was nervous to talk. And he's like, what I found interesting is I knew better than to talk very much only when I had a good idea, but I didn't feel that the people just above him, the story editor and senior story editor were talking enough, they were not contributing enough. Oh,

    Michael Jamin:

    They were not.

    Phil Hudson:

    And feedback from the showrunner, he said, was that the showrunner agreed that those people were not carrying their weight. So at what point, what's the transition point? At what point do you feel like you should be contributing more?

    Michael Jamin:

    And it's really hard to know. I mean, that's why it's so important. And

    Phil Hudson:

    Maybe we should clarify for people too. What are those levels, right? Because it's story, it's staff writer, story editor, senior story editor,

    Michael Jamin:

    No, executive story

    Phil Hudson:

    Editor. Executive story editor. And then it's was it

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:


    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    Producer. Go ahead.

    Michael Jamin:

    Super. Then supervising producer, then co-executive producer, then executive producer. And so the higher up you go, the more you're expected to contribute. And that's why in the beginning, I didn't even know what a good pitch was. I didn't know what a good pitch was versus a bad pitch. The more you learn, the more, yeah. I mean, that's one, when we talk about it in the course, I think one of the valuable parts of the course is hopefully when you go through it, is you get a sense of what a good idea is and what's what story structure is. So you should know you damn well should be known at the end of the course. What constitutes a good pitch? What does this be? What should that beat be? What is a story? How does a story unfold? How does the scene unfold? This is all important stuff that, so you're not just throwing out ideas. I think a lot of problems, Hey, what if, well, we're not pitching, we're not playing. What if right now we're actually trying to break the story. And we're not free reigning right now. Now we're further down the road.

    Phil Hudson:

    Just a note, note on the value of that segment about knowing what a good idea is this season in the Tacoma FD writer's room, when I was sitting there, I'm trying not to talk other than I'm answering a question or providing research, because that's kind of my role. And I remember you were all trying to figure out what are we going to do for the cold open of this episode? And you were thinking of an interesting reason to get our firefighters there. And for whatever reason, this story popped in with my friend had a roommate who jabbed an EpiPen into his leg backwards, and it hooked into his thumb, but he was super drunk, and so firefighters had to come. And I just pitched that and I just remember everyone be like, that'll work. And they wrote it up and that was the working cold open. And it changed and it didn't work because they did something very similar later. But I was like, oh, perfect. That was a good idea. Proper time to bring it up. And it worked like that, right? Then that came from your course.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh good. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Cause I wouldn't have pitched anything. First of all, you say don't talk if you're an assistant, but secondly, I did. I knew it was a good pitch because of your course, and that's why I opened my mouth and it was on the board for a week. So yeah. Yeah. Made me feel warm and fuzzy.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    Awesome. Lorenzo, can you name a couple of screenwriters you respect and you think could be a good source of technical mastery?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, John Hughes, I, I don't know him personally or, I dunno if this person talking about people I know personally. I mean, I love John Hughes. The Breakfast Club is a play, is a stage play, but it was a movie, but it feels like a stage play. So it very talky and wonderful and so authentic. And it really felt, he remembered what it was like to be a teenager.

    Phil Hudson:

    All of his movies capture that time. I mean, it's a John Hughes movie. You know what it is when it's coming up because

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. So is there anybody better than him? That's my opinion. No, but that's the style of writing that I like. So Sure.

    Phil Hudson:

    Michael Scott, and I think, I don't know if you want to bring this up, but occasionally when you do the webinar, you will give away a free access, a free seat in your course. Lifetime access.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, that's a good reason to show up.

    Phil Hudson:

    Michael Scott won. Michael Scott was our winner. Oh,

    Michael Jamin:

    That's right. He won. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. So Michael Scott said, do you recommend attending PGA West Producers Guild of America events and networking with showrunners? I think he might mean wga a West.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. I've never been to a PGA Producer's Guild event. I don't even know what kind of events they have. And show runner go

    Phil Hudson:

    The West, I think means he, he's means wga a, but Michael, I'm sorry. I've forgot that wrong.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, I would, I'd go, but I wouldn't go for a net. I wouldn't go to network. Net networking is gross. People smell it a mile away. I say network with people at your own level, which might be which, whatever level you're at, that's who you network with. Don't network. You don't have to kiss the ass of the show of some showrunner. He or she will smell it a mile away network with people at your own because they rise up. They'll rise up as assistants become whatever, agents, managers, writers, that's your friend group. That's your circle.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. I've talked in the past about the Writer's Guild of America Foundation who puts on these events. They have this thing called the Golden Ticket. And when I first moved here, that was what I did. I paid the money for that, and it got me a front row seat at all of these events. And what that allowed me to do was just have a better learning experience and the opportunity to have conversations with these people if I wanted to. And I remember I went to the WGA in Hollywood, and I was riding the elevator up, and I wrote up with John August, and I had met him at Sundance where I was doing translation work. So I was like, oh, hey John. And he was like, oh, hey. And I was like, yeah, I was the Sundance translator. He was like, oh yeah, that's right.

    And he was like, you enjoying la? And I was like, yeah. And that's all I said to him. And it's cause it just wasn't the right time to attack the guy who's had to go talk on stage and read the room. I understood dynamics, just acknowledge I knew who he was and we'd met before. That was it. That was the most networking I did at any of those events outside of the other people who had paid for the golden ticket and because we were talking to each other every week and sitting there and going to the festival that they put on, I met a lot more people through doing those things.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's your net. That's networking. It's not gross. It's not, Hey, what can you do for me? Hey, let's just chat. Yeah. We have something in common.

    Phil Hudson:

    Cool. Danny Casone, I'm probably messing that up. How do you develop better writing skills and how do you find someone to bounce your ideas off of?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, the one thing we have in our course is a private Facebook group, and those people trade scripts, and they've all been through my course, so they have some degree of knowledge. So that's a great way to do it. But what was the first part? How do you

    Phil Hudson:

    Develop better writing skills?

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh yeah. You take classes. That's how you do it. You learn. I How are you expected to do it? How are you expected to do it on your own when you don't know? Yeah. Read. That's why you take a course.

    Phil Hudson:

    Read, read and apply. That's the other thing is you can get too caught up in learning how to do something. And that is a form of procrastination because you're not sitting down to execute. You're going to learn a lot more by executing and reading it and realizing how bad it is than you would learning and learning and learning and not sitting down and just doing the work. So yeah, don't procrastinate, just do the work and you'll learn a ton. But as far as ideas, like you said, it's the private Facebook group or the people you're around, all those things. Someone else asked in here, although I'm not a member of the course, can I sign up for the private Facebook group as long as I'm carrying my weight and contributing,

    Michael Jamin:

    No, sorry. Sorry.

    Phil Hudson:

    You got a lot of those requests.

    Michael Jamin:

    Sorry. Because that's just the role to get in. It's like the people who put skin in the game, they've been to the lessons, they're contributing with their knowledge with what they've learned. It's not social hour. It's like it's class. So it's like saying, Hey, can I just go to med school and contribute? Well, no, you're either in or you're out. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    The And the quality of every interaction in that group is better because everyone is coming at it from the same foundation.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah. I do think they're very serious. I do think the quality of the conversations in that private Facebook group, cause I see it, the comments and I believe comments, it's very high. It's much higher than, say, way higher than Reddit, way higher than some public Facebook group. It's way, hi. It's just higher.

    Phil Hudson:

    One example I'll give on that, A friend of mine was like, you got to join this Facebook group. It's awesome. And I joined and I was just trying to introduce myself. I was like, Hey, I'm Phil. I'm new the group. I just wanted to share this thing that I heard about Steve Spielberg said that the opening shot of every film is a metaphor for the whole thing. And I got berated by 50 people saying, I thought everybody knew that this is, what do you mean you're just learning? And I was like, you guys are dicks. I'm out. And I just left the group because I was like, you are not my people and I do not want to be in here with you.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, there's a people, yeah, exactly. People on social media could be dicks and I don't see any of that going on. Maybe because I think they know. I'll kick 'em out if I see that

    Phil Hudson:

    You will. Another on that note. So one thing you and I have to do for the course is there's this whole thing that you did with me, which is coming up with an idea, breaking an idea, writing the idea, and getting a pilot. And it was a pilot episode of Tacoma fd, and we still have to go over that final script because someone was like, Uhland. And the group was like, Hey, Phil, did you guys ever, did you finish it? I was like, I did. I need a, it's printed. I just need to send it to Michael so he can give me notes.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, we'll do that'll talk.

    Phil Hudson:

    And he was like, well, I was just revisiting and I always thought this be this moment at the end of your act too. And I was like, dang, that's better than what I wrote. And then he was like, then maybe this is how the Eddie comes back. I was like, dang it, that's better than what I wrote. Right? This is just, they're thinking about story at the same way. And I was like, I learned some valuable things off of those two comments, and he hasn't even read the script.

    Michael Jamin:

    So yeah, it's a good group.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. All right. Manola films, can you please talk about the show Bible? What is a show bible and do we need 'em, I think is the ultimate question.

    Michael Jamin:

    No, I don't think you need, no. The show Bible, when we work on a show is the writer assistant or the S script supervisor will assemble the episodes that we've shot and put it together and for whatever reason, whoever needs to look at it. I'm like, who wants to look at this? When you're pitching, you think you need a show, Bob, because you want to sell a show, but you're not going to sell a show. So what are you worried about? Your writing sample? Your script is a writing sample. It's a calling card. It's for you to get more work. Why put the, you're not going to, what are you going to do with the Bible not pitching anybody? And if you do pitch someone and they want a Bible, fine, they'll put together a Bible. But that's not what the point of your main goal right now is to have a killer script as a writing sample. That's hard enough. Forget about a Bible.

    Phil Hudson:

    There's another writer who's pretty active on TikTok and social media, and he was talking about a Bible, and I asked him, I was like, what do you think the value of the show Bible is? Because I've heard I shouldn't need one. He's like, well, you got to know where your story's going. So when you pitch, you can answer the question, what's where are we going? What's going on? So understand that much about it if you're in the opportunity to sell it. But he wasn't advocating for what I think the pros and the experts are referring to as a bi bible, which is this character and his backstory and his arc through seasons one through 10. And this is the, it's not the detailed, it's just know where you're going with your story. There are also some really interesting Bibles story, Bibles that are available online that I won't link to because they're not our ip. They're not something that you want to link out to, but you can search for 'em and find them. That again, is literally what you said. It's something that an assistant does for the show.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    Monica, and by the way, it's to help the writers, the new staff writers. We had new writers on Tacoma FD this season, and they were asking me for that, and we didn't have a Bible, and so I had to send 'em all the scripts and they had to read through all the scripts instead of just reading a bible to understand what stories have been told, who the characters

    Michael Jamin:

    Are. They should be reading the scripts anyway. They should. That's the thing. There you

    Phil Hudson:

    Go. Yeah. Okay. I'm putting that on you guys. If you're listening. Sorry, you didn't complain when I sent you the script. Yeah. Monica B, what about if you work in a different area of Hollywood, for example, does that experience help when you are ready to pitch a script?

    Michael Jamin:

    No. No, it doesn't. I mean, it's great that you're working in Hollywood. Maybe you can make some connections, but if you are working in post and you don't want to, if you want to be a screenwriter, just know not where we, that's not the bullpen. That's not where we're pulling talent from. You're close, the closer you can get physically to the job you want, the better. So you're getting close, but eventually you want to get in on the production side, you want to get closer to the writers. It's good that you have that job, but it's not a transferrable skill.

    Phil Hudson:

    I've turned down those jobs because it's not the direction I want to go. Okay.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    So Flyboy 2 43 is starting out writing as a hobby part of the way to become a professional in your spare time if you're at the bottom.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, you should be writing. Yeah. If you enjoy writing, you for sure if you like writing, but if you don't like writing, if you're not writing as a hobby, then what makes you think you're going to like it as a profession?

    Phil Hudson:

    Philip Mullings Jr. Can you use scripts that you've written on a show as a staff writer in your portfolio?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, I don't have a portfolio. None of us have a portfolio. We just have writing. We have scripts that we've written. So if you were credit

    Phil Hudson:

    Staff, right, you have a credit that your agent's putting out there.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. But if you were, say you were on a let's staff writer on floppy in the Boys on the Disney Channel, and you wrote a script, fantastic. But if you're trying to get work on some other show, a sophisticated adult show you're floppy in the boys script that was produced is not going to be of any service. So you know, have to have a writing sample that will match the tone of the show you want to work on.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Got it. Alex Zen Draw comics. What do screenwriters do when they're having health problems that may hinder their writing pursuits?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, what are you going to do? I mean, if your health comes first, what are you going to do? You have to be healthy enough to write and healthy enough to work. So that's a problem. What do you do? You know, focus on getting healthy.

    Phil Hudson:

    I wanted to include this one because it's an area we haven't talked much about, which may be like the W G A health benefits and some of those benefits that you get from being in the guild. I can tell you, as someone who previously held an insurance license, disability insurance is probably a good idea for most people, which is if you are unable to perform your work for which you get paid, you can get a percentage of that pay. Now, that is not an endorsement for anybody or anything, but it is something to consider for every adult. If I get a hand, if I get handicapped or something, how am I going to pay my bills?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. It's just very hard to prove disability if you're a writer, because as long as you have a functioning brain, you can still write. So disability's easier if you're working on a construction because you can't, how are you going to climb a ladder? But if you're hard to prove if you're a writer,

    Phil Hudson:

    Interesting. As far as the WGA benefits go for the health plan, I mean, what does that look like? And I think, correct me if I'm wrong, but you have to earn a certain number of points or pay a certain amount into the Guild Fund every year to maintain your benefits.

    Michael Jamin:

    The health benefits being in the Writer's Guild gets you health insurance as well as pension, but you have to earn a certain number of points every year to continue qualifying for them.

    Phil Hudson:

    And if you don't qualify, is that like a Cobra situation where you're paying out of pocket for those benefits or you get you

    Michael Jamin:

    Accrue points so you have a certain, the more you work, the more points, and then if you're unemployed for a year, usually you just draw this point bank that you have and that'll deplete itself after pretty quickly depending on how long you've, your history is. And then after that, you can have a COBRA situation where you get to pay out of pocket,

    Phil Hudson:

    Which is expensive. Yeah, but prioritize your health. That's something I'm learning the older I get, especially having children now and people who rely on me is your health is the number one thing, because without it, you cannot provide for your family. You cannot do anything. So Right. Make time for that. All right, Peter Cat, this feels very Russian. Peter, p i e t e r k e t e l a a R. I apologize to everybody for my poor phonetics. What kind of stock do you put in a blacklist score of eight for a pilot in hand already?

    Michael Jamin:

    I have no idea what an eight means or what, I barely know what the blacklist is, so I'm going to say, what kind of stock do I put in that zero considering I don't even know the question.

    Phil Hudson:

    I knew that was going to be the answer to the question, which is why I included it. Because for those of us who are what we call pre WGA people trying to break into the industry, we put a lot of stock in the blacklist and what that means. But I had a volunteer at Sundance that I met years ago. She had a script that one was on the blacklist, and she had meetings about it, and then she rewrote the whole thing and changed it all up and spent two years focusing on that script instead of walking away from it and working on another good piece of material. And a lot of my conversations were pitching things to her because of your course that ultimately she was like, well, that was in my first draft. That was in my first draft. And she's just getting lots of bad feedback. So the points don't matter. The listing can get you meetings with people, but ultimately you still got to be able to put in the work, and you have to have multiple samples

    Michael Jamin:

    Because multiple samples

    Phil Hudson:

    That might get you into a room, but what else do you got?

    Michael Jamin:

    You tell me you got an eight or whatever, or 108 on blacklist. I don't really care. Let me just read the script. I'll decide whether I think the script is good or not. I get to decide that and whoever, whoever's reading it gets to decide. So yeah, it's not like, oh, this person's got an eight right this way. No, I don't care whether you got a zero. If it's I read it, I decide.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Another question from Peter, this was from the webinar where you talked about networking should be at your level or beneath you, right? Because yeah, and we talked

    Michael Jamin:

    About this. That's why I feel this episode. It's my opinion.

    Phil Hudson:

    What should my beneath me look like?

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, well, I mean, it's anyone, it's, I mean, I don't know. This

    Phil Hudson:

    Might be two, taking two as too. So lemme just throw the other one out. What is something that is beneath me? What is something I shouldn't spend my time doing?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, right. Nothing's beneath you. So if your neighbor is saying, Hey, I want to shoot a movie in my backyard, sure, I'll do it. I'll help if I'm just above that level. Yeah, not, it's like, because anybody who's showing any kind of ambition, who's just trying a student at a film school, whatever, get involved in them. If they're going to get out of film school, if they want to stay in the industry, they'll stay in the industry and then they'll work their way up and then you'll be right there with them because you're helping them under their projects. And maybe they'll help you on theirs. That's your class, that's your graduating class. So is anything beneath you? No. As long as you have the time to do it, get involved these, because no one, it's so interesting when I talk about stories from my past, I think it's easy to, and I talk about, oh, this person I know this famous person, this or this successful person, that successful person at the time, they weren't successful. They were just people, and most of them didn't mount to anything in the industry, but some of them did. And that's, some of them did. That's it. So you know, get involved in everybody.

    Phil Hudson:

    But it goes back to the thing that's a common theme on our podcast, which is serve everybody. Give as much as you can without any expectation of receiving. Because if you're doing it because you, you're betting all your cards on that horse, everything you got on that horse to win the race, and then they fall out. Well, yeah, there's some manipulation and some self-serving that goes there, and intention has a smell, so we, you're going to stink. It's not good.

    Michael Jamin:

    I worked in a show called, I was a PA on a show called Hearts of Fire, which was Marky Post in John John Ritter, and also Billy Bob Thornton was on it actually. And it was a Linda Bloodworth Thomason show. And so there was two young staff writers in that show, which I kind of hung out with them a bit because they were closer to my age and they were, because they were staff writers. Maybe they're a story editor, I don't remember, but they're low. They were low and very low in the totem pole. And I hung out with them because they were closer to my level and they were nice to me. Those guys turned out to be David Cohan and Max Muk, who created Will and Grace years later. I didn't know that at the time. They were just a couple guys my age, a couple years older, and that who I didn't have to kiss anybody's butt, they, I was at pa, so they were definitely above my level, but still they weren't setting in the world on fire at the

    Phil Hudson:

    Time. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You could unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not going to spam you, and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.

    Phil Hudson:

    All right. Taylor Cole, I have had a consistent career as a film producer. How can I best transition into television? I'm assuming television writing.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, yeah. With TV writing, how can you be? Basically, you're where everyone else is. My answer to you is the same as everyone else. Write scripts, show them. If you have a movie that did really well, give a hit movie that you should have no trouble. You should, people fi, if you made a movie that no one saw, you're going to have a problem. If you made a hit movie where there a breakout at Sundance, people are going to find you. People are going to find you. And that's how I've been doing the whole webinar. I don't want to say too much because I, I've, I've coming up, I want to talk about examples of this, about people who breakout people and how they broke out. And I'm going to talk more about it. And so sign up for one of my webinars that michaeljamin.com/webinar. But, cause I'm going to talk about this for about an hour, but how can you, my advice to you is the same as everyone else. I hope you're, you're following me everywhere and just soaking it up because it's no different for you.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, there you go. Shane Gamble. I live in New York City. Do you think it is better to move to LA or should I focus on the network I've currently built here?

    Michael Jamin:

    Where's Hollywood? And Hollywood is in la? There is some, obviously there's theater, there's probably more theater in New York than it is in LA that interests you. In the end, you're probably going to have to come out to Hollywood. There's not much of a network out there. This is where it is. I'm from New York. I moved out here because this is where Hollywood is, so yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yep. Now there's writing there too, but if you don't have the network there in the writing space,

    Michael Jamin:

    Some shows are shot there. But the writing, most of the time the writing's done here. 30 Rock was shot and written in New York, but that's only because Tina Fay didn't want to leave New York. Everybody else does it here.

    Phil Hudson:


    Michael Jamin:

    So you might get a job. Let's say you've got a job in New York writing on 30 Rock. Great. How are you going to make a career? Because that show is done. It's not on the air anymore.

    Phil Hudson:

    Good point, right? Ariba, how do I work through the problem of getting stuck between my script? Any exercises that I could help work through that I'm currently writing a short film and I find myself stuck midway.

    Michael Jamin:

    You don't understand story structure. You didn't break your story cro correctly, which is why you're stuck, which is why you don't know what your characters are going to do. You don't know what to do it. So I don't have any quick fixes for you. I could teach you story structure. I could teach you, which is what the course is. No, I don't have a tip. I teach, I teach you how to become a writer. There's no tips. It's not a tip situation.

    Phil Hudson:

    And the course is currently closed. Maybe it's not. When this comes up, probably will be. But the course is currently closed and we open it up once a month at this point for people who want to join. So yeah, best way to know about when is to sign up for the webinars because there's some specials in the webinar and you have a chance to win the course. But also, typically I can not going to promise that every time. I don't want to speak for you, Michael, but yeah, that is typically the best way to find out when the course is going to reopen.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah. But yes, unfortunately I don't have any tips. I don't have any exercises. I, I'm going to teach you how to become a writer. I, I'm going to teach you how to write basically if you want, want to take the course.

    Phil Hudson:

    One of our really early episodes of the podcast talked about writer's block and about how, sorry, you're a professional and you talked about that recently on another webinar as well. So that's some place to look for some advice on this as well, is work through it, make it happen. But you got to learn the story structure.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    Cool. K M C, if I'm writing an entire series, are the accumulation of episodes enough or should I spread out to other writings too?

    Michael Jamin:

    Why we write an entire series? That's first question.

    Phil Hudson:

    That is advice.

    Michael Jamin:

    You got to write one script

    Phil Hudson:

    That is advice people get, Michael, is you should write an entire series.

    Michael Jamin:

    No, write one script. Write one episode that just killer. Write one. Just one. A lot of times, and we were talking, we talked about this privately where someone wrote an entire series and you read it and you're go, no, you just basically took the contents of your pilot and script and spaced it off on 10 episodes. So you have structure 10 episodes of they No Structures. They have 10 episodes of garbage, of they have 10 episodes of Boring when they should have just made one episode. That was great.

    Phil Hudson:

    Their intuition for what an entire series is was literally a pilot and everything else was just pipe and unnecessary, confusing, meandering and a lot of, I think one of the early critiques I got in writing, and I've heard many times and felt many times for other people, is a lot of things happening, but no one's doing anything.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, yeah. You know, don't want your writing to be that. Learn. There's studies, study your screenwriting. That's what I'm saying. Yeah. So study what a story is. Oh,

    Phil Hudson:

    So write a good poem because

    Michael Jamin:

    If you had known what a story is, if that person had known what a story is, they wouldn't have done that. They wouldn't have wasted all that time.

    Phil Hudson:

    Well, I gave him the notes and at the end he's like, you, because I'd only read the pilot and I was like, well, this might be this and this is kind of how structure, what your pilot would be. He's like, you just described my full season. I was like, yeah, man. Yeah. Sorry

    Michael Jamin:

    Dude. Yeah. Sorry. You screwed up. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Aaron Brown. What are your favorite examples of screenplays We should read?

    Michael Jamin:

    Anything you should read. Good. You should read bad. You should read if it's good. You got a stack on screen, please?

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. I've got Ladybird ready, player one, aliens, which is one of the most popular scripts I think people are recommended to read. James Cameron Unforgiven, which is the script that famously sat inside of blanking on his name.

    Michael Jamin:

    Was it Clint Eastwood?

    Phil Hudson:

    Clint Eastwood, yeah. Sat, he bought it, put it in his desk, and then waited, I think like 20 years till he was old enough to play the part. And one in Oscar one multiple Oscars. I got Drive, which we talked about recently. This is one of my favorite scripts, Armageddon, which was a big block buster, but just a bunch of scripts that I think were stood out. But I think when Oscar season comes out, the studios release their nominated scripts and you can find 'em publicly. So that's a great place to go to find really good stuff. These are what the industry says are the best scripts right now.

    Michael Jamin:

    And you can also go to the Writer's Guild in West Hollywood, or actually it's Hollywood

    Phil Hudson:

    Fairfax. Yeah, li It's in Hollywood. Fairfax. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    They have a public library. You don't have to be a member, you have to make an an appointment. That's it. And you can read for free a bunch of scripts. Read good ones, read bad ones. If you read a bad one, why don't I like this? And don't say it because it's boring. No. What exactly do you not like about this? If you see a good one, why do you want, what do you like about this script? Why do you want to turn the page? What makes you want to and be specific, not because it's compelling, say it. No, because what about it? It makes you want to turn the page and so you can learn from good or bad.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Awesome. We got a few more questions here and then we'll wrap it up. Michael. Yeah. Kaya, Kaya link, again, probably ruining your name. I apologize. How long should these sample scripts be? Wait, how long should a sample sample be?

    Michael Jamin:

    If you're writing a half hour or an hour long, it should be match, whatever. If you're a drama writer, it's going to be an hour

    Phil Hudson:

    There. There's a note at the back end of this. It says, feature, should I be writing fe? I'm putting this together fe Should I be writing features every time or should I try TV scripts and all those different things.

    Michael Jamin:

    I think you should write whatever you want to write, whatever kind of writer you want to be. Personally, I think you'll learn more from being a television writer than you'll. You'll learn more in a year than you would learn in 10 years. Writing features just because of you're learning. You're working alongside other writers who are experienced. It's like, I don't even know why you wouldn't want to be a TV writer first and then move into feature writing if that interests you. But you'll learn so much from working aside alongside professional writers. There's so much to be gained from that. Whereas if you're working in features home alone, good luck. Good luck.

    Phil Hudson:

    On that note too, the industry is focused on TV right now, not features, and they're really a handful of people writing features. Yeah. It's not to say you can't be that, and there's always the indie feature side of things that you can do to write, but I mean, effectively, this is the same advice you gave on TikTok recently on that clip you did, right? Starting television and then move, expand

    Michael Jamin:

    Out. I think so, yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    And Michael's got a lot of great stuff. We talked about it before, but go check about @MichaelJaminWriter on TikTok and Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and everywhere. Yeah. All right. Gianna Armin trout. How should you study other TV shows to learn story structure, breaking a story, et cetera? What should I be looking for when I'm watching other shows?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I, and that's exactly what the course goes into. I mean, the problem is if you want to just watch, go ahead. Watch as much as you can, but what you're not going to know what to look for, you're not going to know. That's the problem. And the same thing with reading. I think it's, you're just probably not going to know. And so I explained in the course, this is what you need to be looking for. These are the moments, these are the act breaks. These are the middle of two, this is the top of three. This is what you need to be looking for. These are the patterns you're going to see in smartly written indie movies, smartly written blockbusters and smartly written foreign films. And they all have a lot in common. And just because you and television as well, and just because you think, well, I don't want to learn story structure because that's formulaic and it's not formulaic. These are just things that a good story has. These are just things they have in common. So

    Phil Hudson:

    When I was in film school, we were given the task of picking whatever show we were going to write a spec episode of, and then getting a stopwatch out and then timing the scenes. That seems logical, but ultimately what you don't realize is that's what the editing is. That's not necessarily what the script was and what it was written as. Yeah. And yeah, it's not hitting the important points, which is what beat should I be hitting here? How soon do they introduce this information?

    Michael Jamin:

    And I don't even get that. What are you going to do? You're going to write with your stopwatch next to you, or you're going to write and you go, oh, this is page three. This better happen. What do you mean? How are you supposed to make that work?

    Phil Hudson:

    That's a lot of screenwriting advice. Michael, this page on page

    Michael Jamin:

    Three, this happened, I don't

    Phil Hudson:

    Understand it. By page 10, this needs to happen at the end of a page 25, this moment should happen. And page 45, this should have page 60. This should happen, right? That's traditional, open, most screenwriting books. And I

    Michael Jamin:

    Don't get that. If you were to write a story, whether it's for television or just a story, and like I say, this is what happens. You need to have at the bottom of act one, if now, if you're bottom act one is on page 15 or 17, does it really matter? Does it really matter? What difference does it make it? You're off by page and a half. What the, who cares? And you could always cut it a little bit. If I don't, I don't know. I just don't approach writing that way. It's like it's a story. Whether you want to put the story on a television or on a stage or write it in a book is, and you get to decide whether you want it to happen on 19 or 17, what difference does it make? Really? What difference does it make?

    Phil Hudson:

    There you go. Hi, waha Henry are pitch decks, the new calling card. I've been asked to submit pitch decks instead of a script.

    Michael Jamin:

    Who asking? Who's asking you these? I want to know. I want names. Who's asking?

    Phil Hudson:

    My experience in Hollywood is that they are the people who are not actually producers.

    Michael Jamin:

    There is the problem. I want to know if you're a good writer first, if I'm going to get into business with you for anything, whether I'm going to finance your movie, and I don't finance movies, but that or staff you on a show, I want to know, can you write, can you tell a good story? That's the first thing. And if you can't, I don't really care what your pitch deck looks like.

    Phil Hudson:

    I had done some work for a production company out here, and the producers were like, well, we'd love to read what you have. And I was going to send my script. And they're like, do you have a story bible? This goes back to the earlier question. I said, I don't, do you have an example of what story Bible you want to say? This was years ago before I realized kind of your advice on this. And they sent me, this is one we think is really good, and it was a pitch deck. That was what piqued their interest. And then they read the script and it's like, these people are just trying to make a dime. They're not necessarily trying to put out the best content that they can, and they're intermediaries and they're not the guy with the overall deal at a studio that can just walk in and present what they want to make.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, just

    Phil Hudson:

    It's a

    Michael Jamin:

    Different level. I don't understand. It's all smoke and mirrors, I think, whoa, the picture that looks great. Really. Are you trying to get hired as a writer or not? Yeah, I'm not a graphic artist.

    Phil Hudson:

    Generation X. How can you find someone to read your work who has experience and won't steal your idea?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, where do I be doing this?

    Phil Hudson:

    Two notes on that one. I know, right? That's why I brought it. Yeah, that's why I put it in here.

    Michael Jamin:

    Where do you begin? Well, your agent will submit it and we'll only submit it to reputable places. Then the question is, well, how do you get an agent? And that'll be talking about that on all my webinars I got, I'll talk about it again at some point. How do you worried about They want to steal your idea? Well, who you're giving it to. Don't give it to some clown at Starbucks. What was the other question?

    Phil Hudson:

    How do you get someone with experience to read your work? Oh,

    Michael Jamin:

    How do you get someone to experience? Well, you have to bring more to the table. Why? Why would they, like I have experience, why would I want to read your work? If I'm staffing for a TV show, I will go out to agents and managers. Give me the, I'm not going to, I don't go to people off the street. Yeah. I don't hire people off the street, so don't give me your work. Cause I'm not going to hire you. I'll get it from an agent. Well, how do you get an agent? That's a different question. Yeah, but it's not, you don't get people like me to read your work. You. No, you don't. I mean,

    Phil Hudson:

    I think this fall, I will have known Michael for 10 years. I've asked him to read maybe three things.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, it's a big deal. It's a big deal to get somebody to read again. You're telling him to sit down. Somebody said that to me on DM Me. It's like, Hey, would you mind reading my screenplay? Would I mind giving up my Saturday afternoon sitting down, reading your thing, coming up with notes, getting on the phone with you, deliver my notes? What if I said to my dentist, Hey, my two hurts. Would you mind taking a look at it? My dentist say, no, not a problem. Not at all. Go call my office. Make an appointment. Bring your insurance card and your credit card for the deductible. That's what he would say. Yeah, it's business. It's professional that. What do you expect? No.

    Phil Hudson:

    Michael kindly offered to read something and I sent him the first script I wrote, and he referred to it as a Frankenstein. And I was like, oh my gosh, I know nothing. And this was five years into studying on my own. And I didn't send you anything else to read until it was a spec I wrote in film school. So that was probably three years later. And then the last thing I sent you to read was just last year. And that was the first good thing. That was the first thing. And your note on the second thing is, I can tell you're a competent writer and you can capture the voice of the show, but all your other notes were about my structure. It still wasn't there.

    Michael Jamin:

    And then the third piece was you're like, okay, now you're finally getting it right. Yeah. Now you're finally getting it.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. And I consider myself egotistically to be a smart guy, but it really took off when Michael put his course together for me. And I'm your biggest advocate for that thing. All right. Danny Casone again. Have you met Mike Judge and Mark Marinn? They're geniuses, by the way.

    Michael Jamin:

    I've worked side by side with both of them. Mark more so than Mike, because I was the showrunner of Mark's Maron show on i c. So we worked side by side for four years. Mike, a little bit less, but I wrote on King of the Hill and Beaver and Butthead and Beaver was in Butthead he would send us, well, we write the scripts, and then he would send us which videos he wanted to make fun of. And so we would watch those. Then we'd go to the booth with him, we'd watch it over his shoulder, we'd pitch jokes, and then he would run into the booth and do the voices and kind of change, do it the way he wanted to do it. But yeah, but they're both great guys. Both of them are great.

    Phil Hudson:

    There you go. All right. Final questions. There's two, but one of them is like eight questions because it's the same question we get every single time you do a q and a or anything else. Same question. So I'm going to read two. First one, amalgamation of things. Should I use a script consultant? What are your opinions about people who call themselves professional readers, who give notes? Can you recommend a good script reading service? And how much should I person pay for that service? Do you have any readers or reader services to recommend any or to avoid?

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. Woo. I would avoid anything called a service. Anything. If you can find a retired screenwriter or a screenwriter who has time on their hands and go check out their imdp, pay I mdb paid, check out their credits, read their work. If you could find something like that, and there are people that exist, those are the ones you want to pay and pay them. Whatever they ask, the more experience they have, pay them more. I personally, I would rather find someone with more and more experience and pay them more. If they want double because they have, they've been doing for 20 years, I'll pay double because skimping just doesn't help you. I'd pay. Their expertise is worth every penny. That's what I would say with these services, you're finding people, many of them just hiring people, aspiring writers with no more credits or than you do, no more experience than you have. And they're giving you notes and you're paying for it, and they're completely unqualified to tell you anything. They read their training brochure and that's it. And that's not how it works. A man. Now, what a else do you have to say?

    Phil Hudson:

    No, I was just going to say, I think one of the things you can think about too, to get a little tell that I just discovered this week, so I mentioned that I was asked to sign on to help a screen, a Sundance project, because of my experience with Sundance. And I think that it helps them think they're going to get a little bit ahead with having a couple other alumni and fellows on that roster. And they were going to put me in as a script consultant. I went to go see what that would look like on imdb. And right there in that same thread, it's like script doctors and script consultants go under miscellaneous crew, not writers.

    Michael Jamin:

    And it is

    Phil Hudson:

    The bottom. That's the same place where I put my writer's assistant, my writer's PR credit down there, because it's just not a value. It doesn't do anything in those. People may get hired to do work at a studio level, but I wouldn't hire them to do that on my script. You need to do

    Michael Jamin:

    That job. I dunno if they get hired a studio level.

    Phil Hudson:

    I don't know

    Michael Jamin:

    If that's a thing.

    Phil Hudson:

    So supposedly it's a thing, but you need to know how to write. And so find a writer to give you the feedback or find the writing and how to write to give you feedback. And that's again, what your private Facebook group does and what your course does for people.

    Michael Jamin:

    Find a screenwriter who has time on their hand. Maybe they're supplementing their income, but they have good credits and they know they've worked. Don't find someone who's a professional consultant reader or whatever. I would stay away from that.

    Phil Hudson:

    And last question, which is similar vein, but I think on a high note, BW asked, what does Michael think of submitting scripts to the Academy? Screenwriting contest, which is the fellows, the Nichols Fellowship.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, okay. Is that, I didn't realize they were the one posted.

    Phil Hudson:

    The academy is the Nichols Fellowship.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. Do that one. That's a prestigious one. If you win, if you come in, if you place, eh, doesn't really help you.

    Phil Hudson:

    I've, I've heard of Quarterfinalists and semi-finalists getting some meetings off of that because it's so competitive. And the right, the that's read by actual professionals are donating their time to read and score those. Right. So it's It's definitely has more clout than anything else.

    Michael Jamin:

    But yeah, go for it. Also, go for, if you have any fellowships, do those. Sure. If they're industry things, yeah. Sometimes you can get involved in the studios offer various,

    Phil Hudson:

    But this goes back, but just this whole thing goes back to just be careful where you're spending your money as a writer. Because you can spend thousands of dollars submitting scripts to festivals thinking that award or that laurel on your website or on your script is going to help you get ahead and it will do nothing for you. And they're all, a lot of them, not all of them are money making machines to fund whatever they're doing at the festival. And I can tell you firsthand that that's the case. I've

    Michael Jamin:

    Spoken about what I would do to break into the industry if I had to do it today. I'm going to do a few a webinar. I'm going to devote a webinar to that topic again probably in a few months. Cause I have other ones I've already planned out. We're going to do first. Get on them. It's free. It's free. That's all I got to say about that. MichaelJamin.com/webinar.

    Phil Hudson:

    Perfect. Alright, Michael, I think it's a good place to call it for the today. Anything else you want to add? Time of death,

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    Time of death is.

    Michael Jamin:

    Time of death

    Phil Hudson:

    Is 50 something minutes. It's a long one. Yeah. Great.

    Michael Jamin:

    All right, everyone.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Beyond that, some things you can do to support yourself in writing. So again, you don't have to sign up for Michael's course. Michael's giving a lot of stuff. If you don't have the money, you That's okay, Michael. I will. That's okay. Just make sure people are clear here because they may not know you are offering 0% financing effectively on all these things. If you want to sign up when registration's open, you can do a painful a three month or a six month plan because you said you want to make it as affordable to everyone as possible. There were some partners we had that were adding financing and we removed that option just to make sure. Yeah, it was fair to everybody who wanted to get in,

    Michael Jamin:

    And if you can't pay, that's fine. You can go, I got a free lesson. Go to michaeljamin.com/free. If you want to get on my free newsletter where I give out three free tips a week, MichaelJamin.com/watchlist. If you'd like to download some scripts that I've written and read them because they think it'll help you, and they probably will. You can also find those on my website. We got a ton of free stuff. We got this podcast. So yeah, just enjoy. Take it in, take it in. Did you

    Phil Hudson:

    Mention the watch list?

    Michael Jamin:

    I did. That's our new, yeah, Michael Gemma do com watch

    Phil Hudson:

    List. Oh, I was thinking about thinking about all this stuff was blanked for a second. All right. Well, everybody, thank you so much for your time and listening in. Hopefully this was helpful to you and make sure you sign up for the webinar where you do get an opportunity to ask Michael questions live and we dive into more detailed stuff, michael jamen.com/webinar Again for that.

    Michael Jamin:

    All right everyone, we'll see you on the next one. Thanks for listening. Bring your questions next time. Awesome.

    Phil Hudson:

    Thanks Phil.

    Michael Jamin:

    Then keep writing in. Thanks. Keep writing everyone. That's our motto. Phil came up with that. Keep writing. Yeah,

    Phil Hudson:

    One good thing. You're welcome guys.

    Michael Jamin:

    See ya.

    Phil Hudson:

    This has been an episode of Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving your review, and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

    54m | May 31, 2023
  • 082 - "Fuller House" Showrunner Steve Baldikoski

    Steve Baldikoski is an Emmy nominated Showrunner known for Fuller House. He's also worked on Last Man Standing, Glenn Martin D.D.S., Wilfred, and Kristie. Join Michael Jamin and Steve Baldikoski for a conversation about how Steve broke in and what it takes to make it in Hollywood

    Show Notes

    Steve Baldikoski on IMDB - https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0049747/

    Steve Baldikoski on Twitter - https://twitter.com/finchbot2000

    Free Writing Webinar - https://michaeljamin.com/op/webinar-registration/

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Auto-Generated Transcript

    Steve Baldikoski:

    I mean, you're, you are sort of clued in to, to what your boss likes. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you also have your own tastes. You, you kind of know what the project is supposed to be. I, I, yeah, I don't know. There, there's no formal executive school on how to give notes. That's why it's kind, it's kind of a weird job because there's no training for it. I don't really necessarily know what makes you good or not good.

    Michael Jamin:

    You're listening to Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. Hey everyone, it's Michael Jamin. Welcome to another episode of Screenwriters. Need to hear this. I got another great guest today. This is my old buddy, Steve Bobowski. Steve has written on some of the, some of your favorite shows, as long as your show's favorite shows are <laugh>,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    As long as they're, as long as you have Terrible Taste <laugh> and only watch shows that are gone after 13 episodes, and

    Michael Jamin:

    Then, then these are your favorite shows. But I'm gonna start, I'm gonna, in no particular order of, of, I think I'm going in order Teenager Working. Remember that show Dag with David Allen Greer Baby Bob. Oh, we're gonna talk about Baby Bob. Okay. Yeah. A U s A. Andy Richter controls the universe. People like that show a lot. I, I'm with her or I'm with her. I'm with her. I'm with her.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    I'm with

    Michael Jamin:

    Her. I'm with her <laugh>. Eight. Eight Simple Rules. The New Adventures of Old Christine. That was a good show. The Jake Effect. Big Shots. True. Jackson, I forgot you worked that out. Wilfred. Which you could thank me for Glenn Martin d s, which you could thank me for Kirsty, which I can thank you for. Last Man Standing, whatever, <laugh>.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Yeah. They don't have anyone to thank for that.

    Michael Jamin:

    Thank for that.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Save Me.

    Michael Jamin:

    Jennifer Falls, Ned and Stacy. And then of course, you were the executive producer and showrunner of Fuller House, the Full House remake. Steve, welcome to the big show,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    <Laugh>. Thank, thank you for having me. It's very exciting to be here.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wasn't it exciting, man? Oh man. Oh, and I have to say, so yeah, so we started out my partner and I hired Steve and his partner Brian, on, on Glenn Martin dds. And we were always very grateful. These guys turned in great drafts and we were always extremely grateful. Yeah, thank you. And then we would just shovel more work as, as for gratitude, we would just shovel more scripts in your face. Write this one now,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    <Laugh>, that was one of the highlights of my career. That was some of the best times I've ever had.

    Michael Jamin:

    We had some, you know, it's funny, I asked Andy Gordon in in a, in a previous episode, I said, and I'll ask you the same question. If you had, if you could go back in time and either remake any of the shows you did worked on, or like rebooted or just work on it again, what, what would they be? Any,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    I thought you were gonna tell me. Andy's answer <laugh>. Andy

    Michael Jamin:

    Said if you want, Andy said, just shoot me. And true. Jackson

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Uhhuh <affirmative>. I, I, Glen Martin was a highlight, and and I think it was an underappreciated show,

    Michael Jamin:

    Certainly was. And

    Steve Baldikoski:

    If, if it weren't in Claymation, maybe someone would've watched it.

    Michael Jamin:

    You know, we went on the internet, Seabert and I, my partner and I, we went on the internet and we found some guy talking about Glen Martin. And it was as if he was in the writer's room. It was as if he was, because he, he was right on the money <laugh>. Like he knew what was good about it, what was bad about it. He had theories as to why <laugh>,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    I think you, you talking about Alex Berger, the creator,

    Michael Jamin:

    <Laugh>, it wasn't Alex. It was something like, it was something like Whacko on the internet, but boy, he was dead on. He was like, he knew exactly what he was talking about.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    <Laugh>. Well, one, one weird thing that that happened to me, this is slightly related. When, when Brian, my old writing partner and I took over for house in the last couple of seasons, it was right before the final season, and it was after Lori Locklin had her college

    Issues, legal issues with varsity Blues. On April Fool's Day, there was this article in some Likee News or something where someone did a whole, it was a fake interview with me, but it seemed like it was real. And the reasonings that they were talking about getting rid of Lori's character and what would happen after, you know, she was divorced from Uncle Jesse on Fuller House. W it was so well thought out that it, I thought it had to be written by also someone in the room, Uhhuh, because they actually knew like, specific arguments that specific writers had in getting rid of this person. And then it turns out, only if you clicked the very bottom did it say April Fools. And it was all phony interview with me,

    Michael Jamin:

    But still they got it. Right. But it

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Was, it, it was so eerie that it was, it was probably probably had better reasons to include her or not include her than we did. So there are a lot of fans out there who understand the shows just as well as the writers Do.

    Michael Jamin:

    I, I think so. I, I think even on, people talk about King of the Hill and they remember episodes. I'm like, I don't remember that one. And then they look it up and go, I, I worked on it. I don't tell me what happened. It's like, I don't remember it. You know, it's from, you know, very important to some of these people. And you know, they, they, they watch it all the time. And I haven't watched it in 20 years. But

    Steve Baldikoski:

    But did you, there was a moment where when on Wilfrid where David Zuckerman, the creator didn't even know that he had a logic fallacy in the first episode. Do you know the story? No. I think he was at Comic-Con and he, he was, he, it it was about the pilot of Wilfred where Wilfred is trying to get through the fence and a regular dog would crawl through the fence, but instead Wilfred has an ax.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. And

    Steve Baldikoski:

    And then they said, well, shouldn't I take the ax from Wilf Fred because it's dangerous? And then David said, wisely said, no, you can't grab the ax cuz that means the ax is real. And the second he said that someone in the audience held their hand up and said, well, what about the Bong? Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    What about the Bong? Yeah.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    And David had never considered that.

    Michael Jamin:


    Steve Baldikoski:

    But Jar, that was fascinating that, that he, they had never thought of it on set, but out there. Got him instantly

    Michael Jamin:

    Etro gave a headache to write and remember, like, what, who, and then, and then your part of Brian's like

    Steve Baldikoski:

    That, that anecdote gave me a headache to mention.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, it was, I remember he just like, don't you think people just wanna see the dog dance

    Steve Baldikoski:


    Michael Jamin:

    See the dog dance? That was his pitch. <Laugh>. Oh man. Oh my God, what a show. But did you ever,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    This whole section is even inside Wilf Fred.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, it is inside Wilfred.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    I don't think anyone would appreciate that. But did you

    Michael Jamin:

    Ever, even when you were running Fuller house, did you, did you ever turn to the, what do the fans want? Did you turn to the, because there's a lot of pressure

    Steve Baldikoski:

    On that actually, I have to say. That was a huge part of Fuller House and it was one of the things I think that the audience loved. And it was a unique situation for me because I had, still, to this day, I've seen two and a half episodes of the original full House.

    Michael Jamin:

    Uhhuh <affirmative>.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    So I didn't know anything about Full House, but other people did. And so if we would want to throw in, we call them Easter eggs, right? Throw in little Easter eggs and bring back, you know, some character that was in an, in a single episode 30 years ago, we would bring those actors back and the audience would go bananas. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    But how, how can, you didn't watch any old episodes or, you know, there's so much,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Why, why didn't I, or

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, why didn't you?

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Well part of it is I, I didn't want to actually be beholden to any of the other of the old stories.

    Michael Jamin:


    Steve Baldikoski:

    Because I mean, even, you know, like Fuller House is a little bit of an old fashioned show, but we didn't wanna make it just like completely stuck in the past and, and a show that is only about, that's referencing the original show. And that was more helpful to just have a perspective of like, what's it like raising, you know, three kids in, you know, modern day California.

    Michael Jamin:

    But did you feel a, a strong, I guess, obligation to make sure the fans were happy? Cuz I'm show the writers are writing for themselves.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Oh, oh, for sure. We were doing that constantly and you know, we, we knew it. There were certain things that were like, you know, throwing red meat to the audience.

    Michael Jamin:


    Steve Baldikoski:

    You know, kind of like, like, like if you're doing the show Fuller House, no. You know, no matter what the story you're doing is, or whatever, if you have to, you bring in a dog wearing sunglasses and the audience goes bananas. And then how do you talk? And a, a baby runs in wearing the same sunglasses.

    Michael Jamin:


    Steve Baldikoski:

    <Affirmative> and then just the, the audience like tears of joy in the audience

    Michael Jamin:

    Because that's, that, that was an old staple in the original show, stuff like that.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Yeah. I mean, that's just the kind of thing that they would stoop to, you know, <laugh>. And so, no, but it was, but it was this, it was this, the Four House is a show that like, you know, it really, it really affected me as a writer cuz it was really that time when every week there were 200 fans in the audience. Super fans who knew every single episode of Full House and Fuller House. And so you would get this amazing instant recognition from the audience that you're writing for them.

    Michael Jamin:


    Steve Baldikoski:

    Especially when you would have those little Easter eggs and you don't get that on a lot of shows.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. You

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Know, like I, you know, may maybe on your Just Shoot Me you would have just shoot me fans, but every seat every week was a super fan.

    Michael Jamin:

    No. The weird thing about Just Shoot Me, you know, cause we was, we were there the first four years and the, the first season, probably the first two seasons that the audience, they weren't fans, they were hostages. There was people who came from Free Pizza, <laugh>, you can tell they wouldn't wanna be there. <Laugh>. And they know the show

    Steve Baldikoski:


    Michael Jamin:

    Prison Prisoners,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    You're sailors in for Fleet Week.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's basically that. I mean, people listening, it's like you show up on Hollywood Boulevard and they hand out tickets, Hey, who wants to see a taping of the show? And then anyone would show up and they would stay warm, <laugh> cause anybody to get outta the rain. But

    Steve Baldikoski:

    These, no, these were people who came from not just around the country, but from literally around the world to see the show. Yeah. And they would th these people would center their vacation on coming to the show. And, and so, you know, I I mean I, it was also amazing to be able to, like, after the show, you know, if you knew who the people were you would bring them down and, and they would just get a kick out of walking around the set. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And that was another kind of highlight every week was, you know, having these people, you know, have this awesome experience that they've grown up with these characters in this set. And then they're running around on the set, you know, now that they're grown up and they've got kids who, who like the shows.

    Michael Jamin:

    Now this set was a repeat that wasn't,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    That was kind of amazing cuz you would, it it wasn't just, it wasn't just fans, it was two generations of fans. Right. You know, it was like people who are sort of our age and then they're kids. Right. And, and so, you know, when network people talk about family co-viewing, it really was that it was, you know, parents who still love the show,

    Michael Jamin:

    But it wasn't the set was a remake. Right. It wasn't the actually,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    It, it was a remake. But I'll I'll tell you, and this is also part of the weird experience coming onto the show, cuz neither, you know, I had no appreciation really for a full house at the time. So before the first show, and this was the entire first season before it aired on Netflix there was a curtain covering the set. And before they would announce the actors, they would, they would lift the curtain like it, like it was like at the theater. Right. And the first time for the shooting the pilot, when they revealed that to the audience, people burst into tears.

    Michael Jamin:


    Steve Baldikoski:

    Just seeing the set and the couch looking just like it did in the eighties. And the way they really, really mimicked the original set, you know, to the Inch cuz they had the original plans. It was amazing to see people moved by a set.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I bet. I

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Bet. And yeah. And so, so that was pretty unusual. And then any line would get, even a mediocre line would get an aureus laugh from the audience cuz they were all, they've been waiting for 25 years to see this moment.

    Michael Jamin:

    Now, I imagine you had some of the writers in the show who grew up with watching the original Fall House, who knew more about the show than, than you did? Who?

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Oh, oh yeah. Yeah. For sure. And that's why also I felt I didn't need to see the show that much. I'm not recommending people shouldn't do homework <laugh>.

    Michael Jamin:

    Now, one of the things that shocked me when we, when we were working with you, this is long, many years ago, and maybe it was only a season one or something. You shocked me when you said that you, at one point you were, you started as a network executive. I was like, you what? What

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Well, yeah, Stu, a studio, executive

    Michael Jamin:

    Studio. So

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Sorry. Yeah. Yeah. I was, I was I was like a director of comedy development at Universal.

    Michael Jamin:

    And so tell tell us what, what that means. What

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Do, should I go back further? Could go

    Michael Jamin:

    Back to where you wanna start

    Steve Baldikoski:

    To that point. I mean, I never, I never set out to be a writer. I don't even know if you know any of my origin story about this stuff. Oh. I never really set out to be a writer. I always loved TV, but I also love music in, in movies. But didn't even know I was gonna get into the entertainment business until I was trying to blow a year or two before I would get a little bit of work experience and then back to go to law school. You were gonna law school get an mba and I was never gonna be a part of the entertainment industry, but I just lucked into what turned out to be a great job in the mail room at United Talent Agency, uta. And it was like this moment that U t A was on the rise and I, yeah, I was in the mail room where I'm literally working 80 hours a week delivering mail and reading scripts for free and writing coverage, doing that for five months. Then I got on a desk, I worked for Nancy Jones and Jay Surs.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh boy.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    I was their first assistants at United Talent, I believe. And then and then I knew it wasn't for me cuz it was really cutthroat. Yes. I, I was learning what I didn't want to do. And working a traditional office that led to I got a job in development. I worked at Aaron Spelling Productions, and then that job got me wait, how

    Michael Jamin:

    Did you get a job in development? Cause it's, it is hard to make the transition from being an assistant at a desk to having a non-a job anywhere.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Oh, oh. I, I was still an assistant for Oh, okay. Years. I was an assistant for spelling for one year. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, then I was an assistant. I worked for Jamie Tarsus at b c. Right. And that's, and that was kind of the, the, the pivotal moment in my career. Cuz kind of anyone who was Jamie Tarsus assistant moved on to become the next executive. Right. And so that kind of became my path. I was, I, I never set out to do this, but I just kept at getting a job that was just better than the last one. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So I never had the reason to go back to law school. Right. And it was just like they kept on dragging me back in with a slightly better job. So this one year I spent as Jamie's assistant at N B C Frazier had been bought, but not shot.

    And then Jamie bought friends that year. I can't remember the names of the other shows, but but like, you know, being on set at the pilot of Friends was really that pivotal moment for me where I thought, oh, th this is, you know, really what I wanna do. Like, and I was on the path to be an executive, but I really would look over and the writers seemed to be having a lot more fun. And that's where I, I didn't really even know it, but that was, that was my path to be to being a writer was just kind of hanging out at N B C and, and seeing how things, you know, being a part of. But even

    Michael Jamin:

    When you were an executive development exec, were you thinking, I want to be a writer? Or were you thinking No, no,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Not really. I, I knew like, the executive path was like, was fine and I did that. And on the executive path, when you're no longer an assistant, you get bumped up and you get the office and it was very kind of, there were a lot of fancy trappings. I would wear a suit and I'd drive around all the networks trying to sell co half hour comedies to the networks. And it was it was a good job. But there was just something I still kept on looking at, you know, the writers who were on the floor and thought they were having more fun.

    Michael Jamin:

    But Do you, and you were giving notes to writers Yes. As <inaudible> executive. Do you at any point feel like, I don't really, how might, who might I be giving notes to a writer when they

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Oh, I, I, I felt that all the time. And because I felt that, cuz I kind of had so much respect for what the writers did. Yeah. That it was, it was hard for me to give as many notes. Cuz I thought the writer probably already had thought these things through

    Michael Jamin:

    Uhhuh <affirmative>.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    But where were you

    Michael Jamin:

    Getting your notes from then?

    Steve Baldikoski:

    What's that?

    Michael Jamin:

    Where were you getting your notes from? Where were you getting your opinions from?

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Well, I, I have opinions just like, I

    Michael Jamin:

    Wouldn't have, I wouldn't have when I was starting it out, I go, I don't know. That's fine to me.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    I mean, you're, you're sort of clued in to, to what your boss likes. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you also have your own tastes. You, you kind of know what the project is supposed to be. I, yeah, I don't know. There, there's no formal executive school on how to give notes. That's why it's kind, it's kind of a weird job because there's no training for it. I don't really necessarily know what makes you good or not good.

    Michael Jamin:

    And some, a lot of it is just opinion. But I I sometimes you'll get the same notes and which are fair, which is a, you know, start the story journal, whatever. That's a great note that you're always, this is totally valid note. But sometimes I, you know, I've been in meetings and you're like, you get a note, you're like, but that's just your opinion. This doesn't make it better or worse.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Yes. And, and I mean, obviously, you know, that's something you, you will struggle with till the end of time. Yeah. But, but I also always go back to, you know, I, I think there's a, there's a cartoon about this at, at some point, but, but like, if Shakespeare handed an Hamlet, his agent would give him notes. Yeah. And he would say, Hamlet is inactive. Yeah. And then you would make him Mae swashbuckling hero.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Right. Yes.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    And that would ruin Hamlet. So, so like, you know, and, and the problem is that like, the, that agent's note would be a well, well-guided note.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Hamlet, that is

    Steve Baldikoski:

    A mm-hmm. <Affirmative> is a valid thing for him to say, but it also ruins the inherent art of the piece. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    You know? Yeah. Had a kick. But

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Then not that writing Glen Martin was the equivalent of Shakespeare

    Michael Jamin:

    In many ways. But it was

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Pretty close.

    Michael Jamin:

    It was a little higher

    Steve Baldikoski:

    <Laugh>. But <laugh>,

    Michael Jamin:

    We had some fun on that show. But and then when, when you wanted to make the transition, I don't know how, how, how do you do, how did you do that?

    Steve Baldikoski:

    So, so, and once, like, and this is just my case, it was shockingly not that hard. My who became my writing partner was one of my best friends in college. And Brian had always wanted to be a sitcom writer. And just kind of had, kind of flamed out a couple of times. And then he was living in San Francisco and having a really excellent career as a, as an advertising copywriter. And I called him up and I told him I wanted to write sitcom with him. And he said no. And then he say he changed his mind.

    Michael Jamin:

    Why did he say no?

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Cuz I said, fine, I'm, if you don't write it with me, I'm gonna write it with Sue Ale <laugh>.

    Michael Jamin:


    Steve Baldikoski:

    Funny. That's a true story. She wasn't,

    Michael Jamin:

    Sue wasn't an Sue Nagle who later went on to run H B O and then and Ana and you know, she, she's big, but she, at the time she was, she was, she

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Was not yet an agent or she was a very young one. And we, but

    Michael Jamin:

    She didn't wanna write,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Did she? So then we got together <laugh> and to go to a coffee place to brainstorm. And we got into a, we didn't even make it to the coffee place before we got into a huge argument

    Michael Jamin:

    Over what?

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Oh, I don't, I don't remember

    Michael Jamin:

    <Laugh>. This partnership's not going well,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    <Laugh>. No, he was, he was not. But, but if you can't make it to the place where you're supposed to think <laugh>, then it's probably a doom partnership. So anyway, Brian said yes. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And then so over the phone we wrote a spec news radio back when people still did that. Yep. And News Radio had just been on the air. So we wanted to write a show that we loved and also that there weren't a ton of samples of other specs like that. Right. So we, this news radio early on and I gave it to Sue Nagle, she liked it. She gave it to Michael Whitehorn at Ned and Stacy. And we had one meeting Brian flew in from San Francisco. I showed up in my suit from being in an executive. I had to sneak out from Universal and not tell him where I was going. Did

    Michael Jamin:

    Michael White hard know you were an executive at the time? Yes, he did. He

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Didn't think, but, but, but that was actually kind of a good thing because Brian was an ad executive. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and Ned of Ned and Stacy Right. Was an ad executive. And then also cuz I had, you know, funny corporate stories I think Michael liked that as well. And the fact he gets two people for a staff writer's salary.

    Michael Jamin:

    Were you afraid to leave your cushy job?

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Less so than Brian. I, if, if I flamed out, I could always go back to being an executive and, you know, that would be fine. Right. And, and in hindsight, that probably would've been the best thing that happened, everyone.

    Michael Jamin:

    But Yeah. I mean, it

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Wouldn't be here talking to you. I, I, I'd be living in Bermuda by now, <laugh>.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, well, you know, learn.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Yes. So, but unfortunately I made it through that year and then made it through the next like 25 years. And so, so that was my, that was my path. And, and it kind of happened really fast that I, so then Michael hired us after that meeting, and then I had to go tell my boss at Universal that not only was I looking for a job, but I had one and it was as a writer.

    Michael Jamin:


    Steve Baldikoski:

    And then, and so their business affairs made this big stink that they owned my half of my spec script.

    Michael Jamin:

    And what, what are they planning on doing with it?

    Steve Baldikoski:

    I, well, that, well, I, I asked them that and I think they were all gonna take my spot in the writer's room.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. What you're, they have they own ha you're half of a worthless SPAC script that just got you a job. I don't know,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Value it. It was a weird thing. But they,

    Michael Jamin:

    But business

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Affairs won't hesitate to

    Michael Jamin:

    Sink a deal whenever possible. <Laugh>. Yes. We remove the joy out of a writer <laugh>. We have a three hour phone call to

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Figure this out. And they, yes, they effectively did steal my joy of that moment,

    Michael Jamin:

    <Laugh>. Oh my God. And then, yeah. Then the rest was just one show after another, basically. And

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Then, yeah. And yeah, it started out we got in, at the time there used to be the WB in, in U p n, the Paramount Network. I think like in that, in that time period, this is like 97, 98, there was like the peak of the sitcom. I think there were over 60 half hour sitcoms on the air. And then Brian and I rode that rollercoaster.

    Michael Jamin:

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.

    So tell me about developing your last project.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Okay, so the, the last project that I just developed I sold it to a ABC with 20th. Mm-Hmm. came to me because it was so personal to what I'm going through as a dad. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, my youngest kid is non-binary.

    Michael Jamin:


    Steve Baldikoski:

    And she she was born a girl, Vivian. And then around time, she was about the second grade, she came to us and said that she, she felt that she was a boy. Right. And so that led us down on this journey. You know, finding out, you know, like having a trans kid and non-binary kid and never knowing anything about it. Right. and that kind of led me to want to write about it after I broke up with my writing partner right at the start of Covid. And I was gonna have to write my first thing. So I was gonna write at first I was actually gonna develop step by step BA based on the same concept. I was unable to sell that to H B O Max mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. so instead I redeveloped the idea of me being this like hapless dad sort of middle class working class guy in rural Wisconsin, which is where my mom's family is from.

    And then having this tomboy kid that he just loves more than anything. Hi. Her, his Maisie all of a sudden informs him that no her name is, she's now Hunter. And you're thinking this as a single camera comedy or what? This was a single camera comedy. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it was structured like a multicam, but, but really that was from, anyway, that was my speck. And what that led me to, to, to, to do is it got me the attention of other people who were in the non-binary trans world. So then ultimately I partnered just through meeting lots of people this woman named Billy Lee, who some people know because Billy Lee was on early seasons of Vander Pump Rules. Okay. and so it was kind of a, like a well-known person in, in the trans community.

    And then, so Billy Lee and her friend Priscilla had this idea about her own life, which is kind of almost too hard to believe is true. Billy Lee grew up in rural Indiana as a boy. Left home in 18, found out that he wasn't gay, he was actually a, she Right. And went through the surgeries and then, you know, a a lot of turmoil, but then returns back home and fell in love with her best male friend from junior high. And now they're together as an on and off couple. And so it was, how, how do I take that and turn that into a half hour comedy? I know it's a long wind up, but it's a great story that is almost hard to believe. Yeah. And

    Michael Jamin:

    Was her best friend growing up.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Yes. And so we pitched it really as a Netflix H b o Showtime show that would, would show that magic relationship and also have sex and, you know, things that I think would be hard, you know, relatively hard for a, you know, a regular network audience.

    Michael Jamin:

    And it's sold,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    But it sold to a b ABC because they wanted, there's this great, her relationship with her father is also really what it's about. Right. And it's, it, it is a fa is also a family show about how it took a trans woman to fix this broken Midwestern family.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. And

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Right in ABC's wheelhouse, you

    Michael Jamin:

    Know, where where is that now? At like

    Steve Baldikoski:

    A, like a Connor's but with a strong trans element.

    Michael Jamin:

    And where is that right now?

    Steve Baldikoski:

    It's dead. Oh,

    Michael Jamin:


    Steve Baldikoski:


    Michael Jamin:

    With every other pilot.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Yeah. yeah. I, I, you know, I can't, I I can't entirely blame them. Like, it, it would be very amazing to see a, b, c put on a show about a trans woman and not have it be one of the peripheral characters.

    Michael Jamin:


    Steve Baldikoski:

    I, I, I think that's just a hard sell. Maybe if I was, you know, a more powerful writer, could, could you, you know, jam that down their throat? But I, I don't think, I think the subject matter was exactly their wheelhouse, but also maybe too, too on the bleeding edge for them.

    Michael Jamin:

    It, it feels a little like, you know, some somebody somewhere at that H B O show. I love that show. No. Oh yeah. It's a little sim it's it, and there's not trans, but it's, it's similar that, I don't know, that just remind me of It's great. It's a great show. Our friend Rob Cohen directs a bunch of those. Oh yeah.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Oh, I'll have to check that out.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Great show. But, so then, okay, so then what, what else? Like, you, I mean, it's been a while since, you know, since Fuller House, but what was that like? I always ask this, what's it like working with the cuz a lot has changed since you and I broke in. Yes. What is it working on with like the, the new generation of writers?

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Well luckily at Four House I was still the new generation of writers <laugh>. What wasn't that

    Michael Jamin:

    Mean, wasn't that long ago.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    I, I still felt young on the show Uhhuh. Cause Cause we had people No, we, we had people who were older and Oh right. And you know, were around the early, the

    Michael Jamin:

    Original show.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    And so, so it was kind of great to feel like I was on the young side for once. Yeah. but I, I understand what you're, I understand what you're, what you're getting to are like in terms of how the room has changed from started to now, even

    Michael Jamin:

    In terms of preparation because, you know, you can answer any way you want. But it, like, basically there was more when we were coming up, you were on a show for longer. There were more senior writers and you were constantly learning and you were never, I never, you were never like thrown into the hot wa hot water yet. But now I feel like these kids come in and there's no really training ground. There's no, there's even, you know, I think there's an article a couple days ago, there's no mentorship anymore because

    Steve Baldikoski:

    No, no, no, no, no. There, there isn't. And you know, that's too sad. I think that, I think content in general is as good as it's ever been. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And yet that training system doesn't seem to exist. And I wish it did. When, when we first got in around the Ned and Stacy era, like there still was that you would still feel that like a showrunner would take someone mm-hmm. Under his wing, like Michael Whitehorn did with David Lit. Yep. And Shepherd that person cuz they would have multiple years of Ned and Stacy. And then luckily that turned into King of Queens. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and, and you know, so

    Michael Jamin:

    There were schools.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Mike were together for a long time. That's the old model. I don't see that anymore. I wish it was there. Because to to be honest with you, like when Brian and I made the jump from co-executive producers of Fuller House to executive producers, it, it was like, we are being thrown to the wolves after 25 years. Yes. Because because of jumping from show to show, to show like younger writers do now all the time. I, I didn't learn those skills mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And so we didn't really know that much about editing, you know, sweetening like it, how's our camera coverage. Right. you know, all all of those little things that, you know, I had to, I had to learn them very, very quickly. And so luckily I had a, a great, you know, you know, crew that all wanted to help us as, you know, learn as well. But yeah, there is no system. I wish there was

    Michael Jamin:

    Like, I even think like multi-camera, like you, back in the day, you'd come out of a school like we basically <inaudible>. We, we kind of came out of the Frazier school cause Levitan came outta Frazier, which came outta the cheer school. And it was like that kind of pedigree that you had and you're just learning from all those people. And then now, like, there's so few multi cams. Like if they were to bring back multi cams, well who's gonna do it? Who knows how to do it? Because it's different than doing a single camera.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    It's funny, it's funny you say that because that's why I'm calling onto the business. Yeah. that I'm hoping, I'm hoping that that we can stick around long enough that it will come back at some point. Uhhuh

    Michael Jamin:

    <Affirmative>. Yeah.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    I, I love the format. Like, I mean that's, that's one of the things that like really me about Fuller House is you know, I was able to be there for like five years mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. and I never really had to worry about, you know, job security and it, it was this amazing place and we, and there were fans of the show and, and it was just great to write for them. And so that spoiled me, you know, now that that kind of is, you know, has gone away now that Fuller house is no longer on the air. Friday night was my drug, you know, cuz you know, Friday night I love putting on a show every week and I miss that.

    Michael Jamin:

    Here's my pitch Fullest house. Pay me. That's,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    That's, that's a great idea. That's a great, I wonder, I wonder if anyone pitched that to me, <laugh> before the day I started.

    Michael Jamin:

    I wonder if anybody pitched that to me. Your shitty joke. <Laugh>.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    So was it one of my low IQ children?

    Michael Jamin:

    <Laugh>. Well then, so then what do you do? So what do you do now? I mean you're obviously you're developing and, and

    Steve Baldikoski:

    So, so now I I'm, I'm working on a, a, a new multi-camera idea. I'm very excited about

    Michael Jamin:

    And Gone <laugh>

    Steve Baldikoski:


    Michael Jamin:

    Taken it out yet.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Yeah. no, I'm just, I I I, I think I finally ha I have the pilot story. I'm just trying to populate it with all the other, all the other things.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. And then, and then

    Steve Baldikoski:

    With all the other characters cuz I basically started with the central character, Uhhuh <affirmative>. It is kind of high concept, but I don't wanna give it away. I I'll talk to you off camera about it. Okay. with the central character and then that led to a bigger world. Then populate that world kind of how to, how I want to, how I wanna fit tonally into that world. Like it's, it's, it's an idea that would, to me, it feels a little in the vein of what we do in the shadows.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, okay. Yeah.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    In terms of like a high concept comedy idea. And because I never worked for him, but like, my hero as a sitcom writer is Paul Sims.

    Michael Jamin:


    Steve Baldikoski:

    And it, you know, my first spec was Ned and Stacy. I mean, I, I was news Radio. Radio. Yeah. And which was run by Paul Sims, created by Paul Sims. And now he runs mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. you know, what we do in the Shadows, which I just think is a brilliant, brilliant show.

    Michael Jamin:

    So then what do you have, what advice do you have for people? Do you have any advice for people trying to get into the business now? Well,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    <Laugh> that's why I'm here. I thought I was seeking advice from you. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    You thought you were a, a job.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    I thought people were gonna, I thought people were gonna call in and tell me what to do with my life.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, exactly.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    I, I mean the, the number one thing is like, if you want to be a writer, I think you probably have to move to LA maybe New York. But if you want to be in TV comedy, I think you have to be in LA Yeah. That's the first thing you have to do is move here and then write all, you can write things that make you laugh. Right. That abuse you, because no one else will probably enjoy it. So you might as well, you might as well <laugh> <laugh>. And, and also, and also I think you, you, you have to get creative, you know I think social media is a great way to get noticed.

    Michael Jamin:

    Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    My wife happens to be an executive on the TV side, and she bought the Twitter feed shit, my dad says when she was

    Michael Jamin:

    Wild. And that was gotta be 10 years ago now.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    And Yes. And I, and I think that was like the first thing that a network executive or that a network has like, bought something on, like no one was buying a Twitter feed at the time. Right. And, and I thought that was pretty clever that Wendy started looking at things like that. And I, I think that's a great place to get noticed. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    I agree.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Especially for young comedy writers. Does she

    Michael Jamin:

    Still do that? Does she still actively, does she look on social media for other people like that?

    Steve Baldikoski:

    She does that. She also she flips through, they get they get proposals of books that are coming out. Not even books that have been written, but just titles of book proposals sometimes.

    Michael Jamin:

    Really. And

    Steve Baldikoski:

    She has scanned through that and bought a series based on one of the blurbs that she read about

    Michael Jamin:

    That I've

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Never heard that. That was, that that was actually the show Atory.

    Michael Jamin:

    I Okay. Cuz that's a good title. I

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Never heard that

    Michael Jamin:

    Before. So I would, I would, I've always, cause my advice to given people is, well, it's gotta be a bestselling book, but you're saying

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Oh, oh, oh. I'm not, oh, I'm not suggesting that's a way to get noticed,

    Michael Jamin:


    Steve Baldikoski:

    To, to write a book. Although it's not a bad idea. If you have a great life story, write a book or put it on TikTok.

    Michael Jamin:


    Steve Baldikoski:

    I think, I think just if you have a comic voice, there are a million ways to get it out there. Yeah. and my dear friend, a guy named David Arnold was a writer on Filler House and just started showing, you know, doing TikTok videos of, of him and his wife and kids. And then he, like, I think Ellen DeGeneres was the first to share one of his videos, and then that blew up for him. And then he ended up, he was getting sponsored and he was a, he was a standup comic and it was helping out with his standup business. Yeah. And so at the age of, you know, 53, he was discovered on new media, you know, and

    Michael Jamin:

    And what would has

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Become little tiny sketches about his family.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, I, let's talk about Kirsty, which was you, you were, to me, that was a lot of fun. So that was a Kirsty Alley show. Yeah. And you guys brought us in. They needed a a freelance. I don't know why they, but they wanted to have somebody freelance even though you got a, a great writing staff. Oh,

    Steve Baldikoski:


    Michael Jamin:

    And I like, we're like, we'll do it. And then

    Steve Baldikoski:

    I think, I think our, I think I think your agent said that your teeth were falling out and if you didn't write a script for the medical Oh,

    Michael Jamin:

    Not at all. Honestly,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    That show,

    Michael Jamin:

    Because that was a bunch of heavy hitters on that show. Yeah. I really enjoyed it. We were only sat, we only sat in for a couple days. We walked you guys, we walked in and then you guys said, okay, here's the story. We, we broke it, kind of go write it. We're like, okay. And but it was a, it

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Was to start Ted Damson. Sson.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. And, and then, and Marco punted it for se the next season thinking it was gonna be a season two Marco, there's no season two <laugh>. You don't punt that. You shoot it today before, before they pull the plug. <Laugh>

    Steve Baldikoski:

    The old, we will use this <laugh> we'll use scripts season two. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    The old season two

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Trick. I don't know if that was him being tricked or you being tricked.

    Michael Jamin:

    Honestly, we had a great time. It was

    Steve Baldikoski:

    A great script. It was a great

    Michael Jamin:

    Script. It was fun. It was just fun sitting in with a bunch of people. Yeah, well, a bunch of writers that I respected. So

    Steve Baldikoski:

    No, that was an amazing, that was an amazing experience. I, I, we like Claris Leachman did the show. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> like some really, you know we, we wrote an episode for John Travolta. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    And was it Michael Richards and Ria Pearlman. And it was like, these are good, these are heavy hitters, these are great actors. So, and

    Steve Baldikoski:

    The, the night that Claris Leachman did the show, we went out for drinks afterwards, Uhhuh with her. And I ended up sitting next to Kirsty Allie's assistant. And it wasn't until about 10 minutes into my conversation when she mentioned reincarnation, that I realized that I was talking to a high level Scientologist. And then I, and then I noticed she was doing all these Scientology tricks with me, like deep deeply staring into my eyes and not blinking until I blink. It was, it was, it was very bizarre.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wow. I I think we can,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    That's, that, that's, that's a good enough reason to become a sitcom writer is Yeah. To have someone do Scientology mind tricks on you. Those

    Michael Jamin:

    Are, that those are all these, those are always good stories when you Yeah. Can you go hang out on the past? Hang out. Yeah. And then what about

    Steve Baldikoski:

    When, when Clarus Leachman is far from the craziest person at the table? <Laugh>.

    Michael Jamin:

    She was, she was pretty wild. Yeah.

    Steve Baldikoski:


    Michael Jamin:

    Did I ever work? I'm trying to remember if I ever worked with her on something. I think I did, but I can't remember what it was.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Gotta be. Just, just shoot me.

    Michael Jamin:

    It might have been. I don't remember. I, I, you know, but Okay. Well let's get to baby, let's get to the, what everyone wants to talk about Baby Bob.

    Steve Baldikoski:


    Michael Jamin:

    <Laugh>, let's go. You

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Saved the best for last.

    Michael Jamin:

    I saved the best for last. Let's talk about baby. Well,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    I, I believe that Baby Bob was the highest rated show that I've ever been on,

    Michael Jamin:

    But they canceled it so fast.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    They canceled it. Yes. I think that was a, that was a disconnect where the high, high ups meaning like Les Moon vest when he was running CBSs, I think he wanted Baby Bob to be on the air. Oh. And so that he developed it like two or three times with multiple casts.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. We gotta have a talking baby.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    And it was, and, but the, but the Talking baby always stayed the same based on these commercials. Was it Geico? Yes. I think his Geico commercials with the baby Ba with Baby Bob interviewing Shaq Yeah. Is, it's the concept that got everyone all hot and bothered. And so, so Les Moonves bought the show. This is my version of the story, I'm sure it's only partially accurate. But he didn't really include the lower level executives who absolutely hated the show. And so, as Brian and I got hired on the show, we thought, Hey, it's a c b s show. They must like the show. But the reaction from the executives after every table read was basically, how dare you,

    Michael Jamin:

    How dare how dare you have the baby talk? How dare you. What

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Like, just everything about the show seemed to offend the, the c bs executives incivility who were in charge of the show.

    Michael Jamin:

    Were, were there anything advertised guys in it? Were they involved at all?

    Steve Baldikoski:

    No, not, I don't think so. Kenny Kenny Campbell is the voice and mouth of the baby. Uhhuh <affirmative>. And then actually I didn't know much about babies when I was on the show, but then now when I look back, I realize how creepy it is that a baby has a full set of adult teeth. Yeah. Yeah. That are prominent. If I saw a baby like that in real life, I would run.

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you think that was the problem with the show? <Laugh>

    Steve Baldikoski:

    <Laugh>, this is the baby's teeth? Well, well the Mike Saltzman, my dear friend who Yeah. Saltman created the show, described it as Frazier, and they happened to have a talking baby.

    Michael Jamin:

    The other, so the other Oh, Freeman was Frazier had, okay. Frazier. All right.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    And they just happened to have a talking baby. I

    Michael Jamin:


    Steve Baldikoski:

    That was, that was Mike's

    Michael Jamin:

    And what, what were the writers do? Did, yeah.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    I don't have a lot of memories. <Laugh>. Okay.

    Michael Jamin:


    Steve Baldikoski:

    There were a lot of late nights and one night, I think it was about midnight, that I got into a shouting match with one of the other writers about whether or not Baby Bob was a genius.

    Michael Jamin:


    Steve Baldikoski:

    And the other writer was taking the stance of he's not a genius, he's only talking at six months. Mozart was writing symphonies at, at five or seven, and I was shouting and I was yelling about the other side that Mozart was not talking at sick at six months.

    Michael Jamin:

    And was everyone looking at you both outta your mind? <Laugh>?

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Yes. Like, it's midnight. Can I go home?

    Michael Jamin:

    Can I go home? How get the baby to dance? That's all.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    But, but, but, but, but I mean, part of the lesson there is even a show that you think is so, so simple or terrible that you could write it in it, in its in your sleep. Uhhuh <affirmative>. It's not that way. No. No. Because even a show like that is very hard to write. Yes.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes. Because

    Steve Baldikoski:

    You have so many layers of people to Please,

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes. People ask me is they say is a, is a, is a great show. Hard to write than a bad show. No, they're all, they're all kind of hard to write for different reasons. Yeah.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    And that, that was, I mean, definitely a lesson. And then another lesson was despite what we felt like, I like it, it is sort of embarrassing to be on a show like Baby Bob when you're on the Paramount lot and then the Frazier Golf Cart drives by <laugh> and you're in the same business, but you're not in the same business. But when it came to the ratings, baby Bob did huge in the ratings. Yeah. Yeah. And it was like one of the top, I think it's one of the top new comedies that year.

    Michael Jamin:

    And that's so interesting. And, and that's, that's the thing people don't realize as well, is that you, you may be a great writer, but if you're in this lane, it's hard to get out of that lane cuz that's how people see you. Yes. And if you're in a great, even if you're even a bad writer on a great show, now you're in that lane. You're in a great ri you're, you know, you, you're inflated. So Yeah. Yeah. yeah. People don't quite realize that.

    Steve Baldikoski:


    Michael Jamin:

    And you take, you gotta take the job, you gotta get you, but you take the job you get, you know, so Yeah. And,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    And, and you really, and you really don't know if it's gonna pan out.

    Michael Jamin:


    Steve Baldikoski:

    Like I remember talking to Al Jane and Mike Reese mm-hmm. <Affirmative> when we worked with them and asking them when they got started, they started on the, started on The Simpsons I think coming off of Gary Shaline show and when they were pitched coming on to do this cartoon on Fox.

    Michael Jamin:


    Steve Baldikoski:

    They thought, I think that they thought it was, it was not good for their career.

    Michael Jamin:

    It would kill their career. Yeah. And, and now it would make no difference, honestly. Now you what? You take a job, you know, whatever job you can get, you take a job, you know? Yeah. But back then you could make decisions. You could make choices.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Yes. Yeah. I, yeah. And, and interestingly, like back when Brian and I were making lists of shows, we would wanna be on Uhhuh, <affirmative> Simpsons was like a C-level list at the time.

    Michael Jamin:

    Uhhuh <affirmative> Really? Cause

    Steve Baldikoski:

    We liked it, but we thought it was imminently. We, we didn't, no one still knew it was gonna be on the air

    Michael Jamin:

    40 years later.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Yeah. And you know, cuz cuz being on The Simpsons, I think it was like uncool. Then it became cool, then it was uncool.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, in a way it's a little bit of, it's almost golden handcuffs if you're on the Cho. That that's if you're on the Simpsons now, you you're not gonna leave. Yeah. Cause it's job security and get ready to, for writing Bart jokes for the rest of your career, you know. Yeah.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    But the crazy thing is that there are writers who are still there, who were there when I was in the mail room at United Town. Sure.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. So

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Th there are people

    Michael Jamin:

    Who, they've made a career at it who,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Yes. So I was in the, I was on the business side of the business. I became an executive and then I was a writer for 25 years. Yeah. And they're still doing the job from the day I got into the business.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's so interesting. It's just so, yeah. It's, and I would think creatively it's hard, but you know, you, but the money will make, will make you feel better. You know,

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Money makes a lot of things feel better.

    Michael Jamin:

    You crying for your 50? Is there a 50 bill? <Laugh>. I wouldn't know what a 50 bill looks like. Fascinating. Dude, thank you so much. We have a good chat. We had a good time.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Steve. Thanks for having me.

    Michael Jamin:

    Thank you so much. This is, I, I don't know, I'm always fascinating in, in learning people's journeys and how they got there and so thank you so much for, for being on my little show.

    Steve Baldikoski:

    Thank you. And hopefully you have stuff that you don't have to cut.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, <laugh>, sorry folks. If you heard the version that, the edited version, we had a trash, a lot of stuff. <Laugh>,

    Steve Baldikoski:


    Michael Jamin:

    All right everyone, thank you so much. Remember, we offer, we got a lot of great stuff for you on my website. You can get on my newsletter, you get my free all that stuff. Go to michaeljamin.com and find out what we got there. And I got another webinar coming up. All right everyone, thanks so much. Until next, next week, keep writing.

    Phil Hudson:

    This has been an episode where screenwriters need to hear this with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving a review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

    53m | May 24, 2023
  • 081 - "Modern Family" Writer Andy Gordon

    Andy Gordon has had a Rich career in Hollywood. His credits include Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory, Last Man Standing, Just Shoot Me, & News Radio.

    Show Notes

    Andy Gordon on IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0329985/

    Andy Gordon on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_Gordon

    Andy Gordon on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andyonset/

    Andy Gordon on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andy-gordon-830028b5

    The History of WGA Writers' Strikes - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writers_Guild_of_America_strike

    WGA.org Strike Authorization Approved at 97.85%https://www.wgacontract2023.org/updates/strike-authorization-vote-results

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Auto-Generated Transcripts

    Coming Soon

    1h 10m | May 17, 2023
  • 080 - February Webinar Q&A

    On this week's episode of the podcast, we tackle your screenwriting questions from the February Webinar, "Becoming a Professional Writer: 4 Things You Must Know."

    Show Notes

    Free Monthly Webinar - https://michaeljamin.com/webinar

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Automated Transcripts

    Michael Jamin:

    That's the thing some people think because there's so much bad stuff on the air. Well, I can be bad. I can be just as bad as them. There's so many reasons why a show might be terrible. Some, not all of them come down to the writing. Sometimes you'll have a star and the star. This is what the, this is what they wanna do. And writing be their writers be damned. Sometimes it's coming from the network or the studio. This is what they want. And so they're paying for it. Sometimes there's so many chefs in the pot, executive producers giving notes. You don't even know what you're doing anymore. I mean, to me, it's almost like the business is designed to make mediocre shows. And only occasionally something breaks through. And god bless when that happens. You're listening to Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. Hey everyone, it's Michael Jamin and welcome back to another episode of Screenwriters. Need to hear this. I'm here with Phil Hudson. He's back. Phil is back. I, Phil.

    Phil Hudson:

    Hi. Good to be back. And I got a new microphone for all of you concerned about my audio.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's a good looking microphone. I gotta say, Phil, if you looked better than mine, that's the one real podcasters use.

    Phil Hudson:

    It was very expensive.

    Michael Jamin:

    I feel like mine is like a tin can. Yeah. <laugh>. Yeah. All right. It's fine though. So here we had a special episode. Yeah, I always say that, but I always mean it. Cuz we've been doing a lot of free webinars. Phil and I have been doing once a month. And, and so we get a lot of questions and so we couldn't answer all the questions. It's about an hour long. And we choose a topic we really dive in. The past ones have included, what are they included, how to write a good story

    Phil Hudson:

    For things you need to know to become a professional screenwriter. There was a, yeah, one we got leaving me.

    Michael Jamin:

    We got Mon Mo. We got one once coming up as well. Kind of like how to get past in industry gatekeepers, how to get your material seen by Hollywood Insiders. All this kind of stuff. Each, each topic. One week, it's each month it's gonna be a different topic. And if you'd like, if you'd like to be invited you can go to my website, MichaelJamin.com and, and just sign up for there. We, you know, we do it once a month and it's free. Why not? And, but one thing I've noticed, Phil and I've noticed is that we do these things. We get a ton of signups and maybe only a quarter or so of the people actually show up, which is so interesting cuz it's free. It's not the money. It's, and, and I, and I know I'm preaching to the choir cuz anyone who's listening to this podcast is not someone, <laugh> is the same kind of person who show up to a webinar. So I know I'm preaching to the choir, but I say this because there's so many people who definitely want to make screenwriting a reality. They wanna sell their screenplay, but they don't put the work in. Like, if they don't, like, if you're not gonna show up to a free webinar from a hosted by a guy who's telling you what you should do, then how are you going to make it? It's just not gonna happen. Phil. Like, what are you doing?

    Phil Hudson:

    I 100% agree. And it's also, it's interesting, right? But I think it highlights what I've been saying is there are a lot of people who are seamers. I think that's a term we talked about early on in the podcast. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> people want to seem like they are a screenwriter. So they go to the coffee shop, they have their screenplay open, they talk about their screenplay. It's the same screenplay. They never finish it. They never move on. I can't go do that. I'm working on my screenplay and they don't show up. This is an opportunity to sit with a working showrunner telling you exactly what you need to do to break in the industry and how to write good stories, all of these things. And they're just nohow.

    Michael Jamin:

    But it's also, it's like, all right, so you wrote one screenplay, but that's not enough. Like, and, but for the people listening, if you are doing what I'm telling you to do or are suggesting, at least you're writing more, you're writing more, you're taking classes, you're writing, you're getting feedback, you're going to event like you're non, this is nonstop until you break in. And then once you break in, it's non-stop again. Because it just doesn't end. You don't, the doors, you know, I don't know. So anyway, I commend everyone who's listening to this. If you want to come to the webinar, you're more than welcome. Go to michael jamen.com and you'll see the

    Phil Hudson:

    Free webinar, MichaelJamin.com/webinar

    Michael Jamin:

    Webinar. And yeah, you'll get an invite and then it's free. And then we send you a replay within like 24 hours. It's also free then if you miss it after that, I think, we'll, it'll be available for a small purchase fees because there's, there's work involved in putting these things up. But yeah, go get it. It's free. It's free. Okay. Are we, are you ready, Phil? So we got a lot of questions. I couldn't answer all them cuz there's a time limit. So here are the ones that that I couldn't answer.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. And, and this is for the February webinar because we've had, you've had a lot of great interviews coming up and we didn't wanna hold those back. And you got some good ones in the pipeline too. It was pretty exciting. Oh yeah. So February q and a, again, if you do get on that, we will answer your questions. Now, there are some questions that we've answered in previous q and a, so I'm gonna skip some of those. Some of them continue to come up, Michael. Yeah. And for your new audience members, I think we'll address those because they're important questions. And I think you're gonna prevent a lot of people from struggling and spending a lot of money in places they don't need to to be writers.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    One other note that I thought was pretty cool feedback for everybody. We did have someone sign up for your course and it was because they've attended three of these webinars and I thought it was pretty cool. He said he'd spent $4,000 on direct mentorship and your free webinars were better than that. And that's why he signed up for your course.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's, that's the problem. Where's he getting the, where's the mentorship? Like who's the

    Phil Hudson:

    What? We don't know. Four grand

    Michael Jamin:

    4K guys. So yeah. Come to these webinars, you'll get, you'll save $4,000,

    Phil Hudson:

    $4,000 value guaranteed. All right. I can't guarantee anything for Michael Jamon, I promise. Anyway, Norwood, let's go to question oh one, Norwood Creach, ask copyright. What is the status of writing a screenplay if it has a copyright?

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't know, <laugh>, but here's the thing. I don't give legal advice on my at all. I guess it protects you in some way, but I don't, I don't, I've only registered one script I ever wrote with the writer Guild of America. That was the first one I wrote. But after that, every script that I make is copywritten by the studio that I sell it to. So there, it's their, it's their legal headache if someone wants to steal it. So if you want to copyright, you can. And, but I, I've done talks about, I don't know, your biggest problem is someone should wanna steal you. Your biggest problem is if your, your work is so good. Someone wants to steal it. That's usually another problem you have. Right? Here's the problems. Your work is so terrible, no one wants to steal it, so. Right,

    Phil Hudson:

    Right. Cool. And then are you concerned, there are a couple follow up questions. Are you concerned with AI screenwriting?

    Michael Jamin:

    You know, not right now. I, I, I'm concerned. I have bigger pro, I have bigger concerns with ai and that is destroying the world. That's why they want to do this pause on it. Of all the writing that AI is gonna take away, I think, I think creative writing will be last on the list. They will take away technical writing. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> instructions and stuff like that. And maybe some forms of copywriting.

    Phil Hudson:

    Marketing writing is going away. I mean, I, that's a search engine optimizer for most of my digital marketing career. That's a real concern for us. And Google is leaning towards allowing that type of copy.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, okay. But

    Phil Hudson:

    In terms of, so it would be authoritative and you have to know how to communicate with the machine. But anyway, Uhhuh <affirmative>.

    Michael Jamin:

    But in terms of ai, you know, I'm not, I'm not worried yet. Maybe I'm being Pollyanna, is that what word? But I'm not worried yet. Cause it's not, it's certainly not there yet. Maybe in five or 10 years, but right now it's not there at all. And it's not even close to being there. So, yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Okay. Awesome. And then do you have any suggestions for writing narratives for young writers?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I mean, it's the same suggestions for everyone else. I, I, I have that free lesson at michaeljamin.com/free. It's a, it's the same lesson I would give an older writer. There's no difference. The, the, the advantage that older writers have is that I think when you're writing, you have any two things, and I've said this before, but you need to have something to say and you need to know how to say it. And I teach people how to say it. That story structure, how to unpack it and having something to say that comes with, unfortunately that comes with age and wisdom and that, you know, it's not, it's, it's unusual when someone young really has a, knows what they want to say. My daughter, who's only 20, she's got something to say and it shocks me. Cuz when I was her age, I didn't have anything to say. So, but but don't, you don't have to worry about that yet. Just continue writing.

    Phil Hudson:

    Awesome. Annie k ask, what's the best way to know if your script is ready to be passed on or get you a job? Is it competitions, is it a mentor? Any other suggestions?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, we've talked about competitions. I'd say there's, and you may know more about this than I do. I'd say about three of them that are probably worthwhile. Right. Yeah. And Austin Nichols and, and Sundance Sun.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Sundance has different labs. They shifted things a little bit prior to the pandemic where they're doing not just strict screenwriting labs anymore, but they have lots of different things. In fact, I'm, I'm attached to a screenplay coming out of Ecuador now because they have a fund Okay. Working with several fellows and things. And that's you know, I'm not writing the screenplay or anything, they're just attaching me as a script consultant because I have background there and been in the laps. But those are the only real ones that do anything. I mean, there, there are some other ones, like Big Break I think is a really good one that's on my final draft

    Michael Jamin:

    And you get to meet. Oh, okay. I hadn't even heard of that. I hadn't even

    Phil Hudson:

    Heard of that one. Yeah. So there are some, and we've talked about that in other podcast episodes as well with what the list is. But I can tell you, and we did talk about this a little bit on our webinar this month, the lot of that is a, is a way of funding the rest of the film festival. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, it's getting the judges to attend. I was working with a guy who ran some film festivals and he actually had me reading the scripts and giving my opinion and deciding who would get the best and Right. You know, I was a student

    Michael Jamin:

    And that's the problem. I mean, and if you're gonna, people say, whoa, I placed in the, like, you gotta, you gotta win or come in second or something. I don't think placing and then they still think it's gonna change their life. It rarely does. You still have to continue the hustle, you know? I was gonna do another

    Phil Hudson:

    Hmm. Go ahead, go ahead.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, I was gonna do another talk about this. Some woman made a post, she's like, yeah, I've one, I placed at all these contests and I still can't get an agent. I'm like, even if you did get an agent, it wouldn't change. Move the needle. You gotta do all this yourself. So mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and I, and I'm gonna do a whole webinar on that. I did, and I actually did that. I did one where we talked about it to some degree, but I'm gonna lean into it a little bit more. It's like, nah, you got, you're not doing enough, you're not doing enough.

    Phil Hudson:

    This is anecdotal, but someone in the chat in your last webinar said that they had a friend who placed on the blacklist mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, and they were promised all this industry connection. Nothing happened.

    Michael Jamin:

    They didn't even get a meeting or, or what?

    Phil Hudson:

    No, nothing came about. Nothing came of it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. So, so it's, it's not enough. Like Winnie, you know, these contents are relatively new. They weren't around when I broke in. But then again, the industry's changed so much and things are, you, can, there are things available now that would help you that weren't available then? Namely the internet, namely making your own stuff on your phone name. I mean, namely, like learning so much from people who are around industry. When I broke in 90, well, I moved outta, I got outta college in 92. There was no internet, there was no, how do I get a job? I had to drive out to Hollywood just to meet people to ask the questions. Now you can find out the answers on the internet, you know, so there's way more access now. So it's not, I wouldn't necessarily say it's harder now, it's just different. Yeah. And in some ways it's easier.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. And you've, you give out tons of free resources and most of your audience knows this by now, but you've got the free lesson. You've got your social media, which is great @MichaelJamin, and yeah, there's lots of good stuff out there that you put out that just didn't exist before.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    Alright. Daniel will ask, what's the ideal job to pay rent and have the time to pursue screenwriting?

    Michael Jamin:

    The ideal job would be assistant to an executive producer. Perfect job. Because you're basically sitting at their desk answering the phones that don't ring. That's what I did for a couple years. And so during that time, I wrote, and I would ask them questions, and that's the ideal job. The next best job would be a writer's assistant. So you're in the writer's and you're, I mean, in some degree, in some sense, that may even be a better job. You're in the writer's room and you're listening to these writers. You're learning how they break stories, but then you don't have the time to write or you write, you have to write it on the weekends or at night. So the, the both are great jobs,

    Phil Hudson:

    But you're learning so much through osmosis just being in that room, listening. Yeah, yeah. And seeing it happen.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. So that would be a fantastic job.

    Phil Hudson:

    All right. Follow up. How can I stay home and write while not making my girlfriend think I'm a bum ass?

    Michael Jamin:

    Your girlfriend isn't into you anyway, so you don't have to worry about it. How can you stay home and write? You know, you're gonna have to, you're gonna have to make priorities. That's the, that's the thing. That's the, I I feel because you know, my my writing partner, I don't wanna talk about him. Well, it's not really, I don't wanna tell his story, but he, he was going through similar things. You know, he had a girlfriend and he had he had to write on the side. And it was, it was the struggle. How do you, how do you balance? Oh, you're just gonna have to make that happen. I didn't have a girlfriend at the time. I don't have to worry about it. Yep. 

    Phil Hudson:

    For me, when I was dating, I had what I call the red carpet test. I, I was so fixed on knowing exactly what I wanted to do with my life, which is be a professional writer. Yeah. That when things started getting serious with a a girl, I would ask them, how comfortable would you feel on a red carpet? Correct, mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and no girl passed that test. They were all, they, I'd feel really uncomfortable. And then I asked my wife and she said that, and she said, oh, I, I wouldn't have a problem with that. And she's so supportive of me, like, so absolutely supportive of everything I do, that she understands that that's what I want to do. And she, I, I also prioritize what she wants though. It's, it's a give and take and a balance. Yeah. And, but that's, you just gotta find the right relationship. I think that handles that.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, you're right. And if you're in the wrong one and they don't like you, then resentment's gonna your're bo 10 years from now, you're gonna resent her if she's gonna resent you. So, yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    That, that's hard, hard advice to hear. But it's important advice is oftentimes your relationships, family and romantic will be the thing that holds you back from achieving your goals.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. You know, my wife, she ran a, a, well, you know this for the girls. She ran a, a, a girl's clothing company and I, for, for it's 15 years. And I handled all the marketing and I wrote all the commercials. And then, then when she stopped doing that, she threw herself into helping me doing what I'm doing now. And she was like, I was like, well, you know, thank you for your help. She said, well, you, you supported me just as much, so now I'm just doing it for you. So it, it's that kind of thing. You, if you're not in a supportive relationship, you've got a problem. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Breakup. That's the answer. Yeah. Michael's not telling goes

    Michael Jamin:

    Back to, I told you she wasn't into you. <Laugh>.

    Phil Hudson:

    Alright. Delara, Casey, what would you consider a giant following on social media isn't requiring somebody to have a car? Oh. And then there's a follow-up question. So let's go with what would you consider a giant following

    Michael Jamin:

    <Laugh>? No, I have no freaking idea. I have no idea. And I asked this of my agent on my book agent. I said, Hey, how big of a following do you need to have? I don't know. Okay. I don't know. I, I don't know. I don't know. I have no idea. And I asked my you're gonna have to ask a kid. I told, I had a, I had lunch with my nephew a couple weeks ago, and his friends, you know, they're young kids. They're, they're twenties, they're in college. And we were talking about TikTok and I told him, he said, yeah, we had a, a visitor, a lecturer come guy had a lot of followings. He had like 800,000 following followers. I'm like, oh, okay. That's a, i I got I got 412 and they thought, <laugh>, they thought I'm meant 412 <laugh>, right? Like 412 followers. And I said, no, no, 412,000. And they're like, oh, that's a lot. <Laugh>. So I don't know what I,

    Phil Hudson:

    I have an answer for this.

    Michael Jamin:

    What is the

    Phil Hudson:

    Answer? So, so because of my, what I'm currently doing, and you know, I'm, I'm now posting things professionally on my social media about being a, a writer or a, an associate producer or an assistant to these guys. And they're currently having me help them run their social media and do the promotional stuff for them for their new film. Quasi comes out on April 20th on Hulu, and that means I'm traveling with them and I'm sitting with a, a publicist from Searchlight Pictures and their publicist, who is the publicist for about half of the top comedians standup comedians, 50,000 followers.

    Michael Jamin:

    50,000 is considered an influencer in that space

    Phil Hudson:

    That allows you to, they want to engage with you to selfishly promote their product or their people. But

    Michael Jamin:

    What platform, cuz 50,000 on TikTok is said, it doesn't an Instagram,

    Phil Hudson:

    She said it doesn't matter. So anybody who has over 50,000, she wants me to write 'em down so that they can engage them about helping promote the film.

    Michael Jamin:

    It doesn't matter. She says.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. So I'll confirm. I mean, I'm going back on the road with them, you know, in a couple days and I'll ask that question as a follow up, but 50,000,

    Michael Jamin:

    But I wonder number because reach has really changed. I wonder if they're aware of, of there's no reach anymore. Yeah. <laugh>,

    Phil Hudson:

    It's, it's a numbers thing for sure. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. Interesting. There's your answer. 50,000.

    Phil Hudson:

    All right. Follow up question from Delara isn't requiring somebody to have a car, a form of discrimination to be a production assistant?

    Michael Jamin:

    You know, is it required? Is is is having two arms form of discrimination to be a baseball player? Well, that's the, you gotta swing a bat. So, you know, I don't know what to say. I mean, I don't know what to say about that.

    Phil Hudson:

    There, there have been people, by the way, there have been famous pitchers with one arm who have done the job Yeah. And done it. Well, the, the, I think this is just my opinion, a hundred percent Phil Hudson's opinion here. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I think that we're too focused on discrimination and less focused on what is the requirement to be able to do the function of the job. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, if you have to get from white Woodland Hills, California to Pasadena to hand a script to an actor, and that's an hour and a half in your car in traffic, you can't rely on a bus to get you there to do that job. No. No. And that is a function that is a requirement of the job. And so having the vehicle is, and, and they don't say quality of the vehicle, by the way. And they, they cover your miles for the car, which is the wear and tear and the gas in the vehicle. Right. So that you get compensated for those things, but you just have to be able to do the function of that job.

    Michael Jamin:

    I mean, it would great if the studio had a car, a beater that, okay, you gotta drive the car. You here's the car, here's the, here's the studio car, and now you gotta run errands with the car. That'd be fantastic. But you know, there's, they, I don't know. You still have to get to work, you still have to find a way to get to work. You still have to know how to drive. Yeah. There'd still be obstacles in your way. So

    Phil Hudson:

    No, no. If you're set PA and you're on set all day, that's a different story. Cuz you can get two set on time. Someone can drop you off, you're there for 12 to 14 hours and then somebody has to pick you up and take you home. Yeah. It's a different story. You can carpool with other people at work, if you're in the camera department colliding, whatever those are, you can do those jobs. But to be like an office pa or writer's pa you're getting people's lunches. You're, you're like going out and running errands. You gotta have a vehicle to do that job. So I don't think it's discrimination.

    Michael Jamin:

    I mean, the at the bottom line is like, people who have some money are always gonna have it easier than people who have absolutely no money. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And so that's just the way it is. Is it fair? No. It's just the way it is. So I, I don't know.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yep. Until the machines start picking us up and we just get in the car without knowing why.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Maybe that'll happen. That's right. They'll have self-driving cars and PAs will be outta work. So

    Phil Hudson:

    I don't know. Yep. There you go. They just throw stuff in the back.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    All right. Ariel Allen asks, do you recommend starting with short scripts and just working those before moving to full length?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, short, I mean, that's what I do as a TV writer. I, I write short scripts. They're 22 minutes long. I don't write features. So, and I think writing a, you know, a short script, a 22 minute script is takes much less time than writing a feature. So I recommend Sure. You know, that's why I write fe To me it's more interesting. I like the, the pace, the change than spending all this time on a feature, which could take a couple years in the same amount of time. I could bang out several epi several or, you know, on half dozen or so episodes of television. So,

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. And I think, and this is old data, so it might have changed, but I doubt it. The timeframe when being offered a script assignment for a feature is six months to turn in your first draft.

    Michael Jamin:

    Uhhuh <affirmative> probably defense. They want it yesterday, to be

    Phil Hudson:

    Honest. Right. But, but I think you have six months to get in your draft is, they'll push you for it. But that's what the Writer's Guild has is the timeframe Okay. To get in draft one. And then there's a time for the, for draft two. So that being said, how many pilots can you write in six months of tv?

    Michael Jamin:

    Me personally?

    Phil Hudson:

    You personally, as a professional

    Michael Jamin:

    Screener. Oh. Oh, I don't know. I, I mean, I don't try to write that many pilots. I, you know, we write, we might do one a season, you know, one a year, you

    Phil Hudson:

    Know, because you, you're working writer two, so we gotta consider that.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. But you could write, it's, it takes less time to write an episode of television on, you know, spec script than a, than a pilot.

    Phil Hudson:

    Sure. Okay. Another follow up question. I live in Texas and I'm nowhere near. Oh.

    Michael Jamin:

    But you know, hold on, Phil. One, one second though. I don't, I say yeah, if, if I find it very hard to tell a compelling story, that's if it's too short. If you don't have enough time, if you're only doing like five minutes, if you wanna write a short that's a five minute short, I would have, I would've a hard time telling a compelling story that amount of time. I think for me it's like 20 minutes is kind of the sweet spot. Maybe 15. But any shorter than that, it's like I, I, I don't know. I need time to get the plane up in the air. You know,

    Phil Hudson:

    When I was in film school, the assignments were your scr, your short could be no longer than like five minutes or three minutes depending on the professor. And yeah. Some of the professors were my age cuz I was a, a, you know, an older student and I talked to them after and they're like, yeah, it's just because I don't wanna sit through that much boring content.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    Right. Cause they couldn't tell a story. And, and that was, I've talked about it before, amazing cinematographers, great camera work, but nothing happening and it's just boring to watch, even if it's pretty. Yeah. So they would have those caps and then I had to hit that restraint for my final project. And because of your mentorship and the work that I'd been putting into writing, I knew that my script needed to be 12 minutes long and it was a 12 minute script and I cut it down to a five minute. And after my professor in my directing class was like, yeah, you, that story needs to be longer because there was not enough time to breathe and to fill those moments. And so, yeah. Yeah. I, it's definitely, and the formatting was very different too. Writing a short, we, we talked about that all the time as students is there's just not a lot of ramp up time to get across the information you need. And when you talk about those three fundamental things you need to know in a story in your, you talk about that in your free lesson. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> hard, hard to get that across super fast and finish that plot in three minutes.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well it's also cuz you wanna make that end, if you want that end to be impactful, to really hit somebody, it's like, it's not even so much about getting all the exposition out. It's about like, what do I need to do to make that ending feel like a payoff to really feel emotional. And like, if you don't have enough time to do all the other stuff, the ending is just gonna feel unearned. It's gonna, you know, it's gonna feel un unearned, which is the, you know, bad writing.

    Phil Hudson:

    Right. Alright, follow up question from Ariel. I live in Texas and I'm nowhere near quote the industry. Yeah. How do you actually gain connections in the film or TV industry?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, I think, I think the problem is you need to be in Hollywood. You, you, you're Ariel's saying, I wanna work in Hollywood, but I don't want to work in Hollywood. Yeah. Like, well, there's a problem. Yeah. And so, and

    Phil Hudson:

    There is an industry in Texas. There are a lot of filmmakers in Austin and a lot of people are moving to Austin. But what do you want to do in the industry? And this is the question I have from a lot of people. Would you stay in la Why are you in la? It's cuz this is where the writing happens. Yeah. If I could live in another state and do it, I probably would. Yeah. Taxes are better, A lot of reasons why. Less traffic, less pollution, all those things. But yeah, this is where the writing happens. And so this is where I am until I achieve that. Or I'm at a level where I can move somewhere else and then, you know, do the job from elsewhere. And, and I know that's like feature writers at a really high level, like in years in, in Academy Awards mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, it's not something that's,

    Michael Jamin:

    And even they have to come back in for meetings. Although maybe with Zoom it's less and less, but they have to, you know. Yeah. But that's the, I mean that's the thing. It's like, I know she doesn't wanna leave Texas for whatever reason cuz she likes it there. She has friends, family, she, you know, whatever reason she doesn't wanna leave. But there are people who will leave and those people are gonna have a leg up. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Those people want it more. No one wants to move away from their friends and family. No one wants to. And so the people who come out here like yourself are hungry because they're uncomfortable. They wanna make it happen because they've already sacrificed. So those people have an, have an advantage. And to be honest, I think they should because they've already given up more. They want more.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Sacrifice.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yep.

    Phil Hudson:

    Justin, via, you mentioned early in your career you started working under a working writer who helped show you the robes. How did you approach that relationship? I think this referring to the the book writing for Doe what's his name?

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, well I had Bill Addison mean, I had, I had a writing teacher and he was a retired guy and he lived in the Pacific Palisades and he had a class once a week in his, you know, dining room. And we all drove there. That, so yeah, I studied under him. He gotta study. You gotta, I always felt like you gotta study. There were, there were classes offered. I could have taken a class at UCLA Extension or something like that, but I wanted to be sure of who I learned from. And I found him a guy I wanted to learn from, the guy who had the job that I wanted. And so he was retired sitcom writer. Perfect. I didn't wanna learn from professional teacher, which many of them are, some of them are not, but many of them are. So

    Phil Hudson:

    This is a question leader. How did you find him? What did you do to find that?

    Michael Jamin:

    You know what I, I heard, I don't remember who told me, but I moved to la moved to Hollywood. Now I'm in the circles, now I'm hanging out. I'm, this is where everyone comes here because they wanna become a screenwriter or actor or whatever. And so you're meeting people at parties who wanna do, who want the same thing that I want. And then you're talking, and then someone mentioned this guy, someone, he, he wasn't in the phone book, he wasn't on the internet. There was no internet back then. Someone mentioned his. And then I, I met, I learned it from someone who I was talking to. This is why people come to Hollywood. And I was like, great. Gimme his number. And then I went. So I, I don't remember who told me, but that's how I found out.

    Phil Hudson:

    Did you develop any kind of relationship with him? I think that's ju Justin's second part of that question. How did you approach that relationship? Or was it really just a teacher-student relationship where you show up, you kind of listen, he dictates down that kind of thing, or

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, it was teacher student. He told me, I, after reading some stuff that I would never make it as a professional writer. He thought he was doing me a favor cuz he thought, well, don't waste your time trying to do this. Do something else with your life. He, he wasn't trying to be mean. He was trying to do me a favor, but he didn't know me well enough. He didn't know me, that he didn't know how hard I work and how I tenacity

    Phil Hudson:

    There, there's a tenacity there that most people don't have. And so he saw where you were and said, this is as far as you will go, not knowing Yeah. You'd hit the wall until it broke down. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. So

    Phil Hudson:

    Huge lesson in that for everybody listening by the way. Like, that's what you have to do. Yeah. Hit the wall until it falls down.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. In, in college I wanted to be a creative writing. I just wanted to study, wanted to be in the creative writing program. I was good enough to take classes, but I wasn't good enough to get into the program where I, that was my major. And so they told me I wouldn't be a writer either. Yeah. Who cares? No one's, no one's gonna tell me what I get to do with my life.

    Phil Hudson:

    Look who's laughing now?

    Michael Jamin:

    No one's laughing. <Laugh> not even the audience.

    Phil Hudson:

    Michael doesn't make anybody laugh.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    When you say, okay, and then follow up, when you say it doesn't matter whose hands your script gets into, would you go as upload your script to online?

    Michael Jamin:

    I I, I, not necessarily. I I would be really, you know, I wanna know who I was giving it to. Not, but, you know, I wouldn't upload it to the, to the interwebs. And I, I meant it in terms of a great script. Ha has legs the same way a great show has legs. This like, here's the thing. I saw this great show, and I was gonna talk about this in one of my upcoming webinars and made a note of it. There's this guy named Derek Delgado, and he put on a show, he had a one-man show, it was on Hulus called in and of itself. Someone told me about it and I watched it and I was blown away. It was so original and so creative. I was blown away. I stopped when I was done. Let's go back to the beginning start. I've never do this.

    I never go back to the beginning when I just finished it. Let's watch it again, forget it. But I did that. And then afterwards I started telling everyone, you gotta watch this show. This is amazing. And and, and, and I was doing it. Like no one asked me to share it. I was sharing it because I was giving a gift. Like, go watch this. This is amazing. You're gonna love this. And I would look good in that person's eyes because I was the one who discovered this precious gem that no one else was talking about. I'm the only one who's, this is my little thing and now I'm giving it to you. And I felt like a gift. And that's what a great script could do. Like, you show it to someone and they're blown away if they're like, oh, it's okay. You're, nothing's gonna happen. But if they're blown away, they will tell people, not because they're trying to help you, but because they're trying to help themselves and make themselves look good to the, to their friends and family. And, you know, look what I just gave you this great recommendation.

    Phil Hudson:

    You might have literally just equated it to this, but could your audience equate it to finding that, show that water cooler talk, the one everyone wants to talk about and share with their friends?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Right. It's, and it's not, it's not like, you know, at the end of the whatever water cooler, white lotus or whatever, whatever's big right now, it's probably not white lotus anymore. But no one there wouldn't say, Hey, did you, no one says, Hey, if you enjoyed your show, this show, please share it with your friends. There was none of that at the end of HBO's episode of White Lotus. It was, people loved it and they just went to work the next day. You gotta watch this show. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    So what, what was that moment for you, for the audience? What is that moment for you when you were watching a show and that's the level you want to be at to be a pro.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, well, but when you, when you, what, what are you saying? When you get,

    Phil Hudson:

    What I'm saying is for the audience member, think about a time when you watched a show and you well felt this is something I need to go tell Joe about or Mike about.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    That moment, that quality, that's what you're striving for, to work at a professional level at the upper echelons of Hollywood. Yeah. And when someone has that experience with your script, that is what's gonna happen in script format.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, exactly. Exactly. They'll, that's, that's when I say give it to, it doesn't matter who you give it to you, if you give it to someone and it's amazing, they will give it to someone else and they're not gonna give it to some idiot on the internet. They don't know they're gonna give it to a friend who can help someone who's further up the ladder. They're just gonna pass it along. You know, they give it to someone who knows someone who knows someone in the industry. And if it's great, it'll find, it'll, it'll, it'll start walking. Cuz little good scripts have legs. Yeah. And if it's not, if it's mediocre, it won't.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. I, I put a script online, but it was also very well documented here on this podcast with you giving me notes that I wrote that script. So there is a paper trail of authority and ownership that goes back to me and logged IP addresses when you download it so that if someone stole it, I feel legally protected enough to do that. And it's of service. And I got great notes from a professional writer, Michael. So it was absolutely worth me doing that. I don't think either of us are suggesting you do that.

    Michael Jamin:

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.

    Phil Hudson:

    The question you've answered many times before but continually pops up because everyone focuses on this. At first, do you need an agent?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, you do need an agent to get submitted to a TV show, to get the meeting, to get a pitch meeting. You do, you do need an agent, but an agent, an agent is really not gonna get you work. Mostly agent's, field offers agent will do the 5% of the work that you can't do. You still have to do 95% of the work. And so yes, you need an agent, but the agent is not the answer to your problems. And there's a lot you can do without an agent. So. Yep.

    Phil Hudson:

    And you've said before, any script you get when you're staffing a show, those people have come from someone with an agent. Yes. And you're still hoping for a good writer out of that batch.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. If I get, if I'm staffing a show, and let's say I got three dozen scripts to read, which is not an exaggeration. All of them come from agents, all of them come from managers. You know, you can't submit to me, you can't, I won't touch it. So it all comes through a rep, a rep, and of those 36 scripts, maybe only one or two are any good. So

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Okay. this was a comment specific to the time, but I think it addresses something that happens on your website. Jeff says, so I'd love to take Michael's course, but it's currently closed. Sad face.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    Sad face. So the course is closed now. Yeah. you are now doing an enrollment period on the course. Do you wanna talk about that?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. So once a month we open it up and it's brief. It's like three days or something fell, right? It's, it's like three or 40 or something like that. It's not a lot.

    Phil Hudson:

    A lot of people join which is great and a lot of people are getting a lot of value out of it, but we close it down so that we can provide a better experience to those people. Because when it's open all the time, it's a little crazy for both of us.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. It was cra Yeah, it's, so we got on a row par, we onboard everybody, shut the door, take a breath, do it again next

    Phil Hudson:

    Month, answer questions in the private group, the people in there help you out. All that stuff. So if you're wondering why the course is closed here's a hint. Maybe attend the live webinar.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. You'll get a better, actually, if you attend the webinar, we, we give you a better deal. <Laugh>. Yeah. So come the webinar, you got a special deal. If not just get on my email list and you'll know when it's open. And when it's open, get in. And then if you miss it, get in the next time. You know, it's every month.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Got it. PJ works, and we've addressed this as well, but I think he phrases it really interestingly. Just curious, how do we have bad movies and TV shows if you have to be really good to be in the industry?

    Michael Jamin:

    That's the thing. Some people think because there's so much bad stuff on the air. Well, I can be bad. I can be just as bad as them. There's so many reasons why a show might be terrible and some not all of them come down to the writing. Sometimes you'll have a star in the star. This is what the, this is what they wanna do. And writing be damn writers be damned. Sometimes it's coming from the network or the studio. This is what they want. And so they're paying for it. Sometimes there's so many chefs in the pot, executive producers giving notes. You don't even know what you're doing anymore. I mean, to me it's almost like it, the business is designed to make mediocre shows. And only occasionally something breaks through. And god bless when that happens. But you know, why, why?

    Just because that's how it, this is the, the business. This is the, it's a business. So everyone wants through chasing the same thing. I read a book, but I think it was Charlie Hawk, he described it as everyone wants to make a hit show. Everyone's in a, in a life raft. And so you have the director, the actor, the writer, the studio executive, the production company, everyone. And everyone's got an org and they're paddling as fast as they can, but the raft is circular. And so everyone's paddling, but the raft is going around in circles because, you know, that's what the problem is. When you have all these, they all want the same thing though, which is to get to the other side. But they're paddling. And so that's what happens. You start spinning around.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Unless you have a, you get lucky it's lightning in a bottle or you have a really strong showrunner who has enough f you minor to say no, but, and that's, and by the way, that's not me. So it's some people who have the clout,

    Phil Hudson:

    You know, there's a really good book on this called Difficult Men. And it's about the showrunners, A difficult man behind scenes of a Creative Revolution from The Sopranos by Brett Martin. And it talks about this, these showrunners who were those guys and they wrote Mad Men and mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, all these shows that you know and love. And it, they just had the chops to do the job and the attitude to say no. But the chops were so good. They HBO and these companies just let them do their job.

    Michael Jamin:

    Once you start making a successful show, they usually back off. Once they learn to trust the showrunner, they back, they usually back off. But in the beginning, everyone's scared. And the bigger budget, the budget is every, the more scared everyone is.

    Phil Hudson:

    JJ Abrams just had a show canceled on h HBO this year.

    Michael Jamin:

    What was it?

    Phil Hudson:

    I, I can't remember the name of it, but it was like a massive budget. It was like one of the first things Discovery chopped. Like they just cut the

    Michael Jamin:

    Budget. Oh yeah. Well, because

    Phil Hudson:

    They were cutting budgets everywhere. So, yeah. Two questions similar, gonna combine them. So she, Shea Mercedes and Leonte Bennett. How do we learn, or how can I practice screenwriting every day when I don't have an idea for a screenplay? And let me combine it with another, yeah. Bark bark 4 35. How can a beginner start to be a screenwriter? What are the first steps? So what, how do I write if I don't have any ideas? How can I learn to write and, you know, what are my first steps if I want to be a screenwriter? These feel very new to me.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, if you don't have an idea, you're screwed. I mean, you know, but you don't have to have a good idea. You have to have, you don't have to have a great idea to have a good idea. And there's, it's the execution, which is which matters. I talk, one of the modules we have in the chorus and I, and trying to through one of the most popular ones is minding your life for stories. How, how to mine your life. Cuz you all have stories. People wanna, I think new writers think that let's create a world and let's create all the characters in this world. I'm like why bother? Why not just write what you know? And that way you, if you come, you take the story from your life. You don't have to create a story cuz it ha already happened to you. You don't have to create a character.

    You're the character. All you gotta do is figure out how to unpack the details of the story and that story structure. And that can be learned, that can be taught. That's what we teach. And so that's what I would do. I, you know, that's what I would do. Start writing what, you know, and what, you know, there's a misconception. You know, this guy on Paul Guillo, he, you know, he's a another writer on, on, you know, on the internet, on the social media. And he, you know, he talked about this the other day and I was like, he said it perfectly, which is people say, write what you know, but they don't really understand what that means. They think, well that means if you're a plumber, write about plumbing. Right. About a, your character is a plumbing plumber. No, no, no. Right. What you know means the internal struggles that you face.

    So if you are insecure about your education, your character write about a character who's insecure about that. If you're insecure with, about your looks or if you were abandoned as a baby, write about that. I mean, so it doesn't have to be the outside, it's the entire, it's the internal struggle. What you feel on the inside. That's what you know. And, you know great the Great Gatsby, you know, a great American novel, F Scott Fitzgerald wrote it. And so that's, that was about a guy who felt poor. He felt poor. And and he wanted the girl. And he, he always felt he would never have any self worth until he was rich. And then he'd be worthy enough to get the girl. As much as he loved the girl, being rich was more important to him cuz he always had the emptiness.

    And if you know anything about f Scott Fitzgerald's background, that was him. That's how he felt. And even when he had the, even when he earned money as a, as a novelist in the screenwriter, he couldn't keep it in his pocket. He had to spend it because that's how he felt. That was, that's how he felt whole on the, on the, you know, on the inside. And that's why he had a drinking problem. That's why he died at the age of 40 something because of an of alcoholism, because he had that hole. But the character of Great Gatsby's pretty close to him.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Yeah. Episode 39 of this podcast, A great writing exercise. There are some ideas in there and some other things that you can do to learn more about how to practice your skills and, and develop those things. But the other thing we talk about on this podcast often is being okay with yourself and being okay with your emotions and being okay. Being vulnerable. But you also talk about the dichotomy of when's, what's too far, what's oversharing. Yeah. So dive into the podcast a bit more if you're new and there's maybe we'll

    Michael Jamin:

    Do, actually that's a good point. Maybe we'll do a whole webinar on oversharing and stuff like that.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. All right. So, so again, lots of questions about do I need to live in LA to be a writer? How to make connections with people outside if I'm not there. We've already addressed these LA's where the writing is, but you can make connections in your area and online. Your, your screenwriting course is a great place to do that. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, outside of that, there are Facebook groups. Lots of really

    Michael Jamin:

    Popular. Yeah. We have a private face. We have a private Facebook group just for the students and those guys. I gotta say Phil cuz I don't do this. Those guys are, they're, they're hitting it hard. They are having table reads. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, they're having script swaps, pitch sessions, pitch set, and like what? And like, I'm not in charge of that. They are. And it's because they're freaking focused and they just wanna

    Phil Hudson:

    Make happen. Like they're beginning guests too. Like one of, one of the writing members, Laurie, her, her husband is a pretty well known writer. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And he came in and did a guest pitch session where people, writers pitched to him and he gave feedback.

    Michael Jamin:

    Good for him. Yeah. He,

    Phil Hudson:

    He's, he has famously one of the, I think it's the most valued script sold. And he came in and he did it to help you because that's a student. That's not a connection you or I have.

    Michael Jamin:

    Nope. Nope. There's a connection with another student. So like, I'm impressed and that's why we, and you know, we keep a close. It's like, you can't join. I get, we get people every day they want to join. Like, no, no, no, no, no. It's only for students because I don't want this turning into a cesspool of of trolls and, and idiots. Yeah. Like every other screenwriting group on, on Facebook where the people are just mean and stupid and and awful to each other. It's not what's going on in there. So Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Absolutely. Cool. Gary Hampton, what would you say it's beneficial to volunteer to be a writer's assistant or producer's assistant to gain some practical experience?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, you can't volunteer. I mean, it's a paying position. It's not an internship

    Phil Hudson:

    And you can't intern anymore because some interns sued. And so no one wants to do that anymore.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. So it's a paid position. It's not a, it's not a well paid position, but, you know, so you can't volunteer

    Phil Hudson:

    For it. That, that being said, personal experience with this. You, I remember I got a text, I was sitting in my office and you were like, Phil, there's a PA job on Tacoma fd. Do you want it? It pays horrible and the work sucks. And I said, I would do that job for free. And you said right answer and you told me that's exactly what you did. Like you volunteered. Isn't that how you got your job? You or your first one of your first Yeah, my

    Michael Jamin:

    First job, this was on a show called Evening Shade. This was a long time ago with Bet Reynolds. And and who else was in it anyway? Mary Henry. But I sent out resumes. I'll do, I'll please, I'll work for free. Finally, some someone said, fine, you wanna work for free, you can start tomorrow. We'll give you $300 a week. And I was like, 300, you know, now $300 a week is nice. Nothing <laugh>, but I jumped at it. It's better than free. I jumped at it.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. but

    Michael Jamin:

    It's only because he only offered me the job because I said, I'll work for free.

    Phil Hudson:

    You were willing to do it. Yep. So you had the desire follow up question. What's the best way to get into a writer's room? And I know that's a crap shoot.

    Michael Jamin:

    Get as a Well, the best way to get in as a writer's assistant, you know, but you, that's hard. You have to get in first. You get start as a pa.

    Phil Hudson:

    And the, and the answer to this, having done basically all of this over the last several years is bust your butt. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, serve, serve, serve. I remember. And I think I've, I think Seavers aware now. I remember there was one point where Seavert was like, yeah, Philip Burnout. And you were like, no, he won't. Cuz you've known me long enough. But

    Michael Jamin:

    Did he say that? I conversations

    Phil Hudson:

    There's a level, there's the level at which I was like putting out in the writer's room and I, I remember I overheard that conversation. You're like, not fell. I appreciate you having my back. But it gets, it gets exhausting at a certain level and you just have to keep putting up it.

    Michael Jamin:

    It gets emotionally exhausting too. That's probably the, that's probably even harder than the physical. It's like, cuz you're so close, you're five inches away from the seat that you want to sit in.

    Phil Hudson:

    You're sitting outside the room.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    Yep. I, I would literally have to remind myself when I would get overwhelmed with like those thoughts. I'd say, this is the job I would've killed for two years ago, is

    Michael Jamin:

    The job. That's exactly

    Phil Hudson:

    Right. I killed for three years ago.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's exactly right.

    Phil Hudson:

    That's how I kept going. It's not fun. And a lot of people are like, oh, isn't that beneath you? Like, nothing is beneath me as long as it helps me progress. Nothing.

    Michael Jamin:

    Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. Yeah. So.

    Phil Hudson:

    Alright. How do you so love Leah Ann Clark. How do you stick to your story when people tell you that is not sellable because they have not lived through the events?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well if it's not sellable, like, I mean, I don't know who's telling you It's not sellable. No story sellable, just to be clear. You know, even if you pitch a two of i, I pitched stories. That's like, that's, I can't sell that. You know why? It's only the minute it sells, it's sellable. But if you tell a story authentically and truthfully, that's the only thing you can hope for, is to write a great story. That's what I say. I if you're gonna look for the, the market, oh, this is what the market's looking for. What's the market looking for? Forget it. That's a moving target. The minute you fire that hour, the target is gone. It's two

    Phil Hudson:

    Years old too, so

    Michael Jamin:

    It's always changing. It's just like, you know, so, but all you get, all you can do as a writer is write a great story. That's the only thing that you have control over and not worry about selling it. Can you write a great story? And if you can, then it becomes a calling card. People will hire you to write something else. Just focus on writing a great story.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Another really good piece of advice in the industry is if there's a story that you feel in your soul you need to tell, don't put that one off. Write that one.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Write that one immediately,

    Phil Hudson:

    Right? Yeah. Yep. Jeff Rice Studios ask, could you talk about some of the staff management process of Showrunning or being the quote captain of the ship quote?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, as the showrunner, you know no one becomes a comedy writer or even any kind of writer to even drama writer because they want to be a manager. They don't become, they don't, that's not why we go into it. They, if you did, you go into middle management, you get a job in the corp in a corporation. So you're, we all do it because you want to be creative. Then you rise to the level where you have your own show, or you're running someone's show for them. And and now you have to keep everyone motivated. And so the way you keep motivated, you know, is not by shutting people down. You have to lead, but you also have to make 'em feel like they have a voice. And this is tough. It's like, it doesn't make me comfortable at all. It's not why I went into it anyway, so I was to, was to do this. So, but you have to just be a decent human being and hopefully you know, but, but your job, by the way, is when you're on staff, your job is not to be creative, per se. Your job is to give the showrunner what they want. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> is to help them make their show.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Awesome. Raven Wisdom when in a groove riding a scene and as happens, life interrupts the flow and you lose the moment. What has helped you to return to that moment or scene and continue that thought?

    Michael Jamin:

    You know, I, I, I guess, I dunno how long life is putting you on hold, but you should be, be, hopefully you're making time every day, even if it's only 15 minutes to, I mean, we all have 15 minutes. Right. You know? Yeah. I hope

    Phil Hudson:

    Famously, I think it was Hemingway would stop purposefully mid-sentence mm-hmm. <Affirmative> so that when he sat down at his computer or his typewriter, he could pick up his thought. Yeah. And so I think that's something you just have to train out. And it's actually a good thing cuz facing a blank page, not knowing where you're gonna go next is far worse than reading the last sentence and then continuing typing.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Okay.

    Phil Hudson:

    All right. We've got a lot of questions here still, Michael. So we're gonna get through a couple of the last ones, and I think couple more. A lot of this is repetitive, so I'm just gonna pick probably four or five more, and then we'll wrap it up. Does that sound good to you? Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    That sounds good.

    Phil Hudson:

    Okay. If you're a writer hoping to staff on a traditional network, procedural style show, do you specifically need a procedure, procedural style sample, or just a great sample that shows your unique quote voice?

    Michael Jamin:

    I've never written on a procedural. Don't even don't like 'em. I don't watch 'em. I, I would assume it's probably both. They're gonna want more than one sample. They're gonna want a sample of a procedural, and they're gonna want a sample of something else.

    Phil Hudson:

    That's always the case though. It's always two, right? Yeah. You need a, you did it and it's not a fluke. You can do it again. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    So I have won Beach. Yeah. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Okay. All right. And Kay Films, do you remember shadowing a writer that is currently in the film industry?

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't know about shadowing. I've worked for many writers. I never shadowed anyone. I, I i that like, there's no such thing as shadowing a writer. A writer is just in front of a computer, and if you were to shadow them, you'd, you'd be standing over their shoulder watching them type, like, it'd be horribly uncomfortable for everyone. It's not like a, it's not a visual job to How do you open, how do you open final drafts? Like that's what you'd see. Yeah. but I, I, I've worked for our writers and I've talked to him about story. I've had conversations, I've worked for a guy named William Masters Simone, this is when I first breaking in. And he wrote a great movie called The Beast. He wrote called another one called Extremities with, I think it was Farrah Faucet. He was a playwright. He was a playwright out of New Jersey who worked as a grave digger. He was a grave digger, and he write plays, literally. And brilliant writer. That's

    Phil Hudson:

    Fascinating. Like, I want to Yeah, that's a fascinating backstory right there.

    Michael Jamin:

    And he was such a sweet guy. So down to earth. And then he got brought on, I was working on a, I was the writer assistant on a movie called What's Love Got Love What's Love got to do with it? The Tina Turner story. And so he would come and he got, he flew in for I think three or four weeks to rewrite the script. Then I don't think he, yeah, I don't think he got any credit for it, but he got a boatload of money, I'm sure. And he came down to LA and he type up the pages on his old typewriter. Then I'd retyped them and put 'em into the computer and format it correctly for for the movie. And such a sweet man. He's like, let me buy you lunch. Here's pizza. What can I do? He was just so nice. I, I really loved his attitude. He was kind very down to earth. That's it. But

    Phil Hudson:

    You've adopted that attitude too. I mean, I've, I've done things to, to help you because I want to help you and you've Yeah. Repaid in kindness beyond what I feel I've done for you. Well, thank you. I've seen you do that for other people as well, so,

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. You know, because no one, I don't, no one goes into screenwriting cuz they think it's gonna, they're gonna be in charge of the, the world. Yeah. You, you take another profession if you have a giant ego. But yeah, he was, he was a super nice guy.

    Phil Hudson:

    On those lines, Aaron ha has asked, what is the best way to approach someone who you want to mentor you or learn from them? Is there any specific things you did in that relationship or others?

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't know. I, I would imagine that's a question probably for you. I think what you do is you give first. Yeah. That's what you do.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, a hundred percent. And, and that does two things. One, just naturally I feel of, I feel good and feel of value when I serve other people. Yeah. Like there's a, there's a feeling. For me it's very physical. It's like a kinetic, kinesthetic, like tingly feeling of good, right? When I do something for other people, it's a selflessness that I just, I think it comes from being very poor and not having, and knowing how valuable that little bit of help really moves the needle for people.

    Michael Jamin:

    And that's, so that's, that's the point then. So it's like when you approach someone as a men, when you want someone to be your mentor, you're basically saying, I, I want you to gimme something. I what you have. I want, can you give me what you, what you have? And so that's not the attitude. The attitude is what can I give you mentor to make your life better. What can I give you?

    Phil Hudson:

    I'm in the broken lizard social media right now, helping them with this thing. As we talked about, and I just posted this on my TikTok, like, like every email that comes into that inbox is, here's a script that I've just written. Hey, I want to talk to you about a business opportunity. Hey, here's this thing. Every, there are a lot of fans that comment, but anything industry related is put me in your next film. Hey, can I be a guest star in your film? Hey, can you get me to the q and a? Hey, can I, can I sit next to you at the q and a? It's never, Hey, I noticed this thing on your imdb and I just wanna let you know I went ahead and fixed it for you. Thank you so much for what you've done for me. It's all, it's ask, ask, ask, ask, ask.

    And, and these people, that's all they get. And you know, I don't know if it's just personal, just me, my personality, I have never approached anyone and just asked for something that makes me feel really uncomfortable. I've always stopped and asked, what can I do to make that life guys? And I, I I, it might go back to this specific moment when I was asked to come in and not guest lecture, but just be in a class at a business school because I was managing this deli, this chain of deli's. And my friends asked me to go in and I remember the teacher saying, one of the best questions you can ask in any interview is at the end they'll ask, do you have any questions? And the mistake is no questions. You should have questions prepared. But the best question you can ask is, in this position, what burdens can I remove from your shoulder? Yeah. Or what can I do to make your life easier? This is a better way to ask that question. Yeah. And instead of asking that question, think about it, figure it out, and then proactively do it. That's, that's the best approach.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    With, with zero expectation of return. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Zero with zero expectations. If

    Phil Hudson:

    You have, if you were doing it for return, that is manipulation and that stinks. Intention has a smell, I think is a term I

    Michael Jamin:

    Heard before. That's right. People can sense that for sure.

    Phil Hudson:

    Cool. final question here. Yeah. and I had a good one here. Hops kiss, tips for building discipline around working consistently on your specs scripts.

    Michael Jamin:

    I think the problem is this person is losing interest in their own work. They're getting bored by their work. They don't know what the characters should be doing next. And that's hard. And so they're not looking forward to working because they don't know how to, and so I wouldn't, you know, if you suck at it or you don't know how to do it, you're not gonna, why would you want to sit down as a typewriter and do more of it if it's, if you don't know what you're doing, it's gonna be too hard. It's gonna be distasteful. You're gonna want to procrastinate. I think the a the answer is you have to learn how to, how to write. Once you learn how to do it, it doesn't become easy. But at least there's a path. At least you go, okay, I know what to do here when I'm sitting at the, I know what to do. It's doing It is hard, but I know what to do at least.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Ryan Holliday, the author behind the New STOs is a movement that's out. Many New York Times bestsellers he put up on his social media the other day, it was Jim Halvert from the Office on the right board. Yeah. Stop wearing what other people think. They're only thinking about themselves.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's true.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. No, and you gave me that advice. You said, no one cares. You're worried what everyone else thinks about you. The truth is, no one cares cuz they're just thinking about themselves.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. And that's, I I believe I took it from Oscar Wild who said, you know, you'd worry less about what people think about you if you realized how little they did. Yeah. They don't, they're not thinking about you or they already think you're garbage anyway, so what's the difference you make? Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    So who cares? So get out of, get out of your head is the other way. Don't worry about what other people think about you.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Oh yeah. Get outta your

    Phil Hudson:

    Way. There's a lot of, yeah, there's, there's a lot of questions we didn't get to, but, but for those of you who did attend the February webinar, I went through all these questions and a lot, a lot of these have been answered both on other webinars that we've done, other podcasts that we've done, or some of your social media content. So the content is out there. For those of you who did ask questions, you got your answers, questions answered today. Apply these lessons. I mean, I think one of the other things that's important in progression is not just learning, but applying. You have to app, you have to apply the knowledge that you're getting and then that becomes wisdom. And so make this wisdom by going out and applying this information.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    Okay. Anything else you wanna add, Michael?

    Michael Jamin:

    That's it. If I hope to see everyone at my next webinar, just get the, come on, just pile in the link is michaeljamin.com/webinar. We have a lot on social media post every day on, on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook

    Phil Hudson:

    At @MichaelJaminWriter. For those of you who

    Michael Jamin:

    Are succinct, thank you. We have, we have a newsletter goes out once a week. We call it the watch list. You go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist. We have a free lesson, michaeljamin.com/free. What else? Phil,

    Phil Hudson:

    You have your paper orchestra, your one-man show in the new book that you're, you're working your booking on Volume two, I think you said.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. I'm writing away. I'm plugging away and I'm, and I, I, I have struggles too. I, I'll start writing and I'm like, ah, where's this going? Where, where's this

    Phil Hudson:

    Going? For people who are interested in learning more about that, what is that? Is that michaeljamin.com/upcoming? Is that right?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, if you want to, that'll, then you'll get notified when my book drops, which will also be an audiobook and an ebook. And then hopefully when I start touring, hopefully I'll get to your city and you

    Phil Hudson:

    Come see me. You have to go to that show. Have to go to that show that, that's been in my head since December 10th, 2022. Thank you two. It's incredible.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's a, yeah, it was about, it really is about putting an experience on it was really about, and, and I, that's gonna be, I'm gonna talk about that in the next webinar that I'm doing. Cuz someone had a question, her question was, how do I get people to attend my, my stage reading? And I'm like, oh, that's a great question. We're gonna talk about that in the webinar. That's what I'm gonna talk about. So,

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, it's amazing. And, and you, you talk to people, you like meet with people and you give feedback too. So it's another great way to meet you.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, oh, at the show? Yeah. Afterwards, it's a q and a at the show, so you have people like that.

    Phil Hudson:

    Michael jamma.com/upcoming if you're interested in the P orchestra or any of that stuff. And

    Michael Jamin:

    You're posting and you're posting out too on TikTok?

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, I'm posting TikTok and Twitter and Facebook. Instagram's still a little personal with family stuff, so I've gotta migrate that one eventually. But yeah, I'm posting stuff because I'm, I'm just running into a lot of the same thing where I am having experiences that I wish other, I wish I had information about when I was trying to break in mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and, and still trying to break in. But, you know, I'm meeting with publicists. I'm, I'm hanging out with the executive producers and the directors, and I'm talking to the marketing departments of these films and I'm on set and I'm, you know, working on, I'm looking at budgets now. There's a lot of things I'm looking at, and I just figured that, yeah. Might as well start putting, there's a

    Michael Jamin:

    Lot of stuff that, you know, that I'm not familiar with. It's been working with publicists and all that stuff. So Good for you. That's Phil Hudson your handle, right? Yeah. Yep. Okay.

    Phil Hudson:

    So, all right, everyone, everybody, thank you.

    Michael Jamin:

    Thanks so much. Until next time.

    Phil Hudson:

    Keep writing, keep running.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah. Ready.

    Phil Hudson:

    This has been an episode of Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving a review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep riding.

    58m | May 10, 2023
  • 079 - Camera Operator/Healer - Missy Ozeas

    Missy Ozeas is a camera operator and energy healer who helps creatives work through their blocks and find their inner peace. If you're a creative struggling to sit down and do the work required to be a pro, you won't want to miss this podcast.

    Show Notes

    Missy's Website: https://www.missyenergyhealing.com/

    Missy's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/missyenergyhealing/

    Missy's YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZpw2lIbdJzRlnhcsdWSK4w

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Auto-Generated Transcripts

    Missy Ozeas:

    I had never seen an a fiat ever in my entire life. And I was going to buy an electric car. And so I'd never seen a fiat. Then I went to go drive this fiat and it was like orange, right? And, and the next day I drove to work, I saw five orange fiats. Right?

    Michael Jamin:

    But that's

    Missy Ozeas:

    Because it, my reticulate, ac reticular activating system said, oh, orange fiats are important. So my mind saw them where they didn't see them before. It's not that there were more, it's just that I saw them. Same them,

    Michael Jamin:

    Right? That's a really good example.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah. So same with any of us. What do we wanna focus on? That's our choice that we can control.

    Michael Jamin:

    You're listening to Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin.

    Hey everyone, it's Michael Jamin. Welcome back to another episode of Screenwriters. Need to hear this. We got a special podcast today. They're all these special, but this is my friend Missy. And Missy. I'm gonna make you famous today.

    Missy Ozeas:


    Michael Jamin:

    That easy you do. All you do is come on the podcast. I'm make you famous. Hello and Missy, let me just tell you what I tell everyone what she's done. So she, I met her years ago. She's a camera operator. Well focus puller technically on just Shoot Me. But she was also working at the same time. Cause that was only like a two day week job. Same time working on friends where my wife was working as an actor. So you knew both of us separately at the same time, I believe, right? Missy?

    Missy Ozeas:

    Well, actually I did not work on friends or just shoot me <laugh>.

    Michael Jamin:

    What are you talking about? Oh, different show we worked on. I thought it was on Just Shoot Me. We met. I,

    Missy Ozeas:

    No, I mean I was working during that time. I forget what I was on then, but I think I met you. I don't know how I met you. <Laugh>

    Michael Jamin:

    Go together. I thought it was just shoot me. Was it? Oh,

    Missy Ozeas:

    You know what I think it was was. Oh, Jenny Garth.

    Michael Jamin:

    You think it was what?

    Missy Ozeas:

    Jenny Garth?

    Michael Jamin:

    No, I wasn't working on. Oh wait. But that was

    Missy Ozeas:

    Way later. Yeah. But that,

    Michael Jamin:

    But we were working on something before that together.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah. Boy, this is called No Memory, but I think I met Cynthia first from preschool.

    Michael Jamin:

    No, no, no. You worked with her. No. Yes. What kind of introduction were you doing today? <Laugh>.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Oh my God.

    Michael Jamin:

    I dunno how we know each other.

    Missy Ozeas:

    We know each other a long time. Let's put it that way.

    Michael Jamin:

    And a lot of TV shows. Well, all right, let's just talk about your beginning. I know you went to USC film school, right? Yes. And then you, what, what was your intention when you went there?

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah, so I actually, I wanted to be you Michael. I wanted to be a writer. When I first, well, first I wanted to be a director, and then I wanted be a writer director. Then I just wanted to be a writer. And then I said, forget it. I, you know why? Because it's too solitary for me because I, I love for me <laugh>

    Michael Jamin:

    Because TV writing is not solitary. But you didn't know anything at the

    Missy Ozeas:

    Time. I didn't know. Right. I only knew about feature writing. That's true. Right? I didn't know about a writer's room, cuz that looks fun. But yeah, so feature writing, that's what I wanted to do. And then I realized I couldn't, it wasn't my personality to sit at my computer and write by myself.

    Michael Jamin:

    You wrote a, I'm sure you wrote a lot of scripts in college, I mean, in film school, right?

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah. And one of my scripts was made into a senior project. So I think five get picked and then, yeah. One of my scripts got picked. So that was fun.

    Michael Jamin:

    And then you, I mean, in film school, like I always describe film school as basically a trade school. You learn all the trades, right? Yes. And so you learned, obviously all this about camera. You learned everything about cameras. But then, okay, so at what point did you decide I want to go into, you know, be behind the camera that way?

    Missy Ozeas:

    Well, okay, this funny thing is, I don't consider myself even to this day having been in camera forever. I'm not very technical, Kate. So don't tell anybody that <laugh>, because I used to be in charge of like fixing the, like, camera goes down. I had to fix it. Right? I am not that. Okay. So in college I realized that was my thing I was most scared about. So I have a tendency to jump into the thing that I'm scared about, which actually it can help. So I was most scared about tech. So I decided to work in the camera stockroom where I would have to learn everything about a camera and lights and everything because I was afraid of it. So I did that. And then I got my hands into that. And then one day somebody had me work on their skin film and they said, Hey Missy, when that guy walks from here to here, move this camera lens from here to here. And I'm like, okay. So I did that. And weirdly, from that point on, people in school thought I was a camera assistant and they would call me to do all their assisting. And then once I graduated, I actually worked in development at Disney and Oh,

    Michael Jamin:

    That as Yeah, like an executive?

    Missy Ozeas:

    No, I was like just in the like entry level assisting Okay. A development head at Disney.

    Michael Jamin:


    Missy Ozeas:

    And actually I hated it cuz I didn't like to pick up phones and wear a dress and I just did not like it. Yeah. And on the weekends, people who had graduated ahead of me started calling me like, oh, I have this music video, do you wanna come be my camera assistant? I was like, sure. And then they're like, we'll pay you a hundred bucks. And I was like, Ooh, a hundred bucks. Okay. So yeah. So I just remember one night I was like in a truck and we were pulling focus and we were crashing the truck into a fruit stand in the middle of the night. I was like, man, this is so fun. Wow. I wonder if I could do this for a living. And that's when I quit Disney and I decided to be a camera assistant.

    Michael Jamin:

    <Laugh>. What people don't realize and they shouldn't realize, it's like, so you have a, there's, there's various people who work literally behind the camera. And the the, what you did was pull focus, meaning you were li you had, I guess it's usually at a cable or now it's probably remote, but you are literally deciding what the, you know, the focus is, but somebody else is actually moving the camera. And sometimes you have a third person actually pushing. Yeah,

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah. For sure. Yes. If that's how we do it, <laugh>. Yeah. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    And so it's like, it's a, it is real, it's real teamwork. But, and so what were some of the jobs and I, okay, I know you started in features. What are some, what are the, some of the features and, and TV shows that everyone would've known that you worked on?

    Missy Ozeas:

    Okay. So you won't know any of the features I worked on cuz they're all really low budget. Okay. But the, so I worked on last man standing with Tama. I worked on the ranch with Ashton Kucher. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I worked on baby daddy. Right On that one I worked on let's see, my wife and kids. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> I worked on there's so many I can't even remember

    Michael Jamin:

    So many. Cause we have a couple together. We don't apparently remember what they were, but but yeah, but then, and working on a multi-camera show, which is like shot on a sound stage, which we like friends, which I, or just shoot me, which <laugh> <laugh>. Apparently one of us worked on one of this. But, but yeah. And that's a, that's actually a much easier life as opposed to being on a single camera show. Don't you think? At least for you guys it was

    Missy Ozeas:

    Oh yeah. And in fact that I just got lucky that I ended up meeting somebody who hired me to work in sitcoms Right. When I was wanting to get pregnant. So I actually by accident got into sitcoms and then I was like, whoa, wait, I don't have to build my camera every day. I don't have to travel all around the world. Which was great, but not if you're gonna have kids. Yeah. And you know, I build my camera one time and then it's like a family. You stay there for months and months mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and but

    Michael Jamin:

    Even still, it's only a part-time job because when you're on a multi-camera show, you're working, let's say Thursday, Friday, right?

    Missy Ozeas:

    It is. But so I would always have two shows. So I would work four days a week and that was perfect. Like, I worked pregnant, both pregnancies, I have two kids. I work pregnant <laugh>, I nursed on set. I did like everything. I don't know, I dunno how I did it. <Laugh>

    Michael Jamin:

    How did you get into the union? Because that's not an easy task. And what is, it's II right?

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah, it's local 600. And I got in, in those days you just have to have a hundred paid days. So I would collect call sheets and I, that's where I did a whole bunch of low budget.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's what you, that's all it is. A hundred paid days on any kind of shoot

    Missy Ozeas:

    At. I don't know if it's that true anymore. This is a while ago <laugh>. But that's all I had

    Michael Jamin:

    To do. I think you just have, you would just show your call. It seems like call sheets could be easily forged, right?

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah. Well they somehow believed it. It, I I'm sure it's different now. I don't know. But that's all I had to do then.

    Michael Jamin:

    And then you did. And then what, okay, so one thing, you were around, you were around stars during rehearsals, you're around, I mean, what, you know, what did you see? How did you see your, from your end? I mean, I always thought when we were put on a show on for example, just shoot me or any, my multi-camera shows, we'd stage a show and then how the crew would react during the first day of rehearsal was everything. You know? And because you guys were seeing it for the first time in rehearsal and if you guys are laughing, it's good. And if you're not laughing, we have a problem.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Well, okay, so that's funny. So we had a show concept that that like, okay, so I've been on work so much in comedy, that takes me a lot to laugh.

    Michael Jamin:


    Missy Ozeas:

    So, you know, you're pulling focus and you're right there, like you're eight feet away, 10 feet away from the actors. Like you're really close to them and you're watching them rehearse and you're doing everything. And then, you know, they'll do a joke and you're like, mm. You know, I didn't really laugh, but then the joke was like, oh, Missy laughed.

    Michael Jamin:


    Missy Ozeas:

    Okay, that's, that must be funny. So <laugh>. So that, that was good. But we would watch, you know, some of it, like Tim Allen, he's great. He will improv, he will try things. Right? Like that was kinda interesting to watch the actors and the writers together. Like to me, like how they navigate that, I guess how they navigate. I guess Tim could probably do it cuz he's a big star. But he will definitely say, oh that worked, that doesn't work. And then he'd make it funnier or they do something together, they collaborate. So that was always fun to watch how that happens behind the scenes.

    Michael Jamin:

    And then how, when, how would you get work? Like how does that work for a camera operator?

    Missy Ozeas:

    Well I got lucky because I worked with the very first DP basically that I worked on in sitcoms. Don Morgan. I worked with him my entire career.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wait, you didn't have any other dps you

    Missy Ozeas:

    Worked with? I did have other dps when there were off times or maybe my second show, but literally my entire career is thanks to Don Morgan.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. And that's kind of how it goes, right? Us usually DP is director of photography and then they're, they're hired and then they, they basically pick their crew, right? Is that how it usually goes?

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yes. Yeah. And I just feel super thankful cuz he's like a, the nicest guy. He's very talented and he just kept working. I got lucky every time he worked I get to go with him. So,

    Michael Jamin:

    And then how would you get other jobs? They, you know, that, that weren't through him.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Because the sitcom world is so small and so if you think about camera, it's the same group like you probably saw in all your shows. It's kind of the same people. Yeah. So,

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah. But it's, you know, it's funny cuz you know, working on a multi-camera show is very different from a single camera show. Now, often people float in and out. I mean, at least I'm, I was on low bitch budget shows a lot, so, you know, people would just jump a minute. They get a better offer. <Laugh> <laugh>.

    Missy Ozeas:


    Michael Jamin:

    But then, and then was it hard for you because le well maybe you didn't do this, but I always felt for people, especially crew members who sub in for a day or two, they don't know anybody, they just jump right in. You know,

    Missy Ozeas:

    Okay, this is gonna sound funny, but I rarely, I hate day playing. Okay. So this is just me. And I mostly didn't day play mo mostly cuz I didn't really like it. And I, I was always busy. I I really worked a lot, but like, regularly with the same crew. Right. So I guess maybe I was lucky I didn't do it very much. I didn't have to, but I know a lot of people do and it's great because that's, that's great. They're professional. Like anyone could jump in. Like if I got sick, I knew I could call these, these people. They could jump in and do it. It's the same job. It's just that as a focus puller, you have to get used to, okay, what does your camera operator like? Because you're not just point focused and sitcoms, you're also zooming. So you, you're in charge as the actor moves, you've gotta zoom out, you know, so you stay in the frame or what is a, a single look like for this DP or this operator versus that one you different or what is we know, oh, this director's coming in. This director likes, you know, really tight singles. So you just have to know, oh, that guy likes that, or this person likes this.

    Michael Jamin:

    And do you, and you take notes though, during the run through, right? So, you know,

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah. We, we take notes and, and then I, what I love is I was mostly on the center camera. So the center cameras are the ones that have more movement and they're the, you know, the wider shots. Right. And to me, that's what I love because you pretty much don't even look at your notes. You just looking at that mon and you're just doing it all intuitively. Like that's what I loved. That's what I thrived at. I was bad at technical, but I could in use my intuition to just keep everything in frame. Like, that was so fun. That to me was fun.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. I, that's so interesting. I remember when I was working on Maron it's a single camera show. And, and it was working on, on loca, on set where, you know, on location it was like some cramped like living room or something. Yeah. <laugh>. And I was running the show and I was my partner and I remember like, I was hunched over the camera cause I couldn't see, I like video village was somewhere far away. I wouldn't be on set. And, and I was hunched over the guy pulling focus. He got so mad at me. He was like, get off the to go.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah, yeah. Yeah, sometimes we have to share like that. Occasionally we have to do that with the director. And you're kind of like, well, okay, wait, I need to see too. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    You need to see too. Right. I knows upset. I was like, I don't wanna fight. File a grievance against me. It's like I, no,

    Missy Ozeas:

    It's, it's because you know what, it's like you're in his office. If you think about it, this is my, my Apple box and my monitor, my focus point. This is my Apple. I know

    Michael Jamin:

    This is his an office. And, and the way I felt was like, well this is my set. <Laugh>.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah, yeah. Right, right. That's true. <Laugh>.

    Michael Jamin:

    No, but we were, yeah, we were at odds. But I made sure I stayed away from him after that. But after I was like, I don't have the guy, you know, getting calling, calling the union on me or something. But but okay. And so you did, and so mostly you did sitcoms. You didn't even do a lot of dramas,

    Missy Ozeas:

    Right? Nope. I want, see, once you get in sitcoms, especially if you're a parent, I think mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, it's like, it's so I don't wanna say easy, well, kind of easy in that like physically it's easier on your body cuz everything's built and you just come in and it's like a family. I loved it.

    Michael Jamin:

    We're talking about multi-camera cuz single camera's a whole different thing, right. For you.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah. That that's not that fun to me.

    Michael Jamin:

    And, and now there's very few single camera shows. Especially coms rather.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah, that's true. I mean, so yeah, that's true. It

    Michael Jamin:

    Really isn't. I mean, so we, cuz I wanna talk about, so I understand why you got into the business and I know you started transitioning outta the business. And so what, what motivated you? Like how did, what was that like? What did you, when did you know it was time <laugh>?

    Missy Ozeas:

    This is how I knew it. Well, I've been kind of bored, I think. But I didn't admit it to myself. And I think we can get complacent. Like we can just say, well this is a good life. And I did, I still loved it, but part of me was bored and then I realized like, you can ask people who work with me. I'm spending a lot of time talking to people about their problems. <Laugh> like, and then it's like, oh, okay, wait, I better get back to my camera and find out what's going on. So I would talk to a lot of people about their problems. I was like, Hey, this is kind of interesting, like what, why is that? And then one day on the ranch, the director came up to me and he said, oh, I mean he is really nice. He's like, okay missy, you know it's time to move up. What do you wanna do next? And like he, he was really kind, that was really nice of him to say. Right. and then literally I think my mouth was like no. And then I was like, whoa, that's super rude. But that's actually what I felt is like what I actually was, I think what was going through my mind was no way in hell do I wanna like learn another trade, uhhuh <affirmative> or even stay in this and really any longer.

    Michael Jamin:

    But that hadn't occurred to you cuz you at that point, well you've been working as a, in, in camera for, I don't know, 20 something years or more, right?

    Missy Ozeas:


    Michael Jamin:

    Yep. It, it hadn't occurred to you that you wanted to do something different before that or you know, you, eh,

    Missy Ozeas:

    Kinda, but you always get wheeled back in, reeled back in because it's like your whole crew is like, oh, we've got another season on this, or this got a pickup. And it's like, you're kind of going with that tide. And I felt lucky that I was able to do that. Right. And then it's like, why would I, there's not that many spots as a focus puller in Multicam. Why would you give it up? So those sort of beliefs of really it's scarcity or, and also just being scared to even find what the other thing is that you want. Because I didn't know what I wanted. That's the other thing. I didn't even know what I wanted to do. So it was hard to say, I'm gonna leave to do what I don't know. But

    Michael Jamin:

    If you had, like, let's say a camera up was, was sick, you could have stepped in that day, right?

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yes. And okay, that was the other thing that was happening is people were saying, okay Missy, it's time to move up, be a cam operator. But I had zero interest in that and that, that I did know. I was like, Ugh, okay then that means I'm gonna have to go back to square one and start working you know, on maybe lower budget things as a cam operator. Well, maybe, maybe not, but I just, it just didn't, it wasn't a hell yes. It was more like a, ugh, that's all I can say.

    Michael Jamin:

    <Laugh>, you're, you're in this creative business creative field and you were just stagnating and, but you were okay with that. I mean, you, it was, you didn't wanna do anything different.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah, I didn't know what that would look like. What would that be? I didn't know, but I just knew it wasn't that. So, so actually that's a really good point. I didn't, I had clarity about what I didn't want. I think like, okay, I know I'm getting to the end of this, but I had no clarity on what I wanted. Right. But I actually wanted

    Michael Jamin:

    And then, and then how did you find that clarity?

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah. So after I said no to the director, I was like, Ooh, that was weird. Okay, I better examine that. So I went back to my meditation. Was

    Michael Jamin:

    He insulted by the way? Was he like,

    Missy Ozeas:

    I dunno, he's like a nice guy. I don't know. I, me, I don't know. I never went back and asked him that <laugh>, right. But yeah, so I went recommitted to my meditation practice, which I had before. And then I just ask every day my meditation, like, give me an answer like what am I supposed to do? But

    Michael Jamin:

    Lemme ask you this though before you go on, because I meditate as well and I, you're not sup I always feel like you're not supposed to think when you're meditating. Like, I don't understand people who say I ask myself when you're meditating.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Okay, so this is, that's a great question. So, so I had heard, and I now I really believe this, that if you ask the universe a question by law, it has to answer mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. So it will give you an answer whether that's a voice. I mean, you wouldn't think it's a voice in your head, it could be somebody else talking to you and giving you an answer. You read something, you get some kind of answer. So I was like, okay, I'm gonna try that. So I would set the intention at the beginning of the meditation, Hey, during this meditation, by the way, can somebody tell me what I'm supposed to do next?

    Michael Jamin:

    But at that point, when your mind wanders, you're supposed to get back to focus on whatever your, the breath or whatever it is you're focusing on. So,

    Missy Ozeas:

    Well I have sort of a thing about that. I don't think there's one right way to do meditation and that might just be me, but I think it's going inward is the point going inward and whatever. So, so some of the, like they say the monkey mind, the thinking that's actually just needs to get out. Like the more we try to like control it, the more it's gonna try to get in there. So part of it is just letting those thoughts come and then letting 'em go.

    Michael Jamin:

    And then what, because I, because when I'm, if I'm meditate, I'm thinking about, oh, I gotta balance my checkbook or whatever it is, you know, then I think my, nope. Get focus back on, don't, we're not, don't be distracted. Get back on the path of whatever that is. And so I don't understand how we, if you are waiting to hear an answer during your meditation, I don't understand how that's supposed to work.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah, well I didn't quite understand either until it happened, but what I will say is it's a process and it's different for every person. So when they say you have to meditate this way and you have to do this, this, I don't think so. I think you could be walking and that could be a meditation, like for like some people walk better. It's really just getting into a deeper part of your mind. So you could say it that way or you could say connecting to your higher self. Like there's just different ways to say it, but you're really getting deeper than that surface stuff. Like, I have to do my checkbook or I have to

    Michael Jamin:

    Do that. Are you, are you thinking or are you trying not to think?

    Missy Ozeas:

    For, for me,

    Michael Jamin:


    Missy Ozeas:

    For me, when I go to a chase station, actually I'm not trying to do anything. And I think that's might be the key is I'm just, whatever's coming up, I'm kind of sitting there open to whatever's coming up.

    Michael Jamin:

    So you ask yourself, so you set an intention and are you are, what are you, are you walking? Are you breathing? Are you sitting? What are you doing? For

    Missy Ozeas:

    Me, I do, I'm better sitting. So I meditate right? When I wake up in the morning, I meditate at the end of the day and Okay,

    Michael Jamin:

    For how long?

    Missy Ozeas:

    It's different every time. I have like 30 minutes. It's 30 minutes or less at the beginning. And then at the end of the night it's much less Uhhuh <affirmative>. But you

    Michael Jamin:

    Close your eyes.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah, I close my eyes and you're

    Michael Jamin:

    Sitting in a chair.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah, I'm sitting up. Oh, in my bed or somewhere. But I, you sit up usually. Right? And then I have my own process of getting in. And that's the thing is also you could use a guided meditation.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. What is your pro, I'm cur Can you share what your process is?

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah, so I actually call, okay, so now it's gonna get kind of woowoo here, but I call in, so I put my hand here cuz like the high heart. So it's like a touch point. And I call in basically my spirit guides because I believe that we all are guided, however you wanna call it. We have beans that help us <laugh> gotta get out there. But so I call them in and then I just sit in my meditation and I also do a lot of work for the future <laugh>. Okay, that sounds weird, but I do a lot of like if my daughter is having something going on, like, or okay, just say my daughter has a job interview, then I will do some energy work around my daughter making sure she's sc grounded, she's safe and she has really good job interviews. So it's a lot about outcomes. Like, or also I do a lot of envisioning of like, what would be the highest outcome, you know, this or something better. So I do a lot of work where I envision what I want and then it going well. Things I should, that's so many

    Michael Jamin:

    Things like that. I'm gonna interrupt you for just one second. Get back on it. So I should mention, you got out of working on set and now you are a healer and this is how you help people. So yeah. <Laugh>, this is why, why you know so much about this, but okay, so let's say you're, let's say your daughter's going on an interview and you're trying to help her Bryce setting an intention. And by the way, you helped me about with something. So I'm gonna talk about that in a second. But, so she goes out on interview and you're trying to, you're setting, setting out this energy, hoping that it goes well, but let's say it doesn't.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah. So, okay. So that's a really good point. So to me, so I'm an energy healer. So what I do is I work with the energy in a person. So every person has an energetic field and inside that field it are beliefs, like limiting beliefs, right? Trapped emotion. There are all these things in here. So I'll get back to how this works. So basically as a healer, a heal to heal really just means to balance. So you're re helping somebody rebalance, but it's also like a handshake. So I can offer a healing to you, but it's up to you if you want to take that handshake mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And that's the first thing. So you have to want to accept it. And you might say, well, okay wait, are you talking to your daughter? Are you talking to this person? This is on a different, it's like everybody. So I believe we are a spirit with a body. So this is spirit to spirit work. So if my daughter's spirit doesn't want to accept that, that's fine, right? I can't force anything on anyone. And that is exactly how it should be. So there's

    Michael Jamin:

    But is she aware that you're doing this for her or no?

    Missy Ozeas:

    No. Oh, it depends. Like sometimes people ask me, so the work I do, people are actually asking me, oh, can you work on this? Can you work on that? And if I send a healing quote, send a healing to somebody, it's just me extending it out and then it's up to their spirit if they wanna take it. Because we never wanna take somebody off. What is, so you asked what if it didn't go well, that's, that's because it wasn't meant to be right? It wasn't, that's her, that's for her. Cuz we always say this or something better and something better to us, we might say, oh, she didn't get that job. That must be terrible that that's a bad thing. But what we don't really realize is that was probably the best thing she wasn't supposed to get. That there's something better or it saved her from something. Rejection is protection. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> you know, or, or redirection.

    Michael Jamin:

    But does she, I guess I'm asking does she have to buy in for it to work?

    Missy Ozeas:

    No. So that's a really good question. So a lot of times also I work on people who are babies. So they didn't buy in, right? They, or they're not physically understanding. Or if somebody is sick, like say you have a parent and they're like, you know they're unconscious or something, you can still work on an offer of that person and it's up to that person's spirit, whether they not wanna take it or not. So no, you don't have to consci because it's not same as therapy. Like when we're in therapy, we're talking about it and it's about our mind. This is deeper than the mind. So you don't, you could be, you and I could work together and you could be sleeping and I could still work with you because I'm working with your spirit, not with Michael. Y your personality.

    Michael Jamin:

    And then how do I know? How do I know if it worked then if I'm, if I'm asleep?

    Missy Ozeas:

    Oh, we, yeah, well cuz you'd kind of watched the outcomes. You, so you'd watch for outcomes and you, so, so example is like if we looked at you, Michael, and we said, oh, okay Michael, like if you said, you know, or we say we have a screenwriter, a young screenwriter who's coming up really wants to sell this screenplay. But if I looked in his field, it, I saw something that said, you know, I'm not good enough. Like maybe there were three and something happened and they have that belief I'm not good enough. Well, it's gonna be really hard for that person to sell that screenplay because they're going to feel, well I'm gonna turn it in, but it's probably not good enough and they're gonna approach with that energy. Right? So wait, I don't know if that answered your question, <laugh> Well

    Michael Jamin:

    No, it's interest. Cause I wanna, it's funny, I, I worked, well you worked with me. So I think it was a couple years. I know it might have been two, two

    Missy Ozeas:

    At least, right?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. And so I was just, I was in this space where I'm writing this book and it was just at the beginning of this book. And then you helped me and I wrote down, I have and I have them my notes what you wrote down. Oh actually it was, it says September. Well, I'm not sure if that's right, but you spoke to me about a couple of things and the ones that I wrote down were my voice is a gift to this world.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah, well

    Michael Jamin:

    That was a big one and that really meant a lot to me. And I really went off thinking about that a lot afterwards. And then the other one was, what lies am I telling myself? I think you said that as well. And then, but is that something you was that specific to me that, I mean that's good advice for everyone, but is that specific to me?

    Missy Ozeas:

    Okay, so the voice is, your voice gift is very specific to you. And would you say that with everything that's happened? So I've watched you and it's like so awesome. I just love it that, so I've seen you twice in your play or your readings, right? And I think that like I can, I'm sitting in the audience so I can feel what the audience, how they're reacting to you. And also I've seen you on social media like since the time that we worked together. You've really used your voice. It's super amazing. I'm not saying cause of the work we did, but I'm saying because you chose to do that. And even if it was scary, I don't know to you, you walk through that fear and that's when our manifestations come in, when we do the clearing and we walk through, you take action and walk through fear, which you clearly did. And you're clearly in alignment because a lot of amazing things are happening for you and you're using, you are using your voice.

    Michael Jamin:

    But I still feel, you know, it's funny to say, I still feel stuck sometimes. I still, you know, it is, it feels like it doesn't go away really, you know?

    Missy Ozeas:

    Well, and that's also, it's like I always say our energy's like an onion. So we did the work on what? So I ask your body what we, we ask specifically for whatever you were working on. Your body will show me those pieces that need to be released that are blocking you. But then the next thing will come up, right? And, and that's what we wanna do is then watch what's the next things that's triggering us and we're gonna know that's the next thing I need to work on. So we're always to work in progress.

    Michael Jamin:

    But then how do you, how do you know what these layers, the onion are for me? Is it in, are you intuiting it, are you like what you know?

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah. Okay, so that's that weird thing. So I have this weird gift and, and where I can see energy and like when I was little I saw ghosts and stuff and I was scared of looking in the mirror because I would see things uhhuh, <affirmative>. But then I cut it off cuz I could tell that that was not appropriate. So I hid that part of myself, right? But after I started doing training, I, I started getting certifications and training in it. Then it, it grows right? Just like a muscle, right? You get stronger, you're a better runner the more that you train for it. So in training I was able to bring it out. So yeah, I can look at somebody and see where we a just ask your body a question cuz your body holds the key. It holds all these nonphysical elements of, of Michael in there.

    Michael Jamin:

    And, and so do you work a lot with, is it crea, is it everybody or is it mostly creative people or is it creative people? Like, you know,

    Missy Ozeas:

    I, I can I work with, I could work with anybody. I would say that mostly they're creatives, mainly because I came from that field. Like if I came from maybe corporate, I might work with corporate, but I don't work with corporate because that's

    Michael Jamin:

    How they find you.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah. <laugh> some odd people in Hollywood. Yeah. And

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you, so, okay, so you work mainly with creative people. Do you feel like they tend to have a certain, is there a similarity that you see with creative people? Like a pattern maybe? Yeah,

    Missy Ozeas:

    It's that their voice or what they have to say isn't good enough. It's, I guess most people have this, but really with creatives, it's this fear that what they have inside isn't enough. And that's what I love. That's why I love working with creatives because it is, we are all you being authentic. So you actually being totally Michael is the thing that draws people to you. And, and even when we, and then the thing is we start judging ourselves. That's the part about the lies that we were talking about with you. Yeah. Is is that actually true? Because you might perceive something through your own sort of wounds or things that happen when you were little. But the rest of us isn't, we don't see that we Right. We just want you to be authentically you. Cuz then that's interesting. We don't want like another copy of someone else.

    Michael Jamin:

    So you're basically saying it's imposter syndrome.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yes. Everybody has.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes. Pretty much has.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yes. So it's uncovering what keeps you hiding, what is it?

    Michael Jamin:

    But is there anybody, this is gonna sound mean <laugh>, but is there anybody who, like when you say like, your voice is a gift, is there anybody whose voice isn't a gift? You know what I'm saying? Is there, is there anybody whose talent doesn't measure up?

    Missy Ozeas:

    Well it depends. I would not say everybody's voice is a gift because they have a different gift. You have the gift of a voice that's very specific to you. But somebody else might have the gift of painting that's not a voice. That's their painters or their I don't know, you know, they can create a great house. They're they interior designer, right? Everyone has different gifts. And that is the thing about purpose. It's like if anybody here is looking for their purpose, it's what comes easy and natural to you. That's one piece. And that doesn't come easy and natural to other people and what brings you joy. And if you can put those things together, that is the, the, the sweet spot. And so for you, you, your voice, the what you have to say actually with the voice, what you're writing, all of that is what you're naturally good at. And then, well, I guess I would ask you, is it, do you like it?

    Michael Jamin:

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.

    Well yeah, I mean, yeah, when you select my, my show, like that's, we're doing, putting more energy into that. It feels kind of important. But it does feel, it does feel like like it's, it's al it's almost crazy how much, like, what I want is, it is like the road is so long, there's so much building that has to go into going down this road. It almost feels crazy. Hey, that's,

    Missy Ozeas:

    That's different though. What about when you are doing it, when you're either riding it or when you're performing it, what is that? You know

    Michael Jamin:

    What, right before I go on, you know, in that stage, every single time I go on, I can hear the audience chattering. The music comes on and I'm my heart, you know, I'm getting a little nervous and almost every single time before I go on, I go, why am I doing this <laugh>? But, and then, and I've asked myself that question a lot to a lot of different people. And I think the best answer I can come up with is because I can.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Because you can. Okay. What are you feeling like while you're doing it?

    Michael Jamin:

    You know, this is, you know, Cynthia directs it, so she's trained me a lot. I'm, yeah, I'm really supposed to be lost in it. I'm supposed to be in that moment. And sometimes if I slip out and I go, wait a minute, I'm not performing, I'm not in the moment, I'm not performing it now I gotta get back. I gotta be in that moment. And so I'm almost not really conscious of what's going on. I'm in it. And sometimes I think, I don't know, you've seen a couple of shows, but afterwards a couple pieces are very emotional and I could tell the people in the audience are almost thinking like, is he gonna be okay? <Laugh>, you know, I'm in it, it it,

    Missy Ozeas:

    But that's, but that's flow. Like, you know, we're in flow when we're so in it. I don't know, maybe when you write are you also in flow? You know, when it just starts, comes not that every moment is like that, but flow is also when we know that we're kind of doing the thing that we're supposed to be doing. Not everybody is in flow when they're writing. Not everyone can get up there and, and be in a character and, or I guess you're not a character, you're you. But yeah, be up there and be okay <laugh> and be in flow. Not everybody can do that. That's the thing is you, so you're married to Cynthia who's an actress, so you might have this view and you work in Hollywood, so you might think, you know what, everyone can do this. No, that's a skewed view.

    Michael Jamin:

    <Laugh>. Yes. That's what I do think I do. I do feel like, well I work with a lot of writers who could do what I'm doing, but they just choose not to. And so, but you're right, it does, it does in many ways it kind of discounts it because it, it seems normal. I'm around people who do this kind of thing, you know? And so I don't really think, well, I it's not that special. We all can do it, you know,

    Missy Ozeas:

    And that's part of the lies, right? We wanna see like, is it a lie? Can everyone do this? No. Also we often discount what we're good at because it is so natural. Like I would guess that it's really easy for you to write, say you've been a writer for a long time, that not that every moment is easy, but you can write. So you kind of like, well that's not so special. I don't know, I've always done it or Right, I've done all, but no, it's not true. And that's true for a, you know, a tennis player or anybody. A lot of us discount what we're actually naturally good at because it comes so easy. And that's a great question to ask your friends or your spouse, like, well, what do you guys think I'm good at? If you can't figure out what you're good at yourself, ask somebody who knows you and they'll tell you.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, see it. Yeah, I remember what, what's kind of struck me after doing a bunch of these shows and we're gonna do more again, I guess in the summer or the fall, something like that. But after I do these shows, people would come up to me and then they'd start telling me their secrets. You know,

    Missy Ozeas:

    <Affirmative>. Okay. Okay. And how do you feel about that?

    Michael Jamin:

    It, it, it was shocking. It felt like an honor. It, it sometimes feel like, at first it was like, why are you telling me this? You know? <Laugh>. But, but I think it's because I just did the same, I had just done the same to them that they wanted to rec, they felt it was safe to, to reciprocate. You know? Do

    Missy Ozeas:

    You see that? No. It's so exciting. Okay. Do you see that's what I mean about your voice's gift because you are gifting that, that sense of vulnerability and safety that we see when you go on stage, then we feel that. And I've been in your things where I was crying actually. So I felt that. But then people telling you that means that you have created this space for somebody else to feel safe. To tell you that is a gift to, it's like a key to unlock. It's so another way we could say you have the key, you have a key to unlock that not everybody can do that.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right? That's another thing you taught me. And I, that's another thing which I really, for years you told me. I mean, yeah, your voice is your gift. And when I, when I heard gift for years, I'll think, you know, people say, oh, you're gifted, you're a gifted writer. I interpret that it as mean as like the universe had given me this gift and now I have it and now it's mine. And then you said that it doesn't have to mean that your voice is your gift could mean your gift for everyone else. Yeah. And that changed a lot to me. That changed everything. Cuz then it felt like it's selfish. If I don't give the gift, it's theirs. It's not for me, it's for them. Yeah. And then it takes, it, it really changed a lot because part of it, yeah, it felt like, well this is my obligation is to give this gift. It No, it's not. It's at first it felt like, well, okay, I have this thing and I'm, I'm almost like, is it showing off? Or is it, is it about me if I'm doing, if I have this gift and, and you're like, no, it's about, it's about them. It's for them.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah. And, and, and the other thing I would say is, so when you were born, this is you, but this is everybody listening. You were actually, were given gifts, the gift of writing, the gift of insight, the gift of whatever all your gifts are specific to Michael. And then you are also given desires. So the desire for you to get your work out there or be on tour or any of that. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> is actually the gift because that's how we know where to go is the desires and, and the the gifts that you were given. And then you give that. So it's a double gift. You were gifted and then you're gifting back out. And that's how all of us who have imposter syndrome should view it that way. It's not about us, it's not about the comparison. It's just about, oh my gosh, what gifts do I have? What feels good for me to give out? And then that's all. We don't even have to think about how it's re received. We just give it.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's, that's right. And it's cuz when we were, when Cynthia and I were, you know, working on the play my show and she's directing me at every step, we're always thinking, well I always, I always thinking, what else can I give the audience? What else, how else can I give them more? You know, that's another thing. People are paying whatever is 35 bucks for a ticket. I'm like, you, you gotta give them more like whatever. It's not enough because it's a lot of money, you know?

    Missy Ozeas:

    Oh. But then that's a belief in there though that, so that's interesting because that's almost like you're saying what I actually have my show isn't maybe enough.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. Right. Yeah, I know.

    Missy Ozeas:

    And yeah, so, so that would be like kind of coming through like what's underneath that, like what emotions are underneath that? And then what age were you when you first believed that to be true? Because it's almost like, well I'm not sure if this is what it is, but equating $35 equals this, so it should be looked like this when actually you are priceless. You there isn't another person that's like my fault. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    But, but you know how it is. Like, first of all, I'm asking people, okay, to buy a ticket. I'm asking 'em to take whatever, an hour and a half out of their day, their evening to get dress, go to the theater. It's a big ask. You know, park the car, get a babysitter. Maybe it's a big ask. And then nothing is worse than bad theater.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Okay. But that, so that's interesting you say it that way because I, as I, okay, so I have gone to the shows. I didn't think of it that way that you're saying. I was like, oh cool, I get to have an hour and a half or whatever time to not think about anything else. To just sit, immerse in a dark room listening to stories, feeling emotions without having to do anything else. So at that's very interesting that you feel it that way. And I don't, I didn't see it that way at all. You could have

    Michael Jamin:

    Gone, there was a million shows you could have gone to that night, you know, if you wanted to sit in the dark and and experience a show.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah. But I was excited to go to yours. I mean, and I think that that's the other thing to remember, free will and choice people, anyone who is in your theater, they chose to be there, right? So second guessing, oh no, did they choose to be there? Did someone make them be there? Do they not wanna be here? That doesn't actually help them because that's then you're maybe not giving your best performance. I guess what they came to see you, it should just be okay. I, they came to see me or they wouldn't be here. Cause yeah, they choose free will.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's something else Cynthia helped me with was like, I don't, I don't know which, which shows you came to, but at one point, maybe halfway through the run, Cynthia's like, you're not taking the stage the right way. I'm like, well how am I supposed to take the stage? She goes, you walk on the stage and you're a rockstar. That's what she wanted me to feel like. You've gotta feel like you're a rockstar. I'm like, but I'm not a rockstar. She, you are when you take the stage <laugh>. And that was difficult, you know, to get that, to accept that it didn't feel humble, you know?

    Missy Ozeas:

    Ah, so also I've heard you say a couple things about that. So humble or is that selfish? So that's actually programming, right? So somewhere, and I'm not picking on you, this is like all no, I,

    Michael Jamin:

    This is helpful for me.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Things is that when we feel like, like that's bragging or I shouldn't market my show or I shouldn't, you know, I must be humble. That's actually somewhere, somewhere down the line we learned that our well basically that being who we are is too much kind of, or, or we learn like damp it down, tamp it down. And what good does that do? Like that doesn't that a lot of us were trained to dim our light. I mean, that's how we say it, right? Yeah. To be smaller bec in the name of being humble, but being humble really means throwing a lot of dirt on you so no one can see you. I mean like, that's how I see it. It's just like,

    Michael Jamin:

    But no one likes people who are, who are, who brag or who you know. Right. There's

    Missy Ozeas:

    A difference though, between bragging and then inviting. Okay. So that's another way to think about. So if we think about selling, selling is like, please buy my thing. Maybe we might think like, oh look how great I am. See, but there's another version of that which is inviting, inviting you into your world. So you are, so that's another way you are inviting us to sit in your world with you for this amount of time. And I think it's fascinating. Like, it's fascinating to listen to your stories or learn a little bit more about your life or the way that you were thinking at that time in your life. Like, I wasn't like in your show, it's not like I'm sitting there like, oh my god, I'm like in it. I'm in it. Right? And that's what people want. Just like why do we go to the movies? We wanna escape, we wanna go into someone else's story. And that's a value, right? Well you right. That you gave us and if I didn't wanna go, I would just not buy a ticket. So if it helps you just know everybody wanted to be there.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right? But how do you clear that block? If that's something I deal with

    Missy Ozeas:

    The, oh well we'd have to ask your body questions. I mean, if you want me to, I could ask

    Michael Jamin:

    Right now. I dunno, we're we're, this is, we're just talk. I don't make you gimme a free reading. I'm just No, no,

    Missy Ozeas:

    No, let's just do it for fun. I'm gonna ask your body right now. Okay. What is your question? Would you say it's about,

    Michael Jamin:

    Well what, yeah, what's my question?

    Missy Ozeas:

    Okay, so what do, so the block is I feel like I'm bragging or is it? Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. Right. Yeah. Am I not being humble? Yeah. Well people like me if I'm not humble maybe. Is that it?

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah. Okay. Okay, so p people, so what is the root cause? So we can, so we do this way. What's the root cause of, of your belief that people won't like me?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well maybe it's cuz I don't like people who are not humble.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah. But it kind of goes both ways though. It's a belief, right? You wouldn't see it. It be yourself and to other people. It that makes sense to me. So let, let's just see. Okay, so now this is where I get an idea of where it is. So this in your solar plexus. So solar plexus is right, be right here, right? You can see, say right below your breast bone. Okay. So what comes to me is feeling overwhelmed with all the shoulds and half dues in your life. So that's the piece and that, that came maybe like eight or nine years old. So one, do you recognize that feeling?

    Michael Jamin:

    It's so interesting. Everyone's gonna be lining up to, to, they're gonna wanna go to your website right after this and lineup <laugh> to get, you know, reading from you. So we'll, I'll be sure to mention that. But well, you know, as a kid, sure I was an obedient kid. Whatever my parents told me to do, I, that was, that was what I did.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Okay. Do you remember anything specific around that age?

    Michael Jamin:

    Specific to exactly what?

    Missy Ozeas:

    So, so how so? Oh yeah. Okay. I guess this is say, so this belief or this energy of feeling overwhelmed with all the shoulds and the have tos, which is kinda like being in a box. Like we could say like, have I have to stay in here otherwise I won't be loved probably, or safe or loved. That feeling you trapped it right here in your body and your solo plexus at, around the age of eight or nine from a specific event. So how I could look is maybe something happened at school or with your parents, but a specific event if you can't recall it. Okay. So sometimes we're like, I can't remember anything. Well, it's okay, your body is telling me Right. That that is what it is. But I always ask, I mean, do you actually recall anything?

    Michael Jamin:

    I, I mean I, I do recall being in school and being very nervous about getting, doing my homework Right. Doing my, you know, get, you know, doing everything right. And it's funny, you know, it's funny. Oh,

    Missy Ozeas:


    Michael Jamin:

    I, I, my mother saves all like my, all my report cards when I was like six years old or first grade, I guess that's six years old. And on in en it said Michael's, the teacher wrote, he's very concerned about getting everything right. And he comes to me when he has an assignment, he keeps coming back to me to make sure he's doing it right. God forbid he does it wrong. <Laugh>, like, I was always checking with her to make sure I'm doing it right.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Okay. So do you still feel that today

    Michael Jamin:

    To some degree Yeah.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah. Okay. So this is the, I know it's like, wait, what does this have to do with being humble? But it actually, your body's telling me it does. So it's actually the, the way I see it is that I have to act a certain way or I won't be loved. Right? I mean, so, so if I'm not, if I'm something that feels like bragging or I'm something else, I won't be loved. But it's based on being overwhelmed by half tos and shoulds at that young age. Mm-Hmm.

    Michael Jamin:

    <Affirmative>. Right?

    Missy Ozeas:

    I mean, again, this is only part of it. I mean, likely there's a lot more, but I'm just asking for one piece

    Michael Jamin:

    And what do I do? Do I meditate on that and try to release that?

    Missy Ozeas:

    No, you just get rid of it. Look, <laugh>. Well that's, that's the work. Okay. So the work that I do then is I find what those specific pieces are right for you. And then I hold the intention to release it and then we, okay, so now it sounds kind of weird. Okay, so this is how I explain it. Your we're made of energy. So our physical bodies also have an energy field around it. And in that field, in the energy field are, are like these beliefs that stop us from doing what we want, really want with our lives. It's conditioning, it's family programming, all those things. And so we energy will move according to intention and observation. That's like something you can look up with. It's quantum physics, like Google, quantum physics. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you'll see there's experiments and things that show if you look at something that it will change the outcome.

    Right? So by finding, so together we observe, like we find exact piece of energy where it is in your body, the ag, where when you trapped it and then it hold the intention to release it. And then we put new, like another belief in that's more empowering. Like for you it's like, it's almost like the opposite. It's you know, like I'm safe. I don't know, we'd have to find one for you that feels right for you, but it's like I'm safe to be me. I mean it's really kind of something like that. Just like feeling safe.

    Michael Jamin:

    But then how long, once you release it, how long could you expect it to stay released? Like doesn't it come back?

    Missy Ozeas:

    It depends. I mean, sometimes I have to work with people longer, you know, more than, that's why I mostly work with people for two months so that we can release and then we integrate and then we kind of do some work in between the sessions and then we do another session and then we really can clear something out. And also likely that's only one piece we found. I am feeling like there's more other ones besides that and they're all kind of together. Right. You know, tabled together. The other thing though, it informs you, it helps you. So we know overwhelmed with all the have tos and shoulds also can help you think about your life now, not just with writing, but do you actually feel overwhelmed? Are there a lot of things that you feel like should be a certain

    Michael Jamin:


    Missy Ozeas:

    Or you should do things So it's,

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I struggle with that a lot. What should I, am I supposed to be doing this? Am I supposed to be, I, you know, I was supposed to be doing something else when I was younger, when I was in my twenties, you know, I think people called it existential angst. Am I supposed to be doing this? Am I supposed to be doing something out? And that's how I called. That's how what I thought about it myself.

    Missy Ozeas:

    So it's actually trust actually, now that we really talk about it, it's really self-trust. So think about you when you were talking about when you were little and you would say, oh, is this right? Did I do it right? Yeah. That's outsourcing Right. Your own that it really, it should be like, oh I know I did this. Right? Right. But it's okay. You were little but you were outsourcing that to somebody else to show you. Is that right or wrong? Right. And so we could say today your the greatest thing you could do for yourself would be really to trust yourself. Right.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. And that's hard for a lot of people I think.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yes, absolutely. Yeah. This is not just for you. We're not picking on you today. No. This is a good message for everybody is that we trust the gifts we were given. We trust the moment in time and we take those actions that might be scary, but sometimes it's just discomfort cuz we've never been there before.

    Michael Jamin:

    So why do you think people give away that kind of agency? Is it because

    Missy Ozeas:

    A lot of it is programming. I mean Right. Like we are taught teachers know best. Yeah. Or maybe when you're even younger than the age that we found that maybe you were no, let's not pick on your mom and dad cuz they were trying their best, but maybe they real had the kind of authority parents where they're like, no Michael, just follow the, this is the right, this is wrong. Right. This is the way to do it. And you weren't given agency, you weren't given, you weren't asked maybe a choice. Oh Michael, do you like, do you wanna wear the red shoe today? Or the blue shoe. Right? So things like that take away our agency.

    Michael Jamin:

    But even now as an adult, why do you feel adult? Just cuz they're conditioned. I mean it seems like, it seems like it might be, well, if I don't let somebody else decide if I'm doing it right, I can't if I'm not doing it right. You know, why do people not, don't trust themselves, I guess is the right question.

    Missy Ozeas:

    I still think it's goes back to programming because we weren't taught to care or we weren't taught to trust ourselves. And that is actually the magic is when we just trust our gut. Yeah. Even when nobody, like I went from being camera assistant to be an energy healer. That is a very weird thing. I had to do a lot of clearing on myself cuz that's weird like that. Yeah. That's weird. So, but I had to trust myself enough to say, okay, everybody, nobody understands this, but I'm gonna do this because I know it's the right thing. And

    Michael Jamin:

    That's a, that's very hard cuz then you're opening yourself up to judgment and and you're changing your identity.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yes. But what if we didn't allow ourselves to be open to judgment? Because does it really matter? Because here's the thing is some people, okay, if I look at myself, some people are gonna say, oh my God, Missy, you're so crazy. Or That is weird. I don't get what you do, I don't like it. But then there were all these other people who I helped and who loved it. So you are never gonna please everybody. There's gonna be people who love your show, people who hate your show. Right. That's just fact. Right. Nobody's gonna always love us. So we have to trust. We might as well, okay, we're gonna go through this life. We're never gonna get everyone to agree on everything, so why not do what we love and just put that out there.

    Michael Jamin:

    But do you, it sounds like, I mean, it sounds like you do you, do you ever have any doubts about, I mean, <laugh>, even though you convinced yourself what you just said, don't be, don't worry about being judged. Do you still doubt?

    Missy Ozeas:

    Absolutely. Like I, like, you know, like going on Instagram or doing like you do, that was inspiring that, I mean, since it was telling me a y a year before like Missy get on Instagram, I'm like, oh, you can't do it. Like, my stuff didn't even have my face on it. Yeah. I wasn't doing podcasts, I wasn't doing anything. So that was, I had to walk through fear. But, you know, what helped me was I knew I was helping people. So same thing for you, you know, you're connecting to audiences. You can see our fate. I think you can, right. You can see we're reacting.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, in the now I can't see a thing. Oh, you can't

    Missy Ozeas:

    See anything <laugh>.

    Michael Jamin:

    Also people were wearing masks, you know? Oh,

    Missy Ozeas:


    Michael Jamin:

    True. But, but even still the lights were right in my eye. I couldn't see anything.

    Missy Ozeas:

    But do you know that, do you know that people, you must have got feedback. Do you I

    Michael Jamin:

    Could sense it. You could feel it. Like you could feel when people are in it, you know, you could, you could hear a pin drop, you know, or you could hear a laughter or you could hear the, you know, siren. And

    Missy Ozeas:

    People tell you probably give you feedback after so that you know that you are making some kind mm-hmm. <Affirmative> of difference or you're affecting people and that's amazing. It's your gift. That's your gift. And you're giving your gift and then, you know, it's okay. Another way to think of it, it's like say I, I came to your house and I gifted you this pen. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I gifted to you. And I don't think about it anymore. It's not like I'm, oh, I wonder if Michael's using that pen. Oh, I didn't see him up. No, you just gifted and then you're, you, you're done.

    Michael Jamin:

    So what, how does that relate to me though?

    Missy Ozeas:

    So you give your gift of your speaking in your words. Right. And that's the act and that's all

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. Not to expect not to, not to expect from it.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah. Just in the way, if you gave me a pen, you wouldn't be worried about whether I was using it or not. You probably wouldn't think about it again. Right. You wouldn't have given the, you the act of giving it with your heart was Right.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's it.

    Missy Ozeas:

    And then it's done.

    Michael Jamin:

    Because that's something we, I even, I even question right now is like, well how do I grow this? How do I do more? How do I, you know, this, the theater has 50 seats. How do I do it for a hundred? How do I, how do I take it on the road? How do I do, you know, how do I get to the next step?

    Missy Ozeas:

    So, so yeah. Okay. Well, I'm not sure. Let's see. Yeah, <laugh>, <laugh>, well I'm not sure, but one thing I would say is looking into what feels right. Like, does it feel like when you think, oh, doing a a hundred person, or sorry, a hundred seat theater, like, does that feel good? Or does that feel like, ooh, no way, I don't wanna do it. Like, or does it feel better, you know, kind of tune into what feels or sounds good to you? It

    Michael Jamin:

    Feels, it feels better. Okay. It feels like I do like, you know, it sounds corny, but like, I, I, I have, I buy into what you're saying, which is like, haven't for a while. It's like, how do I, how do I touch more people? How do I give them this? How do I, you know, and I know, I know it's a little, I get something out of it too. So it's not entirely like unselfish. But I also feel like, well this helps people too. So,

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah. And sometimes I think that we get stuck with metrics like mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, oh, that sold out and that one didn't. Or I only made this amount of money. Or that, or when really it's a, it's a, it's a road, right? It's gonna go ebb and flow, just like the tides, they go in and they go out. That's nature. Right, right. So our, our careers or your writing, it's going to have that natural flow, but it's like a spiral ever moving upwards. So sometimes it looks like, oh, I'm going back. Oh, no, no, no. But you're actually going, you're just on.

    Michael Jamin:

    I know it's going up though.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Cause I believe that we're always going up because, okay. Even so that's a really good question. So I would argue this month saying this is gonna happen at all, but say next month now you're done. You're not selling anymore tickets. It's, it's not, your show isn't going anymore. I'd still say that's moving upward because my guess is it's the, the universe clearing out for the next iteration of Michael to come in. Uhhuh <affirmative>. What that is, I don't know. But that's how, if we can believe we're okay. So we can believe whatever we want in the world, but if we believe that everything's actually working for us, that makes me feel way better than the everything's just happening. Right. And, and we get to choose which perspective do we want.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right? That's the choice. Whether you wanna be optimistic or pessimistic. Yeah. So, but you have to just make that choice, you're saying

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yes, because that's your choice. That's your power. We, and remember we're talking about outsourcing our power outsourcing for approval. We, we get to choose everything that we think we can. Look at the theater half empty, half full. Right? We could. It's our, that is our power how we choose to think

    Michael Jamin:

    Of that's cuz we, one of the thing you told me as well, you gave me a link to a, a video to watch, you know, of this guy. And, and, and in the link the guy said, like it was Einstein said, the most important decision you'll make is, is the universe benevolent. And that's it. And if you could decide that it is, then that's what you'll see. And if you think the universe is out to get you, that's what you'll see.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Okay. So there's something called the reticular, reticular activating system in the brain. And it, well, yeah, I think it's in the brain and it basically scan. So it's, it's in charge of how we scan things. So if you think only bad things happen, your mind will, will, will go, okay, let me only find the bad things. Cuz I know that that's what Michael prioritizes. So I'm gonna only show him bad things because our minds can't take in everything all at once. Right. So we, we need to take control of that, that that's, you know, we, we need to show the world. We need to kind of tell ourselves what's important. So I'll give you an example. I had never seen an a fiat ever in my entire life. And I was going to buy an electric car. And so I'd never seen a fiat. Then I went to go drive this fiat and it was like orange, right? And, and the next day I drove to work, I saw five orange fiats. Right? But that's cause my reticulate ac reticular activating system said, oh, orange fiats are important. So my mind saw them where they didn't see them before. It's not that there were more, it's just that I saw them.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. That's a really good example.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah. So same with any of us. What do we wanna focus on? That's our choice that we can control.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's so important for, I'm sure for people, everyone listening to me right now, this podcast is like, cuz it's a cr people, it's creatives, it's creatives. And it's very easy to get frustrated when you think you're not getting in as far as you want in your field, but maybe you're getting farther than you think.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah. And sometimes that helps. Like when I'm like, okay, so if you think, oh my God, I got rejected, oh, all I'm doing is getting my scripts rejected, then take a moment and think about, okay, all the times when in my life when actually things have gone well for me, and it doesn't have to be in screenwriting. It could be that time I asked someone on a date and they said, yes, or I won this contest, or I got this, whatever, it doesn't matter. But really trying to refocus back to what you're really doing is trying to fill your body with the energy of like, oh yeah, things actually do work out for me. Right. So you're trying to get the opposite, basically of that feeling of rejection

    Michael Jamin:

    <Laugh>. Right. Wow. It's such a, it's such an important and what, what you're doing now, it's such a far cry from what you were, what you were doing. Like how do, yeah. How do you reconcile that? How do you feel like, you know, I don't know about the past 20 years and what you're doing now. I mean, you're a different person, really, kind of.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah. But I think that that's the great thing is that we can always be. So I just think of it as that was part of my journey. I learned so many great things and it was fun and all these things, but then there's another part of myself that was waiting to be born. And I think that we all look that we're never too old to come back to yourself. And it's really coming back to what's authentic to you. So that's true for every creative is what's authentic to you is the thing that's wanting to be born. So if it's starts a script or you're an actress, or you're an energy healer, whatever it is, there is something in us that wants to come out. Right? And that's the greatest gift we can give the world. What is that thing that wants to birth

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. Wow. That's so interesting. Yeah. I mean I, yeah, I got like, I, I can't say it again. It was so helpful. That's why I wrote it down. Those things that you told me a couple years ago, it was just helpful for me to reframe how I saw, how I saw things, you know, especially with the word gift, you know, that changed a lot.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Well, I, well I'm glad because now we get the gift of your show and just, I mean, it's amazing. Like all the things, just watching your you with everything that you do is really inspiring. Oh, thank really have to tell you.

    Michael Jamin:

    <Laugh>. I, you know, I even that even the first time I went on TikTok, I was like, am I really doing this? You know, I mean I I I really, it was very intimidating and I was also worried about what my peers would think of me. What would people in the industry think of me? You know, what, what's everybody gonna think of me?

    Missy Ozeas:

    But, but what now what do you think about that?

    Michael Jamin:

    It's, well, it, it's really not, it's neither here nor there, really. I'm, I don't think anybody's really thinking about, you know, I, it, I'm, I know I'm helping people, but are the people in the industry? Some people, some people see me, some people, you know, I, I dunno if it's helped me professionally or not, but it's helped me personally for sure.

    Missy Ozeas:

    But it hasn't been the, the worst case scenario, which is you're shunned or nobody likes you.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. It hasn't been that I, I haven't been called out or anything, but yeah. In

    Missy Ozeas:

    Fact, we could say you gained a greater community. Yeah. And more connection

    Michael Jamin:

    For sure.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Which is the opposite of being shunned. So being afraid and being shunned, which we could say maybe that's the overall fear of what you had. You actually stepped through a fear, which is amazing and courageous. And on the other side of the fear was something bigger than you could have imagined. Maybe not in terms of, you know, these markers, but meaning community and connection, which is the opposite of shunned. So that is so cool.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, you're right about that. This is good for me. This talk is good for me. <Laugh>.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Hey <laugh>,

    Michael Jamin:

    Missy, tell me we're, how much we, yeah, we, this has been a good talk. I wanna make sure people can find you and then follow you on social media and, and check out your website. I know your website is Missy Energy healing.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yes. And same with Instagram, Missy Energy healing. So super easy to find me Instagram or my website

    Michael Jamin:

    <Laugh>. And you post tips just like this for this conversation just to help people. Yeah. And they can Yeah. Go find.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah. Hey, I, I got that from you, so thank you. I watched you giving tips about screenwriting. I was like, oh, I could do that with energy. So thank you.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. I, I thank you. I mean, yeah, I, it's, that's another thing. I think when you give, you always get, you know, but you get give first, you'll get, you know.

    Missy Ozeas:


    Michael Jamin:

    And other people, a lot of people get that wrong. They think they, they want to get first and then <laugh> then give No, you gotta get, yeah.

    Missy Ozeas:

    And also you don't even know how many people you've gifted something to just something that sparked something. People you haven't even heard from or heard of or even know their names.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I know. It is, it is sweet. I do get some feedback from people. It's very touching, you know, on social media.

    Missy Ozeas:

    Yeah. So you got your community.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I do. Thank what a great talk, Missy. Thank you so much. Everyone go follow her Missy, energy healing. Check out our website, follow her on Instagram. And that's it. Missy, thank you so much again. What

    Missy Ozeas:

    A problem. Thank you, Michael. So fun.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Okay. All right everyone, thank you so much. This is a great, interesting talk. I think this is gonna help a lot of people. Alright. You guys know what to do. Stay tuned for the ne my for the next episode. And keep following me here. Thank you.

    Phil Hudson:

    This has been an episode of Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving a review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writi.

    1h 9m | May 3, 2023
  • 078 - WGA Writers' Strike

    The WGA Writers' Strike and what it means for WGA Members, Pre-WGA Members, and the film industry. The WGA Writers' strike is set to vote next week on May 1, 2023.

    Show Notes

    The History of WGA Writers' Strikes - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writers_Guild_of_America_strike

    WGA.org Strike Authorization Approved at 97.85%https://www.wgacontract2023.org/updates/strike-authorization-vote-results

    Free Monthly Webinar - https://michaeljamin.com/op/webinar-registration/

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Auto-Generated Transcript

    Michael Jamin:

    Don't even think about scabbing because the, the person who's gonna hire you for a show or to write on a show is gonna be a showrunner. This is what you do. Don't think about sca. Go to wherever the pickets lines are gonna be. And they're, you're always outside the major studios, Warner Brothers. Boom.

    Phil Hudson:

    If I could drop this mic, I would, that's exactly what I was gonna ask.

    Michael Jamin:

    You're gonna say, you pick up a sign they give, they give away signs. You know, I have picket signs and you, you, you carry one. And you start picketing with the writers who are online, and you just start talking to them as a friend and friendly. And people, they'll say, oh, are you, what show do you work on? And you'll say, no, I'm not working on a show. I, I aspire to be a writer. And I guarantee you, whoever you're talking to is gonna be grateful you're carrying a sign. And because they have nothing other to, they have nothing else to do, other than pick it for three hours, they will talk to you because there's nothing else to do. And so now, like, talk about a networking event. Go there, pick up a sign and talk to everyone online. There's, they have nothing else to do. Then talk.

    You're listening to Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin.

    Hey everyone, it's Michael Jamin. Welcome back to another episode of Screenwriters Need to Hear This. I'm here with Phil Hudson. Welcome Phil.

    Phil Hudson:

    Happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

    Michael Jamin:

    Thanks for having me. Today we're talking about the impending writer's strike. What are my thoughts about it? Maybe there won't be one, or maybe when you're listening to this, there already is, who knows. But as of today, when we're recorded, here's my thoughts cuz everyone wants to know what what's going on. And I don't, I don't speak for the Writer's Guild. I'm not I'm a member, but I'm not on the board. So I'll just walk you through it. Every three years, the contract that the Writer's Guild has with the studios is up for renewal. And then we call it the b a And that determines

    Phil Hudson:

    Minimum, minimum, minimum basic agreement,

    Michael Jamin:

    Right? Minimum basic agreement.

    Phil Hudson:

    Not National Basketball Association, but the minimum basic agreement

    Michael Jamin:

    Basketball. And so, but this, this covers things like, well, how much writers get paid for in health and pension contributions, how much writers get paid for minimum. So what a minimum script would be if you sell a script for, on a certain budget or on a TV show for hour long, whatever those are minimums that, and which minimums are good. I know minimums sound like a bad thing, but minimums are a good thing. This is the least that they have to pay you. They probably have to, will pay you more, but this is the least. And also, and also working conditions, Sal it was all these things that come up and every year, the studios, it's always contentious. Every three years we have this negotiation. It it, it's always contentious. It never, it doesn't always result in strikes. But the last one was 2008, we went on strike.

    But every three years we have this and the Guild you know, guild's voice trying to get more, and the studio's usually trying to roll back. They call it roll back. They want to give you less. Now, every the studios, they cry, record profits. This is what they do. They tell record, they talk to their shareholders, they declare record profits. Cuz that's what the shareholders want to hear. And maybe it's true, but when they negotiate with the writers, suddenly I'm a little light today. Suddenly they don't have the, you know, they, they, they cry property <laugh>. And it's not personal. It's just how that's how they do. That's how business is done. It's just business.

    Phil Hudson:

    So just a, just a note on this, and this is from Wikipedia. In the 2008 strike, one of the things that was up for, for talk was D v D residuals. And in 2004, the New York Times reported companies made 4.8 billion in home video sales and only 1.78 billion in the box office at the Itters. That's the difference. And

    Michael Jamin:

    They don't wanna show the pies with it what

    Phil Hudson:

    It is. And, and there was no change. There was no change on that. We, that was removed from that strike. So we'll get to that. But

    Michael Jamin:

    Basically you'll, the narrative you'll probably hear with the shooters, cause the students have big budgets, they'll, they'll, they'll promote this. And again, it's not personal, but they'll say, yeah, writers are being a little greedy. They're overreaching, they're being greedy. Now here's the thing, no one becomes a screenwriter because they're motivated by money. If they, that were the case, they'd go into they go become well, they become lawyers. They become whatever, they go some kind of c e o position that that's, they would go that path, the corporate path, if you wanted, if your rich is your, you become a screenwriter cuz you wanna live a creative life cuz you like creating, hopefully money will follow. But that's not why you go into it. You go into it because you just wanna live a creative life. And the idea of sitting in a cubicle does not turn you on it.

    Just anything but that. So the notion of you, you can hear the idea of a we've heard those greedy CEOs, we've heard that expression. We've heard those greedy politicians. We've heard that. We don't really hear those greedy artists. You hear those starving artists. That's something you hear starving artists because people are willing to sacrifice for their art. And most screenwriters start off as you know, Phil struggling, hustling, barely getting by doing whatever it takes to pay the bills so that they can break in so they can become a screenwriter. So we all, we all pay those dues. And so in exchange, we're not even asking for job security. We're asking for just some money so that we can live basically a middle class life, because that's what most screenwriters live. Now, I know don't point to the, the, the more, the big show runners who make billions and billions don't point or billions, but millions and millions don't point to them because the vast majority of screenwriters are just middle class people.

    In the middle class. They're just, you know, paying the bills and hopefully setting some aside, but they're not ultra-rich driving Ferrari. So the last writer's strike was 2008. And that was, so the writers wanted some, the Guild was very forward looking. And the the Guild said, no, these writers and, and people often say, well, that's the one that killed their bu the business, well the writers, we had to go on strike on that. That was to cover streaming. So something new thing called streaming, which no, we didn't even know what it was back then. There was still cable and no one really knew, understood what streaming was. And the guilds asserted that it doesn't really matter how you broadcast this, whether you're gonna put it on the air, whether you're gonna put it on cable, whether you're gonna put it all over the internet. It doesn't really matter how you guys distribute the product. The writers still deserve to get paid for this product. And so the theri, the studio said, no, no, no. Which went on strike. And in the end, the Writers Guild got jurisdiction over this thing called streaming. Had it had we not struck

    Phil Hudson:

    New media is the, I think the contractor, yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Had we not struck any show that would've been sold to Amazon or Netflix or whatever, or H B l Max would've been, eh, you're on your own. We're not paying, we're not paying you the rates that you guys should get paid. We're not paying you pres pension residuals. So this was a big strike. It was of important. We went on strike about three months. We all carried picket signs. I lost a lot of money. I lost a lot of money on that. But you know what, I went in feeling, well, it wasn't mine to begin with because I got what I got on the backs of writers before, before me who went on strike for me. So it's not, wasn't mine anyway, but I did lose a lot of money. Not angry with the guilt for that. It's just the way it goes. I'm angry at the studios. And I'm not even angry anymore. It's, it's life. It was never mine. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Do you, do you wanna talk about the history of those or do you want to keep going? I don't

    Michael Jamin:

    Know. That's about, that's about the history that I know. I don't, I don't know much.

    Phil Hudson:

    Lemme just give everyone a quick summary of the previous Writer's Guild strikes. So 1960, the Writer's Guild went on strike for 146 days. And that was over broadcast royalties. So it was about not getting paid. 1981, they went on strike for three months. It was about residuals on pay TV and home video, because VHS was a for new thing. Cable was pay tv. It's about payment. 1989. the longest strike in history was 153 days. And it was about residuals for hour long and creative rights and cost cuts in other areas like producer demands. So again, about that. And then in 2007, 2008, it was 100 days, which is the second longest strike actually be the third's longest strike that's ever been there. So strikes have been longer, but it's all over. Studios not wanting to pay writers.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. And you know, it's cost cutting because they serve, they're masters. Like if, if this were a small business, I this, there would be no strikes because you're, you always wanna do your employees right, your contractors right, your vendors, right. Because you don't wanna, it costs a lot of money to train these people to get new ones. It much more symbiotic. They do right by you. You do right by them. They do right by you. It's cause I've owned, I run a small business and you do as well. And so you bend over backwards to keep your employees happy because it's just, that's what, that's what businesses do. But when you become a big business, then you have to answer to the shareholders. And the shareholders only want one thing. Record profits. That's all they really care about. And so the students are doing things that's their master is to share.

    And so at any cost. And so that's whatever, that's just the, that's cor life in modern day corporate America. Again, not taking it personally, but that's why their, that's how their decisions are being made. Now, this strike is about, this is a big strike. I, I I I say strike. We're not strike yet. I, I suspect one is coming. What happened is, a couple of weeks ago, the W g A sent out a pattern of, of demands. They spent the whole previous year interviewing writers. What's important to you. They're membership. It's a small membership. We're talking about, I dunno, five, 6,000 people, whatever. It's it's a small membership of people in New Writers Guild. What, what's important to you? And, and we filled about surveys. They, they, they added up our, how much money we made. And they did a lot of facts and figures and this thing, okay, this is what we came back.

    This is what we think is important to you. This, that became the pattern of demand. Pattern of demands, what they want us to negotiate for. Now, the reality is writers today today, this year are making 4% less money than they did 10 years ago. 4% dip in terms of overall salaries. The pa you know, we did it 10 years ago, but that's not adjusted. That's not, you never wanna go make less. That's 4% less, but adjust it for inflation, it's actually 22% less. So you're making a quarter less of what your salary is. That's, that's a big deal. And, and so they, they, you know, they're all, we all know this, it's not a big secret. So the guilt put out a pattern of demands asking the membership, do you guys agree with this pattern? This is what we're gonna ask for. Do you agree with this?

    And we all voted, or most of us voted. And this year we came back with 90, 0, 98 0.4% of the Guild membership. You're talking about 5,500 people who voted yes for this patent or demands, which is crazy. If you asked people to vote, you know, does the sun rise in the East? You wouldn't get 98.4% agreement people, there'd be a lot of people say, no, it doesn't. The world, the world is flat. So the fact that we, 98.4% agreed in this pattern is cr pattern of demands is crazy for comparison. In 2020, only 90.7% agreed with the pattern of demands. So this is a big deal. We all feel this is a problem. All the membership feels this is a problem. They go negotiating, they begin negotiating with the, with the the producers, the studios. And how it usually goes is the guild ask for more and the studio asks for rollbacks, they ask for less.

    That's just how it goes. And hopefully you get some common ground. It doesn't look like we're getting it. It looks like the Guild is asking for a lot. We're asking for a lot. We really are because it's kind of it we're gotten to a point where because of streaming, writers are not unemployed, writers are underemployed, which I think in a way is in more dangerous than a situation, than being underemployed unemployed. Because in the past you might go on a strike and the studio will say, listen, you guys go on strike. And and you might be outta work for a half a year or whatever. But now, if a writer is already out of work for three to six to nine months, what difference does it make? You've already backed me in the corner. I don't care if I go on strike, I'm already not working.

    This is what the average writer is saying. I'm already not working. What difference does a strike make? Mm-Hmm. And the reason why writers, I feel, again, I don't speak for the guild, they speak for myself. This is how I see it. The reason why writers are underemployed is because the business model has changed so much in the past 10 years. When I broke into the business, this is a long time ago, but you had four networks basically. And you'd do a hit show and you'd work, you'd basically work, you, most writers get paid per episode produced. And you'd work basically 10 months out of the year. And then you'd take a short hiatus, go back to work, great, everyone's happy. But that's cuz you're doing 22 episodes a year now on a hit show. Now you might be on a hit show, and because it's on streaming, you're only gonna do eight, maybe 10 episodes a year, a season.

    That's a huge hit. Making matters worse, studios are cutting back on budgets, they're not cutting back. And this is on the budgets of the show. They're cutting back on the budgets of the writing staff. And so, cuz the show still have big budgets, production budgets. And so the writing staff, which was it used to be maybe 10 writers now might be down to six. And those six writers are not gonna work for the entire production of the show, which is what it used to be. Now, you're only gonna work for in pre-production, which means you may, let's say you're doing 13 episodes a season. You may only be hired for three months out of the year, and you're on a hitch show.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, it's 10, 10 to 12 weeks or something like that, is what I've seen.

    Michael Jamin:

    So Frank, if you're doing 12 weeks of work a year on a hitch show, that's not enough to get by. And you could say, well, why don't you? Yeah, but you can get on another show. Good. It's not so easy. The the stars have to align. You have to be in, in strong demand. The schedules have to overlap, not overlap. It's not so easy. What you can do is supplement your income, hopefully by selling a pilot. But again, selling a pilot is, no, it's not easy. Like I, my partner, we sold probably a dozen pilots, but we've not sold many, many more. And so what I feel the position is, you have a lot of writers who are in the business, they're are working, but underemployed. And so that's a powder keg. So it's basically saying, screw it. And now many people are gonna say, well, you guys need better negotiators.

    Look, I'm actually a big fan of the Writer's Guild leadership. I think they, they're very communicative. They really keeping you involved. They tell you what's going on. They explain to you thinking it's a democracy. But the truth is, it's like you're only, you don't have any leverage. The only leverage the Writer's Guild has is strike. It's not like you could do, I'll pull up other levers. You say, no, this is, we either are gonna take the deal or not take the deal. There's nothing else you can do to negotiate. You have nothing else to offer. You can, you can walk. And I know many people, other people in the industry and other guilds, other unions, they tend to think that the writers, I many people think the writers are the bad guys. When you writers go on strike, I'm outta work. Yeah, I, I know that. Right? It's, it's hard. It's hard for everybody, but there's no writer. Like, no writer has to take a job that they don't want to take. I mean, nor do you have to take a job that you don't want to take. No one's forcing you to work. If you, if you decide you need to go on strike, go on strike, do it. If you,

    Phil Hudson:

    And we, and we almost did, we almost did like a year or or so ago with ii ii almost did a strike.

    Michael Jamin:

    The problem with ii II represents many of the other trades in, you know in the industry, hair, makeup,

    Phil Hudson:

    Wardrobe, script coordinators. W so writer's assistants and script coordinators are both under II

    Michael Jamin:

    Writer's as, but the problem with ii, which is a huge, has a huge membership probably 10 times what the Writer's Guild has. So you would think, whoa, they're 10 times as strong. Right? No, but because everyone has a di what the script writer, script coordinator wants, and what the hair and makeup, what they want are completely different things. So to get them to agree, that's why they don't tend to go on strike because their uni, their their their membership is fractured in that, in that respect. They don't agree on what they all want because they're so, their trades are so di diverse. And so that's why they're not going on strike. That's why they're taking crappy deals because they can't go on strike because their membership is too big. Yeah, yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. This this brings up a really important topic of collective bargaining. And I think there's a lot of politic about what is a union and what is a guild and what, whether they're valuable or whether they hurt the economy, ultimately, even on the far right side of things there in the business books, many people, including this famous author, Robert Kiosaki, who wrote rich Dad, poor Dad. He says in there, if you, he doesn't recommend specializing, but if you are specialized, you have to join a union because they are the only thing that will protect you in the future. Right? And it's, to your point, the Writer's Guild exists because there were abuses that took ma like major damage to writers, down to producers giving their girlfriends writing credit over the guy who wrote the script because he wanted to make her like, things like that. And the W g A has prevented a lot of those things. So,

    Michael Jamin:

    And that the, the WGA helps not just the writers, but the writers, aspiring writers who are not in the guild. Because let's say you sell, you're brand new outta the gate and you sell your movie, right? You know, you sold a movie to someone, everyone knows you'll give your left arm to get this movie sold. You'll sell it for a dollar, right? Because you're so excited and desperate to break in The Writer's Guild steps and says, no, no, no, no, you have to pay this person, even though they're not in the guild. You gotta pay them. Writer's Guild minimum, which whatever it is, maybe 50,000, who knows what it is. But it's there to protect even people who are not in the guild. And it protects the people in the guild so that the people in the guild are not undersold. Because we know in this business, everyone is dead, will love, it's a passion.

    So people we're not pursuing the money will do it for less because we like doing it. And that eventually, that's a race to the bottom. And so it's really there to protect everybody because, and at the end of the day, you do want a healthy pool of writers to work with on your future project. Like, you don't wanna create a situation where this, I don't think the studios, they don't wanna create a situation where writers can no longer afford to write, because then you're gonna lose all your talent. Now why are they doing this then? Well, why are we, why are we, why are we the world creating greenhouse glasses, which are gonna kill us all? Why? Because we're fricking idiots. That's why. Because we don't know. It's in our own. We know it's in our own best interest, but we can't seem to get our ass together to do it because short, on the short term, it's actually, it's, it's more advantageous to, to burn fossil fuels and the long term is gonna kill us. So it's the same thing with the studios. They, I feel like they're, they're, they're des setting themselves up for their own destruction. You want a healthy pool of talented writers who can afford to make a living. You don't wanna get rid of those people.

    Phil Hudson:

    And publicly traded companies make quarterly earnings calls to their people, to the, to their investors. And they have to show those. So they're literally thinking about the next three months, not 10 years down the road. Yeah. Yeah. Which is why oftentimes when new CEOs in, in any of these studios or companies come in, they will, he, they will cut whatever the previous CEO was doing or the previous executive was doing, even if it's a good thing, because they want to make themselves look good to keep their job in that high paying position. That's just, that's a, that's a standard practice in, in the business industry.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. And in what world do you hear again, those greedy artists? Yeah. That that does, that's a phrase that doesn't exist in the, in, in reality. So what will happen, I, I predict the Writer's Guild will ask the, their membership to go on strike. And we, and I, I believe we will, because I don't see what we're asking for, is such a dramatic, a dramatic shift in how we are compensated because their business model's changing with streaming. I understand that. But, but they, but they're squeezing the middle class writers so hard in their, in their pursuit of profit that you don't wanna make, you know, they're, they're backing the writers in a corner, I believe. I believe so, yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Despite the fact that everything's cheaper to make because you're shooting everything digitally. There's no film costs, there's no film processing costs. There's your ads are digital. Yeah. Their ads are digital. They're not prints. They, you're not,

    Michael Jamin:

    That's another thing. When Bright used to get a really healthy residual on vhs and then, but these VHS tapes were big bricks and a lot of move, literally moving parts and tapes and gears literally gears inside. They cost money to assemble. Then when DVDs became a thing, the studio said, no, no, no, we wanna pay you writers less on residuals for these DVDs because it's a new technology. Nevermind the fact that the new technology cost a fraction to make. Because there were no gears. It was just a digital stamp. And it was so e there was so light, there was no shipping costs. There were so small, there was barely any shipping costs. And they were so inexpensive that they had to literally package these things in giant packages because people would shoplift them because of there were, there were nothing. They were, they were that easy to steal. So they had a big giant boxes for them. So they'd make it harder to steal because the production costs were, were so, so low. And so they tried lowing and they did, they roll back how much rider made on D V D, which was painful. It was very painful despite the fact that it was a cheaper and superior product.

    Phil Hudson:

    And that was something that was in the 2007, 2008 strike that. You was pulled back and not pursued to try to get through that strike. So nothing changed despite that being there,

    Michael Jamin:

    Even though it was we'll, fight for another day was with how the writers go, because you can't win every fight. And then, and they, you know, they, I think they may have promised, oh, we'll get, we'll make it up to you next time. No, they didn't make up next time and then came streaming. And now streaming costs less to, to, to rerun than than DVDs. Cuz there's literally no manufacturing costs. You're just sending a digital product through the internet. Where's the cost? Right. And, but they, they, they, they're claiming it's, it's new. We don't know how to do this. So you're, we're gonna have to try, you know, the way I say it, that's a you problem, not a me problem. That's a you problem. Yeah.

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.

    Phil Hudson:

    So one of the questions that came up for me during the I II stuff, when, when everyone was kind of backing II and the decisions they were making, I was in the production side at the time. So I was hearing the producers and the conversations on that side about we're not sure what's gonna happen depending on if they strike, we might have to shut down production and the cost will kind of explode for us and all those things. But the, the crew I remember people saying, just remember that if you are not in the guild or you're not in the union and you take a job during this, you're a scab and we'll know who you are.

    Right. And that really bothered me because my thought was, well, I'm not in your guilt. And, and again, I have no dog in the fight. I don't want to be in that, that union. Right. I don't, I don't wanna be a part of, that's not something I'm pursuing. But it just from a theoretical perspective, it bothered me. Cause it was like, well, I don't currently get any benefits of being in your union. I'm not in your union. I don't can't get into your union. I'm not able to even get the job to start getting in your union because it's about who you know. And here you are, you're attacking someone who wants to take an opportunity to get in that union. And you're saying you will hold them accountable for years to come because there'll be a time and a date stamp when they got in the union and it'll be during this strike.

    So that it bothered me. And they said, yes, but what they don't understand is that we are fighting for their future. And that changed my mind because to the same point as the wga, if I get in at an opportunity when I can, I am undermining the union. I will want to join. That will protect me in the future. And that's the problem with it. So from your perspective, and obviously they would have to completely breach with their entire contract with the WGA and undermined a lot of the things, but for a writer to take an opportunity during a strike to sell a script to a company, do you think that's something a new writer should do?

    Michael Jamin:

    Abso absolutely not for reasons why you said, but also I don't think those opportunities will even be available because no one's wants to make a TV show. No one's gonna spend $2 million on an episode on a TV show and give it to a writer who's never done it before. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, they, they, you know, they, you, you, you wanna pay, you want, this is how you protect your asset is by ha having people who know what they're doing.

    Phil Hudson:

    Which is why, which is why the contract exists, is because they know the best way for us to be profitable is to work with these people who vet and have standards for what it means to be a good writer.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Experience.

    Phil Hudson:

    And, and we're willing to pay the person. And there's a path for those people who are good enough that we want them in. We will, we will hire them, and then we will start paying the residuals and all the other things that we have to do for those people when you're on your points to join the w g to join the W G A. But that's not gonna happen to your point at a time when, and, and to your, and to your point, Michael, what I'm hearing on the other side, not in the W G A, is that the studios are sand bagging scripts. They're buying up everything they can and not starting production right now. Because all of the people I know who, it's like, it's kind of a ghost town right now where people are not working because the producers are saying, we're just gonna wait to start production until the strike happens. If they strike, well, we've got all of these scripts that we're sitting on that we'll just put into production, which will hold us out for a year, and then we'll deal with that problem later. So they're just not doing anything.

    Michael Jamin:

    And that is a tricky situation too. If they, they decide to put someone in production, then I'm not sure if the Writer's Guild says, you are allowed to oversee the production of your show. You may be, you may be allowed to, but you can't do any writing responsibilities.

    Phil Hudson:

    Which cuz that's a producer, that's a producer responsibility.

    Michael Jamin:

    And so there's that. I think you can get away with that, but you can't lift a pencil. You could just, you could be on set and you can make suggestions and answer questions, but you can't lift a pencil.

    Phil Hudson:

    That was a big, big deal. And I, I can't remember. I want to say it might have been Vince Gillian, when he was writing you know, breaking Bad has a really short first season because it was, he was writing it when the strike happened and he said like 6:00 PM or whatever it was that night, he's had to hit send on an email. And that was the last writing he could do on his show. And then it went off to production. And that's what they got.

    Michael Jamin:

    So I do know some, you know, I have heard stories of other showrunners maybe you know, I don't know, kind of being jerk about the whole thing. I, you know, I, I I'm not that way. I really, I really respect the fact that what I've gotten came on the backs of writers who sacrificed before me. I truly believe that. I know some people, higher up writers or even young writers do not feel that way. I do, I guess I, I have a strong, and this, it's not necessarily a good thing, but I, I I really, I really have a strong feel of social justice. Like, I don't like when people steal. I don't like people, when people bend the rules for their own, like I really feel like I, I get indignant over that. I'm like, no man, you know? Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    It's cutting. I call 'em cutters. We all learned this is a line you got in line. This is your spot. And when someone cuts in front of you, it should make you mad. That is the most American thing, is that we're all here working together. And you don't get to get ahead of me because you pushed your way in. Sorry. Get in the back of the line. And everyone should get mad at a cutter and everyone should put them in the back of the line cuz it's not fair to everybody else.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, yeah. Some people just don't, some like, eh, well, they want more, whatever. But I I, I'm not too worried about scabs. I don't, I really don't. I really think, like if I imagine if I had sced, I, I, I wouldn't have known what to do. I would've been, it was terrible. I was terrible for the first several years of my career, not as a scab, as just as a regular writer. So like, the idea of me getting my show you nuts, it's just like, yeah, I'm not too worried about that. But I know it puts a hardship on people. I know it puts a hardship on people in other guilds and other unions who, and I submit, like I said, many of them blame the Writers' Guild. But the truth is, it's because the writer's guilds probably the strongest of the guild because we're the most united and it's because we all want the same thing. And the, in the past, in the past there was some division with writers, there was the feature writers one thing, and the TV writers wanted another. And so sometimes we would argue over what we wanted in those contract negotiations because teacher TV writers want one thing and feature writers one another thing. But now with almost the work moving to television, there are very few feature writers or exclusively feature writers. So now it's like, eh, we're all, it, it's made us more unified because we all want the same thing

    Phil Hudson:

    For, for anyone who wants like a historical perspective on this, there's a modern classic called What Makes Sammy Run by Bud Schulberg. And it is fascinating and it, it talks about, you know, effectively scabs or people who will throw people under the bus to get ahead at Sammy Glicks of, of the world. And it's fascinating and it kind of sets around kind of the formation of the First Writer's Guild and its failure. And then moving into, you know, what a, the foundation of a writer's guild to kind of prevent himself. It really fascinating historical view from the son of someone who was a founder of one of these first major motion picture studios who worked with the sells Nicks and the great people of their time.

    Michael Jamin:

    This is maybe, maybe eight or 10 years ago, whatever. I, I had, I had lunch with the Italian Writer's Guild was trying to, they, in Italy, they were trying to make their own writer's guild. They didn't have a writer's guild. And so they came here to, they met with their guild leaders here. How do we do this? How do we start a guild? How do we to protect our membership? And I had lunch with them and we were talking about stuff and they, they definitely, they want that because they want the protections that we all get in America with health pension, you know, minimums and stuff like that. And they're like, how do we do that? It's, it's a valuable, it's like it's, you know, like this is how we get to live is, you know, with our insurance and contributions and all those residuals help writers get through the lean times because it's not like a job. This is not a job where you have any security. Your show gets canceled, you're outta work, you're outta work for how long, as long as it takes to you to get another job. Who knows? And the residuals help you to carry through those lean times. And like I said, there's no job security. And that's what we are, we are willing to accept that, but we're not willing to accept you know, creating a situation where we can't make money. That's crazy. We gotta, you know, we gotta be able to make money. So

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Yeah. The 2007 to 2008 rider strike NPR reported a 1.5 billion economic impact over those 100 days in the Los Angeles area. And another economist put it higher, but, but they think it's interesting how the spin is that's the writer's fault.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Really. You're right. It's the writer's fault. Cause they went on strike. Why is it not the studio's fault for not offering a fair deal? And in the end they offered a, a fair enough deal. Not still as, as far as I'm the writer's, not fair enough. But, but you know what? I, I don't understand. Look, look, just look at the cars in the driveways and you'll see who's making one, who's

    Phil Hudson:

    Making, and, and the driveways that the cars are in too, by the way.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right, right, right. I don't live in a manion on

    Phil Hudson:

    It. I, I've been to, I've been to Michael's house. It's a nice house, but it's not a mansion. Right. And, and you've made it a house. You've, you've made that house and that neighborhood. Nice. Not necessarily the other way around. One of your stories in paper orchestra is about the, the hoarder who lived in your neighborhood.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. I had a, my two, two houses down. We had a hoarder. So it's you. Yeah. Yeah. That was a funny story.

    Phil Hudson:

    Well, I've got a couple questions from a pre Prew, g a those of us who want to support, recognize the value of the guild and, and don't want to be scabs or don't wanna, and, and, you know, scabs a harsh word. I, I don't know that I still still care for that. But the people who are gonna take advantage of the opportunity to get ahead

    Michael Jamin:

    A dumb thing to do. And here's how you, here's how you really can, if you're smart, this is what you do.

    Phil Hudson:

    This is leading into my question. This is leading into my question. I guarantee it. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Don't even think about sca because the, the person who's gonna hire you for a show or to write on a show is gonna be a showrunner. This is what you do. Don't think about scabbing. Go to wherever the pickets lines are gonna be. And they're, you're always outside the major studios, Warner Brothers. Boom.

    Phil Hudson:

    If I could drop this mic, I would, that's exactly what I was gonna ask.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's what you're gonna say. You pick up a sign they give, they give away signs, you know, have picket signs and you, you, you carry one and you start picketing with the writers who are on line and you just start talking to them as a friend, friendly. And people, they'll say, oh, are you, what show do you work on? And you'll say, no, I'm not working on a show. I, I aspire to be a writer. And I guarantee you, whoever you're talking to is gonna be grateful you're carrying a sign. And because they have nothing other to, they have nothing else to do, other than pick it for three hours, they will talk to you because there's nothing else to do. And so now, like, talk about a networking event. Go there, pick up a sign and talk to everyone online. There's, they have nothing else to do, then talk. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    So one step beyond this, and we talk about him all the time, but he's, he's a fascinating case study and someone who's putting in the work, Dave Crossman shoots me an email. Hey, Phil, hearing a lot of stuff about the writer's strike. I wanna pick your brain about how to support, he lives in Seattle. I've already talked to about seven coffee cart companies who will show up and give away free coffee to people on it. And I want to talk to you about what I can do to structure a GoFundMe to fund that, that that dude doesn't even live here. He can't be on the lines to pick it. And he's the one, I've al already talked to someone else who's a showrunner, and they'll, they've connected me with some of the strike. What do they strike captains. I think that that's the term from last year about where they might be to do the strikes. I mean, that dude's putting in the work. He doesn't even live in Hollywood. For those of you who want to know how his job requires him to be outta state. Those of you wanna know how to make it not live in Hollywood. That's an example of a guy making it happen.

    Michael Jamin:

    He's ambitious. That guy hustles. But but, but, but that's exactly it. Like the people each who are gonna hire you are the writers. They're not gonna be the studio executives <laugh>, pouring hot oil on you <laugh>. So don't e don't even think about pe If you wanna break in, this is a great opportunity just to talk to the people and hear their stories. I I, you know, I've met, I've met so many writers at the last strike, I remember God, I became friends with this guy named Frank Zumi, who was a writer on Sopranos first season. And I love Sopranos. I'm like, yeah. And, and this is the guy who I met on the line and we became friendly. And I just hear his stories of writing, like, that's cool. I was just, I was interested in hearing his, his story, you know? Yeah,

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. You're in the foxhole. That's, you're, you're, you're in a war with those people and it's a war over your livelihood, which is your wage.

    Michael Jamin:

    I talked to other feature writers who had wrote movies that I really enjoyed. Lowell gans and Bamboo Mandela talked to them on the line and like, like talk about a fricking talk about a treasure trove of, of, if you're an inspiring writer, come on down. If we're on strike, you got, we got nothing to do, but talk to you.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. So show up and support. That's the answer. Because

    Michael Jamin:

    So many people say, Hey, want, can I take care for coffee? Like, listen dude, my time is worth more than $5 an hour, you know? But but on a, on a picket line, <laugh>, you don't even have to buy any coffee. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    I think that's some really valuable insight. Is there anything else that you think those of us who want to be in the W g A can do to support other than show up and strike?

    Michael Jamin:

    You know, there, there, that's probably it. There's going to be, you'll go on websites like Deadline or whatever, and there'll always be trolls and people saying, again, greedy, those greedy writers. And I, I'm like, aye, aye, aye. Those greedy artists. So, you know, you could, you could leave kind comments and or, or, or take on the trolls. That's something you could do. There's always gonna be misinformation. Yeah. I I many, we all, during the last strike, we suspected many of them were being paid by the studios. Cuz some of the things we were just saying, like, who would think, who would say such a thing?

    Phil Hudson:

    <Laugh>. That's where, it's where Russia got the idea in the presidential elections. It's from the studios.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's not, it's not even personal. I, and I, I, I like many of the people who work at studios, you know, it's not like I have a, I'm angry at them. This is all coming from their, their corporate overlords. I get it. Not personal, it's just business. So,

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So show up, get the work done. You can't be online. Spread the word that way. Awesome. Anything else you wanna add on the subject of Rider Strikes? Michael?

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't know. I'll probably add, and again, and Strike hasn't been authorized yet. They will probably ask us in a couple weeks to authorize a strike vote.

    Phil Hudson:

    Let's talk about that. Cause I don't think you hit that. Right. But that's an important first step.

    Michael Jamin:

    The next step will be negotiation. We'll get a letter of saying the negotiations aren't going well, we're not anywhere near, we need to authorize a strike vote, which is basically you're threatening, Hey, we'll go on strike if you don't give us what, what you're, you we're, because the Guild hasn't, the membership hasn't said that yet. Hasn't agreed to that yet. And so the last time this was 2008, we authorized, or maybe there was one before that

    Phil Hudson:

    We just, we just author, you just authorized in 2000 20, there was an authorization

    Michael Jamin:

    And you gotta, and that, that you're basically putting the, the cannon in the cannonball into the cannon. You're saying, we're about to blow this views up, or, you know, it's not, it's, you can't bluff. You cannot bluff. And so, like I said, you only have two tools in the toolbox, which is strike or threat of strike. And you don't really, you don't really have threat of strike. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Got it. Awesome. Oh, I did see someone else say, and that, and I'm sure I don't know that there's other WGA members who listened to your podcast, but there was somebody who said, even if you don't agree with the strike, you should vote to authorize because the higher the number, the stronger signal it sends that we are willing. And, and I think that's part of being a team player too. Like there are a lot of times you don't feel or agree with the way something your, your partnership, your relationship, or your business partners want to do something. Doesn't mean you have to be 100% aligned as long as you're aligned in the intention as you're moving forward. And, and that's what that is, is you're saying,

    Michael Jamin:

    I'm sure there'll be a strong turnout and I'm sure everyone will be authorized because it's like, you gotta do it. You're, you're in, in for a penny in for a pound. You gotta do it. There are some writers during the last strike who kind of went you know, basically were kind of, I don't know, they're, you could tell they were against the leadership. And I'm like, just keep it to yourself. That's not helpful now. Yeah. Keep it now we're in shut up until we're out because there's no sense undermining each other. I know. It's hard. It's hard for all of us. Not Yeah. All of us. So shut

    Phil Hudson:

    That kind of, that kind of happened when the W G A said, Hey, you gotta fire your agents. Right. That just happened a couple years ago.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. And that was another thing that was, sorry, you know, this is all, and again, we wouldn't have gotten any of this were it not for people who fought before us. So if there were no guilt, this would be doggie dog and none of us would have any work. We'd be working, we'd be making scraps. So

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. That's hard. That's hard stuff. Just one anecdote on that. There was a writer when they, the WGA said, fire your agents. He said, my agent was the best man at my wedding. He's the godfather to my children. He's been my agent my whole career. And I had to fire him. And I had to say, this is nothing personal. And he understood it sucked. It still sucked to do because it's a personal family friend now. And it is what it is. I

    Michael Jamin:

    Got bad news. That agent would've stabbed him back in a minute. <Laugh>, he would've dropped him, would've dropped him like a hot fly. That agent would've said, I know I was the best man in your wedding, but we're making changes here. I have to let you go. I guarantee the agent would've said that. It's business goes both ways. Goes both ways.

    Phil Hudson:

    It's the business side of things.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    Awesome. Well, that's that's what the great insight is to what's coming up for any other questions. I mean, leave them in the comments on YouTube where you're watching this or on Michael's site and we'll hop in and try to answer those. There are a lot of other things.

    Michael Jamin:

    Strike what we'll see. Yeah, go ahead, Phil.

    Phil Hudson:

    There, there are a lot of other things too. You know, we talk about 'em every podcast, but for those of you who are new, there are a lot of resources that Michael has one of the most recent changes as you've started doing these webinars, and we've talked about that on a few episodes. But the webinar is a, a monthly webinar talking, taking a different approach on a different topic for things you need to know to become a professional writer. How to write a great story. How to move, how to move a break, how to break into the industry might have been one of the topics. We got a bunch of those different things coming up. And so if you want to attend a webinar with Michael who spends an hour teaching you some really important stuff, I think you often give away a free license to your course so people can get into that. And you're also giving away eBooks. You got little guides you're giving away now too to everybody who attends. So no matter what, you're gonna win

    Michael Jamin:

    If you show up, here's the thing, if you show up live, we give you a special present, special download book as well as a chance to win the course. And if you miss it, we send you the free replay. You can watch for like 24 hours. If you miss it after that, then it'll be available on the website for a small fee. But if you tune in, you get, it's all if it's, it's free. If you tune in, you get all this stuff and let, actually, we we're doing this a lot. You got a da everyone who who tunes in will get a discounted price if you decide to take the course, which is our, are basically our Black Fridays. Is that what we're saying, Phil?

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. It's like, it's like the best deal you ever give. It's the cheapest you've ever offered the course for those who are interested. And it kind of generally kicks off when the course is open. Anyway, so if you're interested, you should attend the webinar. You might get a better deal.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's what you should do.

    Phil Hudson:

    But you can sign up at michaeljamin.com/webinar. That's where you can go to get on that. Beyond that, you got a lot of other things. You got the watch list, which is the weekly newsletter with your top three piece of advice at michaeljamin.com/watchlist. There's the free lesson, which is the first lesson from your course. So it's michaeljamin.com/free. A paper orchestra for people interested in your book of essays, which you're working on volume two, right. But

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, you started writing that and essay sounds boring, but the, but these are stories and they're, they're fun stories and I perform them and if you wanna see me tour or you wanna just get the book or the ebook, which we're producing now, it is on, I was just having a chat with the our, our composer Anthony Rizzo. You can go to michaeljamin.com/upcoming for information for when I get to your city or for when the book drops.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Outside of that, your social media @MichaelJaminwriter, lots of free nuggets and great information you give out every day. Have you missed a, have you missed a day?

    Michael Jamin:

    No. I, I post on, on social media. Yeah. Try to post every day. Sometimes I give myself a break on a Saturday or a Sunday, but yeah, I'm, I'm on it all the time. Some cuz and if I do, then I post twice a day, you know, so I'm, I'm put I'm putting a lot out there and the more I get a lot of I'm trying not to repeat, which is interesting. I'm not repeating a lot as much as I thought, which is like, people ask me questions like, well it's, I've already answered that. I wanna see if I can find something new. Okay. At some point I'll have to start repeating myself, but right now it's like, there's, there's plenty of plenty of new stuff from adding.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, you can go, you can pop a great question into one of those comment fields there too. On one of those videos, make it related to that topic so you can help people out and probably show up in a video with you. That's pretty cool. Awesome. I think that's kind of it. Anything else you wanna add?

    Michael Jamin:

    That's it. Everyone, thank you so much for listening. Till next time, what's our catchphrase, Phil?

    Phil Hudson:

    Keep writing.

    Michael Jamin:

    Keep writing, keep writing. Okay. Thank you. Bye.

    Phil Hudson:

    This has been an episode where screenwriters need to hear this with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving a review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

    44m | Apr 26, 2023
  • 077 -Tacoma FD Actor/Director/Showrunner - Kevin Heffernan

    Kevin Heffernan is 1/5 of the comedy group Broken Lizard and has made cult classics like Super Troopers, Beerfest, Club Dread, and the upcoming Quasi out on Hulu on 4/20. Kevin is also the Showrunner of the hit sitcom Tacoma FD on TruTV and streaming on HBOMax.

    Show Notes

    Kevin Heffernan on Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/heffernanrules/

    Kevin Heffernan on IMDB - https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0373571/

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Auto-Generated Transcript

    Kevin Heffernan:

    That meeting that we first had with you guys. Yeah. And we, we were at Dave, we were at we were at the three Arts offices. Yep. And

    And I remember this cuz I was like, you know, let me and I, and you know, maybe you've come to realize this, but let, and I were, were a little bit more insecure about our knowledge about how to make a TV show cuz we hadn't done it before. Right. And and I remember I kept in the meeting, we would have conversations like, he would keep saying things like well I don't know. Cause we only make movies, you know, I don't know. Cause he's gonna make movies. Right. I kept saying that. And what I was trying to say was, I don't know anything about tv. Right. But your partner Sivert, he, he threw that back in my face at one point. He does. He said, but I don't know. Cause I only make TV, you know. Oh my God. Thought was the funniest fucking thing. I thought it was so fucking funny. 

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, thank God he didn't take the meeting.

    You're listening to Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin.

    Hey everyone, it's Michael Jamin. Welcome back to Screenwriters Need to Hear This, the podcast. I got another great guest for you everyone. Hope everyone's sitting down. It's Kevin Heffernan. He's also my boss, so I'm gonna be extra nice for this. But I

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Like to think we're coworkers, Mike. Well,

    Michael Jamin:

    He likes to say that, but meanwhile he makes him, makes me bring him lunch. I like to and rub his feet while he eats it. I like to

    Kevin Heffernan:

    But then you get somebody, you get somebody younger to bring you lunch to bring Correct. Isn't that the way it works?

    Michael Jamin:

    And rub my feet. Yes. Right. Just kick

    Kevin Heffernan:

    It down.

    Michael Jamin:

    Fine. Kevin, let me give you a proper introduction for those. Okay. Who never, ever heard of you. First of all, he's the star and showrunner of Tacoma fd. We're in season four. We just finished season four right now. But also you may know him from from a million million movies. Supert Trooper. Supert Trooper Two Club, dread Slam and Salmon Beer Fest. Quai he's one of the founding members of, and I'm of Broken Lizard, which is a comedy troop. And he's also an actor. Everyone, please welcome to the show, Kevin Heffernan. Ron, can I applaud? You should definitely applaud, dude. Thank you so much. I, I have to say, and I've said this to you many times publicly, but I gotta say it, that everyone is listening. I always give you and Lemi a lot, so much credit for what you guys have done because like, the way I see my career, I feel like, I guess I'm like a Hollywood insider in the sense that I got hired by someone to be on a show and then I rose up the ranks. And then about halfway through my career, I noticed I was no longer working for Hollywood Insiders. I was working for basically Hollywood outsiders. People who made their own career and made themselves so desirable that Hollywood came to them and said, Hey, will you do stuff for us? And that's what I feel like you guys have done.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Well, it's a little bit like I guess that's part of the, in front of the camera thing that gives you a little extra allure, I guess. I don't know. Or so, or a way to it does made,

    Michael Jamin:

    I think so. But when you started broken, you know, when you guys did your first broken lizard movie, you were just, you know, you guys did it on your own. Yes.

    Kevin Heffernan:


    Michael Jamin:

    I mean, talk about that. How did you make that happen? You guys were just nobody's.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah, I mean, well we, we were a, you know, a group that was, I guess we were kind of self-contained. You know, a lot of people, they get out of school, whatever it is, and they, they kind of join some other entity whether it's, you know, some performance thing like the Groundlings or they go to a film school or whatever it is. And we just did it. Our, you know, we had five, well we had more, at the time it was like eight or nine folks. And then after we graduated from Colgate University, we went to New York and we started doing live shows and, and just doing everything soup to nuts. You know, we would, did did the acting and then directing, they're producing the editing and the writing and that, that's how kind of we cut our teeth in order to, you know, and then it was just kinda like, you know, Hey, let's make some short films. Let's, you know

    Michael Jamin:

    Where were you showing these films?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah. And then we would show the films during our live shows. So we would do, you know, sketch shows, you know, in New York City and the Village or whatever. And we'd haul this like 800 pound you know, 32 inch tv into the room. And, and then we would just shoot these short videos. And they're essentially designed to show while we were able, you know, gives us a chance to change costumes and stuff, you know what I mean? It was, oh, it was a chance for us to have a, have a costume change and then we would start showing these videos. And then those were the things that always seemed to be really popular.

    Michael Jamin:

    And these were in like, small venues, like how big, how many seats?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah, I don't know. 80, you know, would,

    Michael Jamin:

    And how would you get people to show up?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Well, we, you know, we went to Colgate, which is kind of a, kind of a big drinking school. And so and a lot of people migrate, you know, when they, it's in upstate New York, so they'll graduate and they'll, they'll move down to New York City. So there was this network of people from our school who were kind of big drinkers and, and young and, and we just kind of put out the word and all the friends would come, you'd get, you know, 50 people in the room. And I remember after the first weekend, the, the place, we were doing a place called the Duplex, which I think is still there. It's in like Christopher or Sheridan Square or something like that. Christopher Street. And the show would end and the bar, the guy who owned the club would walk in and the table would be full of empty beer bottles just full <laugh>. And and he'd be so happy. And he kept offering us more, you know, gigs more nights or whatever. And it was basically cuz our friends came and they drank beer and they had laughs and, and were you

    Michael Jamin:

    Hitting the door? Or how, how were you charging?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah, yeah. We, well probably, we probably got some real shitty deal. You know, we probably had some horrible deal. I mean, it was like we were begging for stage time around town, you know? And and these guys, you know, let you start on a Monday night, you know, or whatever, whatever shitty time is, or, you know, Monday at 10 o'clock or whatever, you know, Uhhuh <affirmative> and do the show. And, and we'd get our friends to come and then it was Wednesday night, and then it was Friday night, and then it's, you know, Hey, you're doing the whole weekend. You know, and it kind of, kind of grew that way, but, and that was, and we learned to write sketches mm-hmm. <Affirmative> when we were doing that, you know? And then did you

    Michael Jamin:

    Kind of, did you kind of learn in college though, when you were, you were writing sketches in college though?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah, we, we kind of self-taught. We, we, it was kind of later towards the end of our college careers where we started this comedy group. And my buddy Jay Chen Sekar, who's, you know, still in the,

    Michael Jamin:

    There he is. Oh, we're gonna plug that Quasi is the movie plug

    Kevin Heffernan:

    That, but that's him. That's Jay Chen

    Michael Jamin:

    Important. That's the most important one. I've left that one out.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah. But that's him. And then he had had some background in Chicago at the IO in Second City and things like that, doing improv. And always wanted to do a show at Colgate. And so he had gotten the opportunity through some student theater group. There was a guy who was like, Hey, why don't you put up a show? And he was like, ah, I don't wanna do it. I don't wanna do it. And then ultimately, I think they gave him like 500 bucks, Uhhuh <affirmative>. And he decided to put together a group of people, and he and I were very close friends. And he knew that I was interested in something like that. And so we put together this group of folks, and it was probably like 15 people at that point in time and, and just started this comedy group. And we didn't know, like we didn't know how to do improv. We didn't know how to write sketches, we know any of that stuff. And it was just, Jay

    Michael Jamin:

    Took one class, basically, and he's like, I'll, I'll teach you guys how to do

    Kevin Heffernan:

    It. Well, he, he didn't, he wasn't even the teacher, you know, like he did. Yeah. Like, he did a, a summer, like <laugh> like

    Guys. Yeah. And he's like, yeah, I'll try this. And we were miserable. I mean, we were horrible. But the, the thing in, in colleges and, and you probably have the same thing, it's like, you know, I think a lot of comedy is, is is the, you have to laugh out of shared experience, right? So the audience says, Hey, I know that happened to me. You know, that's why they laugh, right? So at college, it's a very insular world that you can do that. So you can make fun of that professor and that security guard and that, you know, fraternity, sorority, whatever it is. And, and that's the thing that you learn to write and that everyone laughs at. And so that's how we started where you would just, you'd make fun of people on campus and people love it. And then you, in that way, you learn how to write and, and do characters and whatever, and Right.

    You know, whatever. We were all fans of Saturday Night Live and Monty Python and whatever. And I think, you know, the idea was let's just try to do that. And it was very simple because it was a, it's like given a wedding toast, you know? It's like, you know, everyone's on your side, right? Everyone wants to laugh together, the same thing. And, you know, we started doing these shows there, and they were just super popular because there was nothing like it there. And people were, were happy to see us make fun of, you know, that professor or that, but

    Michael Jamin:

    Then at some point though, you had to branch out to a larger audience, though.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Well, that's the, that's the, the terrifying thing is we got to, we moved to New York City afterwards and realized you couldn't make fun of the dean or the professor or whatever. You had to figure out what the things are that more people would laugh at. And I think, you know, that's the little of a learning curve. But we did that, and then you just start writing sketches and, and we started making these videos. But

    Michael Jamin:

    Then how did you still, how do you make this jump from, you know, selling tickets to friends, to selling tickets to strangers, basically?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah. I, it's just, I guess it's just word of mouth is, is the way, is the way it happens. Where it's like, I, I, I remember, you know, people would bring their friends, you know, from high school and their other friends and whatever it is, and then all of a sudden you have a group of people who are into it, you know? And and then you'd have, you know, agents start to come and industry people start to show up. And really, they

    Michael Jamin:

    Were trying to show up. You, they weren't, this is fascinating to me. So you didn't even invite them, they would just show up.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah, well, you know, I mean it was kind of a fun time in New York at the time where there was kind of these two, there are different movements that were kind of happening. And one of 'em was the independent film movement, which was, you know, big. It was the Kevin Smith and, and you know, that kind of stuff where you, everyone was making, you know, low budget films. And then it was also, you know, kind of the growth of the comedy group. Again, I guess, you know, where U C B was just, just starting up in New York. And there was another group called The State that was doing stuff in they were outta nyu and they were doing shows. And so there were different kind of like, there was kind of a lot of burgeoning kind of comedy groups that were kind of in that same era. And, you know, people catch on. There was a, you know, M T V wanted to make a sketch comedy show, and they started scouting all these comedy groups, and they picked this group, the state, and they made the, they made their comedy show. So there was a, you know, there were a lot of people out there that had an appetite for, for this kind of thing. And, and you know, we were trying to capitalize on him.

    Michael Jamin:

    And the whole time you str all you guys were struggling, but you, you were also attending law school at the same

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Time? I did. I went to law school. I, I I I was working at a law firm for, for a couple years out of school. And then, yeah, I went, I ended up gonna law school during the day. Right. And then we would do these comedy shows at night. And they never, they're very different worlds, you know, like, but I remember one time we were taking a tour of the courthouse with my law school class, Uhhuh <affirmative>. And somebody walked up to me who had seen the live show, Uhhuh <affirmative>, who was like, Hey, you are the comedian Kevin hen, da da da da. Not that I was famous anyway, but this guy just happened to be in, and everyone in my law school class has looked at me and like, who the fuck are you <laugh>? Like, they had no idea that I was, had that other thing going on. So. And

    Michael Jamin:

    Did that change the way they looked at you after? Like, they,

    Kevin Heffernan:

    I think a little bit. I mean, I was, you know, I, I was not a, a great participant in the law school world. I was kind of a back bencher. I'd sit in the back row and I didn't really, I might crack a joke here and there. And so, but then, yeah, I think, I think they probably got a feeling of like, oh, maybe this is not his his highest priority, this law school thing. Did

    Michael Jamin:

    You, well, did you pa take the bar?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    I did, yeah. I took the bar. Yeah, I did. I we took the bar. Well, I graduated from law school, and then we made our, I graduated from <inaudible> May, and we were preparing to shoot the first feature film we ever made. We were preparing to shoot it in June. And so I started studying for the bar and I realized, oh, I can't do this. I can't do this stuff. And so I went to my dad and I was like, I'm not gonna take the bar exam. And he's like, what? Are you crazy? And I was like, you know, he goes, you get all, you're gonna get all through law school and you're not gonna take the party time. I was like, well, I'm gonna take it, but I'll take it, you know, six months from now or a year from now. Right. You're not gonna do that. And I said, I will, I will. And he said, you know, he said, that's insane. You don't take the ball down to the goal line and not cross into the goal. You know, you

    Michael Jamin:

    Do it, you figure you're in the New York Jets. That's how they,

    Kevin Heffernan:

    That's, that's right. You know, there's some people who just don't get in the end zone <laugh>. And so I, and so we did it. So, but so we made the movie and then six months later I went back and I took the bar exam and I passed it. So,

    Michael Jamin:

    See, you're a good boy now, but how did you raise the money for the movie?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Well, that, like I was saying before, that was that era of like, people were bankrolling movies on credit cards, you know, and it was like you know, Kevin Smith or whoever it was, they, you know, made clerks for $30,000 or whatever it was, you know what I mean? So we at the time, j Chan Sacar had taken a couple N Y U film classes, and he was very much into it. He also had got started working with this guy as a, as an intern at this office of this lawyer. His name was John Slots, who had went on to become this huge, you know, independent film, you know, movie producer, icon type of a guy. And he represented all those guys, the link laters and, you know, the Kevin Smiths and Rodriguez, all these guys are making these kind of, you know, el mariachi, you know, they're making these movies, you know. And so he got into his head like, let's try to do this. And so basically we went around and we charged, I think the movie we made was called Puddle Cruiser, which was about 250,000 bucks. And most of it was charged on credit cards

    Michael Jamin:

    Between the five of you.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Well, well, Jay did most of it. And then some of us did some stuff in, and then some, and people got like, some of their families kicking, you know, five grand here or whatever. But the thing with Jay was that, his name is Jay Chanter Sekar. And his parents were doctors. And for some reason, the credit card companies started to thought that maybe he was a doctor and they started sending him, they would send him these credit cards and, you know, he was a day, right? You'd get a credit card in the mail, you know what I mean? And you'd be like, ah, whatever. And you use it. And so he u you know, he just charged him up and but he,

    Michael Jamin:

    And he wasn't worried about like ever paying it back. I mean,

    Kevin Heffernan:

    You know, I, I think ultimately he probably was, but that's just what everybody was doing. Like, they were just putting the stuff on credit cards and that's what we did. And we, you know, charged the camera package on credit cards and we did all that stuff. He

    Michael Jamin:

    Needed that much. That's a lot of money. I'm surprised you couldn't do for less.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Well there are a couple things to it. Like, number one, we shot on 35 millimeter, right? Which was unusual. Cause that's a very expensive film format. And at the time, people were shooting 16 millimeter and other things, something called Super 16. They're shooting all these things. And but we wanted shoot on 35 just cuz we thought we could ha make the movie have more commercial appeal. Right. And so we did that. And and then also it's just, you know, a lot of those movies were kind of like the adventure of one man or whatever. And we had like, you know, we al it's always been our problem. We have five storylines with five guys and whatever. So the movie's always kind of expanded a little bit. But yeah, so we went up to Colgate University we had written a, a, a, a romantic comedy like set in a college.

    And we went up to Colgate University and we said, Hey, can we shoot this film? And we went, we made a big pitch to the dean, you know, former students, you know, doing this thing. And he said, Nope. And then he said, you're, you're not, you're, we're not gonna let you do it. And we said that, but that's crazy. He said, look I'm the guy who puts my name on this thing, and you know, you're gonna come here up here and make an animal house and then we're gonna look like assholes. And then, and so we're like, but we would never do that. You can read the script, blah, blah, blah. And so essentially what we did we went back and, and we told our friends, it's like, like I said earlier with the people we're all drinking, it's a very networky school.

    And we just reached out to everyone and we said, please reach out to this dean and tell 'em you support alumni's you know in the arts. You, you support alumni in the arts and that kind of thing. And it was the, it was the age of the fax machine. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And they just, we gave out this guy's fax number and he just started getting, he got probably like a thousand fax from faxes from you know, alumni and wow. And finally he caved. He's like, okay, all right. You can do it. Just don't have the school's name anywhere in, in in the movie. Like, okay, what about insurance? You have to worry about that. Who, who is you? Yeah. Yeah. That's part, I mean, that's part of film. You know, you, you buy insurance. Okay. You paid for that wasn't, wasn't called.

    Okay. No, well, they wouldn't let us. They were very adamant about us, you know, using as little of their facility as possible. They, you know, we were hoping we, they would give us a dorm for us to stay in. They wouldn't do that. And we couldn't house anybody on the campus or any of that kind of stuff. So, but it's so what I, it's just so scrappy of you guys. It really is. It's just, yeah. Yeah. No, I I, it's totally scrappy and I, I give chance se a lot of credit for that. He, you know, he was very much in that camp of like you know, let's go make a movie however we can. And and we did. And, and you know, we didn't no idea what we were doing. And, and we didn't know where to put the camera.

    We didn't know any of that stuff. And we had, you know, we had some professional crew folks that came that we hired, you know, from New York City, and they came up there and, you know, the DP and the Grip and the gaffer were guys who were a little bit more experienced than we were. And and, and we just shot this thing. And then we didn't even know how to edit it. We've never, you know, edited a movie before and you just learned as you did it, man. And we did. So what we did, then we came back, we were and our buddy was a NYU film student. We would, he would sneak us in at night to the NYU film department, and we would use the edit machines. And at the time, at the beginning it was Steam Back. So it was like literally the film, you would put the film and cut the film. You know what I mean? Yeah. I mean, don't do that anymore. But that, that, that was the end of that era. But we started cutting our films that way. And then, and then we turned, you know, on this particular movie called Puddle Cruiser, we moved over to computer editing, which was just starting then.

    Michael Jamin:

    So, wow. See what I, well, and I wanna talk about Quasi, which by the way, so Quasi Drops, this is your latest movie. It drops on four 20 on Marijuana Day Yeah. On Hulu. And everyone should go sit your, you know, whatever. It's, make sure you watch this movie

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Marijuana Day,

    Michael Jamin:

    But, well, I saw, I don't even know how much you changed cuz I went to a, a screening of it, what was it, a year ago? How long was that?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    It was yeah, it was March. It was March. Wow. Of of 20 21, 2 20 22.

    Michael Jamin:

    And maybe there was, was there maybe a couple hundred people who went to that? Who Yeah,

    Kevin Heffernan:

    We, we you know, we like to do that, to do the test screens to see where the laughs are or whatever. And we got about 200 folks. We did a screening room, screening Room, Warner Brothers, and then and it

    Michael Jamin:

    Went great. Every, I mean, everyone was laughing, everyone. So I'm, yeah. I don't even know how

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Much, which is terrifying because you know, that the movie, and you saw that version is, that's the, like, that was like the two hour plus cut. Right. You know, and that's when you just, you know, you throw it out there and just see what hits what sticks, you know, and

    Michael Jamin:

    And a

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Lot did it with that one. And then since that version you saw mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, we've been through doing test screenings. We get notes from everybody at the studio, all that kind of business, and we've whittled away another half an hour.

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you, do you find the Oh, really took a half hour? You finding you have more notes the more, the bigger the budget or No?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    No, I don't think so. I mean, there's more fear, there's no question about that. You know, we, we, we, but we've never kind of like really kind of moved in that world a little bit. You know, we, we, we were very, we made, we remade the Dukes of Hazard, we did the Dukes of Hazard movies for Warner Brothers. That was like the biggest thing that we did budget wise, where that's like, you're spending 60, 70, 80 million and then all the decisions become very precious and, and very much my committee. But for us, I think the beauty is we've always functioned at a budget level where people kind of leave you alone. Right. You know, like, they might get adamant about something or whatever. You know, we, we had a few things on this movie that they were, they felt very strongly about. And we, you know, we'll go back and forth, but for the most part, you know, we've never been in that horrible situation of, you

    Michael Jamin:

    Know, t Sibert and I, we, we prefer the world of low budget for that reason. Yeah. Do you guys feel the same way?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah. I mean, you, you just kind of fly under the radar screen. You know, it's like you know, when, when we made the movie Beer Fest, you know, we made it at Warner Brothers and at the same time they were making like the first like, huge Superman reboot and, you know, the budget of our movie was like a week of catering, you know? Yeah. On that Superman movie. And they were so worried about that stuff that they don't, they don't care. Not they don't care, but they just, you're not a high priority. So like, they do your

    Michael Jamin:

    Thing. Bigger problems. Yeah. One of the fun things that I love, I I by watch 'em all your movies and it's, I, I don't know if you know, if you think about this, but to me it's like fun to see the same guys playing different roles, often two different parts in the same movie. And it's just, I don't know, do you, are you aware of how much like joy that gives Keep people?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah, no, I mean, we love it cuz like, we'll do that too. Like when we would go from movie to movie and intentionally try to put guys into different kinds of characters, Uhhuh, <affirmative>, you know, and, and, and that was the reason why. Cause we thought it was so fun to see guys do different things. I mean, this movie's a great example because we do play multiple parts and guys play different kind of characters. But after we shot Supert Troopers, like for example like Jay Chanter Sekar who directed it, you know, and it was a hard thing. It's a hard thing to direct a movie, you know, it was just kind of for a million bucks and whatever, and you're always, you know, fighting the clock and you're always fighting whatever. And so he would always kind of get dower at times, you know, and, and we'd have to remind him in his performance, Hey man, pick it up.

    You know, we're doing a comedy, don't worry about that. Put that shit behind you. Whatever. Uhhuh <affirmative>. And so after Supert Troopers, you know, his character is a very straight kind of guy. We made a movie called Club Dread, and it was like, let's go in the opposite direction. And we intentionally wrote Jay as like a Ponzi, British raaf, Farian tennis player, Uhhuh <affirmative>. And so with the intention of like, let's give him a character that's completely opposite of what he was. Right. And it ends up having the effect of being very cool, I think for people who like the movies cuz they see people play different kinds of characters, you know,

    Michael Jamin:

    But how do you guys even do that with five, because you have five equal partners writing. Like how do you decide who comes, is one person pitching an idea? How do you get five people on board to do anything?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    It's, it's pretty hard. I think it's, I think we're lucky that we started doing it together in college. Probably like, if, if we had been assembled like in, you know, at age 35 or whatever, never fucking made, it was like, you know, it's like putting a like a, like a like the monkeys together or something, or whatever, you know what I mean? I, I don't know that we would ever have been able to do that. Cuz yeah, there's fights and whatever, but I I I think it's really always come out of making each other laugh. And if, and if the rest of the guys laugh, then you're like, oh, okay. I I think that's, and you know, and, and the cra fights, you know, from casting point of view, we started getting into this practice and we did it from Super Troopers on where, for the most part, we don't cast the movie when we're writing it. And we don't cast the movie till way later in the game because you, you find out that, you know, if you know what the part you're playing, then you kind of start writing for yourself and your own part. But if you don't know, then you write for everybody. Right?

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, is that right? So, yeah.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    And so we made a very conscious effort early on that we would push, like, there, there are sometimes now like movie quasi, you know Lemi, we knew Lemi was gonna be the title character, but I think most of our movies, it's like we wait till later in the game after the script has gone through multiple drafts, and then we cast it. And

    Michael Jamin:

    Then how do you decide who, I mean, how do you, what if I wanna be the

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Whatever that happens too. I mean, we, we I remember Super Troopers, you know, we wrote it, we wrote Mel multiple drafts. It was with many different companies and there are many different places, and we never really cast it. And then we decided we would sit down and we, the five of us, we sat down at a table and everyone read the different parts. And then it was a conversation. It's like, you know, I think, I think you're that guy, you know? And and luckily there was never a, a big fight. And then now it's like, you know, like in the movie quasi, there's a couple characters and it was like, Hey, I thought, you know, soda, you should be that guy and Jay should be this guy. And they were like, nah, no, you know, I think he'd be much better at that guy. You know, and they were right. You know, so it was like, it kind of, it's the mindset of what's doing best for the movie, which is nice. Right. right. And so we've never really gotten into those big fights because we just cast it later, you know? Is there

    Michael Jamin:

    A procedure though, when you guys do? Is there like a vote? Or like, how do you, how do you agree to settle shit?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah, I mean, I think like, usually it's, I guess it's the director who's kind of settles it, but it, it, no, it's just, it's just by side who's the director by democracy <laugh>, because

    Michael Jamin:

    You guys have also also, you know, swapped sometimes, you know, you direct sometimes, you know, sometimes Jay directs and

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah. I mean, I guess we've done like seven seven kind of proper broken legend movies and he's directed five of them. Yeah. And I've done two of them

    Michael Jamin:

    Now. Since you've done two, I don't know why you do two. Isn't it exhausting? I mean it's, it's exhaust, it's a full-time job being a director, but then to also act Yeah. It's, it's twice as exhausting.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah. It's, it's, it is kind of exhausting. And you know, the funny thing on this movie I played two characters. We all played two characters, right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And there's, there was some days where my two characters were having scenes with each other. Yeah. And like, you're standing there and you're like, you're acting against yourself and you're directing the thing. Yeah. And it was just like, you're like, what the fuck? Like, your head's gonna fucking explode. You're like, what am I doing here? <Laugh>? And like, the beauty of it is we have these five guys, we have the support thing. And so Lemi will be there, Chan Sa I'll be there and they'll be like, Hey, you know, you should look, look out for this or whatever. You know, there's a good support group where Right. Luckily you're not, you're not hanging out there alone.

    Michael Jamin:

    And you've directed many episodes of Tacoma FD Do, how much do you, you know, what do you, what do you think, do you, what is your, what do you prefer writing, directing, acting? Do you have a preference?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    I don't know. I, I always think of it as like as like the seasons, you know, it's like whenever it's winter you want it to be summer, or whenever it's summer you wanna be winter. Yeah. Like, I always feel that way. Like whenever I'm doing one of the jobs, I'm like, God, I wish I was writing right now. Yeah. <laugh>. But I mean, I think that's the beauty of the, the hyphen thing. It's like, you know, it's like you know, I just got through the editing process, right? And then which is a whole thing. And, and, and then by the, we've been doing six months and then by the end of that you're like, Ugh. And now you know, we're working on a project with you mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, and we're working on a project with the Republican lizard guys. And you start moving back into the writing mode and you're like, oh, thank God this is fucking great. Right? Yeah. Yeah. And then whatever, three months from now they're like, God, I wish I was shooting. You know, <laugh>,

    Michael Jamin:

    It's a shooting is ex especially being directory is exhausting. You gotta be the first one there and the last one out.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah. And then you gotta prepare for the next day. You gotta prepare. You should, at least you should, you know.

    Michael Jamin:


    Kevin Heffernan:

    You know, but a again, like, you know, part of it that's nice is the all-encompassing kind of thing of it where it's like I don't necessarily have to expend all the director energy directing an actor <laugh> mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, because I'm doing it. And I don't have to spend, I don't spend a lot of energy translating between a writer and a director and an actor. Which also is a, I think a lot of a director's job is these kind of like interpersonal mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, figuring out how to do that because we kind of do it all, you know, so there's something kind of nice to that, you know.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Well, I guess, I mean, and I, again, I give you a lot of credit. It's cuz it's

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Well, but like, when you, when you're having a problem on the set, for example, right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and then you know, some scenes not working or whatever it is, and you're in the middle of it as the actor writer and the director, you just kind of cart blanche to, to try to fix it. You know what I mean? Yeah. It's not like you have to bring a committee together to try to fix something, you know? Right. There's something nice to that there's something nice to that.

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you, now, this Tacoma was pretty much your first was your, was it was your first TV venture, but now, you know, I know, I, I know

    Kevin Heffernan:

    How it was. Yeah. I mean, it was the first one that went, you know, like Yeah. The thing is that Lemy and I, you know, for many years, and you know, this, I mean, for many years we, we had been making TV or developing TV shows and selling scripts and Yeah. And you can go there. I mean, I think we sold a different script, like something like eight years in a row mm-hmm. Into, into TV season, you know what I mean? Right. And they just don't go, they don't go, they don't go for whatever reason. You know, like I remember one year we sold one to I think it was B, c and we were so excited about it, and then we found out that they bought 80 scripts. Oh, <laugh>. Yes. And they're, and they're gonna shoot three of them. Right. Right. And what we found out was that these networks a lot of times will just kind of preemtively buy scripts Yeah. In order to be able to control the market. And, and it doesn't cost them a lot just to have a bunch of things you know, options. Yeah. And then, you know, you're, oh fuck. So I, I think as time went on, we were trying to figure out like, what's, how do you get to the next step? Like how do you write the TV script that they're gonna shoot?

    Michael Jamin:


    Kevin Heffernan:

    You know? Mm-Hmm.

    Michael Jamin:

    <Affirmative>, what did you figure out? I mean,

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Well, it, it's partly who you do business with. So like when we pitched com, we pitched everybody, we pitched the big networks and the little networks and you know, the one that they were the most excited about and the most that you got the vibe that this, they're gonna shoot, this thing was true tv.

    Michael Jamin:


    Kevin Heffernan:

    And, you know, we could have sold it to Fox or whoever it is, but we knew that those people were gonna shoot it. And that's the battle.

    Michael Jamin:

    They told you that. I mean, some or

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Essentially, I mean, it's like we, you can also know, like, you can say, you can find out how many they buy. Right. And out of those, how many they shoot, and out of those, how many get on the air and, and somebody like True who's a smaller network, they can't go out and buy 80 scripts. You know what I mean? Right. So what they do is they'll, they'll buy three scripts and you know that you have a damn good chance if it's three scripts, you know,

    Michael Jamin:

    We would, when we sold shows back on network, you'd be optimistic at first, and then you'd read in the trades what someone else sold the show, maybe with some actor attach or director. And you'd go, all right, that's one less slot. You, you just knew it, you just knew that's one less thought to buy. Yeah.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah. And then you get to things like, let me and I were talk about this morning, we were like trying to remember, there was a a, we sold a script one year about stay-at-home dads. Right. I think it was called Kept Men and the Stay-Home Dads. And our wives had great jobs and we, we would just stay at home, take care of the kids, whatever. And it's an idea that everyone has had. And I remember we, we sold it somewhere, I can't remember, it was N B C or B ABC or whatever it was. And then we found out, I think it was B nbc, we found out that there were three other stay-at-home dads scripts that had sold Uhhuh <affirmative> to nbc. And then we found out that like, you know, one of the producers was Jimmy Fallon, one of the producers was Ellen, you know, one of the, it was, you know, whoever. And you knew then that your fortunes are getting, you know, less favorable. Yeah. And then ultimately they pick one of those, you know, they're an nbc they're gonna pick the Jimmy Fallon project mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. Cause Jimmy Fon is one of their superstars. And, and, and, and you know, so your, your discouragement kind of goes down as he gone. But that was always the thing was like, how do you get from the point where you sell that script to you make that script, which is really why we're in this business.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Right. And and your eyes are higher. Well, it's, it's, so, it's, I was, I would, I was gonna say your eyes are higher up getting a TV show made than a movie, but you've gotten <laugh> a movies made. So what am I doing? Yeah.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    I mean, I, I guess it depends on what the market has been. I mean, they're just, sometimes, I, I only say that because I feel like it's shifting a little bit again now, but there's certainly, you know, when the streamers came in on top of the broadcast people, there were more opportunities, I feel like mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And at that point the films were shrinking for a number of reasons, just that it's so expensive to put a movie out. Yeah. you know, that, that as the movie companies get bigger they will not take chances on certain comedies. You know, like we, when we made Beer Fest at Warner Brothers, we were like, why don't you guys just make a shitload of, you know, 15 million comedies and try to make a lot of money outta 'em? And then cuz they said, cuz we'll make one Harry Potter <laugh> and it'll make more money than 115 million comedies. Right. Everyone's

    Michael Jamin:

    Swinging for the

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Home run. Yeah. And, and that's why, and that's what we'll do. And so there was a lot of that vibe. So I think that's part of why, you know, we were like, you know, let's take a shot at tv. There's a, there's a better home for comedy. You know, at that point, I think. Yeah. and it, and it was, you know, and, and when we sent up for True tv, you know, their, their motto has kind of changed. But at the time they were trying to build a comedy network and they had Andrea Savage and Amy Sedaris and, you know, Bobcat Golf Weight and all these guys had shows. Yeah. And they were, that they were trying to make these comedy shows. So it seemed like a good, a good fit for us.

    Michael Jamin:

    And I had a question, I just now <laugh> now I just lost it, but, oh, I was gonna say. So, but you also have acted on other, you've guest art on plenty other, on other shows, Goldberg, but Yeah. Do you, but do you prefer, like, do you have a preference even, I don't know, doing other people's material, your material? Do you care at all?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    I, I, I don't mind people's material, but I love writing our material and doing our material. You know, it's like, it's like the, it's like the standup thing. It's like, you know, the beauty of doing standup is that you can write a joke and then perform the joke and get the reaction from the crowd. I, I kind of feel the same way about performing our own material, you know?

    Michael Jamin:

    But I know you and you guys used to do a lot of performing standup, but you don't, you haven't done that in quite a while and you don't, what's the plan? Do you miss that at all or what?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Sometimes I do. Sometimes I do. You know, I think it was something that we I mean some of the guys in our group have a background like, you know, chance Sakar has, you know, stand background or whatever. But I had never had it really. And then it was that last, it was the last writer strike whatever, 2008, 2009, whatever was that, when was that? Like,

    Michael Jamin:

    It was 2008. What? Yeah. What did you guys do during that?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Well, we were, you know, we had made our movie of Slam and Salmon and we had to make it independently cuz no studios were buying. And then, you know, nobody's making a TV shows. We couldn't sell anything. We couldn't write anything. And so we had one of these kind of live standup agents who was like, look, you guys have notoriety now. You can go around and do a show, you know? Yeah. And, and make money. You know. And so it was like, oh, okay. And so we put together this show in, I think it was 2008 or 2009, you know, come in, in the strike. And we went on tour and we did whatever, I, I can't remember, we did like 20 or 30 show cities or whatever it was. And and it was like it, it, it, it kind of morphed over time.

    But it was like, you know, we would put our Supert Troopers uniforms on and go do a supert trooper sketch mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And then a guy would do, you know, 10 minutes of standup and then we'd do a beer fest sketch and then guys would do 10 minutes of standup and then whatever. And so I think that was when the vibe for live comedy for us kind of really grew. We were like, oh, this is great. This is cool. And there's an audience. Like there's a, there are fans of ours. It's not like we have to go Yeah. They

    Michael Jamin:

    Come see you. Yeah.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah. Like we used to go and, you know, walk around Washington Square Park and hand out fucking postcards. Come see our show, come see our show come now. We don't have to do that. You know? So Isn't that amazing? That was nice. And so then that's why we got into standup cuz cuz we started doing that. And then I, I had never really done standup and I had a blast. And then it got to be the end of that tour. And then it was, the agent was like, does any of you guys, you guys still wanna go do some standup? I'll book you. And then lemme like, yeah, we'd love to. Let's do it. And so we went probably for eight or nine years we traveled.

    Michael Jamin:

    Now when you were doing this, were you literally on the road? Were you on the road the whole time? Were, were you fly back and forth to California?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    No, no. We were like you know, 40 year old guy standups, you know, it's like if we were the 20 year old standups, we would be like in a car driving around, but we would No, you'd go out, you'd do two weekends a month or whatever, you know, and you'd go out and you'd do, you know, a Thursday, Friday, Saturday shows

    Michael Jamin:

    And then fly

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Back. And then fly back. Yeah. Yeah. And so but you know, probably eight or nine years we did it, you know, we would do, you know, I don't know, maybe 20 weekends in a year.

    Michael Jamin:

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin, if you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.

    It's, it's so interesting. I again, cuz you guys are just like, when I hear so many times, you're like, people are like, well, how do I sell my screenplay? And my voice is always, you don't and just do what you're, build it yourself, do it. Stop asking for permission, and that's exactly what you guys did. You just did it.

    Kevin Heffernan:


    Michael Jamin:

    You know?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah. I mean, that's the same advice that we give people too. It's like, you know, and whatever the, the, the kind of the world changes a little and you know you know, there are different ways to do your own thing. You know, I mean, when we started, people didn't have camera phones or Right. <Laugh>, you could have

    Michael Jamin:

    Made that movie

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Equipment or you know,

    Michael Jamin:

    You instead of 250,000 you could have made that movie Yeah. For a fraction of that. Right?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah. Yeah. And, and so people, I think people do have that opportunity and, and, you know, they can go shoot a movie on their phone or whatever it is. And I mean, in that way, you, you at least learn how to write and act and where to put a camera and how maybe how to light something or whatever. Its Right. Right. but that, that's what we always say to people is, is do that. You know, write your own stuff and go do it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you find, because I mean, I'm jumping around here, but you ob you collaborate a lot either with five or four other guys, or sometimes you work with Lemy or with the writing set. Is it, you know, do you find that you don't, that you know, you don't really get to use your voice that you're always, it's, it's more collaborative? Do you miss or do you crave doing something just with your own voice or anything?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    I don't know. I never thought about that. No, I don't think so. No. I like, I like the collaboration thing. Right. I, I don't, I mean, whatever we've worked together for, what, four years now? I don't, I'm not super precious. I, I, and I, I I'm not like a dig my heels in guy I don't think. Maybe I am, maybe you'll tell me differently. But I think, you know, I think I, I, I like, I love getting, you know, seeing other people write some good jokes and whatever. Right, right. It's a, and I think it's probably born out of the fact that I've always been in a group, you know, and I've always been with these five, you know, I was with these five guys and, you know, you learn the value of having other people's perspectives and whatever. So I, I don't know. I, you know, I like standup. I, I, I really enjoyed it and it was fun and it was fun to go and tell stories and whatever, but I, you know, I don't know if there's something I I like more about, probably about the TV or movie world

    Michael Jamin:

    Because even directing, like as a showrunner, you could, you still have ultimate the final say on anything. So if you had someone else direct, you do, I know you have other people direct episodes, but I wonder like, you know, why, I guess why, you know, what's the, what's the appeal of doing it yourself when you still have ultimate control anyway?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Right. Right. You mean like, why not have more people?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I mean I, no, I, I

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Just think, well that's, that's, you

    Michael Jamin:

    Know, exhausting. It is. That's,

    Kevin Heffernan:

    That's O C D and control and control issues, Michael.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, so that's why you, cuz you really want, you just want to get it done. You

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Well, no, that's what my kids will say. They'll say that I have control issues. That's right. May, that may be the case that I, I like to do things myself, but,

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, well. But, but, but that's what that kind of speaks to what I'm talking about is like, okay, well you're do you are getting your voice across cuz you ultimately making, well, you know, so many decisions. But yeah. And so I don't know what, what advice do you have for, for young people breaking in? Do you, you know, are you getting swarm by this? You know?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah. It, I mean, you know, it happens. I mean, you get it right? You get people and they wanna send you. I

    Michael Jamin:

    Get it. But you, I'm, I think you might get different questions from me. You're, you're, well, I

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Guess, I guess other, you know, I mean, yeah, I get other questions.

    Michael Jamin:

    You get recognize you walk on the street and people know who you are and

    Kevin Heffernan:

    So Yeah. How do I become an actor, you know, and get that. Yeah. And, you know and it's hard. Like I, you know, I try to help people out, but I, you know, you know, there's not, there's like a, some sort magic bullet. Like, you know, guys in this industry, I mean, no matter how long you've been there, you me, every day we try to figure out how to keep our careers going. Mm-Hmm. You know what I mean? <Laugh>, it's like, yeah. It's like I got enough trouble, you know, trying to get what I, you know, I don't know what my next project is, you know? Right. And, and it's and every, it's a fight. I don't care if you're Martin Scorsese or whatever, it's always a fucking fight. Yeah. And so, you know, you try to impress it on people, but you don't wanna be, you know, the doom and gloom guy.

    You know, I, I, I did a, our buddy who's a producer, rich Perlo, who produced these our movies, he teaches a class at Columbia and, you know, LUMY and I zoomed into the class the other day and there's a lot of those questions, you know, and, and I, we got off and I was trying, I said to him, God, I'm to Rich who teaches the class. I said, I'm really sorry. I hope we didn't come across as these doom and gloom guys. Cuz we, you know, our point was it's very hard and you gotta work hard and nobody's gonna give it to you. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you know, there's like all these kind of like, you know, myths of you know, being discovered this, that, the other thing. But it's like, you know, we've been pushing the rock up the hill for, for many, many years. Yeah. And it's just accumulation of relationships and experiences and whatever that kind of get you going that way. You know,

    Michael Jamin:

    It's, it's, yeah. Sometimes people say to me though, they wanna send me scripts. I, I'm not the guy, I I'm not the gatekeeper. I'm not the guy. I'm, I'm the same guy as you are. Try <laugh>

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Trying to Yeah. You want me to do, you know, I mean, and, and you know, like you can't read their script cuz then you do violate various kind of legal things, you know?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. I'm not doing that. Yeah.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah. And I remember the first time we ran into that, I think we we had just gone to college and Jay and I wrote like all these spec jokes and sent 'em to the Letterman show. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And they just, and you, like four days later you get the envelope back unopened. Yeah. with a return to sender thing on it. And there's a, a form letter, it says, we do not read unsolicited material, you know? Yep. Oh,

    Michael Jamin:

    That's, that's the end of

    Kevin Heffernan:

    That. And so that's, you can't even, you can't do it that way. So you just have to work. And I, I tell these guys also, you know, you think about some of the people who work with us, like in our writer's room, right? It's like we have this great woman Hannah who she, you know, wants to be a writer and she wants, or at least wants to work in the industry. And, and you know, we said, well, you know, you can start, you know, at the bottom. That's how, that's how you do it. You know. And so she came and she was, you know, an intern unpaid for a while, and then she was a pa and she worked right up and da blah da. And then, you know, she got to do some stuff in our writer's room, you know, essentially the secretarial elements of it, you know, which she did last year. And and that's the way you do it. You know, you start at the grunt level and then you make relationships and you keep going, <laugh>, you work your

    Michael Jamin:

    Way, right? People wanna start at the top, Mike, you don't get to start at the top. You gotta start. No.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    And you meet all the people on the way up. You know, the guy who is my, now my, my PR guy, my PR agent, who's a pre reputable guy in the business now. He's like, I don't know if you remember, I met you, you know, many years ago. And I was like, is that right? And he goes, yeah, I was an assistant on the desk of this producer mm-hmm. <Affirmative> that you guys are doing a project with. And you would come to the office and you'd like, oh. And he said, you're very nice to me. And I, I was like, oh, glad, I'm glad to hear that. Yes. <laugh> and <laugh>. Now here's that guy. He's, you know, this big PR guy who, you know is very successful in the business, you know? So it, it's just, you know, there's no way that people are gonna put their script in there and become this, you know, the next Oscar winner until they work their

    Michael Jamin:

    Right pe people are gonna think that you have listened to me talk on social media. And I know for a fact you haven't because you're saying that I've already said, which is Oh, okay. You know, I told a story as well where I was, I can't, we were going to pitch a show and the person we're meeting with is young executive. He goes, you know, we, we've met before. And I'm like, oh no. I'm like, cause I don't remember the guy. And I'm like, already, I just tanked the meeting. And he goes, yeah, I was a, I worked on a desk and you were nice to me. And I was like, oh, thank God. You know, you gotta be nice to people cuz they, you've gotta be nice to people cuz they're not gonna stay in that desk

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Correctly. That's why I tell everyone, you wanna know the key to Hollywood, be nice to the assistance. Yes. Because they're, they are the gatekeepers and then ultimately they will move on to other jobs. Yeah. So they benefit you in many different ways, but if you're just a nice person

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I say that as well. Don't kiss my ass, kiss the ass of the assistant. They're the ones I'm getting

    Kevin Heffernan:

    The door.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. I'm not gonna help you. But they might help you.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    But then it's all, you know, whatever. It's all relationships. We, you know, I, like you said, I didn't do a, we'd never made a TV show before, you know? And we relied on certain people like you to help us do that. So

    Michael Jamin:

    Now, and now you don't need us anymore. But don't, don't.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Well I, I like to, I like to have you though.

    Michael Jamin:

    You like to have my little nap, little

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Laptop. No. You know, it's funny, I, I vividly remember that meeting that we first had with you guys. Yeah. And we, we were at day, we were at we were at the three arts offices. Yep. And and I remember this cuz I was like, you know, let me and I, and you know, maybe you've come to realize it, but lemme and I were, were a little bit more insecure about our knowledge about how to make a TV show cuz we hadn't done it before. Right. And and I remember I kept in the meeting, we would have conversations like, he would keep saying things like well I don't know cause we only make movies, you know, I don't know. Cause we gonna make movies. I kept saying that. And what I was trying to say was, I don't know anything about tv. Right. But then your partner Sievert, he, he threw that back in my face. <Laugh> <laugh>. At one point he said something he said, but I don't know cause I only make tv, you know. Oh my God. That's the funniest fucking thing. I thought it was so fucking funny. 

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, thank God he didn't tank the meeting.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    No, no. I mean, I, I thought it was hysterical because that's exactly how it sounded. Uhhuh <affirmative>. But but we all knew what we were really saying to each other. You know what I mean? Right, right. But good cause you know, he, he made a joke of it and I thought that was very funny. I I always remember that. I always

    Michael Jamin:

    Think about that. Oh, that's so funny. Cause he, he'd be embarrassed. I think if you, if you mentioned that we had a meeting once, I don't wanna say what it was, but it was not a, it was on a Disney show and you know, <laugh> and he didn't want the job, but it was a job. And and he tanked. Siver tanked. He didn't mean to, he just kept on putting his foot what wasn't

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Intentional tanking.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. He was not intentional tanking <laugh>. And, and actually thank God he did. Because after that we got What did he do?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Like what did you do to tank it? Like what was it, was he just saying bad shit?

    Michael Jamin:

    He was trying to, he was trying to be not, he was basically saying, how do you know if this is funny? Like, he's basically saying, none of this is funny to me. How do you know if it's funny?

    Kevin Heffernan:


    Michael Jamin:

    That's coming out. And it was just the funniest thing. And he was trying to cover up and, and I was trying to help him dig outta this hole. And it was just getting worse <laugh>. And afterwards he felt terrible. He felt, cuz it's not what he was trying to do, he just felt terrible about it. But it worked out for the best.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    And you clearly did not get the job.

    Michael Jamin:

    We did not get the job. No one, only an idiot would hire after that job. But and I, I didn't make him feel bad. He felt terrible. But I was like, don't, don't worry about it. This is not the job for us.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    <Laugh>. <laugh>. See, you don't want it. Like, if they don't get, you know, you don't want

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, it was, it was a, it was very awkward. But we do

    Kevin Heffernan:

    That in a lot in our careers though. Like, I feel like there was certainly, and certainly in that time period I talked about where we were just selling, you know, TV scripts. You re you think about like, I I just want to, I just need to make some money. I need to do this. I need you going to get this door and whatever. And then, I don't know, there, I think that point in time where we started doing standup and whatever, I was just like, ah, fuck, fuck it man. I can't, we had been hired so many times to write scripts for people and, and you know, it didn't go anywhere that they, you're like, what the fuck, who the fuck is this person giving me comedy notes? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And finally you're like, Ugh, I don't wanna do that anymore. Yeah, yeah. I just wanna make a TV show.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. And, and, and, and you get, you know, it's actually, I I think it's, it's more gra I don't know, I say this never having made a movie, but I don't know. It's like you get to shoot it, you write it and then you shoot it and then it's up in the air in a matter of months. And they get Yeah. You could do work in film, not you guys, but most people work in film and they never get a, you know, anything shot. They can have a

    Kevin Heffernan:

    <Crosstalk>. Yeah. I mean that's the Yeah. But that, that's, that's also the weird thing about movies too. And, well, it's a little different when these movies now this, this streaming stuff is just a little bit different. It's, it is a little bit more in the TV world, but movies are kind of like gotta, I don't wanna sound like a, I'm shitting on it or whatever, but I, it's, I love it. But there is like this thing with this, this buildup and you've worked on this thing for years and then it gets to that first weekend and then that's it. Whether it's, you know, successful or not successful, you're done.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's all about opening weekend.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah. It's over. Like, you know, like, there's not like a, and I'm not saying that in a bad way, I'm just saying it's like, it's like, it's like kinda stepping off a cliff, you know what I mean? And then you're done. Like tv, the beauty of like Tacoma 13 weeks in a row, you got in something new story that's coming out.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. And it can build

    Kevin Heffernan:

    And it can build and it's a new thing. But

    Michael Jamin:

    Never what

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Understood that finite thing, you know?

    Michael Jamin:

    But I never understood that with a box office. If you tank on your opening weekend, like, well why can't it build, grow? Like why can't it grow in the second weekend? Why can't, the word of mouth

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Why can, and it does at times, but it doesn't ma like the, the metric the bar is, is how you do in that first weekend. So like,

    Michael Jamin:

    That's what you're measured up. But why don't they consider the overall gross? I mean, I don't, you know.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah. I, it just, it doesn't know. I don't know. Cause it, it just, it's all pushed by that opening weekend. You know, like our, like our movie like Super Troopers. It did, you know, it did okay. It did nothing. Nobody who we were. But you know, it was at the height of the kind of DVD era, which is they were, you know, printing money in that era. This movie studios were. Yeah. And we would see, you know, quarterly reports for, you know, Fox or whatever and Super Troopers would be listed in them cuz it would be making so much money for them. Yeah. Not in theatrical, but on the DVD market. Right. And you're like, well, why aren't we though? You know, the guys that you sing about. And it's, it's cuz it's still the industry still driven by opening weekend.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's so Still is. Yeah. Because it became a cult hit. I mean, you guys are, you know, you really have a, a cult following. I mean, and then loyal, you know, they, they show up you're fans.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah. And so that, that was the great thing. So this trailer came out and in the first 24 hours at 8 million views.

    Michael Jamin:

    Is that right? Yeah. How did, how did that now where did they drop where? Okay. How does that work when they drop a trailer on the, we're on YouTube.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah. Well, they aggregate it. So they, they measure YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok. They measure it all. Uhhuh <affirmative>. And they aggregate the views

    Michael Jamin:

    8 million within how long?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    24 hours. It's

    Michael Jamin:

    Pretty amazing. I mean, that's,

    Kevin Heffernan:

    It's amazing. And, and you're like, holy shit. Like, you forget, you know, but there are people out there that like what you do and

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh yeah. I mean, let's

    Kevin Heffernan:

    See what's next. And

    Michael Jamin:

    The movie's a scream. I mean, everyone's gotta go see it. I mean there's just, I don't wanna say there's one laugh in particular where, you know what it is. I don't wanna say what it's, but the place went nuts. I mean Yeah. You know, the, the room went crazy.

    Kevin Heffernan:


    Michael Jamin:

    And one of the biggest laughs I've ever heard <laugh> ever in the theater. <Laugh>.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    I mean that, I guess that is also, I mean that's the beauty. You, you've seen the movie with an audience, you know, most people won't.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. That's,

    Kevin Heffernan:

    But people won't, which is kind of interesting, you know?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. And that's too bad too.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    I think so. I mean certainly for these kind of movies, but that's just, you know, that's the nature of comedy right now. There there are, there have been, you know, since, since we've kind of come out of the pandemic world, there's, I don't think there's been a comedy that's been a success in the movie theater yet.

    Michael Jamin:


    Kevin Heffernan:

    Only kind of the bigger budget stuff, which, you know, I get that. But it's unfortunate because, you know, laughing in a big theater with other people is, is a fun way to

    Michael Jamin:

    Watch it. Movie. Yeah. Oh yeah. And it's, and it's contagious and Yeah. Speaking of contagious, we did see it during the play, during the <laugh>, during Covid. So we were wearing, yeah. We were all wearing masks.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That's true. We watched it in masks.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. And people were still laughing. So interesting. I don't know

    Kevin Heffernan:


    Michael Jamin:

    It was, yeah. Laughing. But everyone was loving it, man. I, I mean, yeah. Go, it drops on Hulu on the four, on April 24 20.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    I it's the you know, marijuana holiday, although my dad, he didn't understand. Like, he, he's like, what, what's this big thing with 420? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And, and I was like, what? You don't know what four 20 is? I know what 420 is. It's Hitler's birthday <laugh>. And I was like, what? Is

    Michael Jamin:

    That true?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    I didn't know that. Yeah, he, it's Hitler's birthday, 420. I was like, how do you know that <laugh>,

    Michael Jamin:

    I have my arm.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    He like, he's like, I have a friend whose birthday is 420 and we make fun of 'em for being born on Hitler's birthday. So that's why I know. I said, well, it's also a kind of a marijuana, it's a marijuana holiday. And does

    Michael Jamin:

    That work

    Kevin Heffernan:

    For him? <Laugh>? And then, you know, you gotta try to explain, you know, four 20 and I and <laugh>,

    Michael Jamin:

    He's not the right audience.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    It's not the right audience. But, you know, they did the, they put Super Troopers too, that it was just kind of the search site, the studio that made this movie. You know, and they made the Super Troopers movies and they were adamant about releasing Supert Troopers two on 420. Cause it fell on a Friday. Right. To the point where they waited nine months. Right. The movie just sat there for nine months. Cuz they were like, we wanna release it on 420. And we were like, Ugh, ugh, ugh. You know, and then ended up being Right cuz it definitely contributed to kind of like the vibe of the opening weekend. And it was one of the better opening weeks we had. And it was part of, because it was treated like a, like a holiday.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. And that's marketing, that's part of the brand. And so

    Kevin Heffernan:

    They're, they're in a, you know, they didn't hesitate for a second to do this one on four 20. So

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. It's part, it's part of, part of the brand is like this rowdy college kind of. And

    Kevin Heffernan:

    That's fine with me.

    Michael Jamin:

    Why not? I mean, you know, you know, I just watched, I just Rewatched Animal House. I hadn't seen it in, you know, I don't know, 40 years or whatever. And, you know, it's fun. It's, it's that kind of, that kind of thing. It's just fun. So

    Kevin Heffernan:

    There's shit in that movie you can't get away with now

    Michael Jamin:

    Though. A lot of stuff. Yeah. Yeah. But, you know,

    Kevin Heffernan:

    And that was what, 70 19 79, right? Or what, what was it? 79?

    Michael Jamin:

    Probably. I think it was even, I don't remember. Yeah, I think it might have been earlier. I mean, it was Belushi. When did he die? So I don't know. Yeah. yeah. And so, so there's so much, so much interesting stuff in that you watch it. Oh wow. Karen Allen's in this, I don't remember her. Karen Allen being

    Kevin Heffernan:

    The Yeah. Donald Sutherland.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Donald Suland didn't remember that. Yeah.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    He did beer. He was in Beer Fest with us. But you also, people don't remember

    Michael Jamin:


    Kevin Heffernan:

    He was in Beer Fest. He was in the opening scene of Beer Fest.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. And that was another, that was another funny movie. I mean, he was an

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Asshole, but That's

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. What was he really <laugh>? Yeah. Was he like, he was like, in what way? Can you say he

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Curmudgeon, he's very curmudgeonly. You know what I mean? And I, you know, I don't know if he was, it was, it was part of what his character was, but he was he was not the friendliest guy in the how funny. And I remember You'll like this. He he was sitting in his character's in a hospital bed chugging beers. And, and then he dies. You know, it's just an opening. It's like, and it was literally like,

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, right, right now I remember that like

    Kevin Heffernan:

    For three days, not three days, I mean three hours. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and the Executive Warner. But said, Hey, we can get Donald Sutherland to come do, we'll just pay him. He'll come in, he'll, he'll do this scene for half a day. And then you'll have Donald saw in the movie. You're like, fucking awesome. That's great.

    Michael Jamin:

    And then he'll go home and cry.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Well, I guess, I dunno why <laugh>? So he, he comes and he's, and he's there and he was just, he was just cantankerous, you know? And he was like, yeah he was looking at the script and he's like, pulls Jay over who's directing? And, and he is like, this script, this line right here. What does this mean?

    Michael Jamin:

    Uhhuh? Oh God.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    <Laugh> Jay's like I don't, it means this, that and other thing. He goes, no, no. He goes, where's the writer? Where's the writer of this uhoh? You know, we all wrote it. It was a bias. Right. But Jay, you all point. Yeah. So Jay decide to throw me under the bus on stand. Right There. He goes that's the writer right there. Kevin come over corner <laugh>. And I, and I walk over to him and he is like, you know, this line here, what is this supposed to mean? Yeah. And I said, and I, and I was like, well, and I read the line and I said, he goes, he goes, no, no, no. I don't want a line read from you. I want you to tell me how my character is supposed to interpret this line. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And I was like, ah. And I, whatever made up some bullshit. I mean, it's a fucking guy in bed drinking beer and you're about to die. Right. You know, there's not, you need to workshop it with me, <laugh>. You don't need

    Michael Jamin:

    To workshop it.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    And so but he was so Kent anchor and, and so, you know, Eric Slansky played his grandson, I guess it is. Right. And so, you know, Eric comes in and, Hey Mr. Suland, I play your grandson in the thing. And he is like, oh, great. He couldn't have, couldn't have fucking cared.

    Michael Jamin:


    Kevin Heffernan:

    <Laugh>. And he is like and so he, you know, to his grave, he did a great job. And he did, he sold it. Like, he, he must have chugged, I don't know, 20 fucking beers, like just sitting in a hospital bed.

    Michael Jamin:

    It wasn't non-alcoholic. He gave regular

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Beer. It was non-alcoholic. But I mean, like literally he, he, you know, he drank all the fucking liquid, you know, which,

    Michael Jamin:

    But how did, and how did you resolve that line though?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    I don't know. I just made up some bullshit. I'm like, you know, and I think it ultimately he just kind of scoffed Right. And realized he would have to work out himself, you know?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, and just shoot me, you know, George Siegel and George Siegel was the sweetest man. He was a

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Really good, yeah. Yeah. I did I did Goldbergs a couple scenes on Goldbergs.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, right, right, right

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Guy. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    So he's a sweet guy. And he had a problem with one scene, <laugh>. And he said to one of the writers, we're all on the stage, and he said to one of the writers, you know, I was nominated for an Oscar and the writer was Marsh Mcal. He goes, yeah, it was a long time ago. George, get in the Dunking booth

    Kevin Heffernan:


    Michael Jamin:

    And, and did George's credit. He thought that was hilarious. Put him

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Down to Earth. Little bit

    Michael Jamin:

    <Laugh>. But he thought it was so funny. He was so sweet. But it was pretty funny to yeah,

    Kevin Heffernan:

    No, I, I, you know, whatever I make fun of, I mean like Dallas Soms great. I think he's a fucking great actor. I love him. But we didn't end up being best friends.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. It's sometimes hard to admit your, your heroes. It's sometimes hard day not to do that sometimes. Yeah. Yeah. Now, before I, before we we wrap up, I have one more qu one more big question for you. What is it, I'm changing gears though, when you are hiring new writers, is that people wanna know this. What do, what do you guys look for in a script when you're reading?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    I think good jokes. Really. It's jokes. Yeah. Because, you know what I think, you know certainly on a writing staff or TV thing, I, I feel like if you can write jokes, you can do a lot of things. And I feel like that's the best way also to get your voice, to feel what, what your voice is. You know what I mean? Because like, people write bad, you know, can write, they write jokes badly. Right. Or they can write jokes. Well, or there's like, I feel like that's where you get that little bit of spark of individuality in those scripts. Okay. Right. Is like, is when you see them make the attempt at, you know, whether good or bad. You know, it's like, here, here's the thing, cuz so I mean, I think, I think we look to see if the person can be a joke generator.

    Michael Jamin:

    Interesting. What we do. Because when, you know, and when we're in the room, I don't even know how you feel about this, but when I'm pitching Terry, the character, you play like, I'm doing you, I'm imitating you, I'm imitating your voice. Same as I'm doing his mannerisms

    Kevin Heffernan:

    <Laugh>. Right, right, right.

    Michael Jamin:

    And how does that make you feel when, when I'm doing that to you? That I

    Kevin Heffernan:

    I think that's great. Like, let me and I talk about how you guys are the best writers for Le Me's character. Like all like of everyone. Even Lemy himself, Uhhuh <affirmative>. Like we, when we read the Eddie Pese scripts that you guys have written. Right. It's always the best, always the best jokes. But is that, are you talking about like, I guess I was talking about when you hire someone, right? That's what I like when you hire someone and you get a script to read from them. No,

    Michael Jamin:

    That's what I'm talking about.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    See if they're Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Well then I change gears on you because I don't

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Know. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. But I think, I think I love that you know, I love when you guys write Eddie Penni

    Michael Jamin:

    Because that's how you get the voice. You know, it's

    Kevin Heffernan:

    The voice. But like you, Eddie Pese is slightly slimier. Yes. <laugh>. Slightly <laugh>. It's slightly dirtier.

    Michael Jamin:

    I know

    Kevin Heffernan:

    <Laugh> and you can always modulate that. Right. But I feel like your guys, Eddie Pese pushes the envelope a little bit more.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. It's like slightly slimier and sitting right next to the guy. I'm thinking slimy is pretty funny. Well, he

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Lo he loves that

    Michael Jamin:


    Kevin Heffernan:

    He wants he wants that slimy. That's so funny. Sliminess. But I think that's, I mean, I think that's, that's pretty funny. But I, I guess for you guys, I mean that's, that's something that you've learned to do, obviously right. To, to when you, when you're on the staff of a show, you know that it has to come outta the mouth of the person.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes. But yeah, and I say that because this is kind of the, kind of the first time in your career where you've had other people write for you other than, you know, the broken lizard guys. But it's all Yeah. Is your college buddy. So it's a little bit different. But this is outsiders putting words in your mouth. So I I I wonder if that was strange for you.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    I, it, it's, it's all, it's kind of funny for me and let me, I laugh about it every once in a while where like, like if I say something that I don't like in the world or whatever it is or something, you know, a pet peeve or whatever, and then all of a sudden start showing up in the script. Yeah. And then there are a few episodes this season, season four <laugh>, where they're just like, rant episodes,

    Michael Jamin:


    Kevin Heffernan:

    <Affirmative>, where it's like in the writer's room, either me or Lemy or someone else said something about what they hate

    Michael Jamin:

    And Yeah.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    And it's in the script. Like we were looking through one of 'em, <laugh>, and it was like a, like, it's just a fucking machine gun of of things that I hate or let me hate. So like, there's one episode that's all about Eddie Pei hating flavored seltzer water.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes. Right. Which was from the room.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Which is from the room, which he really does hate. Yeah. and at the same, in that same episode, it's like I went on a rant in the editor in the writer's room about how I don't like song parodies.

    Michael Jamin:


    Kevin Heffernan:

    And you know, like the weird al the AK stuff, I, I don't love song parodies. And so the whole episode about how Eddie doesn't like seltzer water and I don't like song parodies

    Michael Jamin:

    <Laugh>, it's,

    Kevin Heffernan:

    To me, that's the weirder stuff. Cuz then like, you watch it with your family and they're like, holy shit Dad, you don't like glitter either. Why does it, you know, whatever this Yeah. Funny about that. Where it gets spun and it's usually not written by me. It's written by. Right. You know, some, one of the other writers

    Michael Jamin:

    S observing you, there's nothing safe. Anytime <laugh>, you've seen something, it's gonna Yeah. And your pro, it's going in the script and that's, it's, which is great

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Because you know what, that's the, the authenticity, you know, that's the, you know, the fact that I hate song parodies, you know, it's hard to come up with that out of the blue. You know, it's like you, you come up with it because somebody has that, that's part of their character in real life. And then that becomes the joke, which is always the best material. Yeah. It's always the best plot lines.

    Michael Jamin:

    When we were doing maron, I would imitate maron. It's the same way. And, you know, to his face in the room. And I always felt like he was gonna, he's gonna punch me. <Laugh>. Did

    Kevin Heffernan:

    He get mad about that?

    Michael Jamin:

    No. Well, I remember one time I said, I pitched a line. And he goes, I would never say, I go, dude, you have said this <laugh>. And he's like, I do. I'm like, you know, we put it in because it was like, oh, I, he didn't realize he's talked like that. But yeah, there was one scene even we were shooting it in a his character was in rehab getting out of rehab, and he was making a speech to, you know, like a, like a graduation day speech. And the way we wrote it was, it was very ungracious and he was kind of a dick in the speech, which it was funny. And, and he was in writing s the whole time he signed off on the whole thing. But on the day of the shoot, like he's reading it as if he had never read it before. And he pulls me aside, he's like, he's like, Jamin, what, what is this? Wh why am I such a dick in this scene? And, and I was like, oh no. And I was like, well Mark, because I said it very polite. I said, this is the day he punches me. I'm like, well Mark, cuz you can be a dick. And he just looks at me and he goes, okay, I get it.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    <Laugh>. Well that's good. I mean, that's big of him, right? I mean

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh yeah. And he crushed it. He did it great. But that's how you, but you know, that's, I always wondered, have

    Kevin Heffernan:

    You had those people who were, who get angry? Like, you know, I mean, that's kind of like almost got angry at you, but like, you know

    Michael Jamin:

    Have I had people? No. No. A lot of times you'll talk to an actor, you know, you have lunch with the Akron, then it, whatever they told you in confidence will be in the next script.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    I mean, I don't know. I guess, you know, like I said before, you, you just can't get too precious about any of it, you know, or else just not be funny.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, Kevin Heifer, are we wrapping up? Is that, is that what, did I get the light?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Yeah, that's your Kevin, that's, oh, you know, let's, we remiss. Yes. I wanna, I wanna say Tacoma FD season four. Right. a lot of people wanna know what's going on with it. So we have, it's done, it's shot, it's edited. I finished editing it like, whatever, two weeks ago. Yeah. And they're just finishing up some you know, I don't know the, the last bullshit or whatever, but 13 episodes done and now we're just waiting for the network to put it out. They said don't summer,

    Michael Jamin:

    Don't they haven't announced the date yet. They're telling,

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Not yet. We've been trying to get them to announce the date. And they're, you know, I tell, I've told you this, just these corporate mergers, right? So now a new company has taken over that company and there's new people and they're trying to figure out how the thing works. So, so they've assured us that we'll be out soon and they're just trying to figure out what their program schedule is. But this summer,

    Michael Jamin:

    I gotta say, of all of the rooms we've worked in, this for sure is definitely one of the most fun. And that's a lot. That's saying a lot given the last two seasons have been on Zoom. I mean Yeah. Two or three. Two or how many have you done on Zoom two?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    We did two, two Zoom seasons, which is crazy.

    Michael Jamin:

    But you guys keep it fun, which is important because it's hard to maintain, you know, focus on a Zoom call.

    Kevin Heffernan:


    Kevin Heffernan:

    But yeah, but I I You think that's the way of the world or No,

    Michael Jamin:

    I, I know some shows are doing partial Zoom now. Yeah. Or like they're doing partially in person. I, I wonder, I wonder, I mean, I think is isn't it time to go back to do it in

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Person? I think it is, but the, the issue isn't, and knowing, you know, on the producer Orial side of it, I mean, the issue is they figured out how to do this without paying for the overhead of a writer's room and it's whatever it is. I mean, it's like 40,000 bucks or whatever it is for, you know, rent and whatever. And it's, and lunch have to pay, you know? Do you really think

    Michael Jamin:

    That's what it's

    Kevin Heffernan:

    Oh yeah, I know it's, I know it's, yeah. Office rental and parking place spaces and you know you know, whatever it is, it's, you know, it's probably more than that now, but, but yeah. So's them they not to pay.

    Michael Jamin:

    I know. Whatever it is, it's really not that much money though. Yeah. I mean, writers, we don't need much. We just had a table of a large table in whiteboards. That's it. Yeah. Yeah. Wow.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    That's what they, but I mean, knowing that they, you know, don't have to pay that amount of money and they could, you know, whatever, then they'll, it's gonna be hard to get over that hump. I mean, I think at some point we will, or, you know, people will be like, yeah, look, if we get the better material this way or whatever.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wow. Interesting.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    But it also has created this world where, and you've lived this and I have not lived this, but the 2:00 AM you know, in the writer's room thing, you know what I mean? Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. That's hard.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    There's not, that doesn't exist anymore. I mean, as far, you know, certainly not in our world, but I don't think it exists.

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't know. I I, yeah, that's a good question. I don't, yeah, I don't know. I have, I have friends that are, I have to talk to friends who are doing, still doing network shows. We haven't talked about that. Yeah. Because so, so people, people are doing network shows anymore. So it's hard to

    Kevin Heffernan:

    News. Yeah, I know. Yeah. Yeah. But I mean, I don't know if that people think that's a positive or negative that they don't have to be there at 2:00 AM probably a positive.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh yeah. I think it's a positive no one, I mean, you don't get great work after, after dinner. I mean, you're tired, you know?

    Kevin Heffernan:

    So I mean, I, I feel like we've tried to, in the seasons, just try to make time together and not,

    Michael Jamin:

    But even still, you guys have to, we, we do all that pre-product pre-production and then the staff gets released basically. And then you guys are on your own for the most part. Yeah. And that means a lot of rewriting on your part. And

    Kevin Heffernan:

    I mean that, the s scripts are great. I mean, it's not, you know, I, I don't remember a whole lot of rewriting, you know, once, once the staff was done. I mean, you know, we were, we'll rewrite stuff here and there and jokes, whatever, but it's, you know, I don't know. I, I feel like we get outta the writer's room and we're, we've got, you know, 13 pretty good scripts.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. You're

    Kevin Heffernan:

    So we change stuff, the improv stuff too. I mean there's, you know that Cass is great at that and there's just

    Michael Jamin:

    Tons of Yeah, you guys leave a lot of room for improv. Yeah.

    Kevin Heffernan:

    And so that's, you know, things might sometimes look different out of that, out of the writer's room. But

    Michael Jamin:

    Let me was telling me that he, that he would, you know, when he watch his episodes, when you guys are improving so much, he'll, he sometimes says, God, I wish we'd just shut up. I gotta watch all this stuff now. <Laugh>,

    Kevin Heffernan:

    That's what was like, it's like the takes become nine minutes long cuz

    Michael Jamin:

    This riff happens and then it goes this way and then you turn around and shoot the other one. You gotta do it again. <Laugh>. we were looking at this trailer and it's a, you know, two and a half minute trailer. I, I would say, you know, they try to hit like, you know, five or six big jokes or whatever. And, and, and, and the majority of 'em are improv jokes. Oh really? This trailer. Yeah. So it's like, you know, you get a lot of good jokes that way. That's what happens when you put a comedy troupe in, in a movie. That's right. But also, like, you know, the me the more seasons you do together with that cast in Tacoma, everyone's comfortable how comfortable they are, you know, and, and people who are not that experience than that get better at it, you know?

    Yeah. You guys have done a great job. It really, the Tacoma's a fun show. Quasi is a great movie. Everyone should watch that have a beer and or, or on four 20, whatever. It's, you need to do whatever you do and enjoy it and enjoy the hell no. You're gonna, you, you, you still have to watch Season four Tacoma. It came out great. It's the best season so far. You think so? Or you just saying that? Well, I think just cuz everyone knows what they're doing better. You know what I mean? Yeah. Well, I mean, not not just reading for a writing point. Just acting and directing and producing and whatever. Everyone, everyone does a better job. Yeah. I I I hope that we get another season. That's good. Let's do another one. Knock on wood. That's what I'll say. Knock on wood. Yeah, knock on wood.

    Kevin Heffernan, sir. Give me a hug. Thank you so much. Pleasure. Thank you so much. Everyone run out four 20 on Hulu. Quasi. It's not gonna be, it's not gonna be a quasi hit. It's gonna be a major hit. Sure. It's gonna be a full hit. Full hit. Full hit. All right everyone, thank you so much. Stay tuned for another episode. Thank you Kevin for, for joining. And then thank you Mr. Jam. Thank you Mr. Appreciate it. Don't go anywhere, Kevin. I'm me. Sign off. All right everyone, thank you so much. Until next week and yeah, keep listening, keep writing. Okay.

    Phil Hudson:

    This has been an episode of Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving a review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok @michaeljaminwriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

    1h 12m | Apr 19, 2023
  • 076 - The Daily Show Correspondent Vance DeGeneres

    Do you watch The Daily Show? If so, don't miss this awesome podcast episode featuring Vance DeGeneres!

    Show Notes

    Vance on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vance_DeGeneres

    Vance's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vancenotvance/?hl=en

    Vance on IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0214699/

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Automated Transcript

    Michael Jamin (00:00:00):

    To me, I'm guessing the goal of it was just to be creative and make music. That's still, that's it. But do you have, are there, are, is there, are there other future ambitions? Is there more ambitions there more you hope to get outta this though?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:00:13):

    Just, just the enjoyment of, of being musically creative. Right. And and that, that's it. I mean, I, I'm under no illusions that I'm going to get another record deal. Right. You know, capital Records is not gonna call and offer me a deal again. Right. but that's fi that's fine. You know, the, it's, you know, it's a fun band. It's, it's a good band. And we play lo we play live gigs, you know, like two or three times a year. Right. and we make, we make our records. And that's, that's enough, right? I mean, it's just fun.

    Michael Jamin (00:00:49):

    You're listening to Screenwriters Need to hear this with Michael Jamin.

    Michael Jamin (00:00:56):

    Hey everyone, it's Michael Jamin. Welcome back to Screenwriters. Need to hear this. I got another good guest for you. This is another reason to sit through me talking because my guest is actually an old friend of mine. And his name is Vance DeGeneres, comedy writer, TV producer, film producer, film executive musician. And I met Vance many years ago and can tell Quick story, Vance. And then I'll let you chime in for the rest of the interview. Please. First of all, I first please. I gonna just get the elephant outta the room. Yes. Vance. His, his little sister is someone you may have heard of Ellen. Ellen Generous, but we're not talking about her now. We're talking about you Vance. So stop bringing her up. 

    Vance DeGeneres (00:01:34):

    Yeah, yeah, please,

    Michael Jamin (00:01:35):

    Please. So, I'm met Vance many years ago. I'm a first job as a, as a comedy writer. I was a comedy writer and show on the Mike and Maddie show. It was a morning TV show. I was very nervous, very excited, didn't know anything about the business. And Vance was the other guy, the other comedy writer. And we shared an office. And I just did. I was like, Vance, I, I don't really know what I'm doing here. And Vance was like, it's okay. We'll be okay. I'm not sure if Vance knew what he was doing, but I did everything. You did Vance. I wore shoes to the set. I wore a a jacket to the set. I did whatever you told me to do. Whatever you did, I just copied. And you were, and

    Vance DeGeneres (00:02:12):

    It, and look, look where you are today,

    Michael Jamin (00:02:14):

    <Laugh>. I'm sitting in front of my computer screen <laugh> in my garage.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:02:18):

    <Laugh>, can I, can I, can I just say I I do have to to thank you because we're not for you. I wouldn't be able to do this.

    Michael Jamin (00:02:30):

    That's right. We did a lot of that. And you got, you got a nice lot of,

    Vance DeGeneres (00:02:33):

    You taught me to

    Michael Jamin (00:02:34):

    Juggle. I taught you that. I didn't, what else You taught me to juggle. Didn't I teach you how to love as well?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:02:40):

    Well, I was gonna say, yeah, I was gonna say that, but since you brought it up Yes,

    Michael Jamin (00:02:45):

    Vance has, go ahead.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:02:48):

    No, I was just gonna say, you know, we I think we laughed a lot in that, in that office. It, it was it was an interesting job.

    Michael Jamin (00:02:57):

    Did we make anyone laugh? <Laugh>, I'm

    Vance DeGeneres (00:03:00):

    Six months

    Michael Jamin (00:03:02):

    <Laugh>. We made each other laugh and then on six month time they showed, they showed me to the door <laugh>.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:03:10):

    Yeah. And yeah. And I didn't last a lot longer.

    Michael Jamin (00:03:13):

    You didn't, I don't remember. But you've had such an amazing career event cuz you have done something. Like you are truly a very creative person and you've made a career out of being creative, but not pigeonholed in any one category. Like, I'm gonna start, I'm gonna start by telling, refreshing your memory, how you've, how much you've worked in the business. I guess you first started, you were a musician, you in a, in a band called House of Shock, which was Gina Shock, who was in the Go-Go's. You formed a band with her, right? Was that your first band? I

    Vance DeGeneres (00:03:43):

    No, no, no. I, no, I, well, very quickly, I, I had, I had been in bands since seventh grade. I had my first garage band. Right. and then I was in a s a really successful band in New Orleans called The Cold in the early eighties.

    Michael Jamin (00:04:01):


    Vance DeGeneres (00:04:02):

    And and then I moved out to Los Angeles in 85. And the Gogos had broken up and a friend introduced me to Gina and we put together house of Shock. And so she and I were partners on that.

    Michael Jamin (00:04:17):

    And you toured a lot of with her?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:04:19):

    No, we didn't tour a lot, but we rec we Gina and I wrote, wrote the album and it came out, we were on Capital Records, Uhhuh <affirmative>. And and that came out in 88.

    Michael Jamin (00:04:30):

    Now, when you moved to LA was it to become, I mean, it's weird, you know, you're very, very funny, very talented comedy writer. But was it, is music really your first love and look at your background there?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:04:42):

    My first love is music. But I had done bef Okay. <Laugh>. I, I've got such a, such a a checkered a career path. Originally I had done, oh boy. Yeah, this is, it's too much to get into. But I, I was the original Mr. Hans with the Mr. Bill Show, and I

    Michael Jamin (00:05:04):

    Wanna talk about that. Okay. So that came first

    Vance DeGeneres (00:05:07):

    That Yeah. After yes, when I was 18, I guess I, I met this guy Walter Williams, and we, we got an apartment together and we started doing, we were both Big Bob and Ray fans. Right. you know Bob and Ray,

    Michael Jamin (00:05:25):

    Right? Yeah. Ellis dad <laugh>. That's how I think about it. Yeah,

    Vance DeGeneres (00:05:28):

    Exactly. Exactly. but they used to do this improv improvisational comedy. And so we thought, yeah, we can probably take a crack at that. So we started doing little comedy bits and then started shooting little tiny movies. And Mr. Bill was one of the movies. And anyways, so, you know, what happened then?

    Michael Jamin (00:05:49):

    Well, for many people who, who don't, I wanted to tell them, so Mr. Like, Mr. Bill was a, a little claymation character on Saturday Live, A little sketch they did on Saturday Live, or in the early years of sa And this Mr. Bill was like, before the internet, it went viral before the internet virality was a thing. And it was like this, I remember everyone was talking about Mr. Bill, Mr. Oh, no, Mr. Bill. And it was Mr. Hand was the char, another character. And like everyone talked about Mr. Bill cuz it was like this sketch on Saturday. It was recurring sketch that everyone talked about. And so yeah. Go into that. That's a, that was when I found out you were Mr. Hand. I was like, you're Mr. Hand.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:06:26):

    Yeah. Well, oh yeah. Well, it's, it's a, it's a a very long and a very frustrating story actually. But I, I'll just tell you that we started it in New Orleans and we did these, you know, we, we started doing nightclubs in New Orleans there. This was before there was even a a comedy club in New Orleans. This was in 73 45 Uhhuh <affirmative> six. And so we would do these kind of live shows where we did comedy and we showed, we showed our eight millimeter films. We'd set up a screen, Uhhuh, <affirmative> and then when Sarah I live came on we sent in a reel of our shorts and they liked Mr. Bill and they put that on.

    Michael Jamin (00:07:11):

    How did you know, you just sent it to like, what do you mean you sent it? 

    Vance DeGeneres (00:07:15):

    Because, because they they had a thing, Lauren, Michael said, Hey, if if, if you have some funny short films, send them to us and if we like it, we might put it on. Right. So we we sent 'em a, a reel of our, our shorts and they liked that particular one. So Lauren aired it and it was during Mardi Gras in New Orleans when it first aired. And, and Saturday Night Live was preempted for one of the parades, Uhhuh <affirmative>. So nobody in New Orleans got got to see it. But they invited us down to the N B C affiliate to watch it in the control room. Uhhuh <affirmative>. So we got to see speed.

    Michael Jamin (00:07:58):

    How, but how, but did you do several of them? There's We did,

    Vance DeGeneres (00:08:02):

    Yeah. Right. We did. And then we, we well we had a weekly radio show in New Orleans called the Mr. Bill Show, and where we did little sketches, and then we even did eight local TV show few episodes.

    Michael Jamin (00:08:17):

    Like 18 when you were doing this.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:08:20):

    In 19, yeah. 18, 19, 20, kind of a big. And and then once it was on Saturday Live, we we picked up a third, a third member named David Derickson. And we moved to, we got a, we got a loan for $3,000 and moved to New York and got a, a one bedroom sublet. And we did the the improv once a week on Monday nights, we would do our standup. And then we we made a couple of other Mr. Bills. And after the second season, I, I decided to, to leave the act. And I moved back to New Orleans. And then my friend Dave, who, who was a third member, took over as Mr. Hands.

    Michael Jamin (00:09:08):

    What, when you left what to go back to New Orleans, what, what were you, what was it to pursue at this point? What did you wanna do?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:09:15):

    Well, comedy, comedy, I, I went back to New Orleans and I, I wrote a a half hour, another comedy show, a full half hour like sketch comedy show and and cast it. And I got Loyola University gave me their TV station to shoot the thing in. But they said You got 12 hours because 6:00 AM tomorrow morning, we're tearing up the, the, the studio to redo it for the, for next semester. After we shot the first sketch, there was a power brown out on campus. And and that was it. I I, we were done. So I, I, I had no show. Right. I, I got, I was really depressed. It's like, Jesus, this is, you know what, I spent months putting this together and I just thought, you know, God show business kind of sucks. <Laugh>, what

    Michael Jamin (00:10:12):


    Vance DeGeneres (00:10:15):

    Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So, so I mean, what, what, what would you do if if you were in that position? I thought I'll join the Marines.

    Michael Jamin (00:10:27):

    Right. I forgot you were Marines, which is what I did. Yeah. Which is, that'll be easier than showbiz. <Laugh>. <laugh>.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:10:36):

    You know, it, it's, I I'm not sure which is tougher.

    Michael Jamin (00:10:39):

    Yeah. <laugh>. And so you, you were, I forgot you're a Marine. Like, oh my God, I got all the branches that I'll, I'll gimme the one that's the hardest <laugh> to do.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:10:50):

    That's exactly what I wanted. I, I, I wanted, I wanted a real challenge. And and, and honestly, I wouldn't, I wouldn't trade you for anything. I'm glad I'm not still in it. Uhhuh <affirmative>. But boy, does it give you discipline?

    Michael Jamin (00:11:06):

    <Laugh>? Yeah. I'm so surprised. Cause you're not exactly you know, as a comment writer, you're like, anti-establishment. It's like, it's odd to say, well, I'll just join the establishment <laugh> where, where I can't mouth off and I can't be a wise ass. I'll do that for three years. <Laugh>. So you got outta that and

    Vance DeGeneres (00:11:22):

    <Laugh>. So, and, and, and so I came back, I came back to New Orleans in 79 and with the intent of continuing in, in tv, radio, comedy. And I, I got a job as a as the morning guy at a local fm radio station. And in the meantime, some friends started a, a new wave band. There were a couple of, there were just a couple of writers. They were journalists and could play guitar a little bit, but the whole new wave thing happening. And they said, Hey, you know you're a good musician. Why don't you, why don't you, you know, join? And so I did. And it was just gonna be a little side project, and it turned into something like really, really big in, in new Orleans and in the South. We put out a bunch of records. We had some hits. And and by 85, I couldn't go any further there. So my, my sister who you mentioned Yeah. Was living in LA and she said, you know, you should really come to live in Los Angeles. So I, I made the move and it was to continue in music at that point. So that's when I met Gina Shock. And we, we formed House of Shock. We did the record on Capital and by and by 89 that had that was ended at that point. 

    Michael Jamin (00:12:52):


    Vance DeGeneres (00:12:52):

    And that's, that's when I transitioned back into being a writer.

    Michael Jamin (00:12:57):

    And then, yeah. And how did, okay. What came, how did you do that? <Laugh>, everything, history, everything you've done sounds like a mystery. How did you do that? <Laugh>.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:13:06):

    It, it it's, it's crazy. I was I, I was actually, I was paying, I'm also a painter a little bit. And I, I did, I did a bunch of paintings. This couple came over to, to see some of my paintings that they were interested in buying. One, the guy happened to be a, a showrunner named Carl Schaffer. And he Carl Schaffer had a show on CBS b s called TV 1 0 1.

    Michael Jamin (00:13:39):


    Vance DeGeneres (00:13:40):

    And, and he had a place called the Fourth Floor on on Hollywood Boulevard on the corner of Kanga and Hollywood. What's that?

    Michael Jamin (00:13:49):

    Above the Pizza store, right? Yeah. Right. Yeah. Yeah.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:13:52):

    Right. And he, he had a deal with Hurst Entertainment, and they subsidized this whole floor and parted the second. And Carl rented it out to writers that he liked. Okay. and Carl, Carl knew that I had done Mr. Bill. We talked about that. And he said you know, you should really come take an office up on the fourth floor and just start writing again, Uhhuh. And it's like, yeah, okay, why not? Yeah, sure. Yeah. So, and he, he rented out for 125 bucks a month. Right. You got, you got an office. And and so I, I, I got an office. I, I had no computer. I didn't even have a typewriter. I said, I, I, you know, what should I write <laugh>? He said he said write a pilot. There's a there's a guy, a comedian. I like, let's create a show for him. I'll, I'll tell you the format. So I, so I started writing by hand. Right. and anyway so I went through this process with Carl wrote this, this pilot. And it, nothing happened with that. But Carl then got a show called, called Erie, Indiana Right. On nbc.


    And he, he gave me my first job in 91 as a staff writer on Erie, Indiana. And I wrote, he gave me two episodes to write of that. And that that was my real start in tv.

    Michael Jamin (00:15:25):

    Yeah. Man, that's amazing. And then, and then what happened after that? You, cause you've bounced around you. I wanna say, you've done a lot of stuff, including, we'll get to all this, you we'll get to all this, but I want, just for people who are listening, like to know what to expect. You were also a daily show correspondent, like the first, this is the first season, right? When, when it was just starting?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:15:45):

    Well, it was, no, it had been when John Stewart took over, when John took over. But yeah. Skipping stuff.

    Michael Jamin (00:15:53):

    Is there stuff I should, I should talk about stuff in between. I don't wanna, but I wanna mention that. So, cuz I we're gonna talk about that. But what happened next?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:16:02):

    Well then after Erie, Indiana, Carl got a a blind pilot deal at a B, C, and he asked me to create a show with him for that. So he and I created a show. We wrote the pilot Uhhuh called Lost Angels for a abc. And it didn't go, never do. And then yeah. Yeah. and then my my agent called and said, Hey you like Dick Van Dyke, you wanna write a for Dick Van Dyke? Said, I love Dick Van Dyke. And it was diagnosis murder.

    Michael Jamin (00:16:35):

    All right. You always wanted to be a doctor, so if it fit right in. Yeah.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:16:39):

    Yeah. <Laugh>. Exactly. Anyway, so I, I wrote I wrote a couple episodes of Diagnosis Murder, and and then I think right after that was Mike and Matt was there right where, where we

    Michael Jamin (00:16:56):

    Met, we met, and that was, man, that was a trip. I really did. I really, I'm so grateful for You took me under your wing. It really was. What do I do? Vance <laugh>. And we would sit in the morning, we'd come up with bits. A lot of them weren't used. I don't, I don't remember many of them make you there. <Laugh>.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:17:16):

    Well, well, well, here, well, here's the thing. There was absolutely no reason to have comedy writers on on that show. I mean, it was, it was a morning show. And although, although Mike you know, was a, he was a standup. He had been a standup and done, done warmup for sitcoms. There, just, there really, there shouldn't have been comedy on there. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (00:17:42):

    But we didn't wanna, we didn't wanna bring it up that to anybody. Hey, you know, why are, you shouldn't be any <laugh>. You don't need comedy in this show. But I remember when I took the job, there was Tamara Rawitz, she was a producer, and she produced Living Color. And her goal was, and I was so exci, I I was excited. This was my first job. She hired me and I was like, fantastic. And but her goal was like, she wanted to turn it into the Morning to Letterman show. Cause like, basically Letterman show in the morning. And I remember thinking about Letterman had a show in the morning and it didn't work.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:18:12):

    It didn't work.

    Michael Jamin (00:18:13):

    Don't say a word, but Yeah.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:18:15):

    Yeah. Now yeah, you're right. I mean, that was, that was the thing. Yeah. she, I mean, she sold me on the idea that this could be, you know, a really cool, you know, comedy show in the morning. And it, it just was not built for that.

    Michael Jamin (00:18:28):


    Vance DeGeneres (00:18:29):

    That particular show. So, but

    Michael Jamin (00:18:33):

    Recipe. But,

    Vance DeGeneres (00:18:34):

    But we, we met there and and went went on to bigger and better things

    Michael Jamin (00:18:40):

    We did. And so yeah, I was, but yeah, that was the first job. And I was, I felt rich for the first time. I wasn't rich, but I felt it because I felt like at the first time I had pride in myself. I was a comedy writer, and I, I was, I think I was making like 50,000 a year or something felt really good for me. And then, and then the back, the hammer came. Yeah. and then what happened? You, what did you do after that? I, I remember I went home crying. 

    Vance DeGeneres (00:19:05):

    Well, it, well, in the in the meantime I was, I was shooting little episodes of a, a mock talk show called The Fourth Floor Show Right at the fourth at the record, which you, you remember

    Michael Jamin (00:19:18):

    I was a part of it. I remember you had friends Help out, and some of your friends included George Clooney <laugh>, and he was in it. Yep. and that was really, that was a really, I'm always fa like, I'm sorry that never went further than it did because it was such an interesting show, and it was so, what's the word I'm looking for? It was like, it is edgy, but it was like, also like anti, it was kind of counterculture. It was really interesting show. It was a talk show that took place in your office. That was the premise.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:19:45):

    Yeah. And a tiny office where it was me and Alex Hirschlag, my sidekick mm-hmm. Who who had to share his microphone with the guest. When the guest came in this, we had that one mic.

    Michael Jamin (00:19:59):

    The guest sat on the couch opposite you, <laugh>. I mean, the,

    Vance DeGeneres (00:20:03):

    Well, the, the audience. There were five audience members who sat on the couch directly in front of us. So the whole, the whole concept was take away all the niceties of of a regular talk show. Yeah. And and then we actually, I don't know if you remember, but we actually e wanted to do it as their five night, a week late night show.

    Michael Jamin (00:20:27):

    What happened?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:20:27):

    And we, we, we shot, we shot the pilot and it aired, but it didn't, it didn't go to series.

    Michael Jamin (00:20:34):

    Oh, so you re reshot a pilot for e for Not the one I was in You Reshot something. Oh, wow.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:20:40):

    Re yeah, we re reshot it. Yeah. With Rob Robert Town. Robert Townson was the guest on that one.

    Michael Jamin (00:20:46):

    And so you basically rebuilt your office on a sound stage.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:20:49):


    Michael Jamin (00:20:51):

    <Laugh>. Yeah. How fun. <Laugh>. Wow. Yeah. That's cool. And so right when that didn't go, you were obviously bummed out. Like e e everything's a matter of, everything's always a strikeout in Hollywood. You get

    Vance DeGeneres (00:21:04):

    Closer. Well, you know, it's, I mean, it's, it's, it's all timing. If the internet had been around, that would've been the perfect thing to, you know, to go viral. Yeah. You know, these, these short episodes of this ridiculous talk show.

    Michael Jamin (00:21:19):

    Yeah, you're

    Vance DeGeneres (00:21:19):

    Right. But it was not around. So

    Michael Jamin (00:21:22):

    Do you ever think of dusting it off and doing it again for the internet? Or why bother?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:21:26):

    You know, we had talked about it David Steinberg. Yes. You know, loved the show. And, and and we, we did talk about, you know resurrecting it years ago. But it, it just, it didn't happen.

    Michael Jamin (00:21:45):

    You gotta, it takes momentum. It just takes momentum, you know? Yeah. And so, okay, so then what happened after that? You,

    Vance DeGeneres (00:21:54):

    Well, let's let's say I then I wrote for a couple of sitcoms. I wrote I wrote for the, the coming out season of my sister's sitcom. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (00:22:05):

    Your, your, your, it's funny, your comedy voice is, you know, is very similar to hers. And I remember you pitched jokes and you go, yeah, yeah, that's exactly something your sister would say. That's, that's the right tone. Like, you seem like you're the perfect writer for your sister.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:22:18):

    I'd like to think so. <Laugh>. But but so I, I wrote for that. And then I, I wrote for a couple of, when she hosted the Emmys, I, I wrote for a couple of notes. I wrote for a couple of Grammy awards and a couple of Oscars when she did those.

    Michael Jamin (00:22:35):

    So what is that like you're, you know, do they bring you in? Do you get an office and you're like, is there a small staff ofri joke writers coming up with bits? How does that work? I've never done an award show.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:22:46):

    Yeah. It's, it's a, well, yeah, it's a small staff. Well, she would, she would choose who she wanted to write, you know, it would be maybe five or six, seven people and months ahead of time. She would have us start writing bits and jokes and send them to her weekly. Right. And she would go through 'em and like this, I don't like that. And start honing in a little tighter on, on what she wanted to do. And then as it got closer the week of, then you go down to Kodak and and you have a meeting room where, you know, you're, you're all sitting around writing jokes and coming up with bits and and the tension gets more and more as you get closer to mm-hmm. <Affirmative> to the day. And and I, I, I was lucky enough to besides writing, I wrote the opening song for the first Ox Oscars that she hosted where we had a gospel group come out Uhhuh on stage. Wow. And I wrote that song. So I, I had to deal with that as well as the other stuff. And that was that was a lot of pressure for that. But

    Michael Jamin (00:24:13):

    Global audience is there, the part of my dr like, in my mind, the moment, like my fantasy, because when you, sometimes you're on a show and you pitch a lot story or a joke, and the actor goes, I'm not doing that. Right. And you're like, and my, my, in my fantasy, like some people think, well, can, can, can the writer just make the actor say it? Like, not unless they're a puppet. You can't make 'em say it, you can't put the words in their mouth. But my mind, like, because she's your sister, is there any of like, eh, pulling her aside and pressuring her? Did that ever work?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:24:42):

    No, no, no. You know, I tried, when I, when I write for Ellen, I, I, I always tried to make myself just one of the writers. I, I never wanted to have any kind of special influence. So that was, that was important that the other writers felt like I wasn't getting preferential treatment.

    Michael Jamin (00:25:01):

    I see. I would think that to the opposite. I, I would think that they say, come on, Vance, we like, we all like this joke. Like, you know, but no, you,

    Vance DeGeneres (00:25:08):

    Yeah. Yeah. No, no. I, I, I really, I thought it was important to yeah. To make that clear.

    Michael Jamin (00:25:15):

    Right, right. And so, okay, so you did the, you did all that, all that joke writing, which to me, I think I, it's a shame. Like I never got a chance to do that, cuz I, I feel like that would be really fun and exciting

    Vance DeGeneres (00:25:26):

    And Yeah. You, I mean, you'd be good at that. So if, if you get the chance, do it.

    Michael Jamin (00:25:30):

    Never called my, the phone won't ring for that. I do know some writers, like, I knew writers that wrote for, like, I don't even if they have 'em anymore, the sbs, like the p n awards, I'm like, let me get me to do that show. I'll do that. No, no one's interested. Yeah. No. Like, isn't there, isn't there a court no one's ever heard of that they can get me? They can ask me to write for? No. all right. And so then was it after that that you did the Daily Show?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:25:57):

    Yeah. So this I then I, I, I, I wrote for another city com and then my agent called me and said Hey John Stewart is taking over the Daily Show, and they wanna know if you're interested in, in being a correspondent. They wanna

    Michael Jamin (00:26:17):

    How do they even, what do you mean they wanna know if you, how at this point you're just a comedy writer?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:26:23):

    Well, okay, well, I, I, I mean, I skipped over stuff. I, okay, so the fourth floor show was seen by some other people. They, they, they cast me to host a show called The Beef which was a show about it was almost like a daily show in a way where correspondents would go out and, and talk interview neighbors who had beats with other neighbors. And it was, it was comedy. Right. and, and I I was cast as the host of that. We, we did the pilot we went to Vegas to the

    Michael Jamin (00:27:03):

    Oh, you cast as the host of that. Did you audition? I mean, you auditioned for it, because that's a big jump from behind the camera to in front of the camera,

    Vance DeGeneres (00:27:10):

    Because they saw the fourth floor show and they, they loved the fourth floor show. And they, they asked me to do a, a story for the beef. Okay. So I went out as correspondent and shot a piece. And then when it came time to, to cast a host, they asked if, if I wanted to to audition to be the host. And so I said Sure.

    Michael Jamin (00:27:34):


    Vance DeGeneres (00:27:35):

    Did no, no, not really. No. I, I just, I I thought it would be fun. Yeah. And because it, it, I was doing a character that I had established with the, with the fourth floor show.

    Michael Jamin (00:27:50):

    He was very lemme see if I can describe him. What, how would you describe him? He was very earnest, very he didn't, he almost, like, he didn't have much of a sense of humor. Right,

    Vance DeGeneres (00:27:59):

    Exactly. He, you know, very earnest a good guy. But the last guy you would, you would want hosting a talk show,

    Michael Jamin (00:28:06):

    <Laugh>, he's the Alaska <laugh>. Right. That's

    Vance DeGeneres (00:28:10):

    Enough. So that was my character.

    Michael Jamin (00:28:12):

    Right, right.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:28:13):

    Yeah. And so, and so, I, I just did, when, when I did my audition to host, I, I just did my, my Ernest guy. Right. And they liked it, and I got the job. And anyway, so we went through all this stuff and it looked like it was gonna go, and then it didn't. And then when the original Daily Show was going on the air, they brought me in. They were looking for a host for that. They brought me in to, to interview me for, for that. I didn't get that right. But then when John Stewart took over, they've remembered me from bringing me in originally. Right. And so they gave me a story to, to go shoot a couple of months before John took over. So I flew up to to Saskatchewan, Canada, Uhhuh <affirmative>, and met one of the producers up there and shot shot a story. Was he, and then your

    Michael Jamin (00:29:19):

    Idea was the story, like how does that work with your correspondent?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:29:24):

    No, that they they had a story and they just, they as they assigned it to me, they, who I guess they had

    Michael Jamin (00:29:33):

    Who did they figure out? I mean, you have to figure out what's funny about it or you're just, I had loving on camera.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:29:37):

    Well, the way this worked was basically you're gonna go up to Canada and you're gonna interview this, this guy, he's a, a, a farmer, and he he's in the Farmer's Alman act for forecasting the weather by Licking Pig Spleens

    Michael Jamin (00:29:56):

    <Laugh>. Okay. All right. So that was

    Vance DeGeneres (00:29:58):

    Funny that that was it. That was, that's it. I mean, that's, that's the basis of the story. So so I met the producer. We drove four hours into the middle of nowhere and shot this story with this guy. I flew back to Los Angeles, they called a couple of weeks later and said Hey we, we love the story. Can you, can you come here in once it a week or two weeks? Right. so I, I flew to New York. It was the Monday John started and I worked with an editor and a producer editing the piece, putting it together. And then they, they aired it on, on the Thursday show of John's first week. And then the next morning they called me into the executive producer's office and said, how soon can you move here? And I said I guess I can be here in about a week. Ah, and I flew home put my stuff in storage and moved, moved to New York.

    Michael Jamin (00:31:05):

    How, and how, how long was your contract? Do you remember?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:31:09):

    Well, I was there. I don't remember how I, how, how long the contract was, but I was there for two and a half years.

    Michael Jamin (00:31:15):

    Right. And when you were coming, working as a correspondent, are you looking for storage? Are you coming up with the edge and what the angle, what makes it funny? Or you're working with other writers or what?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:31:25):

    Yeah, they ha well, you know, they've got writers, they've got field producers. So the field producers, that's their job is to scour, you know wherever looking for these, these stories. And so they would, they would assign different stories to different correspondence. And then you'd be assigned this producer or that field producer, and then you'd meet with them and you talk about the angle you want to take with the story. Then you fly out and you spend, you know, a whole day with these people shooting the story and come back and then spend a few days cutting it together. And then,

    Michael Jamin (00:32:04):

    But you're doing on the spot. You're ad you, I mean, you must be ad-libbing. A lot of, you know that you have to Right. That's just you thinking, oh,

    Vance DeGeneres (00:32:11):

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, well, well, I mean, you know, I would go in, I would, I would write, I would write the opening standup. Right. we'd shoot that. And then I had, I would write, you know, a list of questions along with the, the field producer. You know, we'd have this list of questions, and so I knew what I wanted to ask. Right. but that everything else is just ad lib.

    Michael Jamin (00:32:33):

    Yeah. Is there any sense of your hope questions that you're hoping are, are you leading them at all? Are you hoping to get a certain answer? Are, are you hoping to corner them with an answer, a question, rather? Well,

    Vance DeGeneres (00:32:42):

    Sure. I mean, you, you, I mean, you're hoping that you hear something that you'll be able to you know, get in, you know, some, some kind of a a line. Because you, you, you never, you never knew you know, what, what was gonna happen or what they were gonna say. So, I mean, you're, you're just kind of bouncing around.

    Michael Jamin (00:33:03):

    And at this point, did the, did the audience, were they, whoever your interview, the guests rather I, are they aware that they're gonna be spoofed or no?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:33:13):

    Well, ba you gotta remember this, this was early on in the Daily Show. So we were lucky in that most of the people that, that I did stories on just thought we were this daily show that did, you know, stories of interest.

    Michael Jamin (00:33:28):


    Vance DeGeneres (00:33:29):

    And because if they're in on the joke, it's not as funny.

    Michael Jamin (00:33:36):

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.

    Michael Jamin (00:34:00):

    It's, and you make them, you're done. You get to sign that release, and then you put it on <laugh>, put it on the air. Is there any <laugh>? Is there any blowback? And like, wait a minute. I didn't, I'm not supposed to look like an idiot. <Laugh>,

    Vance DeGeneres (00:34:10):

    You, we, you know, I'm, I'm proud to say I never had, I never had one complaint. I mean, some, some of the stories that other, other people did, people did complain, but I always tried with all my stories, I tried to make myself look like the idiot. Right. as opposed to, I mean, it's, it's not fun to, to like, you know, poke, poke a finger at, look, look what an idiot this guy is. Of course. You know? Of course. Because for the most part, they were just, they were just very nice people who had an interesting or, you know, weird story.

    Michael Jamin (00:34:45):

    Yeah. Right. Right. Now, who were the other, let's talk about this. Who were the other correspondence that you, that two seasons that you were there?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:34:54):

    Yeah, probably nobody that you've heard of. Steve Corll. Yeah. 

    Michael Jamin (00:34:59):

    Go on. I never heard Stephen.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:35:01):

    Stephen Colbert

    Michael Jamin (00:35:02):

    Doesn't ring a bell.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:35:04):

    Yeah. Nancy Corll moka.

    Michael Jamin (00:35:09):


    Vance DeGeneres (00:35:10):

    Beth Littleford.

    Michael Jamin (00:35:12):

    Right. And so you were in good company. It really was a great ensemble. You were, you know, and that show was Yeah.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:35:20):

    Oh, they were, they were amazing. Yeah. They were all just so great. And all, all the writers and field producers were all super talented and funny. Yeah. And just made it a a a a great working environment.

    Michael Jamin (00:35:36):

    Did you get a sense that there are writers or producers on the show that wanted to get in front of the camera

    Vance DeGeneres (00:35:41):

    There? Yeah, there were a few.

    Michael Jamin (00:35:43):

    Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Were they able to at some point? Or is it, are you not?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:35:48):

    I think, yeah, I think, yeah, a couple of couple of them did. And I, <laugh> one friend of mine did a couple of stories and then kind of realized that he, he'd rather be back behind the camera.

    Michael Jamin (00:36:01):

    Why? What was the, what, what was let you know, what did he discover in front of the camera?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:36:08):

    I, I, I, I don't know. He just, I, I, I guess he just wasn't as comfortable right. In front. Right. But very funny. Right. You know, very funny writer.

    Michael Jamin (00:36:18):

    And so, and that was how you met, obviously, among one, you became close with Steve Corral and then Yeah. I, I imagine then, cuz after, after, and at some point you, you ran his production company.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:36:30):

    Yeah. This, I mean, if, yeah. If you want to jump I, let's see. Well, I, I started, I started it in the end of 98 on the Daily Show, and I left in the middle of 2001. Yeah. and then if you wanna jump ahead to,

    Michael Jamin (00:36:46):

    To when I, well, let's just talk about even leaving. Was, was it hard to lea anytime you leave a job or any kind of security in Hollywood, anything at all? It's scary.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:36:54):

    Well, well, here now, I, boy I decided that, first of all, I was not, I was not really a, a New Yorker. I didn't care for the cold winters. And I had I had broken up with my girlfriend of a year and a half. And my agent was saying, Hey, aren't you gonna come back here at some point and create your own show? And, and we were kind of hearing some rumors that maybe John might might move over to a, b, c with a late night show. And I just thought that, you know, this might be a good time to, to leave and go back to LA and try to create a show. So. Right. So that's why I did, if, look, in hindsight, I, I should have stayed another couple of years probably. But I, so I left and I I created a show with with a guy named Andy Lassner who had a deal at Fox. Okay. Do you know Andy?

    Michael Jamin (00:38:00):

    No, I don't.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:38:03):

    He had a deal over at Fox and he'd been a, a fan of mine on the Daily Show and said, Hey, I've got this deal. Let's create a show together. So we, we created a show called Your, your Local News that, that he and I wrote and I, I hosted, and we shot a pilot half hour pilot. And that didn't go

    Michael Jamin (00:38:25):


    Vance DeGeneres (00:38:27):

    So yet another show that didn't, this

    Michael Jamin (00:38:29):

    Is par for the court. It's not a knock on you or any, it's just this, this is how the business is, you know? Yeah. You get an at bat and you can, you can hit it outta the park and they go, you know what? We think someone else will hit it at the park further. <Laugh>, you know, this is how it's

    Vance DeGeneres (00:38:44):

    Exactly. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I've got, I've got so many of those shows that Yeah. That that didn't go, but like a lot of people. And so so then I, I produced a, a few other, other shows not, not really even worth mentioning. And then Steve got offered a, a production deal at Warner Brothers and he said, Hey, would you, would you be interested in, in running my production company?

    Michael Jamin (00:39:19):

    But what did you know about running a production company?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:39:24):

    What do you, what do you have to know, Michael? I don't

    Michael Jamin (00:39:25):

    Know. <Laugh>, I, I often ask that people sitting desk, what do you know, <laugh>, I mean, tell, tell people what, what it means to run a production company? 

    Vance DeGeneres (00:39:35):

    Well, I, I think for Steve, he wanted, he wanted somebody to run it who, who he trusted and who he knew had the same kind of sense of humor that, that he did, because we, we would be, we'd be the comedy shingle at Warner Brothers. Right. and that's, that's why he decide to sign with Warner Brothers. So he, he asked me and a another friend of his, a writer actor named Charlie Hartsock. And so we became co-presidents of he named the Carousel Productions. Right. So we we had a deal for six years at Warner Brothers. And we produced crazy Stupid Love and What's that

    Michael Jamin (00:40:25):

    Good movie. And so, but how does it, and, and Go, yeah, go on. What are the other projects?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:40:31):

    We did another movie called the Incredible Burt Wonderstone. Right. and then we did produced three seasons of Inside Comedy. I showed that David Steinberg hosted that we interviewed with all these comedians.

    Michael Jamin (00:40:45):

    Oh, it's funny. So that's how that came back. So, and so all this time though, Steve is doing other projects, so, you know, they're acting in other projects, but basically what it means, you're, you're running his studios, like you're looking, you're looking for scripts based. I'm, tell me if I'm wrong, you're looking for scripts that you think that he would be good in, but, but he wasn't. Yes. Did you, did you produce any think projects that he was Wait, that he wasn't involved the inside? Yeah. Yeah. That one you didn't, of course. But you're looking for script for him, and he's deciding whether he likes it or not. And then if he likes it, you take it to the studio and you see if the studio likes it. Right.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:41:22):

    Yeah. Yeah. That's, that's how it works. We would I mean, we took lots of meetings with with writers that, that their agents would submit scripts, would read 'em if we liked him, the writers would come in, would meet with him, and and then we'd, if we liked it enough, we'd we'd send it to, to Steve to read, to see if he was interested enough that we would we'd produce it.

    Michael Jamin (00:41:46):

    But was it would, so they would sometimes bring s scripts here, but sometimes you'd just, it was a general meeting and they, and they, they, they'd pitch you ideas too, right?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:41:55):

    Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.

    Michael Jamin (00:41:57):

    Yeah. And then you, if they like it, and if Steve likes it, may, then you bring it to the studio, and then the studio's, like, now, whether they wanna put money on it or not, sometimes did you, you could, I'm sure you had a deal where you could bring it to Warner Brothers, and if they don't, it's a first look. If they don't like it, then you could bring it somewhere else.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:42:14):

    Yeah. Yeah. And that happened a lot. You know, Warner Brothers, you know, not every project was right for them. So we, you know, we'd wind up taking something over to Universal and, you know, we wound up developing a movie over there. And then a mo we Charlie and I sold a an idea for Movie two Lionsgate. And we wound up hiring David Jabba to write that. Do you know DJ Jabba? No. He was a, an executive producer on The Daily Show and Okay. Really funny writer. And it was, it was a movie that had a, at, at start a North Korean uhhuh. And we don't need to go into the whole story, but you know what happened with the thing at Sony with

    Michael Jamin (00:43:11):

    Yeah. My friend Dan Sterling wrote that mo that movie the what was it called? The what was it called? The North Korean movie? What was it called? The

    Vance DeGeneres (00:43:21):

    I can't, I can't remember.

    Michael Jamin (00:43:24):

    But it was him with, it was James Franco was in it. Right. And they go to North Korea. Yes. Yeah. And so, yeah, Kim Jong Gill took issue with it, <laugh> and hacked Sony <laugh> and Kim released everyone's private information, and that was the end of that. Froze.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:43:39):

    And, and then that was the end of, of our movie. Right.

    Michael Jamin (00:43:44):

    Right. Cause that could kill your movie. Right.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:43:46):

    It, it totally, there's like, they're like, Lionsgate was like, there's no way we can touch this right now. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (00:43:53):

    So forever again. And so the, and that's not, has nothing to do with you. We saw the movie to 20th century Fox called Only Child, and everyone loved it until suddenly there was another movie in the works called Middle Child, and I'm not sure they had anything in common other than the world child <laugh>, and suddenly ours was dead. It's like, we'll rename it. Nope. Sorry. <Laugh>

    Vance DeGeneres (00:44:16):

    God. Yeah. Yeah. It, it, it's, yeah. Projects die for so many different reasons. Yeah. But, but that was, that was a pretty insane reason to have a movie killed. Yeah. but, and we, we developed so many movies with so many different writers over, over the years and it's, it's just, it's tough to get a movie made. You know, even if you have a deal with a studio, it's, it's still tough

    Michael Jamin (00:44:46):

    With, with a major star attached to it. A major star willing to do this project. Major star an alien. Yeah. Yeah. And it's hard, it's hard to get something made. And so, and you ton of scripts I'm sure, which is hard, it's hard to go home and read a script, right? I mean, you know. Yes. Especially if it's bad. What are you, what, what do you see, I don't know, what were you looking for? I imagine some of these scripts were almost, I'm gonna say something and put words in your mouth, were almost written in crayon, right? I mean, some of them were kind of bad, or, no,

    Vance DeGeneres (00:45:19):

    I wouldn't mind a script written in crayon

    Michael Jamin (00:45:21):

    As a, as a, as a lark. I mean, there's a lot of, like, you read a lot of scripts that were, I'm sure were not good. Right.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:45:28):

    A lot. Yes. A lot. Yeah. It's, it's, it's, it's kind of shocking actually. How many scripts you get that we got submitted that just weren't just, were not good. Certainly we're not what we were looking for. 

    Michael Jamin (00:45:41):

    And how far would you go into the script before tossing it? How many pages would you give it?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:45:48):

    I'm, I'm, I'll would give a script at at least, at least 20 or 30 pages.

    Michael Jamin (00:45:53):

    Generous estimate. I mean,

    Vance DeGeneres (00:45:54):

    If it, if, if it was really awful you know, maybe, maybe a few less than that. But I would, I would, I would tend to give it 20 or 30 at least.

    Michael Jamin (00:46:05):

    Right. But you're not gonna finish it if it's, there's no point. If you're, if you're not hooked in 2030, you're, why, why would you bother when you have a stack? Yeah. You know, you

    Vance DeGeneres (00:46:15):

    Know, and, and, and, you know, we, we knew the kind of stuff we were looking for, you know, that the right tone of comedy you know, there's a lot of different, different tones of comedy and you know, maybe some of them were, were right for somebody else, but not for what we were looking for. Right. and in the, in the beginning we were really just looking for, for comedies and I guess four years into our deal the head of the, the, the studio came to our office and said Hey we need you guys to to really concentrate on on looking for tent poles, which was not what we were looking for in the beginning.

    Michael Jamin (00:47:02):

    Which, what is a tent pole? A big, a big giant blockbuster.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:47:07):

    A big, a big blockbuster.

    Michael Jamin (00:47:08):

    Yeah. As opposed to, it's hard to think of a big blockbuster comedy. I mean, there really aren't, you know, are there comedy zone? We're not talking about like, we're like a tent pole. You think it was like a Marvel movie or, you know, something like that. Or an action thriller, not a comedy. Right.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:47:26):

    Yeah. Yeah. No, that's, that's exactly right. I, I guess you, you could look at a film like The Hangover when that came out. Right. You know, that, that, that it was a little movie that just happened to do really well.

    Michael Jamin (00:47:39):

    Yeah. I, but I know, I can't imagine conceiving that, Ooh, wait, here's a tent pole. Like, no, here's a, here's a crapshoot that just worked, you know?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:47:46):

    Yeah. Yeah. So, but any, anyways, so we you know, we had to kind of turn the boat around a little bit and start looking for, you know movies that had the potential to be more international, I guess. Right. You know, and Right. They were very concerned.

    Michael Jamin (00:48:04):

    And that is hard because it, comedy is hard for, so you're talking for international means, I, I'm guessing means broader, more physical comedy, less reliant on joke, le less reliant on, well, maybe dumb, maybe, maybe dumber, maybe dumb dumb, maybe kind of dumbing it down a little. I mean, kind. Is that what that means? Broader?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:48:24):

    I don't, I don't know. I mean well, well, here's an example of, of something that, that we found that we, that we developed as, as a comedy, and that that could have been Big Acme mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, Acme the, the cartoons with Yeah. You know, the Road Runner and Right. We we developed a live, a live version, Uhhuh <affirmative> of of Acme. And the guys that directed crazy Stupid Love wrote the script for it. And it was, it was really good. It was really, it was funny and, and big. But

    Michael Jamin (00:49:06):

    But Acme is basically, it was people running into walls and, and boxes. Right. That crates that say acne on it, that explode. Yes. That kind of thing. So it was very physical.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:49:17):

    Yeah. Yeah. And it actually would've made a, a really funny and, and a very big movie as well. Right. but but we didn't get to make that either.

    Michael Jamin (00:49:29):

    Right. Like, I mean,

    Vance DeGeneres (00:49:30):

    But that's just an example of, of how it's like, maybe we can take this and maybe this could be something that would be, you know, appealing internationally.

    Michael Jamin (00:49:40):

    Right. As opposed to like Little Miss Sunshine, which he was in, which is a small film, small little character study that blew up somehow, you know? Yeah,

    Vance DeGeneres (00:49:48):

    Exactly. And, and nobody, nobody knows what's gonna work and, and what's not.

    Michael Jamin (00:49:53):

    Was it hard for you to make the leap to executive? I mean, it's a whole different, you're, you're doing a lot of, you're, you're making the rounds, you're pitching more, you're, you're getting in that you have to get your lay of the land, you have to schmooze with other executives. I mean, it's kind of a, was that hard for you? That hard jump for you?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:50:11):

    Yeah. Yeah. It's, yeah. It was, it was, it was a little, little tough. I, I don't like being a salesman. Yeah. and there were times when, of course we had to, we had to go out and sell him. The, the o the other part of it, I did enjoy, I did enjoy meeting with, with writers and actors who would come in and and we, you know, we'd have great meetings and, you know, we, we would be pitching their projects, you know and that was, and that was, that was fun when we found projects that we'd liked and we would develop it with the, with the writer Uhhuh. So that, that, that part was, it was very creative and great. And that was, and that was a lot of fun. And it was, and it was also so great you know, getting to run Steve's company. Cuz you know, Steve's, he's one of my closest friends, and he is just, you know, he's such a great guy and he is so hilarious. Yeah. so I, you know, if I was to run anybody's company, I'm glad it I got to run his,

    Michael Jamin (00:51:17):

    See, that's another thing. So when a writer comp, so many people, you know, say I post a lot on social media and so many people are like I have a script I wanna sell, and, but I, I don't wanna change a word. I'm like, you have, what are you talking about? You come in, you with an idea, you picture show if someone else is interested, you play ball. You. It's a very collaborative, if you stay home, if you are not willing to take a note, you know, it, it's like,

    Vance DeGeneres (00:51:39):

    Yeah. That, I mean, that's, yeah. You gotta, you know. Yeah. If you don't, if you don't want to change a word you better have enough money to finance it yourself. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (00:51:49):

    Right, right. You have to get people attached and it's, it's all about, yeah. So what, what advice do you have for people trying to break in the indu industry today? I mean, it's, it's changed even since you've left.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:52:04):


    Michael Jamin (00:52:05):

    Former production of Shrugs, I don't know, <laugh>, I don't know.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:52:10):

    God, it, I mean, it's, it's just so, it's just so scattershot now. I mean, I, I, I think, but at, at the, at the very base, I think it comes down to you have to wanna do something. If you want, if you wanna write, then you just have to write, just, you know, you know, get a, get a book on, on, on writing scripts and teach yourself and just write, write, write. And you know, it's not easy because it helps if you, if you know somebody to send it to, because you can't just send in scripts unsolicited generally. Right. but, you know, but a lot of, a lot of people get into it through doing improv and then, and then shooting little bits and, and you know, putting 'em, if they go viral,

    Michael Jamin (00:53:00):

    But, and that's basically what you did. I mean, you're, you're vi it's like you did long before Vi Viral was a thing, was you just did it. And, and I, I used to tell everyone, stop asking for permission. Just do it. You know,

    Vance DeGeneres (00:53:12):

    John, that, that's, no, that's, that's exactly right. W because we did the fourth floor show, because it, it entertained us. It was something that if we could do any show, this would be the show that we would do, so we just did it.

    Michael Jamin (00:53:27):

    Yeah. Yeah. Right. You get a bunch of people that kind of want the same thing and you do it. Yeah. Yeah. And then now, now you have this, you're basically back to your first love, your first love music. I'm not talking. Yeah,

    Vance DeGeneres (00:53:41):

    Yeah. Pretty, pretty much. I mean, af after, well, after Carousel, after we lost our deal I had a deal for God, another nine or 10 years at, at Warner Brothers at tele Pictures. Yeah. At tele Pictures at Warner.

    Michael Jamin (00:53:58):

    What are you doing there?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:53:59):

    I was developing TV shows.

    Michael Jamin (00:54:01):

    I didn't know that. I didn't know. Yeah,

    Vance DeGeneres (00:54:05):

    Yeah, yeah. My, my, my deal just ended in October.

    Michael Jamin (00:54:08):

    Oh, wow. I had no idea. And so you were, okay, you were for Warner Brothers, but not on a pro, not on a production shingle, but actually just for Warner Brothers doing the same.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:54:18):

    Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah, I, my, I mean, all told I was there at for 15 years,

    Michael Jamin (00:54:24):

    But at this point, you're more of a buyer as opposed to a seller if you're working on Warner Brothers. Right.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:54:29):

    Well, n no. No, I, no, I, I had a deal to, to develop shows. So that's what I was doing.

    Michael Jamin (00:54:36):

    You had Oh, your own deal. Okay. Yeah. It's your, wow. Good for you. That's unusual. Okay. You were Okay. You got a shingle, basically. Yeah. You, that's what you were Yeah. We weren't in studios. Exactly. Yeah. You're okay. Wow.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:54:48):

    Yeah, exactly. No, exactly. Exactly. And then, so, so now that my deal is done I'm, I'm still gonna take, I've g I got a couple of shows that that I'm gonna try to sell, but in the meantime, I'm, I'm doing a lot of music again. Right,

    Michael Jamin (00:55:05):

    Right. And let's, let's talk about that. You now, who's your band? Who and who are these people in your band?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:55:11):

    The band is called The Light Jackets. And it's been my, my project on the side for the last 10 years with the other Bandmates or Eddie Jemison, who's who's a great actor. You know 'em if you saw 'em. Okay. Tim Ford is the drummer Dermot Kieran is the keyboard player. And bill Angola is the lead guitar player. And, and Go

    Michael Jamin (00:55:39):

    Ahead. How often and how often do you guys meet and get together and jam and write and perform?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:55:45):

    Well, we've, we, we just released our fourth record about a week ago. Right. And we've, so we've got, yeah, we've got four, we've got three eps and one album that we've released over the past 10 years.

    Michael Jamin (00:55:58):


    Vance DeGeneres (00:55:59):

    And so, you know, it's just, I mean, it's always been a passion. So I've, I've never really stopped playing music. I've always managed to do it, you know in my spare time.

    Michael Jamin (00:56:14):

    And so what ha, what happened was you posted this really cute video that you guys shot, and it was, you did with all the puppets, and it was wonderful and saw it. And I, I go, let's talk about this. Tell me, tell me how that came up together. And the song was great. And you know what? That's what, this is a perfect time. We're gonna play a clip from that song. We're gonna play it. We'll come back and you'll everyone have a listen, and then we'll talk about it

    Song Clip (00:56:40):

    All. Cause it's a better way. The outside world would never know that we were here. We have known interfere A Little Nation will be our salvation. I know. It's gone. Well get, join. We can leave right now.

    Michael Jamin (00:57:15):

    So yes, the song, I love that song you wrote that song? Yeah, yeah.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:57:19):

    One that you wrote. It's called, yeah, it's called Our Little Revolution. And it's, it's one of the five songs on our new ep. The EP is called fall So Far, if you look for it on iTunes or whatever.

    Michael Jamin (00:57:32):

    Yeah. Where, where should we look on iTunes, Spotify, everywhere.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:57:37):

    Yeah. All the usual places.

    Michael Jamin (00:57:38):

    Right. The light jackets stand.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:57:41):

    So I, I I decided that because of the theme of the song, which the theme, the theme of the song is really kind of about where we are in society right now, about how, how polarized we are. Yeah.


     and I didn't want to do a video with depicting real people in the, in these, you know, angry situations. Yeah. but I've got, I've got some friends that have a puppet production company. They do these, they do these videos. They're called rag, mop and Goose. And it's my friend's Gus Renard and Jesse Cabalero they're married and they do these amazing little puppets. So I asked them if they would do a video for the song. And and they, they did such a great job. They did. Yeah. Really happy with it.

    Michael Jamin (00:58:37):

    How, how long of a shoot was that?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:58:41):

    It, it didn't take 'em long. We got together, I, I gave them, I gave them a very loose outline, and then they came up with the rest, and then they went off and shot it and cut it together. In, so you

    Michael Jamin (00:58:53):

    Weren't even involved in the shoot, you said, Hey, good run with this.

    Vance DeGeneres (00:58:57):

    No, I, I, I was very happy to farm it out. It's like, you know, this is this is what I'd like to, you know, to see. And then they went off and shot it, and they, and I have to say, it's probably the first time my, in my entire career where I was sent a project back where I didn't give them one note.

    Michael Jamin (00:59:16):

    Really? Wow. Yeah. You did a great job. And so, to me, I'm guessing the goal of it was just to be creative and make music. That's all. That's it. But do you have, are there, are, is there, are there other future ambitions? Is there more ambitions there more you hope to get outta this though?

    Vance DeGeneres (00:59:33):

    Just, just the enjoyment of, of being musically creative. Right. And and that, that's it. I mean, I, I'm under no illusions that I'm gonna get another record deal. Right. You know, capital Records is not gonna call and offer me a deal again. Right. but that's fi that's fine. You know, the, it's, you know, it's a fun band. It's, it's a good band. And we play lo we play live gigs, you know, like two or three times a year. Right. and we make, we make our records. And that's, that's enough. Right. I mean, it's just fun.

    Michael Jamin (01:00:09):

    That's it. That's it. And that's what I'm always telling people, just do it if, and there's so much in Holly, like, there's so much where you don't get paid in Hollywood. There's a lot of work that you do that you don't get paid. And if you're not enjoying the work, well, this is not for you then. I mean, you have to be <laugh>, you know, whatever it is. Whether it's music or writing or acting. Like if you're not enjoying, you shouldn't be chasing the paycheck. You do it cause you enjoy it. Right.

    Vance DeGeneres (01:00:32):

    Yeah. No, that, and that, that's a good point. And that, you know, that's, that's also good advice for people who are looking to get into this business, is if, if you get asked, you know, to do a favor for somebody, just do it.

    Michael Jamin (01:00:45):

    Yeah. You don't know.

    Vance DeGeneres (01:00:48):

    Yeah. You don't know what it's gonna lead to and Right. You know, plus you're gonna be getting experience.

    Michael Jamin (01:00:54):

    Yep. Yep. What's so other than, so what's next for you? You're, you, you have a couple show ideas, you'll take 'em out, these ideas that you developed. Yeah, yeah,

    Vance DeGeneres (01:01:04):

    Yeah. Yeah. 

    Michael Jamin (01:01:06):

    Warner Brothers must have really liked it. Yeah.

    Vance DeGeneres (01:01:08):

    It was it was, yeah. It, my my time was spent well over there. I, I like the people over there and yeah. It, it was, it was a, it was a good experience. And I've got, I, we may or may not still have one, one movie with Steve Corll over at Disney. It might be dead at this point. Charlie and I sold an idea for an updated Swiss family, Robinson to Disney. Right. Called called Brooklyn Family Robinson

    Michael Jamin (01:01:39):


    Vance DeGeneres (01:01:41):

    And oh, well, it was just a modern day version of the Family comes from Brooklyn. And and we, God, we probably have gone through four sets of writers over the years because we, we sold it while, while we still had Carousel open.

    Michael Jamin (01:02:02):

    But then why so many writers, like, what, what hap how does that work? Because you

    Vance DeGeneres (01:02:09):

    You, you, you write, you the writer writes the draft, you bring it to Disney. They say, Hey, this is fantastic. Right. Let's bring in another writer to do to it even better. Yes. right.


    <Laugh> and then the writer, you, you hire, you, you interview other writers. They give you different pitches on how we could make it even more fantastic. Right. you decide with Disney, okay, we'll, we'll, we'll pay this, this writer X amount to go off and write this new version. Right. they, they do that. In the meantime, this exec at Disney has been fired or left on their own. Yep. A new exec comes in that didn't know anything about this project. Right. You turn the script in and they say, this is really a fantastic script. Yeah. But why don't, why don't we bring in a different writer to, to let's try a little different,

    Michael Jamin (01:03:03):

    That way they can, the executive put their own stamp on it, basically.

    Vance DeGeneres (01:03:07):

    Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. And that happened you know, several times with, with this project. And it's unfortunate it would've, it would've been a fun project, but I think at this point, it's probably probably not gonna happen.

    Michael Jamin (01:03:22):

    The maddening thing is, most executives, they tend to take a stay the jobb two or three years and, you know, and then it's a shop price somewhere else when their deals up. And that's not a lot of time to, you got either right or needs six months to a year to do the work, <laugh> it doesn't leave a lot of time to get a green light. So it's really a, takes a miracle a little bit to get a movie made, you know?

    Vance DeGeneres (01:03:44):

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. And, and that, that was the thing with crazy Stupid Love that that was one of these, one of these movies that everything just fell into to place that just never, ever happens because we were supposed to be doing a, a Steve and Tina Faye movie.

    Michael Jamin (01:04:03):


    Vance DeGeneres (01:04:04):

    And Tina, right after the holiday break, Tina called and said, Hey, I have to turn in this, this book that I have to deliver the Bossy Pants book. Right. she said, I need to finish it, and we need to move the movie,

    Michael Jamin (01:04:21):


    Vance DeGeneres (01:04:21):

    That could come. So, yeah. So it was like, okay, well that's, that's a drag. Yeah. But we Dan Fogelman had written this, this script that he sent, sent to us right before the holidays. We really liked it. Warner of our brothers liked, they bought it. So when Tina said that it was like, well, what about the Dan Fogelman script? So it's like, yeah, sure. So that immediately went into pro into production, and we, we interviewed directors. We wound up hiring John and Glen and and got it shot within a few months after that everything just kind of fell into place.

    Michael Jamin (01:05:09):

    Did the, so the director didn't wanna rewrite on it often. They, they wanna rewrite on it.

    Vance DeGeneres (01:05:14):

    They loved the script that Dan had written, but worked with Dan to do a, a rewrite. They did a another pass on that and made it even better. And and then the casting just went, went great. We just happened to land, you know, the, like the perfect cast. And the shoot went, went well, and yeah, it was one of the, one of these dream projects that just doesn't happen.

    Michael Jamin (01:05:43):

    Were you on location the whole time for the shoot?

    Vance DeGeneres (01:05:46):

    You personally? No. We, we were all, we were at, at Warner Brothers on a couple of sound stages Oh. As well. As well as some locations. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (01:05:54):

    So, see, that's the thing. When people wanna be a screenwriter, there's a lot of, it's not gonna get made. Sometimes you'll maybe you get lucky and get made, but in my opinion, the goal is really just can I get paid to sit at a desk and write and do something creative as opposed to having a job that I don't like? And if it gets made, fantastic. If not, I can still do what I like doing all day, which is being creative and get getting paid for it, as opposed to like laying bricks or whatever, you know, that you don't wanna do. So, yeah.

    Vance DeGeneres (01:06:24):

    Yeah, yeah,

    Michael Jamin (01:06:25):

    Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. So

    Vance DeGeneres (01:06:28):

    I, I, I think basically, I, I, I mean, to sum it up, I've been really, really fortunate. I've been really lucky in my career that

    Michael Jamin (01:06:36):

    You've had many careers. That's the thing.

    Vance DeGeneres (01:06:38):

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. I, I, I've been lucky enough to, to kind of bounce back and forth between careers, so Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (01:06:46):

    Yeah. Yeah. Fair. A creative life fans, thank you so much for doing this. It, it is so great to catch up with you. Everyone go check

    Vance DeGeneres (01:06:54):

    Out. Oh, my pleasure.

    Michael Jamin (01:06:55):

    Go check out his, his band Light jackets everywhere. I I'm sure it's everywhere. Spotify, apple yeah. Yeah. Is on Google. You can do a Google search for it. Go listen to this, to music. It's wonderful. Thank you again so much. Don't go anywhere. I'm just gonna sign off and then, you know, that's it. All right, everyone, thank you so much. That was a great talk. Next, stay tuned for next time, more episodes dropping every Wednesday. All right. And be sure to sign up for all the, the stuff we have, I I give you to sign up. All right, everyone, thank you so much. Be well.

    Phil Hudson (01:07:25):

    This has been an episode of Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving your review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok at @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep riding.

    1h 7m | Apr 12, 2023
  • 075 - "Blades of Glory" Writer Dave Krinsky

    Are you a big fan of "Blades of Glory"? If so, don't miss out on this podcast episode featuring Dave Krinsky, "Blades of Glory" writer.

    Show Notes:

    Dave on Emmys: https://taylorwilliamson.com

    Dave's Wikipedia: https://www.instagram.com/taylorcomedy/

    Dave on IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2743976/

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Automated Transcript:

    Dave Krinsky (00:00):

    It's so funny in animation because we would do like a big, you know, Hank football. We'd do a big football episode with a lot of people in the crowd, and James would be like, okay, this is really streaming the animators. We can't do another big one next week. So next week we'd go, look, this is a very simple episode. It mostly takes place in the house. It's a very personal story between Hank and Bobby. He's like, Ooh, that's gonna strain the animators. It's gonna require a lot of acting <laugh>. Yeah. I'm like, ok. So wait, we can't do anything.

    Michael Jamin (00:25):

    You're listening to Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael, Janet.

    Michael Jamin (00:33):

    Hey everyone. Welcome back to Screenwriters. Need to hear this, the podcast. I got another amazing guest today. I'm here with my many, he's been my next guest, has been my boss on many occasions. He's been my friend on one occasion, <laugh>. And he's <laugh>. Here he is. Boy, this guy's got good credits. So this is Dave Krinsky and he's a feature writer, show creator. He ran King of the Hill for, what was it, eight years? Eight seasons we

    Dave Krinsky (00:59):

    Ran. Yeah, I think maybe seven. I can never quite keep track.

    Michael Jamin (01:02):

    Felt like eight. Right? He was a show runner, king of Hill for, for many seasons, but a writer on, I think you wrote on every single season, didn't you?

    Dave Krinsky (01:08):

    Yeah, we came in right after the first season had just aired. Right. So they were still rewriting and posting season one and starting writing season two,

    Michael Jamin (01:18):

    Jump and right in. And then also, we're gonna talk about everything, but I wanna give you a proper introduction. We wrote, co-wrote with his partner, blades of Glory. They ran a, a show called Lopez, which i, I worked on for a little bit. CRO created Silicon Valley. I've heard of that show. Also the Good Family that was a b c animated show ran Bebes and Butthead for a while executive produced movie called Extract. What, what else, what else did you, you did a lot of stuff, man,

    Dave Krinsky (01:46):

    Lady Glory. Did you mention that? Wait,

    Michael Jamin (01:48):

    I thought I said that. Didn't I not say

    Dave Krinsky (01:49):

    That? Yeah, you did. I tuned you out, Don Point. I've learned to tune you out early, so

    Michael Jamin (01:53):

    <Laugh>, but man, oh man, I wa how, but you also said, when we were chatting before we started recording, that you did a lot of movie rewr. I didn't even know you guys did other movie rewrites.

    Dave Krinsky (02:03):

    Yeah. So when we first came out, this was back, you know, like nineties. You really had to decide where you were. A movie writer, a TV writer. The agents didn't even talk to each other. So we had come out with some movie scripts. We just thought that was sort of the easiest way to break in. Right. And we had ended up selling a couple, we sold one to Warner Brothers. It was they bought it for Chevy Chase. And yeah. Then we got fired

    Michael Jamin (02:26):

    And they didn't make up obviously cause

    Dave Krinsky (02:28):

    They, they didn't make it. We got fired and they hired someone else to rewrite. And our agent goes, that's great news. And I'm like, how's that? Great news? They go, it's not dead. If they're hiring someone else to rewrite it. And it was kind of an a-list writer, then that means it's still alive. But it ended up not getting made, although it's sort of, Ben made a few times because it was a very broad idea about a guy who, you know how we only use 10% of our brain's potential, right. While these scientists developed this serum that unlocked the other 90% instead of being injected in a, you know, good upstanding citizen like Michael Jamin. And it gets in, injected in this doofus Chevy Chase who basically becomes this like throbbing organi organism. He's got 10 times the site and after the hearing 10 times the athletic ability. So he is trying to like, make money and become famous with it.

    Michael Jamin (03:09):

    But So he was attached before there was a director or No.

    Dave Krinsky (03:12):

    So there was never even a director manager. He was attached, like Chevy Chase had a deal at Warner Brothers and Warner was looking for movies for him. So this, and then those days they were buying spec scripts left and right. Right. So they bought that from us and we spent like a long time rewriting it.

    Michael Jamin (03:26):

    So he was giving you the notes on what he wanted?

    Dave Krinsky (03:29):

    No, we never even met with him. I think, you know, I don't even know if you ever heard of it, to be honest, it really wasn't those days, Uhhuh <affirmative>, if you wanted a Chevy reputation movie, you bought 10 or 12 scripts and you developed until you found one that you wanted to do and brought to him.

    Michael Jamin (03:41):

    So you were dealing with his development people.

    Dave Krinsky (03:43):

    We were just dealing with Warner Brothers, Warner Brothers, and the producer. So the way it worked back then, and maybe they still did now, but the spec script market isn't really strong anymore. You would go to your agent with a spec and they'd go, okay, we're gonna send it to X producer who has a deal at Paramount and y producer who has a good relationship with Warner Brothers. And we're gonna, they're gonna go to the studios all on the same weekend and let 'em know. They have to decide. And then hopefully you get at least two offers so that you're playing 'em against each other. And that particular, we only got one from Warner Brothers, so the producer on the project we never even met until Warner Brothers had bought it. So then the producer, and it's a weird deal because we actually had a better relationship with the execs at Warner Brothers than we did with the producer. Like, we like their nodes better. So it's a weird political dynamic that you had to deal with. But we ended up selling a couple of projects that way that didn't get made. But ultimately when Blades of Gloria got made, then it was a ton of rewrite work. 

    Michael Jamin (04:42):

    And then, but this was, this was during King of the Hill.

    Dave Krinsky (04:45):

    Bla Glory was during King of the Hill. I mean, we were doing our movie stuff before King of the Hill started. And, and we started looking around, you know, we sold stuff, but we weren't, we were, John and I were still sharing an apartment in Burbank and I was driving a car with no air conditioning. And I looked over at some of my buddies like Bill Martin, who was like buying a house and buying a nice car. And those guys were all on tv. And John and I were like, well, maybe we should, I mean, we always wanted to do tv but our agents just you, no, you're movie writers. So we ended up writing some TV specs scripts and then ended up getting a job in tv. But, so we were writing specs scripts, we were get assignments occasionally, or we would pitch on something, but it wasn't until Bla Glory that really was like, oh, okay, now we're getting a ton of movie rewrite.

    Michael Jamin (05:29):

    And then how did you know Bill Martin? Would you go to, did you go to college with him?

    Dave Krinsky (05:31):

    Yeah, we went to college together. So it was weird. It was like, it was me, John Bill, Peyton Reid, who directed all the Aunt Man movies. This guy John Schultz, who directed like Mike. And it was like we all kind of moved out here at the same time to try to pursue the business.

    Michael Jamin (05:46):

    Wow. I didn't even know that. And then, well, so was your, when did you decide that you wanted to be a writer? Like in high school or something?

    Dave Krinsky (05:53):

    Pretty much, I mean, I, I, this is make me sound really cool but I loved reading as a kid. I loved, you know, books. And I just loved when a story really impacted me and made me think. I was like, wow, that's a cool sort of power to have over people, to influence 'em that way. So since the time I was like 12, 13, I thought about it. And then in high school we had to write a short story for an English class. And I wrote this kind of science fiction funny story, and the teacher, you know, wrote a plus, what are you gonna do with this gift? And I was like, oh, I guess it actually could be a job. Right. So,

    Michael Jamin (06:24):

    But you think that it could be a job? Like I didn't, that didn't occur to me until I was older that you could make money in tv.

    Dave Krinsky (06:29):

    <Laugh>. Well, you know what I was thinking I'd be a book writer and so I went to Carolina cause I knew they had a strong English department. I took all the creative writing classes there. And since I didn't wanna really do anything else, I took whatever course I find. So screenwriting was one. Playwriting was one. And after I met John Alsk and my partner and, and David Palmer, who I worked with out here a bit.

    Michael Jamin (06:50):

    Wow. You were serious about it. Did you have to apply to those programs?

    Dave Krinsky (06:53):

    You know? Yeah, no, I mean, I, I was in the, I got accepted to the honors program, which was what I had applied for. And because of that I got to get into some of the writing classes I wouldn't have had access to anyway.

    Michael Jamin (07:05):

    So this is all or nothing for you? I mean, you, I mean, there was no plan B

    Dave Krinsky (07:09):

    Well I, you know, my mom was always like, Ryan, you go to law school, you have something to fall back on. But I knew if I something to fall back and I'd probably fall back on it, you know? And, and it took us a while to get su you know, really established with Point. I could get rid of that crappy car with the o ac ac in the apartment with the oac. But if I had had the ability or the degree to do anything else, I probably would've bailed on the writing dream earlier.

    Michael Jamin (07:32):

    Right. Wow. And then, and then, so eventually you just had to move into tv and then how, I know, how did you get your first gig?

    Dave Krinsky (07:40):

    So we decided to move tv. We wrote a couple of spec scripts and I think it was Bill Martin who said, oh, you should meet Carolyn Strauss over at hbo o And Carolyn of course was, you know, at the vanguard of starting H B O when it was, yeah.

    Michael Jamin (07:54):

    Wait, he's setting up meetings for you? Like, he's like your agent now, bill? No,

    Dave Krinsky (07:57):

    It really was one of those things where it was like, we're like, Hey, we wanna get into TV doing, he goes, oh, well you should meet Ke Strauss. We like Hershey's really cool. And I think he might have told her, oh, you should meet these guys. Okay. And so we had a general with her and which was a good lesson. It was like, you know, I think we always had something to pitch. We always knew a general, everybody, you know, wants something. I can't remember if we pitched anything too specifically or not. Cuz in movies you always want to pitch an idea. Sometimes in TV it really is just a general Yeah. To see what you know. But, you know, it was a great meeting and nothing came of it. And then like nine months later we got a call from her and she goes, look, we're doing a show.


     The showrunner really wants movie guys doesn't want like, just TV sitcom guys. Wow. And I thought of you guys, you, you look, look at the pilot, they shot a pilot and they sent the pilot over. It was a black and white period single camera show. David Ledon was the executive producer. Adam Resnick was the showrunner, the creator. And it was awesome. It was like the Cohen Brothers really dark funny. And we were like, yeah. So she set up a call with us. We talked to Adam for like an hour and a half, mostly about Goodfellas and the Godfather and just movies. And then they called us up, <inaudible> goes, look, will you the show's in New York, will you move there? And we're like, yeah, we'll move there. She goes, okay, three or four days, can you move? And we're like, yeah, what do we don't have? I don't even think we had a plant in our place, you know, our fresh food. So we moved to

    Michael Jamin (09:18):

    New York. And you got outta your rent You? Or do you

    Dave Krinsky (09:20):

    Remember? We sublet Cause it was a, I think it was a 10 episode order that became an eight episode order, which is now, you know, the norm. But then was like, okay, so we're only gonna be there probably nine months of production. So we figured why give up our place.

    Michael Jamin (09:34):

    Do you think if it wasn't a good show, you would've taken, if it was a bad show, you would've taken the author?

    Dave Krinsky (09:40):

    Oh, that's a good question. You know, probably not, you know, before this happened, we were in the movie biz. We, we had a meeting with Polly Shore, right. And Polly was manager was in the meeting and his manager was a gentleman named Michael Rotenberg, who is now my manager. And, and Michael and and Sea have, you know, all

    Michael Jamin (09:59):

    Times he's our dealt with

    Dave Krinsky (10:00):

    Them. He was an executor on King of the Hill. So this was before King of the Hill even. And we pitched Polly the new line, wanted to do a movie where Pauly basically, they sound of mu they wanted him to be a nanny. And we pitched like Sound of Music with Polly going around Europe and Polly was as insulting and, and, and just not a good collaborate. He was just say, Hey, who are these greasy weasels? And you know, he just goes, no, just turn the camera on and I'll be funny. And we're like, okay. But John I think had like $93 in this bank account and I might have had a little bit more. And they offered it to us and we were like, this could be our career right. Path that we don't want to be on. And we turned it down. So I think if it was a crappy show, we probably would've turned it down too.

    Michael Jamin (10:45):

    Right. Wow. You turned it down. Cuz I, you know, now you, I think now you take anything you forget

    Dave Krinsky (10:50):

    <Laugh>. Yeah, well certainly

    Michael Jamin (10:51):

    It's not you, but one, one does. Right.

    Dave Krinsky (10:53):

    And it's not a bad, it's not bad advice. You gotta get in the game, you know? So we had already been in the game just enough that it wasn't like we were completely unknown. We had anything produced, so we certainly weren't a hot commodity. Right. But we really felt like, oh, this could just pigeonhole us. And it was interesting because our agent was like, okay, if you don't wanna do it, fine, but we don't really want to be rude and turn it down, so we're gonna ask for way more money than they'll ever pay you. Right. So they went and asked for like $400,000 and they were furious anyway. They're like, who the hell do you think you are asking anymore? It's just like, sorry, we just don't wanna do it. So. Right.

    Michael Jamin (11:31):

    How funny, did you, were you, when you first got on King of the, or I guess not, well I guess, you know, on Resnick's show, were you, did you, did you find it over? You were in over your head? I mean, that's how I felt when we started.

    Dave Krinsky (11:42):

    Oh yeah. Because I was always that one of those writers, and I'm sure there's plenty like that. I'm like, I don't even in college where you had to like, give your scr your scripts or your stories to people to read. I'm like, I don't wanna do this. You know? Cause I just didn't have the confidence or faith in myself. So we got to New York and we were working at a Letterman's theater. And Adam's great. I mean, he is the nicest guy. He's a super small staff. There's this John and I, this other team and this guy Vince Calandra. Right. And I just remember like sitting in the writer's room, not saying a word because I was like, I don't wanna say the wrong thing and look like an idiot. And, and in all honesty, when I got to King of the Hill, I looked around, I was like, I recognize names from seeing him on The Simpsons and you know, my judge of course. And I was inhibited there too. And I barely pitched, I think for the first couple of months I was there.

    Michael Jamin (12:30):

    Really. And then what was the moment when you felt like you could, you could test the waters?

    Dave Krinsky (12:36):

    Well, what happened was, I was just hanging out enough, like, so in the lunchroom, you know, I got to be friendly with people and people go out for a drink and then it suddenly was a social thing. And I was comfortable in that and I could start being funny that way. So by the time I got back to the room after a couple of months, it was kind of like, oh, I was just bull bullshitting with my friends, you know? And it was much easier to pitch because Right. It felt safer,

    Michael Jamin (13:00):

    Felt sa because I even remember on Kingley we had some interns, people would sit in <laugh> pitching and I'm like, how did they get over their fear of pitching when they haven't been hired as a writer? <Laugh>.

    Dave Krinsky (13:10):

    Yeah. I mean, and it, it's a good question for young writers and, and I'm teaching a class down at Chapman now and, and I'm like, it's a tricky situation when you're a new writer, you want to talk cuz you want to prove you're mm-hmm. <Affirmative> worthy. But if you talk too much or talk poorly Yeah. It doesn't do you any good. And it really, in my opinion, when as a showrunner, I would rather you be quiet and sort of take it all in and pitch very occasionally, then feel like you've gotta pitch stuff that ends up derailing the room.

    Michael Jamin (13:40):

    You know, I, I totally agree with you. The one thing I've said, cause I think a new, let's say there's 10 writers in a room, and a staff writer often thinks, well I better speak a 10th of the time because I'm, there's 10 people here, but they're not getting paid a 10th. They're not getting paid as much as the co-executive producer. They don't have to contribute as much. You know?

    Dave Krinsky (13:56):

    Yeah. And it's not expected. Like, I've seen plenty of horrible showrunners who are punitive and, you know, they don't make it easy for a staff writer and they're happy to fire a staff writer every season and try someone else. But John, I have always been like, look, we're gonna bring you on board. We're gonna be patient with you. You know, it's like, it's not an easy position to be in. And, and when you're a showrunner, all you want is someone to make your life easier. And if a staff writer makes your life easier one time in a season, it's almost like, okay, you know what? I got something outta you. Great. What

    Michael Jamin (14:27):

    About that leap from, cuz I was there for that. You were, I guess it was season 60 started running it, is that right?

    Dave Krinsky (14:35):

    Yeah, six seven was our first official year running here. Billy,

    Michael Jamin (14:38):

    What was it like for you making the le because you know, everyone, you always think, I could do this job, I could do the job better than my boss. And then you become the boss and you're like, wait a minute, this is hard.

    Dave Krinsky (14:47):

    Yeah. Well I remember when on that Resnik show, there was a consultant there, and he told us, he goes, the punishment for writing well is producing. And it's like, you know, you work your way up and you become a producer and suddenly Yeah. You're managing people, you're dealing with all the politics, the budget. And I think the, the biggest thing that happened to me was we were working, and I can't remember if you were in the room or not. Do you remember Collier's episode about that Michael Keaton did? What The Pig the Pigs are? Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (15:15):

    I was there for probably, we probably got there for the animatic part of it. So we were didn't great it

    Dave Krinsky (15:20):

    Okay. So it was a really weird story and Collier's a great writer, but this was one that was trouble from the get go just because it was so bizarre. Yes. And and I remember we were working super late trying to get to it and, and I think Richard Chappelle was running the, the show at that point. And he and Greg were developing a show and they left the room and everybody left the room. There was like four of us in there, and I think Greg or Rich Dave, you get on the computer and I and King of the Hill, the room, it wasn't like a conference room, it was like a big, almost like living room with a Yeah. Scattered room. One person sat there, it kind of ran the room. We didn't have the screen showing the script, which I never liked anyway. And I was like, I don't think I can run a room. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And I got up there and I was just like, you know, I just did what I had to do. And I remember we, you know, spent a few hours, it was late night and we kind of like gave the script rich and Greg, and they came and got, this is great, this is working. And it was like, oh gee, so I guess I can do it. Right.

    Dave Krinsky (16:15):

    So when we took over the show, yeah. I mean it definitely was like, you, so many things were harder than you would think, but some were easier too. I remember the other showrunners before we run the show would come back from pitching the story. So the network, and they go, well, we sold six outta seven of 'em. So, you know, it wasn't easy. And then when we started pitching to the network, you know, the show had been on for six, seven years. They were like, okay, good. It was like, oh, this isn't that hard. Right. The hard parts were, you know, managing the budget, managing people, managing writers, dealing with the network.

    Michael Jamin (16:47):

    How much budget were you dealing with? Like, what were you, how big was it? Like, were you what? No, I mean, like what, what exactly were you doing? You know? Oh, yeah, because I, I don't really touch the, when we were running stuff, we don't really touch the budgets, but

    Dave Krinsky (16:58):

    What do you, oh, so I mean, first it was the writer's budget, which every year was like, yeah, okay. Like, who can we afford to pay? But I mean, a lot of it, you'll remember our, our line producer McKinsey would walk in and be like, you know what? Last episode had a football crowd and this episode you want to do, you know, whatever a a crowd scene at the school, we can't afford that. The budget won't. Right. You know, so a lot of it was making creative decisions based on the limitations. Although it's so funny in animation because we would do like a big, you know, Hank football, we do a big football episode with a lot of people in the crowd and Jims like, okay, this is really streaming the animators. We can't do another big one next week. So next week we'd go, look, this is a very simple episode. It mostly takes place in the house. It's a very personal story between Hank and Bobby. And he's like, Ooh, that's gonna strain the animators. It's gonna require a lot of acting <laugh>. Yeah. Like, ok, so wait, we can't do anything

    Michael Jamin (17:52):

    <Laugh>. There's always a reason. That's right. There's always a reason why you're gonna ruin the show,

    Dave Krinsky (17:57):

    The bank.

    Michael Jamin (17:58):

    Wow. That's so, and now and then so what ha, so then after King of the Hill, which you guys did for many years, then it went down and they then went down for, I was probably a couple years it went down. Right.

    Dave Krinsky (18:10):

    I don't remember if it was a couple years because Yeah. So the show did not get picked up. Right. And then they moved John and I and Clarissa assistant onto the lot, into this crummy little office to finish posting the shows. Right. And so we were there posting the shows and we never left. I mean, by the time we, we, it's not like we were like home and done before we left there. They, they picked the show up again for another run.

    Michael Jamin (18:38):

    What was the thinking behind canceling and then picking it up again? Like why?

    Dave Krinsky (18:42):

    From what I hear Uhhuh, it's so, you know, Fox Network ran the show. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, 20th Century Fox was the studio who owned the show. Right. And apparently the, the heads of the studio got big bonuses when they got new shows on the air that were successful. So they weren't making a ton of money.

    Michael Jamin (19:05):


    Dave Krinsky (19:06):

    Personally. And the other thing, apparently they owned and operated cuz everything was syndicated. You know, in those days the package was so high for them to pay. As the show got on that they were like, wow, we gotta renegotiate this deal. So when everybody started renegotiating, it seemed like, okay, let's not do it. And then ultimately, I bet it was Aria Emmanuel fought for, cuz he was always fighting for it. But, or maybe it was Rotenberg, but yes, that's whatever they just decided. Okay. They made a deal and picked us back up again.

    Michael Jamin (19:34):

    And at that point it was, it was a lot of new writers, well most of the writers had moved on, but you were still on the show. So the cause you kind of restarted the staff was almost, as I remember it was almost almost brand new. There was only a couple pre previous writers, like Christie Stratton was there,

    Dave Krinsky (19:51):

    I think Christie was there, kit was there, kit Balls, Garland

    Michael Jamin (19:54):

    Garland was there. Sure. Okay.

    Dave Krinsky (19:56):

    Yeah. So there was definitely a core group. I remember like, I can't remember Tony and Becky came on. Right. I don't remember if that was before that or not. So I think enough people, it might have been like, nowadays there's not really a staffing season, but I think it might have been during a non-st staffing season that enough people hadn't landed somewhere that we could get, get him back.

    Michael Jamin (20:15):

    Right, right. And then after that, you guys did The Good Family?

    Dave Krinsky (20:20):

    Yeah. So that was another, you know, people wanted an animated show from us. We had, you know, we'd gotten very close to Mike on King of the Hill. So started working together a lot with him. And we had this, this show The Good Family about a very you know, PC family, sort of the opposite of Hank Hill. And I just remember, you know, everybody was like, okay, take it to Fox and it'll run for forever. And it was just like, we just wanted to do things differently. And m r c and Independent, you know, studio had came out, came after us pretty hard and said, no, we want to do this deal. We can finance it and, and you can have a better upside and more freedom and Okay. So we decided to do it and we pitched it around and a B C just made such a hard press for it.

    Michael Jamin (21:03):


    Dave Krinsky (21:03):

    Wow. And yeah. And it turns out they weren't the best partners simply because they didn't have any animation on. Right. They put us on with a really bad animated show, like after Wipe Out or something. It was just like not a good fit. Right. So, but it ends up, you know, the bottom fell outta the industry right after that cuz Rotenberg would call us up and goes, you know, your numbers would be a top 10 show like within two years. Right. We would've been like, fine. But at that moment just wasn't good enough numbers.

    Michael Jamin (21:30):

    And then, and then came, then they brought back Beavis and Butthead, which you guys ran, which was so interesting cuz that was a whole different experience that, that was all freelance. That's why you guys called us, Hey, you wanna write a briefs and Butthead? We're like, yeah, we'll do that.

    Dave Krinsky (21:43):

    Yeah. I mean, who wouldn't wanna have an opportunity do that? Right. Yeah. So Mike, they've always begging Mike to bring it back and he was always like, yeah, the situation has to be right. And he just felt like the timing was right. And he had some stories he wanted to tell and he loves doing them. I mean Yeah. You know, as he always said, king of the Hill requires a ton of effort for a little bit of output. Bvis requires a little bit of input for a ton of output. You know, people just love it and it's funny. Yeah. so yeah, so I mean, the budgets weren't super high and we couldn't license music anymore. I mean, and when Mike originally did it, it was all music videos because M T V owned all those videos. Right. But the world had changed so suddenly we were doing Jersey Shore and, and a lot of other like, reality shows. Cause that was the only sort of material we could get mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. 

    Michael Jamin (22:29):

    Yeah. But we, that's, we did like, because I remember we brought, you guys brought us in, there's a, there was a woman, a couple women in Detroit, it was so cold in the deed, had a song so cold in the deed. Cold

    Dave Krinsky (22:40):

    In the de Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (22:41):

    And I don't remember how it happened, but I, I think I commented on on her, maybe on her YouTube channel or something. I go, this is a great song. And she went with nuts. She's like, oh, thank you so much, <laugh>. She's, so, yeah,

    Dave Krinsky (22:53):

    It was a weird sort of viral head, I think almost before things really went viral. And it was just like a homemade video about, you know, living in Detroit and 

    Michael Jamin (23:01):

    And how did you find all that stuff?

    Dave Krinsky (23:03):

    Mike had found it and just thought it was really funny and really interesting. And so

    Michael Jamin (23:06):

    He was just surfing the internet looking for like, real cheap stuff that he could get.

    Dave Krinsky (23:11):

    I don't even think it was like with an eye toward Bes, but he also was in this little network of like, Knoxville and Spike Jones. They all like send each other stuff. So I don't know where he got it from, but I think he just saw it. And, and, and you know what, I, I don't know, he's never said, but that might have been. But just to bring Bes back <laugh> where he is just like, oh my God, they'd have so much fun with this.

    Michael Jamin (23:30):

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Michael Jamin (23:54):

    And then okay. So then what, what came after that?

    Dave Krinsky (23:58):

    So yeah, blades of Glory was in the middle of the King of the Hill era. Right. and then I guess Silicon Valley really would be the, the next big thing that,

    Michael Jamin (24:10):

    And Okay. How did you guys come up with that idea? Which is a pretty big hit.

    Dave Krinsky (24:15):

    Yeah. So that was an interesting confluence of events where Mike had been in talks with H B O, they really wanted to do something with him. And Scott Rudin wanted to do something in sort of the gaming space. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So they were sort of circling around this tech world. And Mike's like, I'm not a gamer. I don't know that well, but Mike was an engineer, you know, electrical engineer, so he knew, you know that world well. Yeah. but John was reading the, the Steve Jobs book by Walter Isaacson and saw this quote in the book where it's like Bill Gates was making fun of Steve Jobs goes, he can't even code.

    Michael Jamin (24:48):


    Dave Krinsky (24:49):

    So John had this idea. He goes, well that's a really funny world. And his, his brother was an electric engineer, so he knew that world as well. And you know, so we pitched an idea to Mike doing something that Mike goes, well, I would love to do that. So then when we pitched it to H B O, they were like, yeah, this sounds great.

    Michael Jamin (25:04):

    Sorry. Right. So you wrote the pilot shot it and you were, and then like what people don't understand is like the process for shooting a pilot or, you know, like it's a big deal. It's like a lot of work. It's like even casting is a lot of work.

    Dave Krinsky (25:18):

    Yeah. And it, it was a lot of work and, and you know, there's a lot of round, I mean, after to, you know, really it was pretty high on it even after our first draft. It felt like it was gonna move in the right direction. And I do remember them calling him saying, okay, we wanna shoot a pilot mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. and we had just done a show for Nat Geo before this where the budgets, the budgets were, you know, very low. I can't remember what they were, but, so HBO calls saying, you know, look, the pilot's gotta, the budget's gotta have like a four or five in front of it and we're like 400, 500 grands <laugh> ton, but we can probably do it. It was like, no, no, no. Four or 5 million, million


    <laugh>. And they, they actually forced us to go up to Silicon Valley to shoot for a few days, bring the whole company up and we're like, there's nothing up there. We can shoot this in la. You know, and we ended up shooting like on the side of a freeway and we had a couple establishing shots of Google and Facebook and Right. And stuff. But, you know, HBO does things and they want it to be authentic so you know, all the credit in the world to them. Right. and then, yeah. Then when we did an edit, it was interesting cuz the pilot to Silicon Valley has a very big subplot of these two women in LA who are tired of the LA scene and they go up to Silicon Valley cuz the guys are rich and nice and and nerdy. And they meet our heroes in the first episode. And h HP was like, yeah, you know, we don't want this storyline. We don't think we need it. So those poor actresses got cut out

    Michael Jamin (26:37):


    Dave Krinsky (26:37):

    <Affirmative> and yeah. Crushing. Crushing. Yeah. It's gotta be, gotta be tough to see a show be that and you're,

    Michael Jamin (26:44):

    And you were cut out of it. Yeah. Yeah. What now when you, I know you, you teach at Chapman, it's so interesting cuz some people are like, is film school worth it? It's like, it depends on who you get as your teacher. Like, honestly, it's like it, you know and I'm sure they're very lucky to have you. What do you, you know, what is it, what's it like with these kids? You know, what are you teaching them? What are, where are they coming from, I guess?

    Dave Krinsky (27:06):

    Yeah, so the class is writing for adult animation. So, you know, half hour animation was like King of the Hill and, and, and things like that. But you know, as you well know, writing for animation is very similar to writing for anything. You know, it, it really is. You still need your three x structure and everything you can just go a little crazier with with things. And yeah, I asked them all, you know, beginning, because it, a lot of people still ask me, is it worth going to film school? Look, film school's expensive if you can afford it. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, it's not a bad thing. And I think what these kids are getting, and I said kids, but a lot of 'em are in their twenties. I think one's in his thirties, Uhhuh, <affirmative>. They're writing constantly. Someone's making to, that's good.


    They're in LA so they're exposed to people, you know, not Pam or something, but like me who have done it in the business. We're not just academics who have published books about things. You know, and, and you know, you know, Brian Behar is down there, there's a bunch of Jill Con, there's a bunch of people down there who are like, done stuff. And last week or the other day, Damon, the guy who did La La Land, I can never say his last name in Whiplash. Yeah. He was speaking tonight. Austin Butler's speaking. Like, they just have a ton of people coming through. So you have exposure to all these people who have done things. Yeah. You also have connections that, you know, if you don't go to film till you just have to move to LA and try to, you know, try to build yourself. So yeah. So I think it's a, it's a good thing if you can afford it. If you can't afford it, it is not, it is not worth stretching to do it because, you know, we moved to LA and we started networking and meeting people and kept writing and, you know, that's really how most people do it. Do

    Michael Jamin (28:40):

    You feel you have to beat misconceptions out of them? You know,

    Dave Krinsky (28:45):

    I think this is my first class and I'm teaching second year grad students. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, so they're fairly savvy.

    Michael Jamin (28:53):


    Dave Krinsky (28:54):

    I think they've been exposed to it enough that there's not a ton of misconceptions, but there are big gaps in their knowledge. Just, you know, as it would be with anybody who, who hasn't been in the business. So, look, I teach them things about structure. Things like things they've probably heard before, but in ways that, you know, I, here's mistakes I've made before. You know, having a scene have to carry double duty and a half hour show is really difficult cause you have to change gears within the middle of a scene. You know, keep it simple. So things like that, I should, but they definitely light up more to my more anecdotal stories. Like, what's it like to be in the room? What's it like to work for a showrunner who's, you know, marginalizing you. What I remember I talked to the other day, I go, yeah, so we have this if come deal. And I could say, I go, wait, do you guys know what NIF come deal is? And they're like, no. I was like, oh, okay. Well let me explain that. So Right.

    Michael Jamin (29:45):

    What do you tell 'em about the showrunners? Who, who, who marginalized you? What's your, what's your advice on that? I wanna hear it.

    Dave Krinsky (29:51):

    Yeah, <laugh> you know, it's just tough. I mean, I just keep stressing to them that most showrunners are under so much pressure and stress. All they want is someone to make their life easier. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So, you know, the better you can do that, you know, the better off you'll be. And sometimes it's uncomfortable, but you need, like you, well I guess you weren't there at the beginning, but the king of the hill, you know, Greg was running the show and he had so many things you were on, so he was barely in the room. Right. So you didn't really know what he wanted. You didn't know if your story was gonna work. So if you saw em in the break room or saw em in the hallway, you would be like, Hey Greg, this is what we're doing. You know, you try to get feedback from em.


    So that's what I tell them. I go do get as much from the showrunner as you can. And some of them won't give you anything as they're not rooting for you to succeed, but get as much as you can from them when you can, because it doesn't do you any good to try to figure out what they're doing. I mean, you have to do that to some level. The more you know what they want. And that's why I tell these, you know, these kids are doing beat sheets and outlines. I'm like, be as specific as you can. Don't cheat yourself because I'm gonna read stuff you gloss over and go, oh, I guess they know what they're doing. Right. And then when you gimme a script and I'm like, wait, what if you had done that in your outline? I could have pointed it out at that stage.

    Michael Jamin (31:06):

    Right, exactly. And when you say, cause when you say you know, you just helped the showrunner out, like, to me, what I want as a showrunner, what I, I just want a draft that doesn't need a page one rewrite. That's how I feel. I mean, is that what you're talking about?

    Dave Krinsky (31:20):

    Pretty much, yeah. I mean, or look, if you're someone who can, who can, you know, have the joke or the story fix in the room that gets you all home sooner, then that's fine too. I mean, you know, I mean, at King of the Hill we had such a big staff, it's an animated show. There were people who turned in great drafts. There were people who weren't great draft fighters, where were great in the room. You know, so in those days you could build a big enough team that, you know, you could have a pinch hitter and a utility field or designated here. Now the staff are so small, you really do want someone, but you're right. I mean, to get that draft mm-hmm. <Affirmative> that needs a ton of work, you're like, okay, this sets us back so much on everything else now we can't, now I can't be in the editing room now. We can't push that next week's story forward. It's like, now we gotta dig in on this one.

    Michael Jamin (32:03):

    And, and what, what is, I mean that's exactly, yeah, that's exactly the panic that I, I I used to feel. But what did you, what is the advice, like, cause the industry's really changing so fast now. Like what is the advice you give these kids get out of film school in order to get into the business?

    Dave Krinsky (32:20):

    Yeah. I te look, it's tough. You know, I always try not to be too negative about it because it's always been tough. It's just tough in a different way. Right. you know what I tell them is like, look, the movie business is extraordinarily difficult. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So if you want to be a movie writer, that's fine. But, you know, I urge them like, TV seems to be a cleaner path. Yeah. It used to be with movies, at least you could write a spec at some control where TV had to hope somebody hired you. So now, you know, I say, look, if you have a good movie idea, think about it as a series because, you know, a-list actors are all doing tv. You know, there's a, there's, and obviously TV is in a, isn't a great state right now with just the quality of it. Yeah. but yeah, I mean, you really do just have to, the basics are right, right, right. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and network, you gotta be in LA you gotta be hitting all the places because you never know. Look, that meeting with Carolyn Strauss, we had like, it was a good meeting. It wasn't like, ah, we've made it, we've met Carolyn Strauss and it wasn't until nine months later that something on the game of it. Right.

    Michael Jamin (33:19):

    Right. So it's really about getting in those circles.

    Dave Krinsky (33:21):


    Michael Jamin (33:22):

    Yeah. I mean I, yeah, I remember people say that all times. Do I have to be in la? I'm like, you don't have to do anything you don't want, but you know, this is where the fish swim. You know?

    Dave Krinsky (33:32):

    Yeah. I mean the, the thing is, and I think you've probably said for, it's like the material doesn't really speak for itself. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, like in movies, it used to like a good specs script would find, you know, a, a buyer mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, now there's very few ideas that someone's gonna go, well, I don't care who this comes from, I want to do it. You know, and there's, there's very few scripts that are good enough that any anybody's gonna be like, I'm gonna put this on the air. It happens. They are out there. But the vast majority of the time it's, I've been hanging out, I've been going to, you know, upright citizens for grade. I've been going, oh, I've been helping out on a student film. Right. Hey, that kid I helped out is now on the desk at uta. Does UTA even exists anymore? I don't know. You know, my

    Michael Jamin (34:15):

    Agent? Yeah. I'm not sure.

    Dave Krinsky (34:15):

    Yeah. It's c aa and it's like, you know what, he wants to be an agent, so he's trying to hustle. So he's gonna hand the script over to, and suddenly you have a meeting, you know, with an agent, a real agent. So that's how it mo mostly happens. And you gotta be in LA for that.

    Michael Jamin (34:30):

    Yeah, exactly. That's how I feel.

    Dave Krinsky (34:33):


    Michael Jamin (34:34):

    So what now I know you also, oh, I wanna mention your, your book. Is it you, you and John, your partner are of the, like, of all the writing teams I've known, even writers I've known, like you guys are the most entrepreneurial, it seems like you, like, you know, there nothing, there's a, there's a path to do it and then there's always like, well let's figure out how else we can do them. You know, you're always like the hustle doesn't end and it's create, it's always like creating opportunities for yourself.

    Dave Krinsky (34:59):

    Yeah, I mean certainly. And John's much, much better at that than, I mean he has a very entrepreneurial spirit and I enjoy it though. I like doing things differently. But he's very innovative in the way he thinks he's been in Europe for since, for Covid and for a lot of that. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> just, you know, kicking the tires in the international market and making some headway there. But like, I remember like a couple of years ago we hooked up and were producing this writer who had done a academy award, docu a nominated documentary, and he had a half hour sitcom and he was he was crypt camp, so he was in a wheelchair and it was a character was about his story. And it was a really cool story. And Obama's company was attached to it. And it was like, this is a great, I mean it's a great script, great project, you know, and we go to Netflix a Zoom pitch and they literally were like this.


    But as soon as the camera came on, you're like, okay, this isn't gonna be a sale. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I mean, we knew it from the get go. Good lesson is you still pitch your heart out cuz you don't wanna ever have to blame yourself. If they don't buy it, they don't buy it. But so was like, what, you know, it's a great pro. Everything was great about it, but you don't know what they want and you just have so little control. So as we say, like shopping around town with our briefcase full of wears like Willie Loman is just not an appealing thing. So, you know, John had met this, this Irish actor, a guy named Richie Stevens, and he was pitching a friend's story and you know, that story wasn't quite hooking John. And then Richie started telling him about his own life and he was a recovered alcoholic drug addict gangster.


    Right. And he is like, oh, that's interesting me, I want you to meet Dave. So we all sat down together, I'm like, I just had a fascinating life, a fascinating story. Like that's a great story to tell. Right. And and it was John's idea too. He was like, rich, you did the 12 steps of, you know, recovery. And he goes, yeah. He goes, let's tell your story in 12 steps. And that lends itself to a very nice TV show. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. But we were like, do we really want to go pitch a TV show? And so we said, you know what if we could write this as a book, cuz it lends itself to a book really. Well, 12 chapters. The 12 steps. Right. And I always wanted to write a book from the time I was 12, you know but then we'd have an IP and Hollywood loves an ip, you know, they love it If it's a,

    Michael Jamin (37:12):

    You still had to pitch it as a book. I mean you still have to pitch cuz you had to pitch it as a

    Dave Krinsky (37:15):

    Book. Yeah. It's not like that's an easy path either. Yeah. But look, we had been out here long enough, we knew, you know, Jake Steinfeld Body by Jake who had published several successful books. He goes, well let me introduce you to my book agent. She publishes a lot of nonfiction authors. We'd pitched to her, she said, okay, this is a good hook. I think I can sell it. She turned around and sold it to a publisher. So then, you know, then we wrote the book, which took a while, but it's like now we have a book, which is an ip, which we can set up and we have much more control over it. Yeah. And we're making very good headway and setting it up as a TV show now.

    Michael Jamin (37:48):

    Right. Cuz you're bringing, you're bringing more to the table, which is why I always say, what else can you bring to the table? Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I, yeah, and it's an interesting read. I Yeah. Read it. Wonderful. So yeah, I give give you guys a lot of credit, a lot of credit, a lot of hustle.

    Dave Krinsky (38:03):

    Well look, a lot of it comes from boredom. And, and in all honesty, there's certain things we can do because of our track record. So when I'm advising like younger writers, I'm like, well, this won't necessarily work for you. Right. But you really do. I mean, the business has become so consolidated. It's a, it's a weird, it's also a weird business where like almost the quality or success of the entertainment doesn't matter. I mean, Apple's trying to sell mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, iPhones, Amazon's trying to sell everything else in the world so it doesn't have the same sort of metric as it used to when you were pitching a show. So it, it, it's difficult. But you know, like I met this young writer and she wrote a script that I really liked a lot mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and, you know, we tried to set it up around town and have a ton of luck.


    And then we learned she has dual citizenship, I guess triple citizen from Belgium and from France mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And it's like, oh, an American writer who's got, you know, some talent who can go over to the EU and tap into the money over there with their subsidies because she has a, is a huge thing. So now we're making headway on that. Right. So there's a lot of different angles that anybody's starting out might have access to that they can do instead of really just waiting for an agent or a writer or a studio to notice them.

    Michael Jamin (39:14):

    Right, right. Stop begging, stop begging, start making, making things happen yourself. Yeah. Yeah. I think so. Well tell, well tell us tell me what the name of that, that book so they can find it on Amazon.

    Dave Krinsky (39:25):

    It's called The Gangster's Guide to Sobriety.

    Michael Jamin (39:27):

    Yeah. He's a charming fella.

    Dave Krinsky (39:29):

    That guy. Yeah. You know, he's a real Irishman with the Irish accent and like, if you read the book, I mean, he did some horrible things and he's always like shocked that people are nice to him cuz of the horrible things he's done. But he's also a very gentle, sweet guy. He was just an, he was an addict and, and he made a lot of bad decisions from there, but

    Michael Jamin (39:45):


    Dave Krinsky (39:46):

    But yeah, he is a good guy. He's

    Michael Jamin (39:47):

    A good story. Yeah. A lot of good stories. Dave Krinsky, I'd give you a hug if

    Dave Krinsky (39:52):

    You I want

    Michael Jamin (39:53):

    One <laugh>, if you weren't on Zoom. Thank you so much. Thank you. Is there anything, any other parting words that we can get from you or anything, any other wisdom? Is that, or we tap, tap you out?

    Dave Krinsky (40:03):

    I don't know about wisdom, but I know that you know, a lot of people are, are tuning into you and checking your stuff out. And I just remember at King of the Hill and we've worked together on a bunch of shows, like you were always the fastest guy in the room. I was always just so amazed and, and jokes never translate. And it was your joke, so you'll sound like an idiot. But I just still remember we're all sitting in the writer's room and someone comes in and says, oh, I was down in Century City and I saw that Bewitched movie with will Ferrell and a Nicole Kidman. Yeah. And they go, how was he goes, well, I didn't really get to see it all because there was a fire alarm in the fire department came, came in and you yell everybody out, there's a bomb on the screen.

    Michael Jamin (40:38):

    <Laugh>, I don't remember that at, I have no memory of that at all. <Laugh>. My other, my

    Dave Krinsky (40:44):

    Other favorite memory of King of the Hill was, you remember sitting in that back chair mm-hmm. <Affirmative> taking a hole.

    Michael Jamin (40:50):

    Yes. And I have, I found a picture of it that was, I'll explain for the, for the, for our viewers we had, right. So there was a while on King of the Hill when we were working like 20 hours a day <laugh>, and I felt like a hostage. And I had this one big chair that had big wooden legs on it. And I took like a thumb tack and I started digging a hole like the Shawshank Redemption. Redemption. Like I was digging a hole out of the <laugh>. And then, and it took, it took months to finally when I finally broke through, I put a picture of Rita Hayworth on it so you couldn't see him as digging <laugh>. And this is ballsy for a new guy. Cause I was like, you know, I was destroying furniture and I was telling everyone that I was not happy to be there 20 hours a day.

    Dave Krinsky (41:33):

    <Laugh>. Well, the thing we all, we all kind of bought into this fantasy that when you broke through we'd be free. Right. And it was so depressing when you broke through and we were like,

    Michael Jamin (41:43):

    We're all

    Dave Krinsky (41:43):

    Back to work.

    Michael Jamin (41:45):

    I, I remember Garland was particularly interested in it. She's like, well, you know, because she was like, what are you gonna get through? Oh, funny. That's so funny. I'm, I'm glad you reminded that cuz I forget everything. That's the va the advantage of working with people if they can remind me of these stories. I don't remember any of that. I don't remember that <laugh> that be which

    Dave Krinsky (42:04):

    <Laugh> Yeah. No, it was very funny. But no, I this was a pleasure and I I love what you're doing and I think, you know, you're giving information to people that's kind of hard to get anywhere else. You can learn craft, you can learn certain things, but you have so much input that's useful on a day-to-day level for aspiring writers. So good on you.

    Michael Jamin (42:20):

    Thank you so much Dave Krinsky, thank you again. And

    Dave Krinsky (42:24):

    Pleasure to see you

    Michael Jamin (42:25):

    Everyone. So yeah stay tuned. We had more episodes coming up next week. Thanks. And yeah, we have what else we got? We got a free webinar once a month. Sign up for that on my website, michaeljamin.com and my free newsletter. All good stuff. Go to michaeljamin.com and you can find it. Alright everyone, thank you so much.

    Phil Hudson (42:44):

    This has been an episode of Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving your review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's cycle. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok at @PhilAHudson This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until max time, keep writing.

    42m | Apr 5, 2023
  • 074 - DreamWorks Animator Eric Fogel

    Get another inside scoop of what it's like to work in Hollywood as Michael Jamin sits down and talks with Eric Fogel, a DreamWorks animator.

    Show Notes

    Eric Fogel Website: https://www.eric-fogel.com/

    Eric Fogel Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Fogel

    IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0283888/

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Automated Transcript

    Eric Fogel (00:00):

    You gotta have, you know, there's, there are a couple of key ingredients, right? You, you gotta have the passion, right. For it, for the craft. You have to have the ability mm-hmm. <Affirmative> to have, to have the skills. 

    Michael Jamin (00:14):

    But you didn't have the ability when you started. Right?

    Eric Fogel (00:18):

    I had some ability.

    Michael Jamin (00:19):

    Some ability. And

    Eric Fogel (00:20):

    I kind of, yeah. I mean, a lot of it is you, you have to immerse yourself and you have to just make things. And you have to learn as you make things. You can't, you know, you can watch YouTube videos all day long, but you gotta like, just get in it.

    Michael Jamin (00:35):

    You're listening to Screenwriters Need to hear this with Michael Jamin.

    Michael Jamin (00:43):

    Hey everyone, it's Michael Jamin. Welcome back to Screenwriters. Need to hear this. This is the podcast that it's not just for screenwriters. Cuz I, I have a special guest today. This is my friend and once collaborator Eric Fogel. And he, we were, we were debating like, how do I, how do I introduce him? Cuz he does so much. He's a writer, he's a director, he's an animator. He's now a dreamworks. And Eric Fogel's now gonna tell us is how, how, how all this works. He's gonna explain to me, Eric Fogel, thank you so much for being on the show. Say hi. Hello.

    Eric Fogel (01:13):

    Hello. Hello. Hello.

    Michael Jamin (01:15):

    You're not an actor though. That's the one thing you, that's the one credit you don't get.

    Eric Fogel (01:19):

    I do a little voice acting.

    Michael Jamin (01:20):

    Do you do, do

    Eric Fogel (01:21):

    You know I've done, yeah, I, yeah, I I actually got my SAG card. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (01:25):


    Eric Fogel (01:27):

    Little, little.

    Michael Jamin (01:28):

    So, so for everyone's listening, so Eric and I worked together years ago on a show called Glen Martin dds, which he cr co-created. And on that show, he was the he was one of the, he directed with me, directed the animation. He was in charge of all the designs, all the character designs. And then he had the misfortune of having to fly back and forth from Los Angeles to Toronto, like every week to oversee the animation focal. How did that, how, how did that all come about? How did, how did you sell that show? How did it come about that show?

    Eric Fogel (02:01):

    Man so yeah, I think I was, I was in town. I was, you know, I was living in New York at the time, and so I, I was I, I did a trip out here to, to LA to do like, around the meetings. And I was, I was in my I was up in my manager's office and the, the owner of the company, Gotham sh just kind of walked by and she goes, oh, yeah, he should meet Scoop,

    Michael Jamin (02:31):


    Eric Fogel (02:31):

    And I'm like, what the fuck is a scoop? Can I say <laugh>? Is that all right?

    Michael Jamin (02:37):

    We all, we're all thinking of it.

    Eric Fogel (02:38):

    Yeah. Yeah. What's, what's a Scoop scoop?

    Eric Fogel (02:43):

    That was my, so that was my introduction. So yeah, we, we set up a meeting, I met with Scoop in LA on that same trip, I think it was my last meeting. And they had a script

    Michael Jamin (02:55):

    Just a, so Scoop was a, the nickname of one of the executive producers, or Michael Eisner's company.

    Eric Fogel (02:59):

    Scoop is a human. Yeah. He was, I guess running development for Michael Eisner's company, which was Tornante. Yeah, right. And they had, they had a script. They had like a version of a pilot that was written by Alex Berger. Right, right. And you know, it was still pretty rough at that time. It needed, needed some love. And, you know, there was no, there were no designs. You know, there was nothing there. But couple weeks later I met, I g I met with Michael Eisner in New York, and we sat down, we started talking about this project, and he had seen some stuff on my reel, and he saw some, some stop motion that I did, you know, I created Celebrity Death Match. So I think he was aware of, of that. But I, I did this other show called Star Val with a studio called Cup of Coffee in Toronto.

    Michael Jamin (03:51):

    I didn't realize that was Cuppa, but Wait, hold on. Was that, was, was what Network was surveillance on

    Eric Fogel (03:56):


    Michael Jamin (03:57):

    E. So I wanna, I wanna slow this down. Yeah. I wanna interrupt you for a second. So celebrity Death Match was like a huge hit. I was on MTV for a couple seasons, right? Yeah. And it was a stop motion animation, and you were in charge, and you create, created that with custom and you were in charge of the a It was a big, it was like a big deal for like, I don't know, 10 minutes, but it was <laugh>.

    Eric Fogel (04:17):

    Yeah, no, we, we, we, we ran for Yeah. A couple years and, you know, close to a hundred episodes a lot.

    Michael Jamin (04:23):

    So, all right. But then, okay, so back it up and how, cuz you have a very unusual career because you kind of, you've carved a career for yourself that doesn't really, it doesn't even exist really. You know, not many people who do what you've done. Like, how, how did you start when you were a kid? Did you wanna, what did you wanna be?

    Eric Fogel (04:41):

    I, I knew I wanted to be in the film business in some way. I think, you know, when I was, you know, I was always drawing like little comic books when I was a kid. And these, these comic books were basically storyboards.

    Michael Jamin (04:54):

    Right. Eric is really good, talented artist. So that, I should mention that Illustra Illustrate. I don't know what you would call yourself. You're good though. Go on. You're okay.

    Eric Fogel (05:03):

    But by the time I was like, you know, in, in high school, I, I sort of learned that there was like, you could actually go to school to learn how to make films. Yeah. You know, like, there was such a thing. And, and I became aware of, you know, Y u and that, that sort of became my, you know, the thing that was driving me. I even before that, I started taking some film while I was still in high school. I took a couple film classes at, at school of Visual Arts, just taking college level classes there while, you know, still still a kid in high school and starting to like, figure out how to make, make films and, you know, put stuff together. And then I got

    Michael Jamin (05:42):

    Live, it wasn't stop motion, it wasn't animation, it was just film.

    Eric Fogel (05:45):

    It was live action. I was still, I was also experimenting, you know, I got, I got a super eight camera, so I was trying, I was trying some stop motion. I was doing like, hand drawn animation. I was just trying everything I want. I was just absorbing everything. Yeah. You know? And yeah. And then got accepted to NYU and in

    Michael Jamin (06:05):

    The film program.

    Eric Fogel (06:06):

    Film program. Okay. 19. Yeah. Graduated class of 91.

    Michael Jamin (06:13):


    Eric Fogel (06:13):

    And, you know, I was pretty prolific there. Like they, I think they only required you to make, to finish like one film. And I ended up making four, finishing four films. Two were live action and two were animated. Right. And one of the animated films was this really violent like a post-apocalyptic thing. It was called The Mutilated. I've heard of

    Michael Jamin (06:39):

    It. Ok.

    Eric Fogel (06:40):

    That, yeah, there's actually a,

    Michael Jamin (06:42):

    Well, look, you gotta sell. Okay.

    Eric Fogel (06:44):

    Yeah. There's a mu later.

    Michael Jamin (06:46):

    That's from, and that was from a college?

    Eric Fogel (06:48):

    Yeah, this was my college. This was my college film. <Laugh> Mutilate. But the, so this film got got licensed to like a, an animated like a film festival

    Michael Jamin (07:02):

    Called, well, you, wait, you submitted it to a film festival. What do

    Eric Fogel (07:04):

    They They saw it, they saw it in the Y U Circuit. Okay. Cause premiered there. And then they reached out to me and they said, we wanna a license Mutilators to be, it was a Spike and Mike spike and Mike's Festival of Animation.

    Michael Jamin (07:19):


    Eric Fogel (07:20):


    Michael Jamin (07:21):

    So they paid you for

    Eric Fogel (07:22):

    It? They, they wrote me a check, and that was the first time, you know, someone was like, paying me to, to make a thing.

    Michael Jamin (07:30):

    And then what happened?

    Eric Fogel (07:31):

    So I said, all right, that, that worked well. I want to keep doing that. So I just kept making, making like little short films. And I, I licensed a couple more to, to those guys, to the Spike and Mike Festival. And they would do this thing where they would, they would option the film, but they would also give you like com like a little money to, to finish the film. Which was, which was pretty, you know, it's not a, not a great deal. But it was, at that time

    Michael Jamin (07:59):

    It was, these were like shorts, right?

    Eric Fogel (08:01):

    Yeah. Yeah. Just shorts. But, you know, you would send them, like, you could send them like a pencil test, and then they, they'd say like, here's a couple grand to finish it. And then, then they would like show it in their, their circuit.

    Michael Jamin (08:15):

    So, all right. So then, but you're okay, you're selling some stuff. It's got after college, you're not making a fortune. Yeah. You're, but you also have like a day job.

    Eric Fogel (08:24):

    I was I was hired. So I started working in a, in a small animation studio in New York, Uhhuh <affirmative> at that time. And I was learning, you know, just learning stuff. So one of the one of the directors at that studio he, he had a little problem with substance, substance abuse problem. Interesting. I'm not gonna mention any, any names, but he would, he would spend a lot of time just sleeping, sleeping it off. Yeah. And I, and he and I would, I would be animating his shots. And that's how I learned a lot of, a lot of stop motion. It was, it was like a stop motion studio. And I learned a lot. So

    Michael Jamin (09:01):

    You, so you're right. So this is before computer animation, really. You're just kind of you're drawing, you're basically cell by frame By frame.

    Eric Fogel (09:07):

    Yeah. Yeah. And just using like a big old Mitchell 35 millimeter camera, just frame one frame at a time.

    Michael Jamin (09:14):

    And then, okay, so you did that for a little bit, then what happened?

    Eric Fogel (09:17):

    So at, so at the same time, I'm still making these little short films eventually.

    Michael Jamin (09:23):

    What was the point of making these short films, though? They're not adding slide action

    Eric Fogel (09:26):

    To get a reel together. So, so you to have like a sample sample of your, your stuff. Right. So eventually this real end ends up on the desk at the president of MTV Animation.

    Michael Jamin (09:40):

    How, how did it wind up there?

    Eric Fogel (09:42):

    I don't know.

    Michael Jamin (09:44):

    <Laugh>, but this is a good point. Like, cuz you're just putting your work out there. Yeah. And it's gonna, and it's good. So it's making the rounds, right?

    Eric Fogel (09:51):

    Yeah. It's, well, it's, it's, it's making the rounds. I don't know if it's good, but PE people are, there's no, but if it

    Michael Jamin (09:58):

    Wasn't good, they wouldn't pass it along. I mean, that's the truth.

    Eric Fogel (10:01):

    Yeah. Well, it, it was something, you know, at that time, M T V was, you know, animation was brand new and they, they were looking, you know, they were just looking for weird shit. Yeah. You know, and they saw, they, you know, they probably saw this, this spike in Mike festival and, and you know, like liquid television was becoming a thing. Right, right. And so they were hungry for stuff and, you know, just weird stuff. Right. And I, you know, I had some weird stuff on my reel.

    Michael Jamin (10:27):

    Yeah, you did. Well, yeah. And so, okay, so then what happened?

    Eric Fogel (10:31):

    So they, so M T v made, made me a deal to option this mutilated.

    Michael Jamin (10:37):

    Okay. And

    Eric Fogel (10:37):

    The plan was to have the, the Mutilators character appear within the Beavis and Butthead show. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And, and it would be like, it was gonna be like this thing that they were gonna watch on tv and it was gonna be this cool thing that they liked. Right. Kind of fit, fit with their, their thing. Yeah. And then something, something tragic happened there were, there were some kids out west somewhere who burned their family's trailer down. And they said they, they learned how to, like, about fire from Beavis and Butthead.

    Michael Jamin (11:15):

    Oh, I, I <laugh> At least it wasn't mutilated.

    Eric Fogel (11:18):

    No, no. But this created this whole wave, like this backlash. And all of a sudden MTV got scared and they said, oh, you know, we got, we can't, we have to be careful. And Mutilators was like violent. Yeah. Even though it was, it was sci-fi it was fantasy violence. It wasn't real. Yeah. But they were, they were just, they got cold feet. So I went to this meeting knowing that they were gonna shit can Mutilators and, and I had already set up like a little studio in my, in my house at, on Long Island, and I was like in production on this thing. So I was, I was nervous. Yeah. So I go to this meeting and, and Mike Judge is actually there. Mike Judge, the creator of Beavis and Butthead, he's, he's in this meeting and they're like, Eric, you know, we we're not, we can't go forward with Mutilators, but we, we like you, do you have anything else?


    And I, I had this storyboard. I actually brought it to that meeting. And this, it was for this other thing that I had come up with about this guy with like a giant head and, and an alien that lived inside of this head. And it was like, about the symbiotic relationship Yeah. Between a guy, a guy, and an alien. And my judge, I just, I'll never forget this. He was kind of like hanging back and he was looking at my drawings and he was just laughing. Yeah. And these other two MTV execs were like, oh, Mike, Mike likes it. We should buy this. And they did <laugh> and,

    Michael Jamin (12:44):

    And Muo was that,

    Eric Fogel (12:45):

    That was called the Head. Right. And that was it was part of like, it was called MTV's Oddities.

    Michael Jamin (12:51):

    Uhhuh <affirmative>.

    Eric Fogel (12:51):

    And that was, I was like 24 or 25. And that was the first show that I ran as a creator.

    Michael Jamin (12:58):

    But this is the kind of, this speaks to which is so important. It's like you were making this stuff because you were making it, and you were, it wasn't like, it wasn't even like, you weren't trying to sell that you were just making, you had, you have to have stuff to have.

    Eric Fogel (13:09):

    I had an idea.

    Michael Jamin (13:10):

    Right. And you worked on it. You didn't wait to get paid on it. You worked on it.

    Eric Fogel (13:14):


    Michael Jamin (13:15):

    Right. And so, and you were, you were right. Did you have a small staff on that show?

    Eric Fogel (13:20):

    Yeah, we had, you know, we had a full staff

    Michael Jamin (13:23):

    On that and now was at Outta New York.

    Eric Fogel (13:26):

    We, we did, we ran the, the show out of, yeah. Out of MTV Animation in Midtown Manhattan. Wow. You know, set up shop there. I wrote, and I wrote an and show around that show with a, I had a, a writing partner at that time. And yeah, we wrote all the episodes and it was, it was wonderful because it was like, it's not like now, like, it was like, they were hands off, like creatively. They were like, yeah, great. It's great. Just do it. Do it. Do what you want. Do what you want.

    Michael Jamin (13:57):

    Interesting. That's so interesting. Wow. And then, and then at what point was this? Is there, what point did you make a leap to LA? Or, or am I missing something in between?

    Eric Fogel (14:05):

    Yeah, so I, you know, I stuck it out. So after the head, I did Celebrity Death Match.

    Michael Jamin (14:10):

    Right. That was outta New York.

    Eric Fogel (14:11):

    And then, you know, I continued working at small studios in New York. MTV animation closed, like shortly after nine 11, they shuttered. And, you know, business in New York kind of started to dry up after nine 11.

    Michael Jamin (14:27):

    There wasn't, there was never even a lot of business in New York. But I didn't even, you know,

    Eric Fogel (14:30):

    You No, but there was, yeah, there was, you know, m there was M T V and then there was some small commercial studios there. And I continued working at some of those smaller studios. You know, and we, all our family was there, so Right. We were sort of resisting the, the, the big move to, to la And then finally in 2008 when Glen Martin happened, and we made the move.

    Michael Jamin (14:54):

    Right. With your whole family. Yes. And then you flew back to tra that was the tragic part. If you had only stayed in New York, <laugh>, your flight would've been so

    Eric Fogel (15:02):

    Much. Yeah. I was like, honey, here's, here's our house kids. There's, there's your rooms. I gotta go. You guys figure it out.

    Michael Jamin (15:11):

    Enjoy the sunshine.

    Eric Fogel (15:13):

    My, my wife's still, she, you know, she, she's still pissed at me. We, no, we love each other, but No, it was, it was a tough move. We didn't know anybody here in la. Right. You know, it was a big, it was a big, big adjustment. And yeah, it was bit a shock.

    Michael Jamin (15:29):

    What does she think of it now? Is she happy you're here or No,

    Eric Fogel (15:31):

    I think, yeah, we've, we've made our peace with it. You know, we still miss our family. Our families are still all back east. Yeah. but we, we feel like it was a good thing for our family, you know, for our kids.

    Michael Jamin (15:44):

    Oh, you think so? You think they're, they're probably getting ready for college now. Your kids?

    Eric Fogel (15:48):

    Oh, they're almost done.

    Michael Jamin (15:50):

    They're almost done with

    Eric Fogel (15:50):

    Cops. Well, one is, yeah. One our oldest is out. He's already graduated. And our, we have twin girls and they're graduating this this year.

    Michael Jamin (15:57):

    Oh God. We'll talk about that one. I know. Wonder what that's gonna happen. What happened there? Okay, so then, and then, alright. We did Glen Martin. And the thing about that is, so my partner and I were siber, we write these episodes. We come into your office and say, this is, this is the crazy that the craziest job you ever No, probably not. Cuz we would give you an assignment, like, this is the, what does this character look like in your head? Then you'd sketch a design and then we'd maybe give you notes or not. And then you'd run off. Then you'd fly to Toronto and they started a animated this thing. And you had to oversee every time there was a problem, we'd yell at you <laugh>. And, and then you'd have to fix

    Eric Fogel (16:33):

    It. Then I go yell at them and you'd

    Michael Jamin (16:35):

    Yell at them. And there was, yeah. There was always problems. It's always you know, because it's a, it's such a long process to, it took, you know, nine months to animate that show.

    Eric Fogel (16:43):

    That that show. I mean, there will never be another show like that. Right.

    Michael Jamin (16:49):

    Why do you feel that way?

    Eric Fogel (16:50):

    It was, I mean, just the concept was super ambitious, right? Yeah. You got, you got a family, you know, traveling from, from town to town every episode. Yeah. So every single episode you have to build a brand new world for this family to play in. Yeah. Right. That's a huge amount to build. And you have to build it all from scratch

    Michael Jamin (17:16):

    There. And there was a lot, we also did a lot of CGI on. We, not a lot. Some, you know, not,

    Eric Fogel (17:21):

    Not a lot.

    Michael Jamin (17:22):

    The mouses, the mouses, and also sometimes the backgrounds. Right. We would do

    Eric Fogel (17:26):

    We would do some green screen. We'd do green screen. But, but a lot of those, I mean, most of those sets were, were Yeah. Physical, practical, physical models.

    Michael Jamin (17:36):

    I have all, I still have my dolls, just so you know. They're all here.

    Eric Fogel (17:40):

    Oh, hey, wait, I

    Michael Jamin (17:41):

    Got one. You have more. I remember when you had, you had your dolls. I was like, how do I get a hand? How do I get my hand on someone? Focals Dolls <laugh>

    Eric Fogel (17:48):


    Michael Jamin (17:49):

    How Steal your dog. Which one's that? What's, oh, wait, but is that, was that from Glen? What was he, what was that?

    Eric Fogel (17:54):

    That hok? Honk Hawks The Clown. The Killer Clown. That's

    Michael Jamin (17:57):

    Oh, we see What episode was that?

    Eric Fogel (17:59):

    I don't know. Sunshine. Fun, fun, fun. Bill Hawks.

    Michael Jamin (18:02):

    The Killer Clown did. There's so much about that show. I don't even remember.

    Eric Fogel (18:04):

    Remember who did The Voice?

    Michael Jamin (18:07):


    Eric Fogel (18:08):

    Ty Burrell.

    Michael Jamin (18:09):

    That was Ty. Dude. We can you imagine We directed some amazing, amazing, remember we did, we directed Brian Cranston. Yep. When he was coming off break, he was doing Breaking

    Eric Fogel (18:19):

    Bad. Still doing it. Yeah. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (18:21):

    And he loved it. He's like, this is great.

    Eric Fogel (18:24):

    <Laugh>. He was amazing. We almost, we almost had a spinoff

    Michael Jamin (18:28):

    With him. Yes. Hi. That's him over here. Yeah. That's

    Eric Fogel (18:32):

    Drake Stone.

    Michael Jamin (18:34):

    That was a bummer. That didn't happen.

    Eric Fogel (18:36):


    Michael Jamin (18:36):

    Yep. Oh, well,

    Eric Fogel (18:38):

    But the cat, yeah. I, I mean we should talk about some of the other day players on that show because I mean

    Michael Jamin (18:45):

    Yeah, we, I mean it was amazing. The cat, we Every,

    Eric Fogel (18:48):

    Every day. Mel Brooks.

    Michael Jamin (18:50):

    Mel Brooks. Right.

    Eric Fogel (18:51):

    Billy Idol.

    Michael Jamin (18:53):

    Billy Idol. I don't remember Billy Idol.

    Eric Fogel (18:55):

    <Laugh>. He did a, he did the Christmas episode and he sang a song. He sang a

    Michael Jamin (18:59):

    Oh, right. Maybe it wasn't there. That I remember we had friend Drescher. Yeah. Remember were you there that

    Eric Fogel (19:04):

    Day? Yep.

    Michael Jamin (19:05):

    And we couldn't get her Remember? So, so Erica, we direct together, we'd whispered each other and it's not quite right. How did we get her to do, you know? And then I remember we finally walked up to her cuz she wasn't, the character wasn't quite white. And I was said, listen, can you do the nanny? She's like, oh sure. And then the <laugh> then she started basically doing the nanny.

    Eric Fogel (19:23):

    You want the nanny,

    Michael Jamin (19:25):

    You want the nanny. You kind of, you

    Eric Fogel (19:26):

    Want it, you

    Michael Jamin (19:27):

    Don't wanna ask. You wanna, you don't really wanna ask. You wanna get them there. Yeah. You know, I don't wanna insult her, but she was like, delight French. She was so sweet.

    Eric Fogel (19:35):

    Alison Jenny, she was great. She an Alexander.

    Michael Jamin (19:38):


    Eric Fogel (19:39):

    George Decay.

    Michael Jamin (19:40):


    Eric Fogel (19:42):

    My God. Fergie.

    Michael Jamin (19:44):

    Yep. Yep.

    Eric Fogel (19:47):

    I mean

    Michael Jamin (19:47):

    So much. Mc Hammer, we remember we had Mc Hammer

    Eric Fogel (19:50):

    Pen. Gillette

    Michael Jamin (19:51):

    Pen Gillette. I forgot. She's the what? A Oh my God.

    Eric Fogel (19:54):

    Was Jean Simmons.

    Michael Jamin (19:57):

    <Laugh>. Jean Simmons. Yeah. I remember that. <Laugh>. That was a day. And then, okay, so then once, once Glen Martin went down. Yeah. What happened to you then?

    Eric Fogel (20:08):

    <Laugh>? I don't know. What happened. So, you know, it was, that was a sort of a tricky time because I, I, I had to kind of reinvent myself. Did.

    Michael Jamin (20:20):


    Eric Fogel (20:20):

    I was here in town. We did that show. That show was ama you know, it was an amazing experience, but nobody fucking saw it.

    Michael Jamin (20:29):


    Eric Fogel (20:29):


    Michael Jamin (20:30):

    And no one understood what you did on it either, because you create, you, you, you kind of invented a, you were a necessary incredibly important cog. But who, how do you describe, you know, how do you describe it to people? I, cause I'm even asking you, well, you were, you were one of the executive producers, but I'm almost like, well, what was your ion job? I mean, what, that was your job title, but it'd be, it'd be hard for me to describe what you did. Cause you did so much.

    Eric Fogel (20:53):

    Yeah. I mean, I guess on that show I was, I was more of a directing showrunner.

    Michael Jamin (20:58):

    Is that what you would call it?

    Eric Fogel (20:59):

    If you Yeah. Because, you know, I feel like there are some categories, right, with show like showrunners. So there are writing showrunners, which I consider like you and cber were like the writing showrunners. And I was on that show. More of a, the directing maybe

    Michael Jamin (21:14):

    Actually May in King of the Hill. I think they would call it a supervising director. Is that what you were

    Eric Fogel (21:18):

    Maybe. I mean, I don't

    Michael Jamin (21:21):

    Supervise all the directors,

    Eric Fogel (21:22):

    Basically. It's different. Yeah. I guess there's, they're different credits.

    Michael Jamin (21:26):

    Yeah. I re Yeah, it was hard. It was a hard, there was so much for you to oversee. It was crazy.

    Eric Fogel (21:34):

    Yeah. And it's, I mean, and, and I love that. Like, that's, for me, that's what I do. It's soup to nuts, just mm-hmm. <Affirmative> every, every piece of the production, I just, I I like to have a hand in holiday.

    Michael Jamin (21:50):

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.

    Michael Jamin (22:14):

    So how did you reinvent yourself? Like what does that mean really?

    Eric Fogel (22:17):

    So I was here in town and after Glenn Martin, you know, there were, we had a, there were a couple things, but a couple things fell through. We were gonna do, there was another show mm-hmm. <Affirmative> that I, I was developing with to, and it was this was weird. But we, this we, we developed this show alongside BoJack. Right. So it was like Scoop was working on, on BoJack. And then we had this other project and we, we actually sold this other project to a network. We had like, like an a, an agree, like an accepted offer. And it looked like it was going forward until the head of the studio just decided, eh, didn't wanna do animation.

    Michael Jamin (23:01):


    Eric Fogel (23:02):

    That happened. So that, that got killed. And so I had to find some, some work. I ended up directing a show at Nickelodeon and it was a CG show. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So I wanted to, it was, it was more of a kids show. Right. And it was, you know, I wanted to have the experience of, of directing cg. Okay. So I did that for a few years and it's, you know, that, and then it, you, you sort of, there you, there's stepping stones and

    Michael Jamin (23:31):

    That's just a big learning curve though.

    Eric Fogel (23:34):

    There's, there is a learning curve for sure. And it was important to me to, to have,

    Michael Jamin (23:39):

    Because you didn't learn, you didn't study that in college. What did you know about it?

    Eric Fogel (23:41):

    They didn't have, they didn't have computer animation there. Right. So you just have to, the best way to, to learn is to just be immersed in it. Right. Just on the Jobb training. So I, I did, I got that experience and that, that experience led me to, to Dreamworks.

    Michael Jamin (24:00):

    Right. And how, and you've been at Dreamworks for six years. And what do you do, what are you doing at Dreamworks? Basically do, are you, do you have a studio deal with Dreamworks? Is that what it's

    Michael Jamin (24:08):

    Overall deal or something?

    Eric Fogel (24:09):

    They, I'm under contract. So right now it's kind of show to show.

    Michael Jamin (24:15):

    Alright. So you have a contract and they, they put you on whatever show they have going.

    Eric Fogel (24:19):

    Yeah, but they also were nice enough to keep me around. So they sort of put me on an overall deal. Cuz there was like a gap between shows. So that, that was very nice of them. Yeah. Keep me,

    Michael Jamin (24:31):

    They don't wanna lose you.

    Eric Fogel (24:32):

    I guess. They like me enough to keep me.

    Michael Jamin (24:34):

    It's so interesting cause I just had one of my previous guys, I may, I dunno if you know 'em, you probably don't. But John Abel and Glen Glen, they do all the kung They're the writers, the kung fu pander writers. They do a lot of dreamwork stuff.

    Eric Fogel (24:45):

    Yeah. Guys.

    Michael Jamin (24:46):

    Oh, you do, do you work with them?

    Eric Fogel (24:48):

    I haven't, but I'm familiar with them.

    Michael Jamin (24:50):

    So what exactly are you doing at Dreamworks then? We, as from jumping from show to show?

    Eric Fogel (24:55):

    Yeah. So they hired me initially, this is now almost six years to the day I started doing a show called Archibald's, next Big Thing. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, which was created by Mr. Tony Hale.

    Michael Jamin (25:10):

    Oh, he created, I know he's in it. I didn't know he created it.

    Eric Fogel (25:12):

    Created and voiced and was an, was an exec producer.

    Michael Jamin (25:18):

    And, and it's What network is that? Nickelodeon.

    Eric Fogel (25:21):

    That was so we started on Netflix. Okay. So we produced here at Dreamworks, we premiered on Netflix season one. And then season two we were on Peacock

    Michael Jamin (25:34):

    And Oh, is that, is there, is there a season three in the works or what?

    Eric Fogel (25:37):

    No, no. So the thing to know about animation these days is they don't order a a lot of episodes. It's, you know, the, it's, they've, especially on these streaming platforms.

    Michael Jamin (25:48):

    Oh, well that's the way it is for a live actually. Yeah. So what are you doing, se like 13 or something?

    Eric Fogel (25:53):

    We did two. So for Archibald we did two seasons and it was it was like 50. It ended up being like 50 half hours or fif 50. It's actually a hundred, a hundred episode. There are 11 minute episodes. So we did 111 minute episodes.

    Michael Jamin (26:08):

    That's actually, and are you, what are you, are you running the show? Are you running it? Are

    Eric Fogel (26:11):

    You So I so that on that show, I was, I was exec producing, I was a writer and I was, I was basically doing a little of everything. Same, same thing. Directing, writing, overseeing every aspect of it.

    Michael Jamin (26:25):

    But it's not like every writer, there's a writing staff on that show. Right.

    Eric Fogel (26:29):

    We, we had, we had a, a staff and we had a couple head writers who, and they, those guys were great. I love those guys. They had never run, run a show before.

    Michael Jamin (26:39):

    Uhhuh <affirmative>.

    Eric Fogel (26:40):

    So I felt like I could be helpful there, you know, just in the writer's room and, and just, it just sort of organically evolved to where, you know, I didn't expect to be so involved in, in the writing process on that show. It just, it just turned out like, it just was a natural,

    Michael Jamin (26:57):

    That's the whole thing. You have a very unusual career path in career because cuz you do so many things.

    Eric Fogel (27:04):

    Yeah. I mean, I don't, there's no rules for this. I'm just making this

    Michael Jamin (27:07):

    Up. Yeah. There's no rule. So, I mean, it's quite impressive because like, if I, I don't know what, what would, what, how would you advise? You must have kids come into you, Hey, how do I, how do I get to do what you do? Like what do you tell them?

    Eric Fogel (27:23):

    I mean you gotta have, you know, there's, there are a couple of key ingredients, right? You, you gotta have the passion,

    Michael Jamin (27:31):


    Eric Fogel (27:32):

    For it, for the craft. You have to have the ability mm-hmm. <Affirmative> have to have the skills. 

    Michael Jamin (27:39):

    But you didn't have the ability when you started. Right.

    Eric Fogel (27:42):

    I had some ability. Some

    Michael Jamin (27:44):


    Eric Fogel (27:44):

    And I kinda, yeah. I mean a lot of it is you have to immerse yourself and you have to just make things and you have to learn as you make things. You can't, you know, you can watch YouTube videos all day long, but you gotta like just get in it. And now it's one, you know, we have, the technology has changed so much. It's made it so much easier. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> to make things. Now

    Michael Jamin (28:08):

    With those like those animation program, I mean, do you do anything like that on the side for yourself? Like what? Or, or, I mean, you know, at home for anyone? I

    Eric Fogel (28:17):

    Don't have time for that. No. I these days. Yeah. I mean, I, I'm, you know, this, this job keeps, keeps me. But

    Michael Jamin (28:24):

    Let's say you had a side project that you just wanted to get off the ground. Yeah. You just pitched the idea.

    Eric Fogel (28:29):

    I could, yeah. I mean, I have put things together and I've made, yeah. I've been able to make little animations you know, for projects, original projects that I've pitched. And I'll, I'll put together a whole presentation. I'll do all the visuals. I'll edit it and, and put together Yeah. Like little proof of concepts, right? That yeah. That stuff is, yeah. I love doing

    Michael Jamin (28:49):

    That. And that's on your own, but that's on your own time.

    Eric Fogel (28:51):

    That is on my own time. Your

    Michael Jamin (28:53):

    Own with, with some program you have.

    Eric Fogel (28:55):


    Michael Jamin (28:56):

    What's, what kind of program is this? What, what is it?

    Eric Fogel (28:58):

    I mean, I, you can, you can animate with Photoshop now. Oh. So that's, you know, that's, that's a thing. I, I use Sony movie Maker, which is this archaic system. I, I just, I'm really comfortable with it and I, I can use that to, to build projects and I can even animate on that thing.

    Michael Jamin (29:16):

    Are you doing any stop motion anymore?

    Eric Fogel (29:18):

    I haven't done stop motion in a long time.

    Michael Jamin (29:20):

    Because why the market part?

    Eric Fogel (29:24):

    You know, it's, it's just the, the right project hasn't really surfaced. And you know, I've, I've, I've pitched Project stop motion is a hard one to sell. People are afraid of it.

    Michael Jamin (29:36):

    Is it the look that's the, that's the criticism I get. They go that, here's the thing. Every, so I've been, I post a lot on social media and people will say, oh, I used to watch Glen Martin. And the, the phrase that comes back is that show is a fever dream. I was like, what's a fever dream? But everyone describes it as a fever dream. And what that

    Eric Fogel (29:55):

    Mean? Like, creepy. I

    Michael Jamin (29:56):

    Think it means like, like you were, they were in like, it felt like they were in an opium den, den <laugh> era.

    Eric Fogel (30:03):

    <Laugh>. What it felt like for me.

    Michael Jamin (30:05):

    What's that?

    Eric Fogel (30:06):

    It's what it felt like for me Felt like

    Michael Jamin (30:07):

    To, I mean, but it's like I, I, I don't know. There's something about like, I always like that format. Cause I always like this old bank and resting,

    Eric Fogel (30:17):

    Right. Bank ranking and back

    Michael Jamin (30:18):

    And best. Yeah. I always thought,

    Eric Fogel (30:20):

    Yeah. I mean, some people have got, I love, I've always loved the, the look of stop motion and you know, it's, there's something super charming and not just like, endearing about the, like the handcrafted aspect aspect of it. Right. Right. It's so cool. But

    Michael Jamin (30:35):

    Don't feel that way. I guess

    Eric Fogel (30:36):

    It's al it's always been the kind of like the redheaded stepchild of animation though, you know? Yeah. Always on. Always on the, on the fringes. And now, you know, it's hard enough to sell a show, any show. Right. Uhhuh <affirmative>. But it's in ama in the, in the animation industry, it feels like they're, they're only looking for, for CG animation these days. And there's just,

    Michael Jamin (30:56):

    Is that right? I mean, what, explain the different types of animation, because obviously there's, there's like, yeah. CG, like Shrek or something

    Eric Fogel (31:03):


    Michael Jamin (31:03):

    <Affirmative> and then go on there actually different levels in terms of, you know, expense. What, how does that work?

    Eric Fogel (31:11):

    I mean, there, you know, there, so there there's like traditional hand drawn animation. But even that is all done mostly in computer these days. So there, there's no more like, hand painted cells. Right. But the actual movement, a lot of that stuff can still be done, done by hand.

    Michael Jamin (31:29):


    Eric Fogel (31:29):

    <Affirmative>. And then, you know, you got stop motion, you got cg and there, there are worlds in between where, you know, stylistically they, they're, they're doing a lot of thing, you know, design wise, they're kind of blending the, all the techniques.

    Michael Jamin (31:44):

    But it must be in terms of like, when they tell you what the budget of the show is, that greatly determines how good it's gonna look in the, how the, you know, the animation.

    Eric Fogel (31:52):

    Right. It can, you know, so right now I'm working on Megamind, the, the sequel to the, to the 2010 film Megamind. Right. And that's gonna air later this year. And I can't say a lot about it cuz they haven't announced a lot about it. Right. But the quality the quality of the animation, the technology has improved so much. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> that even, even on a, a smaller tier budget, you can still, the quality of the animations really it's really improved.

    Michael Jamin (32:31):

    Right. So, so when you sell a show or when they bring you on a show, are you asking these questions or it's like, ah, someone else, you know, in terms of like, how much money do we get to spend on?

    Eric Fogel (32:42):

    Well they, yeah. They tell me and then I have to figure out how to make the show.

    Michael Jamin (32:47):

    Right. They tell you. Right. And so where will you cut corners or something.

    Eric Fogel (32:52):

    Yeah. So, so that's where it gets challenging. And, and you have to become very, you know, creative and, and and problem solving to, to be able to deliver. Right. The show the show you want and the show that they want with within these, you know, what, what can sometimes be a very small sandbox.

    Michael Jamin (33:10):


    Eric Fogel (33:10):

    You know,

    Michael Jamin (33:11):

    And then so what, so what are you, you know, what are your ambitions or future ambitions or, you know, what, what excites you coming up or what

    Eric Fogel (33:20):

    You know, I would, I'd love to expand the Sandbox <laugh> and be able to make a, make a leap into directing a feature would be really exciting. Oh really? Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (33:31):

    At at Dreamworks or, or any place really.

    Eric Fogel (33:34):

    Yeah. I mean I love it here. So I I would for sure love to direct a feature here. Right. But that, that would, you know, that would be a, a dream to, to be able to do that someday and, and to be able to, you know, spend three years, you know, focusing on, on like 90 minutes of content as opposed to, you know, hundreds of minutes of, of content to be able to like microfocus on that.

    Michael Jamin (34:00):

    It's so interesting cuz for me it's kind of other way around. Like, I, I, you know, I have to, I don't know. Cuz you get to every, every week you get, all right, here's something new. I have to live with something. But you're saying you, because you really wanna make the qual, you really want to spend time to make sure every frame is right.

    Eric Fogel (34:17):

    I would love, yeah, that would be, that would be a dream. Because in TV animation, you know, it's, it's like there's always this, this schedule. You're a slave to the schedule.

    Michael Jamin (34:29):


    Eric Fogel (34:29):

    And you, you know. And so

    Michael Jamin (34:31):

    Are you, are you in the Glendale campus of Dreamwork? Is that where you are? Yeah. Are you there right now? Yeah, this is, this is really your,

    Eric Fogel (34:38):

    This is my office.

    Michael Jamin (34:39):

    This is your real office over at Dreamworks. People fa Okay. So you're okay. I don't even know if they with Covid if you're working from home or not.

    Eric Fogel (34:47):

    I still, yeah, I'm here a couple days a week.

    Michael Jamin (34:50):

    Uhhuh <affirmative>

    Eric Fogel (34:50):

    These days.

    Michael Jamin (34:52):

    And, and cuz this is your show. So you, well, are you working with writers? You know, how are you, how, how involved are you right now with Theri? Is there a writer's room or what

    Eric Fogel (35:00):

    Where, so the writing is, is wrapped on this show, but we were really fortunate because we got the two guys Brent Simons and Alan Schoolcraft, who wrote the original Megamind mm-hmm. <Affirmative> were brought, were brought in as, as eps to, to basically help Showrun and, and run the writer's room. So having those guys was, was a gift, you know, cuz they, they kind of, they invented Megamind. So,

    Michael Jamin (35:30):

    And this is all on the Dreamworks campus? The writer's?

    Eric Fogel (35:32):

    Yeah. We did the writing here. A lot of the, a lot of the, the create a lot of art on this show is done not in Toronto. It's a lot of it's done in Vancouver.

    Michael Jamin (35:42):

    Oh, are you, are you ma are you making the trip up there? Do

    Eric Fogel (35:46):

    You have to? I've been up there. I've been up there a couple of times. But we are, luckily, yeah, now that we've got, you know, zoom, it's, you know, I can do a lot of this right here. A lot of the work I can do right here.

    Michael Jamin (35:58):

    See, that's so wait, so, so they are, these subcontract, subcontracting out a lot of the animation at Dreamworks. I I kind of, it was under the impression they did it all themselves.

    Eric Fogel (36:07):

    They have always had partner studios, even like on the early features they, they were partnering with, with studios. So there's always been this sort of hybrid model on this particular show. Almost all of the, the, the art, the art side of it is, is outsourced on, on this show. 

    Michael Jamin (36:29):

    Interesting. And then, and so they're actually, okay, so the animation houses are there. I mean, basically if you're an, so if you're an animator, it's interesting, there's different levels of animation, animators. This is all, and I've worked, I've worked in animation for many years. I still don't understand how it works. But but like, I remember like when we worked I worked at it wasn't Bento Box, it was whoever was doing King the Hill, Fort Bento. But Oh,

    Eric Fogel (36:56):

    I know who you're talking about.

    Michael Jamin (36:57):

    Yeah. I was, I'm forgetting, I'm blanking now. But they, the animators would've to come take tests. You would apply for a job of animator. Yeah. They'd give you a test, draw this frame or whatever, you know, is that how it still works there? Maybe stick

    Eric Fogel (37:11):

    Computer. Yeah, I mean there's always, you know, it's like anything else, right? You have to audition, right. Or things. And yeah, there are, there are definitely, there's a big kinda leap in terms of skill levels

    Michael Jamin (37:26):


    Eric Fogel (37:26):

    Artists. Right. Because so much of art is like subjective.

    Michael Jamin (37:31):

    Yeah. It's so, it's so interesting. That's this career. But, and what about, I don't know, live action? Any interest getting back into doing more or? No,

    Eric Fogel (37:40):

    I would love to do some, some live action at some point. I, I've got like a horror movie that I would love to try to do one day. And you know, I, I'm, I'm such a huge like, horror sci-fi nut.

    Michael Jamin (37:55):

    Right. Are you, and are you pitching other shows as well? Or, or, you know, is how does it work in Dreamworks? So like, we have an idea, we have to show you're hired Fogal. I mean, is that what it is? Basically?

    Eric Fogel (38:06):

    They have, yeah. I mean they have a, an in-house development process. And when you're, when you're here, they, you know, there's like a, you have, there's a first look deal. So you, you, if you have an idea, you're sort of obligated to first.

    Michael Jamin (38:21):


    Eric Fogel (38:23):

    And you know, the, so the industry's a little different right now cuz there's, they're not, you know, there aren't, there aren't a lot of shows being sold or bought right now <laugh>, because it's

    Michael Jamin (38:35):

    No kidding. Is that and is that the way, I didn't know if that's the way it is for animation as well.

    Eric Fogel (38:40):

    It is. So, you know, I'm very, very happy to be working on Megamind right now. <Laugh>.

    Michael Jamin (38:46):

    Yeah, right.

    Eric Fogel (38:47):

    This will keep me employed, you know, for the next year or so. But it's like, you know, it's like anything else. We, we work job to job and there's never any guarantee Nope. That you're gonna get hired again. You just, you know, it's all kind of on good faith.

    Michael Jamin (39:02):

    Are you working with the actors too? Directing actors as well?

    Eric Fogel (39:05):

    I'm directing all the voice actors on this show.

    Michael Jamin (39:08):

    You're the only director. Yeah. And, and then you're also supervising the animation, the, the

    Eric Fogel (39:14):

    All of it. Yeah, all

    Michael Jamin (39:15):

    Of that. Yep. Good for you, man. Carved out quite a little career for yourself.

    Eric Fogel (39:20):

    It's fun.

    Michael Jamin (39:21):


    Eric Fogel (39:21):

    It's fun. Keeps me busy. But I, I do love it. I do.

    Michael Jamin (39:25):

    Do you have any other advice for anybody to, you know, what's, you know, trying to break in

    Eric Fogel (39:31):

    Other, I mean,

    Michael Jamin (39:32):

    Make more,

    Eric Fogel (39:33):

    You know, it's, you have to, I, it's a long time ago someone told me like, the recipe for, for a successful whatever show movie, whatever, you know, you find that, that thing that, that you love. You put, you put your, all your heart into that thing. And then, you know, you take what everyone else loves and, and it's kind of like where these two things come together that, that's kind of like your sweet spot, right? That's, that's your hit, that's your success. And so you gotta, you know, you gotta like focus in on what that thing is and, and put everything you have into it.

    Michael Jamin (40:08):

    I'm surprised they're not talking about bringing celebrity death mat back. That's gotta be next.

    Eric Fogel (40:13):

    There have been a few conversations over the years and there, there have been a couple of attempts to bring it back and we, we did. Yeah. I mean, it's, it's not dead, but <laugh>,

    Michael Jamin (40:27):

    Do they reach out to you or are you actively trying to sell that?

    Eric Fogel (40:30):

    I have. So I guess it's Viacom or Yeah, m t v. They, they own the rights to the show, but we, we have an agreement to, you know, if, if they want to bring it back, I'm, I'm attached to it. Right. And we've had, we've had some attempts and for whatever, well we, we did, we did get close. And then yes the studio that had made an offer, they went away. 

    Michael Jamin (41:00):

    They went away

    Eric Fogel (41:01):

    As, as these things do. I'll, I'll tell you offline more about it, <laugh>.

    Michael Jamin (41:05):

    Alright. Like, when we put the animation, the, the ama the animation studio that made Glen Martin, we put 'em outta business <laugh>.

    Eric Fogel (41:12):

    They, they didn't stay in business long after that. <Laugh>. And it's Yeah. Funny because they, I, I don't know if they, at the time I, I'm not sure if they realized how, what, what a unique opportunity that show was for them.

    Michael Jamin (41:26):

    What do you mean by that?

    Eric Fogel (41:28):

    The, you know, I, again, like these shows, these stop,

    Michael Jamin (41:32):

    Like they, how many stop motion series have there been? Right, right. You know, they're few and far between. Right. That was the Yeah, that's another thing. There's only, they're one of the few people that actually could do it. And I don't, I don't even know what they were doing beforehand. It's Right. So when they went out of business, like there was like, what else are you gonna do? You know, they wanted be like, people aren't lining up. Yeah. Stop for stop motion shows. Right? There's only a handful. Yeah. Yeah. That's the, yeah. Anyway. Is there any way, is there, do you wanna promote anything? Do you want people to follow you anywhere? Is there anything we can do to help you help grow your brand? Eric Fogel. Violent <laugh>. You can find me. I'm on you can find me on Twitter. Death Match Guy, I think is my, my oh really?


    Twitter handle. I'm verified there. What? Oh. But not on Instagram, just Twitter. I do a little Instagram. I'm not a huge social media person. Yeah. Well, we'll get you there for some weird reason. Yeah. Cause you're, cuz we're the same age. Anyway. All right, dude, I wanna thank you so much. Yeah. I, you've exposed me. I've learned something. Learned something about you and your craft. Yeah, because I, I even remember when we got hired, they said, yeah, we got this guy on, on Glen Martin. We have this guy Eric Fogel. I was like, what does he do? No one can explain it because we do everything. He's the guy. He's the glue, basically. That's what he he's the glue. Yeah. That's, that's it. Yeah. I'm the glue. Yeah. All right, man. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for, for joining me e. Excellent. that's it everyone. More good stuff next week. Go check out what Eric Fogel's up to. And he's a great guy. Thank you again so much for doing this, man. Don't go anywhere. All right, everyone, until next week.

    Phil Hudson (43:18):

    This has been an episode of Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving a review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok at @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok at @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until max time, keep riding.

    43m | Mar 29, 2023
  • 073 - Hamilton's King George - Rick Negron

    Tune in as Michael Jamin talks with his good friend, actor Rick Negron who plays King George in Hamilton. Discover what he has to say about being the first Latino King George, doing his first show in his home country of Puerto Rico alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda who was acting as Hamilton, and his overall Hamilton touring and acting career experience.

    Show Notes

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rick_negron/?hl=en

    IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0624508/?ref_=nmmi_mi_nm

    IBDB: https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/rick-negron-107348

    The Spokesman-Review: https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2022/apr/28/youll-be-back-in-playing-king-george-iii-in-hamilt/

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Automated Transcript:

    Rick Negron (00:00:00):

    That's still the case nowadays for a lot of young dancers and, and musical theater types. They go to New York and they take dance classes and they take voice lessons, and they take acting classes, and they get that picture and resume ready, and they go to open calls. And if you're talented and you're lucky sometimes you, you get an equity show, a, a union show from an open call. It's tough. And you have to, you have to hit that pavement. And sometimes, you know, getting to know, being in the right place at the right time. I, I, I was mentioning to you before that I, I booked this H B O commercial and I met more a dancer on that show who said, Hey, you'd be right for the show. And one of the guys is leaving the show and they're having auditions at the theater, and you should go. And that's how I got my first Broadway show.

    Michael Jamin (00:00:50):

    You're listening to Screenwriters. Need to hear this with Michael Jamin.

    Michael Jamin (00:00:58):

    Hey everyone, it's Michael Jamin. Welcome to Screenwriters. Need to hear this. If you are an aspiring theatrical actor, I got a present for you and we're gonna unwrap him right now. And his name is Rick Negron. And he's been my buddy for many years. He's at my wedding. We go back, Rick. Now Rick is most famous for probably, he's done a ton of stuff though, but he's probably most famous for playing the role of king George in the touring company of Hamilton, which he's been doing for four years. But he's done a ton of Broadway stuff. We're gonna talk about him. He's also done voices. I didn't know this, but he was also he does vo he did some voices in Red Dead Redemption as well as grand Theft Auto, which I wanna know all about that as well. But mostly I wanna talk about his incredible theatrical acting career. Rick, thank you so much. Thank you so much for <laugh>. For

    Rick Negron (00:01:47):

    What? Michael Jamin? I'm in the room. I'm, I'm in the room where it happens, man.

    Michael Jamin (00:01:52):

    <Laugh>, this is the room. This, what people don't realize is that I recorded some of this and I bone, I didn't, I didn't record, so, yeah. And this is, this is part two of our interview. I had a record over cuz I wasn't recording. Stuff

    Rick Negron (00:02:03):

    Happens. And you know what, Michael, you, you and I can talk till the cows come home. This is not a problem.

    Michael Jamin (00:02:09):

    This Rick's great guy, and he's gonna tell us all about. I, I, I had, so there's so much I wanted to get outta you, but first of all, what I, we were talking about is, you've been doing Hamilton, you've been King George and Hamilton, the first Latino King George, I might say, which is a big deal. And so yeah, you've been touring the country from city to city, and I kind of really wanted to talk to you about like, what is your, what is your day like when you go up on stage, you know, what are you doing before, what you're doing all before that, before you got on stage, because it's a, you've been done. How many performances have you said you're done? This,

    Rick Negron (00:02:44):

    I'm over 900 easily. I'm close to like nine 50. I, I, I don't count 'em, but every time the, the company management has like, oh, this is our 900th performance, I just kind of go, well, I've only missed maybe about between vacations and days that I've been sick. Maybe I've missed 30 at the most over a four year period. <Laugh>, that's, I've, I've done a lot of performances

    Michael Jamin (00:03:11):

    And, and we were talking about this and your character, like I, I've, I hate to make you repeat it, but how do you get, like, how do you get psyched up before each show when you do that many shows? How are you, what's your process before you, you run on stage?

    Rick Negron (00:03:27):

    Well, this, this character is a real gift in the sense that it's beautifully written. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, it's just three songs. <Laugh> honestly, Uhhuh <affirmative>. I'm on stage for a little over 10 minutes, but it's so well written that if I just hook into the words of, of the songs, I got 'em. Uhhuh <affirmative> you. I, I, I can, I can hook my myself into that myself, into that character very easily, just with the words. But the other gift is that I have time to get ready. So when every, when the show, when we are at places and the show starts, that's when I get my wig on. Mm-Hmm. I still have 15 minutes to do some vocal warmups and get dressed. And are you

    Michael Jamin (00:04:12):

    To being like tea with lemon? What are you sit, what are you doing that day?

    Rick Negron (00:04:16):

    Nah, nah. I, I mean, I'm not a huge tea guy unless, unless I'm having some vocal distress. And then I do like a nice warm tea with honey and lemon if I'm, if, if my voice is a little wonky or my throat's a little sore. But the main thing for me for vocal capacity is sleep. If I get less than seven hours, my voice suffers. If I eat a lot of cheese and dairy, that's gonna be a lot of gunk on the vocal courts.

    Michael Jamin (00:04:45):

    But if you're nervous the night

    Rick Negron (00:04:46):


    Michael Jamin (00:04:47):

    Hmm. But if you're nervous, if you have, if you get stage nerves and you can't sleep the night before <laugh>, right? I mean, no. Are you, are you beyond that?

    Rick Negron (00:04:55):

    Yeah, I'm beyond that. I mean, I've been in the business long enough that, that I, I get nervous. Uhhuh <affirmative> and God knows, I was nervous the first time I did the show in front of an audience in Puerto Rico of all places. Right. That's where we opened, right. With Lynn Manuel Miranda back in the role of Hamilton after being a away from it for a few years. That was a dream job because I'm from Puerto Rico and I literally went back home

    Michael Jamin (00:05:23):

    To a hero

    Rick Negron (00:05:23):

    Welcome star and one of the biggest shows on Broadway with Lynn Manuel Miranda and me playing the king. Yeah. I was born like four blocks away from the theater that we were at. It was just crazy sauce. So yes, I was incredibly nervous opening night. And there was my wife, my sister-in-law, in the audience you know, yes. Really nervous. But did I lose sleep the night before? No. I slept like a baby. No, really? My nerves don't really hit me until I start putting on that costume

    Michael Jamin (00:05:51):

    <Laugh>. Really? Yeah. I see. I would imagine to me, I mean, I know it's a big deal to be star of a movie, but to me this to me seems like a bigger deal. What you, what you're doing in terms of, it seems like a you are lead in this giant freaking play that, I mean, one of the biggest plays, you know, of our, of our time on. Seriously. Yeah. Yeah. And you are these, you play this character who the minute he walks on stage, the place goes nuts cuz you hit a home run and then you walk out, you're the home run guy. Exactly. Bye. Hello. No. Expect

    Rick Negron (00:06:21):

    Bye. And by the way, no expectation. I'd literally walk on stage and the place goes bananas. And I haven't said

    Michael Jamin (00:06:26):

    A word. Right. They love you before. You haven't even said anything. I mean, what a huge, I don't know. I just think this is like, I don't know, if I were an aspiring actors, that would be the part. I don't see how you, I don't know how, where you go from here, Rick <laugh>

    Rick Negron (00:06:41):

    <Laugh>. It's all downhill

    Michael Jamin (00:06:43):


    Rick Negron (00:06:45):

    No, I guess listen, it, the beauty of it is also that I've had this really long career mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and, you know, I started out as a chorus boy on Broadway and then worked myself into understudy and then did some roles. And then finally at, at a ripe old age. I've gotten this great job and I've really, I'm at the point in my life where I'm really enjoying it. Yeah. I'm enjoying the process. I'm enjoying the traveling cuz I, I, I've toured some, but I haven't toured a lot. And this tour has been to some really great cities all on the west coast up and down the west coast. Yeah, the mountain west. In the winter I got some snowboarding in, in Salt Lake City, Denver. I,

    Michael Jamin (00:07:33):

    Where are you supposed to do that with you if you break your leg?

    Rick Negron (00:07:36):

    Yeah, I'm not supposed to do that. Can we delete that from the podcast? <Laugh>? We can take that out. <Laugh>. It's in the past. I don't care. Okay. I, I stayed on the bunny slopes. I Right. I really took it easy. But then we spent summer in Canada, which was amazing. I was up in Calgary in the summer and went up to band for the first time in my life. And my wife, Leslie, who you know well, came up to visit and we stayed on Emerald Lake and I just spent two months in Hawaii. So this tour has just been amazing. Well, it started out in Puerto Rico, as I said, right. For a month with Manuel Miranda. And then we went to San Francisco and sat for a, a year in San Francisco. So I got to live in San Francisco Right. For a year and experienced that incredible city until the pandemic. And then we shut down for a year and four months before we started up again.

    Michael Jamin (00:08:27):

    And then, and then So how did you start? We, how did you start? Like, you know, take me back. I know you, I know you were, take me back to when you were a child. Did you, I mean, this is, did you dream of being a Broadway star like this? Like, what happened? Who, who dreams of that? Like who, how, I mean, you all dream of that, but who achieves it, I guess?

    Rick Negron (00:08:46):

    Well, a lot of people do. A lot of people do. And, and, and not everybody has the path that I had, but some of us get bitten by the bug early on. And I got bitten by the bug when I was 10. Right. And my mom was the drama teacher at school. And I guess I blame her for everything. But this must

    Michael Jamin (00:09:06):

    Be the be like, you must be the, the crowning achievement in her, in her in her life.

    Rick Negron (00:09:12):

    Yeah. She's, but I did, she's pretty proud. And I have ano another sister who also went in into theater and and so the whole family kind of w it was the family thing we all sang. Right. we all did mu mu musicals in the local community theater and children's theater. So it was a family thing for us growing up. But I'm the one that sort of got bitten hard. And then I got involved, like at 14 mm-hmm. <Affirmative> a choreographer. I was doing a, a mu a children's theater show, said, Hey, you've got some talent as a dancer. Come take, I'll give you a scholarship at my little dance school. And so after school at 14, I would go take ballet, jazz, tap and acrobatics after school with Susan Cable, who luckily was a great dance teacher. She had been a, a chorus person on Broadway.


    Wow. And, and, and that's what, how I started in my dance career. And then it kind of took off. And by the time I got to college I thought I was gonna be a, a concert dancer. I was in college, I was sort of groomed to, to, to possibly go into the Paul Taylor Dance company. And I actually was not on scholarship. I was a intern with a Paul Taylor dance company for a while until I realized I'm making no money. I'm working super hard and I've always wanted to be on Broadway. That was my real

    Michael Jamin (00:10:42):

    Dream. So those people don't interchange those concert dancers. Don't, they don't.

    Rick Negron (00:10:46):

    Some do it. Usually the concert dancers, if they can sing.

    Michael Jamin (00:10:52):


    Rick Negron (00:10:54):

    Will, will sort of move into the musical theater world and sometimes move back into the concert dance world. One of the great concert dancers of all time who I met when he was super young, Desmond Richardson mm-hmm. <Affirmative> he was a lead dancer with the Alban AI company for many, many, many years. I mean a God in the dance world. And now he owns his own owns, he runs his own dance company, complexions. And he's a great choreographer. And he was in the bad video with me back in the day with Michael Jackson. Right.

    Michael Jamin (00:11:30):

    So Rick was in the, I should say for the, I don't wanna gloss over this. Rick. Rick was in the a dance for, in the Michael Jackson's bad video directed by Martin Scorsese. Yeah. Was Quincy Jones produced?

    Rick Negron (00:11:41):

    Yeah, 1985. I was, I was a chorus dancer at the time. I was in I was doing my second Broadway show. The mystery of Evan, Dr. My dance captain was Rob Marshall. <Laugh> went on to direct Chicago, the movie and many other movies since then. And, and while I was doing the show, there was this audition for the bad video and yeah, it was, it was really surreal. I took vacation from, from the Broadway show to do the video and, and, and got to meet Michael who was really sort of like, it was two people in that body. I mean, he was super shy and, and sort of very reserved, but the minute the cameras went on it, he was, he became somebody else. Right. And he was a perfectionist. 25 takes sometimes e every setup. And Scorsese was famous for just burning through film. Easy 20 Takes the video was supposed to shoot for two weeks, and I think it went for four. And this is a music video. It was the first SAG music video at the time, by the way.

    Michael Jamin (00:12:44):


    Rick Negron (00:12:45):

    Anyway, Desmond Richardson was a young dancer at the time. There were a lot of young New York dancers in, in that show. And he famously went into the Avid Ailey company, but then he also worked on Fosse the Musical. And he also worked on Chicago. The, the movie with me. I, I got to work on Chicago, the movie cuz I had this great relationship with Rob Marshall and, and I was invited to audition. I didn't get, the dancers don't usually just get the job. You still have to come in and audition. Right. But even though, you know, the people involved it just is the way it is. And, and there was, and, and Desmond and, and I, we bump into each other all the time and we have so many memories. You know, going back <laugh> 20, what is that, 85? 1985 was the bad video.


    And I, I still bump into 'em. I I've been into 'em at the opening of the new USC school a few years ago. The School of Dance there at usc, the Kaufman School of Dance, I think it's called. But anyway yeah, people go in in from the dance world into musical theater and they go back and forth. Not a lot. Actually. We have one member of our, our of our of our Hamilton company, Andrew who was a modern dancer in the dance world and then moved into musical theater. And,

    Michael Jamin (00:14:04):

    But you were telling me how, and this is kind of important cause people are gonna be like, well, how do I break in? And you were, I mean, what, as you were explaining, it's like, it's basically you had this, you were just, you were in the circle, you were just there, and then things le one thing leads to enough simply because you put yourself there. Right. So how did you, what was your first break? How did you get that? I mean,

    Rick Negron (00:14:24):

    Every, everybody, everybody has a, a different story about first breaks. And when I was starting out, it was really different. Things have changed, you know, in all these years. Now, if you go to the right school, you can get into the right you know casting director workshop. And they see, oh, really? You, and, and maybe you get an agent out of that workshop and, and you know, it's, it, when I started out it, that wasn't the case when I started out. You go to New York, you start taking dance class at all the big dance studios where all the other Broadway dancers are taking dance class mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And then you pick up Backstage. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> newspaper, and you go to the open equity calls for every show. I remember my first open equity call was for cats, the national tour, right after Cats had opened on Broadway.


    And I, I had four callbacks. I got really close to booking cats, but I didn't. And and I just kept going to open calls. And that's still the case nowadays for a lot of young dancers and, and musical theater types. They go to New York and they take dance classes and they take voice lessons and they take acting classes and they get that picture and resume ready and they go to open calls. And if you're talented and you're lucky sometimes you, you get an equity show, a a union show from an open call. It's tough. And you have to, you have to hit that pavement. And sometimes, you know, getting to know, being in the right place at the right time. I, I, I was mentioning to you before that I, I booked this H B O commercial and I met one, a dancer on that show who said, Hey, you'd be right for the show. And one of the guys is leaving the show and they're having auditions at the theater and you should go. And that's how I got my first Broadway show by somebody suggesting that I go audition and I showed up at the theater and auditioned. And that night I got the job. And that's how I got my first Broadway show. The more

    Michael Jamin (00:16:24):

    People, you know, the more you work, the more you hear and

    Rick Negron (00:16:27):

    The more you Exactly. Yeah. You're in the mix. You have to in be in the mix and you have to network. And nowadays that involves, as you know social media and getting, getting followers and, and and, and putting out videos of yourself, singing and putting out videos of yourself, dancing and putting out videos of yourself, acting. I mean there's all that stuff that's going on now that wasn't going on when I started. But is, is is the new reality of how do you get into the business really. Okay. And, and when young, when young people ask me how, you know, how do I get started? And I say, well, in your hometown, get involved. Do the, do the school musicals, but get involved with the community theater. In any way you can. If, if you want to be an actor, but you know, there isn't a role for you do the work on the sets.


    I worked on sets in community theater. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I helped my mom. She, she was makeup artist too. And so I helped with makeup and I, I did lights. I, you know, I did all kinds of stuff just to be in the room. Right. Just to see other people work, to, to network, to meet people. And and I'm glad I did because I kind of know my way around all the different elements of theater. You know, I know what Alico is. I know, you know what all the different microphones are that they use in theater. And I, I always, I always befriend the crew. I think <laugh>, as an actor, we can tend to be insular and

    Michael Jamin (00:17:57):

    Oh really

    Rick Negron (00:17:58):

    Hang out with just the actors. I hang out with the crew. The crew knows what's up. Uhhuh <affirmative>, the crew knows where the good, the good bars are in town. They, you know, the crew is, and, and they're the ones that watch your back. When you're on the road.

    Michael Jamin (00:18:13):

    Now you were explaining to me the, and I didn't know the difference between, cuz you as the king, king, king George, you have two understudies, but there's also swing actors. Explain to me how that all works.

    Rick Negron (00:18:24):

    So in the show, you usually, you have the ensemble, which is what we used to call the chorus. Yeah. And then you have the leads. And in the ensemble you usually have two male swings and two female swings. So those individuals are not in the show nightly, but they literally understudy all the f the, the females understudy, all the females and the males understudy. All the males. And that's usually a case. They have two male and two female. In Hamilton, we have four female swings and four male swings. I think I'm right. Three or four. We have a lot. And that's because Hamilton is such a, a beast of a show. It's so hard. Physically. People get injured, people get tired.

    Michael Jamin (00:19:06):

    It's like being a professional athlete. It's no different.

    Rick Negron (00:19:08):

    Yeah. Yeah. And you're doing it eight times a week. And after a year it's repetitive motion for a lot of dancers. Oh. So I always tell those dancers, don't just do the show. Go, go and do yoga. Go do a dance class cuz you have to work your muscles a different way. Otherwise you're gonna get repetitive motion injuries. Wow. You know, like the same person that that screws on the, you know, back in the day when they screwed down the, the toothpaste cap every day that those muscles every day, all day long are gonna get messed up.

    Michael Jamin (00:19:37):

    But do they have like a trainer or doctor on set at all times?

    Rick Negron (00:19:40):

    We have a personal train PT, physical therapist right on tour with us. Most heavy dance shows will have that on tour. Because they need, they need the upkeep. The dancers, especially in this show work so hard. They, they need somebody to help them recover from injury. And, and just keep their bodies tuned up.

    Michael Jamin (00:20:04):

    And so let's say you get, you're in Hamilton, let's say you're, you're a swing or whatever, but, and then you're on tour, they what, give you a per diem? Or do they put you up in housing? How, like what is the, what is that really like to be?

    Rick Negron (00:20:15):

    So let me I'm, I'm gonna finish the whole understudy thing because Oh yeah. You have the swings and then you have the understudies, which are people in the chorus who understudy the leads. But then you also have standbys. And the standbys aren't in the show. Right. But they're backstage and they understudy anywhere between 2, 3, 4, 4 different characters. And so at the drop of the hat, they can say, Hey, you're on tonight for Burr, or you're on tonight for Hamilton. It, it can happen five minutes before the show. You can know way in advance cuz you know that character's going on vacation and stage management has told you, oh, you're gonna do the first five of, of, of the, of the vacation or the first four and somebody else is gonna do the other four. So you may know ahead of time and you can ask or tell your friends and family to come see you do that role. Right. Cause you know, ahead of time. But many times you, you find out last minute that somebody is sick or, or doesn't fe or hurt their knee or whatever. Or even in the middle of the show, sometimes somebody will twist an ankle and boom, we have a new bur in act two. It, it's, it's happened not a lot, but it's happened often enough that the understudies come in, warmed up and ready to go.

    Michael Jamin (00:21:26):

    But you explained to me even before every performance, even though you've done the same freaking songs for 900 times, you still mentally prepare yourself. You go through, you rehearse each, each song that you go through. So you walk yourself through it. But I can't even imagine if, like, if you, how do you prepare yourself for four different roles possibly. You know, like how do you do that? It's like you, it's

    Rick Negron (00:21:49):

    Crazy. Yeah. They, they, I know some of them will go over like difficult passages in the show because there's, there's moments in the show, like for Lafayette he's got in guns and ships. He's got some, some rap that are so fast. Yeah. That I, I know the understudies will go over those, what, what we called the, the, the moments when you can trip up. You go over those moments before you go on, but the rest of you can't go through the entire show. Right. Just pick and choose those moments where you can like go backstage and just go over your words and make sure they're, they're, you know, under your belt. I go over my words because I sing the same tune three times, but with different lyrics. Right. And the, and the trap is to sing the wrong lyric in the wrong song, which I had done. And it's, there's nothing more embarrassing and gut wrenching than to sing the wrong lyric in the wrong song. And you just have to find your way back. And it, they call it walking into the white room. And because literally what does that will happen and your mind will, your mind will explode, your armpits will explode with sweat. Your eyeballs will get this big, your throat will dry. It is flight or flight or flight moment.

    Michael Jamin (00:23:07):

    Yeah. And

    Rick Negron (00:23:08):

    It's so hard to, to like try to grasp the right lyric. And, and you're in, you're literally in a white room. Yeah. And you're going, oh shit. How, how do I get back?

    Michael Jamin (00:23:20):


    Rick Negron (00:23:21):

    And for me it's a little easier cuz my song is nice and slow, but can you imagine being Hamilton and you're rapping a mile a minute and you go into the white room

    Michael Jamin (00:23:29):

    And do you guys talk about that? Oh

    Rick Negron (00:23:32):

    Yeah. Yeah. Famously on Broadway, there, there, there was a something called Burst Corner. Uhhuh <affirmative> which was, I, I forget who started it, but I think <laugh>, they, they told 'em not to do it anymore. It was something where they post on Instagram or Facebook. Oh. so-and-so, you know, said this instead of what they should have said, you know, basically coming out and, and owning your faux PAs during a live show. Right. I remember when I did Manda La Mancha with Robert Gole on tour. He used to make up lyrics sometimes. And we, and one of the guys in the show started jotting them down. And at the end of the tour, they basically roasted him at a, at the closing night party with all the lyrics that he made up <laugh> throughout, throughout the entire thing. And he was not amused.

    Michael Jamin (00:24:20):

    He was not amused. I was gonna say, I

    Rick Negron (00:24:23):

    Was not amused with that one. Okay. But my favorite faux pod of his was we were in Nashville and he started singing Impossible Dream. And he's sang to dream the Impossible Dream to fight the unat of a fo to carry Moonbeams home in a jar.

    Michael Jamin (00:24:41):

    And there was like, what?

    Rick Negron (00:24:44):

    That's a big Crosby song. Oh, funny. Carry Moon Beams Home in a Jar. It's an old Bing Cosby song. And he just pulled that lyric outta nowhere and inserted it into the impossible dream. And everybody backstage just went,

    Michael Jamin (00:24:59):

    What do he say? Oh my God. That's hilarious.

    Rick Negron (00:25:03):

    But you know, I I'm, I'm, I might be roasting Robert Gole at the moment, but everybody's had those moments. Yeah. Especially in Hamilton, it happens cuz the, the words are coming fast and furious and boy, if you miss that train or you screw up, oh, it's hard to get back on.

    Michael Jamin (00:25:18):

    And I imagine if

    Rick Negron (00:25:20):

    You do, everybody does. Everybody, if you

    Michael Jamin (00:25:21):

    Do it one too many times, are you looking at unemployment?

    Rick Negron (00:25:24):

    Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>? No. Really? No. Yeah. I mean, nobody does it one too many times. Uhhuh, <affirmative>. I mean, some understudies have more bumps in the road than others. Uhhuh. <affirmative>. But you, you, you know, we give them a lot of grace because being an understudy is really hard. Yeah. And so when somebody's honest and understudy you, everybody has their, their, their side view mm-hmm. <Affirmative> just because they, they might be in the wrong spot in a certain moment or cross a little differently than the usual guy. So you just have to have some grace. Don't get upset if they're in the wrong spot. You know, just maybe nudge them a little bit or pull them or, or, or just watch out for them and don't bump into them because, you know, somebody is on. I, because I've understudied so many in so many shows, I have a lot of empathy for, for understudies and swings and, but I, I, I don't, in my experience, and I've been in a ton of shows, I haven't been around somebody who's messed up so much that they've got gotten fired. Usually when somebody's not up for the task creatives know during rehearsals that they're not cutting it. Uhhuh <affirmative>. And then so somebody will get, will get let go. Right. the only other time I, I remember somebody lost their voice and, and took time off and came back and lost their voice again. And it was just a situation where they couldn't do the job. Their voice just, wow. Their voice just couldn't ha hack it. And so, you know, those are tough and difficult moments. They don't happen often, but it happens.

    Michael Jamin (00:27:09):

    Wow. Yeah. And now you were also telling me, which I thought was fascinating, is that your character, because he's the king, you were talking, you know, how, how your character has evolved, you playing the same exact part has evolved over, over all these years of you playing it.

    Rick Negron (00:27:24):

    Yeah. It's, it's been a gift. I'm, I'm, you know, I've realized early on that theater really is my thing. Even though I did some TV and film when I moved to la I, I didn't, I didn't really love the work. Right. It sort of felt a little bit empty just in the sense that, you know, you sit in a trailer for hours and hours and then you get a couple of rehearsals and you shoot and you're done. And that's it. You know, and it's on, it's out there for posterity and you walk away from the, from the gig going, oh, I could have done this, I could have done that. But in theater, you get to redeem yourself every night. You know, if you screwed up the night before, you, you make it better the next night. And I love that about theater.


    And and so for, for me I just get better over time and people say, oh, but don't you get tired eight times a week a year. I don't. I I like to, I like to tell people that it's, it's almost like being a potter. You have the same, you know, square block of clay and you're making that same pot. But every time you're doing something a little bit different and you're learning from the, the, the, yesterday when you made that pot, today you're making the same pot, but you learn something new, you discovered something new, making this pot, it's still the same pot, but you're, you may be doing a little filigree or a little curve here, or a little something different. So every night you get to shape this pot a little bit differently. And that's, for me, that's the, the beauty of it.


    That's the challenge. I remember early on with, with this, with this character, I was in rehearsals and the the associate director Patrick Vassell said, you know, Rick, this is interesting. Most guys come in with a really large, over the top take on the king. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you're coming in with a very spare low-key take on it. I mean, we're gonna build you up, which is usually not the case with this character. And build, build him up. Not make him bigger, but just give him more depth. Okay. And that was the rehearsal process for me. And then when I started working with Thomas Kale the, the director of Hamilton right before we opened in Puerto Rico, he said, the trick to this guy is to make him, make him as simple and as small as possible because the king can, with one finger kill a whole community. Right. Know, he just has to say, those people are gone and they're gone. So he doesn't have to do much. He has all this power. So that, that was like the best bit of information for me. And so the challenge is over time is to do less.

    Michael Jamin (00:30:14):

    Right. And

    Rick Negron (00:30:14):

    Still with all the homework that you've done and the character work that you've done, but do less. And I, and I was telling you this before, that you walk out on stage Yeah. And the audience goes crazy. And, you know, there's all this expectation and sometimes you get suckered in by this adoring audience to do more. Right. But you have to fight that feeling and do less. And that's,

    Michael Jamin (00:30:38):

    It sounds like though you got conflicting notes though. No. They directed the eight. Well,

    Rick Negron (00:30:43):

    I think because in rehearsal I was still sort of finding my way with him. Uhhuh <affirmative>. And instead of making this broad fabish character, which is how somebody who starts with King George and thinks, oh, I'm just gonna do this and make him big and fabish. Right. that's sort of a two-dimensional view of, of the king. And I came in with a lot of research about the guy and thinking, I, I, I don't wanna make him this two-dimensional caricature. Right. I really wanna make him a, a guy who is number one dangerous

    Michael Jamin (00:31:21):

    Uhhuh <affirmative>,

    Rick Negron (00:31:21):

    Who has a lot of power and who, who is feeling jilted, but won't allow you, you can't break up with me. Right. I'm breaking up with you. You know, that kind, that kind of dynamic in this, in the first song specifically. And so I came in with that and he said, that's great. Now we're gonna just work and put more layers on him, but not necessarily make him bigger, but just give him more layers.

    Michael Jamin (00:31:52):

    Let me ask you the, because when you're in, when you say, you know, you're the analogy of making a pot, are you going into the performance thinking, I wanna try this today? Or are you so into character you forget and, and somehow it it organically arises?

    Rick Negron (00:32:10):

    I try to stay in, in the more organic realm.

    Michael Jamin (00:32:13):

    Uhhuh, <affirmative>,

    Rick Negron (00:32:14):

    Because I think that's where the really good stuff is. The stuff that just pops out of you.

    Michael Jamin (00:32:20):

    But you can't make that happen. That's the problem. Yeah.

    Rick Negron (00:32:23):

    If, if, if I plan something

    Michael Jamin (00:32:26):


    Rick Negron (00:32:26):

    <Affirmative>, I, I feel like it, it feels fabricated a little bit. Right. And so I, I try not to, but sometimes I'll get a note from, we have a resident director that travels with us, and also sometimes the director or the associate director will show up to whatever city we're in and will watch the show and give us notes and say, you know, in this moment, maybe try this or try that. And so I really pay attention to those notes and I try to implement them, but I try not to I try not to quote unquote fabricate them or, or, or think too much on it. I try to, maybe, maybe the best thing that I can say is I'll tr I'll try on my own four or five different ways to achieve that note. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Okay. I can, I can, I can make it more dangerous in this section if I lean into this word or if I, you know, take a pause or whatever it is. I'll come up with four or five different ways to get the note across and then let whatever which one pops out pops out when it, when I do the performance. So I give myself some choices. So I don't, so I don't get, I don't pigeonhole myself into a specific choice, which then feels fabricated and fake.

    Michael Jamin (00:33:51):

    Right. But do you ever get into the part and then n notice, oh, I, I just slipped out of it. I, I'm, I'm, I'm observing myself now. I'm not in the part

    Rick Negron (00:34:00):

    Happens all the time.

    Michael Jamin (00:34:02):

    And what do you do? How do you get back in

    Rick Negron (00:34:04):

    The words the text will save you for every writer out there. Thank you. Because the text will save you. You have to get back into, into what it is you're saying. When, when

    Michael Jamin (00:34:16):

    You, but the words are in your head that you don't, you're not reading something, they're in your head.

    Rick Negron (00:34:19):

    You're in your head, but in your head. I've been doing this so long that I can be in the middle of my performance and going, Hmm. That wasn't good. Right. Like, I'll be criticizing myself while I'm doing it,

    Michael Jamin (00:34:31):

    But that's not good. Now you're out of character.

    Rick Negron (00:34:33):

    Now I'm out of character. Now I'm in my head. Right. And the first thing that I'll do is I'll, I'll bite something. I'll bite a word or I'll, I'll make a gesture. Or basically I'll snapped my myself out of that.

    Michael Jamin (00:34:47):

    Do it.

    Rick Negron (00:34:48):

    I guess. I didn't silence my phone.

    Michael Jamin (00:34:51):

    That's okay. So,

    Rick Negron (00:34:52):

    Interesting enough. That's, that's the resident director of Hamilton just texted me.

    Michael Jamin (00:34:57):

    <Laugh>. He can wait. It's not important.

    Rick Negron (00:34:59):

    No. She, she, luckily this is she. Yes. Better. Sherry Barber. Amazing director.

    Michael Jamin (00:35:05):

    So we that's my next question though. I wanna talk about that. But, so, all right. So you snap so you, you, you get back into it with a physical, something physical, a gesture or something.

    Rick Negron (00:35:14):

    Physical or, or, or, or vocal. Yeah. Or some different intention. Yeah. Just mix it up. Right. Mix it up. Yeah. Do something different that, that's gonna get you outta your head.

    Michael Jamin (00:35:27):

    Right. I mean, I mean, I would think that we, that way my fear is going up, going up, forgetting, oh, what, what's my line? Line? Oh,

    Rick Negron (00:35:34):

    It is, that's every actor's fear. And, and, and if anything keeps me nervous, it's that, it's the fear of, of messing up. But the, and people say, oh, how do you get over being nervous? And I always say, you, how, how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Yeah. Practice, practice, practice. Confidence comes from being, I can sing that song with another song, playing over a loud speaker. That's how well I know that song.

    Michael Jamin (00:36:04):

    Really. With another song playing. There's

    Rick Negron (00:36:05):

    Another song playing over the loud speaker. And I can sing my song while that song is playing. That's how much in the bones in my cell that song is. See, I just have to, I, I rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.

    Michael Jamin (00:36:18):

    Do you think it's possible to over rehearse?

    Rick Negron (00:36:21):


    Michael Jamin (00:36:22):

    Uhhuh. <Affirmative>. Yeah.

    Rick Negron (00:36:24):

    But I mean, for me, you know, every actor's different. For me, my comfort, what gives me my comfort zone is, and, and gives me confidence, is feeling like I, I know this inside out, left, right. I, I know ev Yeah, I know this. I got this Uhhuh <affirmative>. That's how I get

    Michael Jamin (00:36:46):

    There. But, but you don't feel that way in opening night cuz you haven't done it 900

    Rick Negron (00:36:49):

    Times. No, no, no. You haven't done it 900 times. So you just, you you, I go back to my yoga and I, I I do some deep breathing mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and I try to focus on the intentions of the character. What is he trying to do?

    Michael Jamin (00:37:05):

    Do you, do you sometimes kick yourself? Like, do you feel like, oh, I wasn't in the Tonight Show. I was, I tried. I wasn't in it. I wasn't in it. Oh

    Rick Negron (00:37:14):

    Yeah. I walked out, I walk off stage sometimes and go, Ooh, that was terrible. Or whatev, you know, I'm, I'm my worst critic. Right. And sometimes I walk away and go, oh, that was good.

    Michael Jamin (00:37:26):

    Right. Because you're just

    Rick Negron (00:37:27):

    Lost. I don't pat myself on the back as often as I should. Uhhuh <affirmative>, I'm usually more critical of myself. And, you know, and now I try, I try to not beat myself up as much as I used to. I try to be a little kinder to myself, but yeah, I totally walk away sometimes going, oh, that was, that was not your best.

    Michael Jamin (00:37:46):

    <Laugh> <laugh>. And, and so these, these directors, like, what do they, what's their job? Because they didn't direct the show. The show has been choreographed. It's been directed. Now they're just jo they're just there every night to make sure it doesn't go off the rails.

    Rick Negron (00:37:59):

    Yeah. Pretty

    Michael Jamin (00:38:00):

    Much tune things.

    Rick Negron (00:38:01):

    Yeah. And the really good ones, like, like sh like our our resident director Sherry they're there to keep it fresh. And so she's constantly feeding you ideas. Hey, what, what if we do this? What if we do that? How about, how about, you know, and, and that's, she, she's great at bringing new ideas to something that we've been doing for four years,

    Michael Jamin (00:38:27):

    But I'm not sure how much I would wanna hear that if I were you. Like, you know what I'm saying? Like, oh, I love it. This is what I You love that.

    Rick Negron (00:38:34):

    I love it. I love trying new stuff. I love messing about with that pot that I'm creating. Oh, what about, why, why don't you do a lip on, on, on the top? Oh, yeah, yeah. Do it. We'll curl out the lip on the top. I've never done that before. Right. Why don't we do that? You know, I did something a few months ago at the end of the song, the song I famously go, famously I should say the, the king famous famously says, and no, don't change the subject. And he points at somebody in the audience and he gets, he, it's a rare moment where he gets upset. Uhhuh <affirmative>. And that's, and, and if you've seen the Disney Plus, Jonathan Gruff famously just spits all over the place. It just is, it's, it's an explosion of saliva. And it's, it's a brilliant moment. I think. I think his take on the king is, is wonderful and he sings it so well. And and I usually point, they want you to usually point in sort of the same area of the, you can point anywhere, but they, they usually take point over here. And I always point over there, and one night, man, this is maybe about four or five months ago, one night at the end of the song, I went, I went,

    Michael Jamin (00:39:45):

    I'm watching you

    Rick Negron (00:39:46):

    Uhhuh <affirmative>. Like, I pointed to my eyes and I pointed to that person who I had pointed to earlier in the song. And no, don't change the subject as if that's my one nemesis in the room. And I'm just saying, I'm watching you <laugh>. And it got such a reaction, right. That I kept it, it's been my new little bit until I, until I decide I don't want to, or until, you know, the associate director walks in and goes, you know what? I don't like that thing that you do at the end, cut it. And I'm like, okay, it's gone. Right. Well, think of something else. You know, unless there, there's always, there's always something right. That I can think of. And that's, that's the fun part that I can always improve it, I can always make it better. I can always have fun with it.

    Michael Jamin (00:40:29):

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You could unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.

    Michael Jamin (00:40:53):

    I'm surprised you, I mean, I, I would wa I'm curious like, but you allowing yourself to watch, you know, Jonathan Grots version as opposed, you know, is that, are you, do you, you know, what's that like, you know, cause character yours

    Rick Negron (00:41:08):

    Now. Yeah. I saw him do it originally on Broadway when I saw the show in previews. And then of course I saw him do the Disney Plus version. And then when we were in rehearsals in 2018 for our company, we were the third national tour to go out when we were in rehearsals, they said, oh, you you know, you can go stand back in the, at the back of the house at the Richard Rogers and watch the Broadway company. And at that point, the king was Ian I'm forgetting Ian's last name, but he's, I think he's still the king right now. He's been there for a long time. He's brilliant. Uhhuh <affirmative> as the king. And I watched him play the King while I'm in rehearsals for the King. Right. And for me, I wish I could see all the kings really? Because really they all do something different. And, and you, and, and the stuff that's really good. You wanna steal it, man. You wanna, but can you, I mean, love that,

    Michael Jamin (00:42:00):

    But can you

    Rick Negron (00:42:00):

    Take it from the best baby steal from the

    Michael Jamin (00:42:02):

    Best stuff from the best.

    Rick Negron (00:42:04):

    Interesting. Yes. I mean, you gotta make it your own. You can't do the exact same thing. Right. But, but it, for me, it feeds me as an actor. I'm like, oh, what a cool idea. I should, I can do a version of that or Right. Or so. Oh, that makes me think of something else. You know, I, I I, yeah. I I love it. Do

    Michael Jamin (00:42:20):

    You get together and talk with the other kings at all? Yeah.

    Rick Negron (00:42:23):

    I've met the king that's on on Zoom, actually. I haven't met him in person, but the guy Peter Matthews who, who does the Angelica tour and he's been doing it for a while. Most of the Kings. It's a, it's a nice gig. So yeah, you stick around right. As long as you, you know, want to, or as long as they'll have you. Right. And Hamilton's been really great about, you know, letting us stay. But Peter Peter's really a funny guy and I haven't gotten to see his king because obviously I'm doing it at another part of the country while he's doing it. But I would love to see him play the King. Really. yeah. And Rory O'Malley, who played it here in la, he did the first national, he I think Tony Winter for book of Mormon. Fantastic guy. I met him in San Francisco when he came to see our company. I'd love to see his cane cuz he's a great singer and, you know, everybody's got their, their their take on him. And I, I find it fascinating to see what somebody does with, with this character.

    Michael Jamin (00:43:25):

    Right. Cuz there's so much, there's so much. Yeah. That's so much how much constantly reinvented fun,

    Rick Negron (00:43:29):

    Fun role and,

    Michael Jamin (00:43:30):

    But by still, but you still gotta remain true to what the words are and what the intention of the words. But it still can be interpreted while still being true to those

    Rick Negron (00:43:38):

    Words. Which, which is the beauty of, of, of, of Hamilton and, and I give a lot of credit to the creative team, is that yes, you have to sing the words and sing the melody, but you get a lot of creative license to, to make it your own Uhhuh <affirmative>. And so if you see our company of Hamilton and then you see the Broadway company of Hamilton, it's almost like two different shows. Right. It's the same show. But because you have different actors in those roles, it's pretty remarkable the difference in the companies.

    Michael Jamin (00:44:10):

    And tell me a little bit more about some of the other Broadway and traveling, because you've had such a resume, man, such a resume.

    Rick Negron (00:44:17):

    <Laugh>. Well, you know, I, I started back in the eighties as a, as a Chorus Boy and, and doing some really cool shows. Man La Mancha, the Goodbye Girl, the

    Michael Jamin (00:44:27):


    Rick Negron (00:44:27):

    Girl leader of the Pack. I, I did, I did In The Heights on Broadway Right. For a couple of years. That's when I, I actually did a workshop of In the Heights in 2005 with Li Manuel Miranda and the whole gang, and I got to meet them back then. So they've been good loyal friends since then. Yeah. And, and have kept me employed for many years. I hand, you know, hats off to them <laugh>. Oh, I do have hair by the way, but it was kinda messy. So I put on my, my hat. You

    Michael Jamin (00:44:58):

    Could have worn your wig, your powdered wig

    Rick Negron (00:45:01):

    <Laugh>. Oh yeah. I

    Michael Jamin (00:45:02):

    Used to wear, Hey, I'm always in character

    Rick Negron (00:45:04):

    <Laugh>. Yeah, A actually I have I'm, I have a few weeks off right now, which is why I'm home in la Right. Because we just did Hawaii and, and the show had to pack up and, and be put on the ship to come back to the us So they shipped, the show changed and that's how we, how it got to Puerto Rico too, which is why it makes it kind of difficult to send those shows to the, the Islandss because they have to ship it.

    Michael Jamin (00:45:29):

    But even still, how long does it take to set up for them to build, you know, build the set?

    Rick Negron (00:45:36):

    Well the shipping of it took a, takes about two weeks.

    Michael Jamin (00:45:40):

    All right. But once you're,

    Rick Negron (00:45:41):

    But then once it all gets there, our crew can, can put the set up in day and a half.

    Michael Jamin (00:45:47):

    Wow. Okay.

    Rick Negron (00:45:48):

    It's, it's like, it's all been carefully crafted. It's like Lincoln Logs, everything fits together, but

    Michael Jamin (00:45:54):

    Stages are different sizes. That's what I don't understand.

    Rick Negron (00:45:57):

    Well, they ahead of time, the, the production management and, and, and, and company management, they sit together and they go, okay, these are the cities that we're doing, which is the smallest theater we're in Uhhuh <affirmative>, that, those are our dimensions. We can't, we can't get bigger than that.

    Michael Jamin (00:46:15):

    But you can put a smaller on a bigger, on a stage, you can put a small,

    Rick Negron (00:46:19):

    Yeah, yeah. And the show, I mean, the show was made for the Richard Rogers, which is a pretty small theater. I mean, it's an old 1920s Broadway theater, Uhhuh <affirmative>, that seats about 1300. So it's pretty small. And the stage backstage is kind of small too. So most of the theaters that we do on, that we go to on the road are much bigger than the Richer Rogers. Okay. So they just, you know, they just do black baffling on the sides and just make it more of a letter box. And it works. It works. As long as we're not in a place that's smaller than our set. And some shows have what they call a jump set, which means that while we're in one city, we have a, a second set that goes to the next city and gets built. And so that we close in, in Boise on a Sunday and we open in Salt Lake City on a, on a Tuesday, you know, but let's say one day.

    Michael Jamin (00:47:13):

    But let's say that you're doing a dance number and the stage is this big and your's, the dancer, you know. Okay. Six pace steps to get my next mark on a bigger stage. It's, isn't it more steps <laugh> or No,

    Rick Negron (00:47:23):

    No, no, because you're, you're, regardless of the size of the stage you are set. It remains the same.

    Michael Jamin (00:47:30):

    Okay. So no one will go out of that.

    Rick Negron (00:47:32):

    Yeah, no. Yeah. We'll, we'll we'll never stretch it. Right. The set itself never gets stretched. If anything, the, the theater will come in with, with black you know what the, what they call the legs, those are, you know, a break a leg comes from

    Michael Jamin (00:47:48):


    Rick Negron (00:47:48):

    Literally they, you know, break a leg is good luck. But it literally means the legs are those black drapes that come down in the front and also in each wing.

    Michael Jamin (00:47:59):

    Okay. So

    Rick Negron (00:47:59):

    When you, when you, when you go on stage, sometimes you have to move that drapery to get on stage or to, if you're gonna go in front of the, the, the in front of the curtain, you, you, you move it with your arm, you break the leg.

    Michael Jamin (00:48:15):

    So you're not, so you're not literally break. Okay. So you're,

    Rick Negron (00:48:18):

    You're not literally breaking the leg, you're not breaking anything. Parting, parting the drapery to go on stage.

    Michael Jamin (00:48:23):

    Oh. So this is very interesting. This is gonna be, yeah.

    Rick Negron (00:48:25):

    Yeah. It's a little theater trivia for Yeah. The, the folks out there.

    Michael Jamin (00:48:30):

    Fascinating. Now. Okay, so on a regular day, you go to a town, your new, your your new city or whatever, and they give you a per diem to Yeah. Goodbye lunch and get out apartment

    Rick Negron (00:48:42):

    Diem. The union sets a weekly per diem. And that is for you to spend as you wish. Uhhuh, <affirmative>. And then also company management way ahead of time will say we have three or four different hotels that we've negotiated a special deal for and choose which one you want to stay in. And these are the prices and these are the amenities and people choose from that list of hotels. But a lot of people nowadays are doing Airbnb, especially on a tour where you sit in a city for four weeks, five weeks, six weeks. The shortest stays we've ever had have been two weeks. But we've, we've done six weeks. And so a lot of people do Airbnbs cuz you have a kitchen and you have a washer dryer and more, you know. But is

    Michael Jamin (00:49:26):

    It, is staying in a hotel more fun? Is that dorm living, is that more fun for the cast?

    Rick Negron (00:49:31):

    Some, no, I don't think it's more fun for them. Some stay in the hotel cuz it'll be right next to the theater. And that's convenient. Yeah. Especially if we are in Denver and it's seven degrees outside. Being, you know, li living right near the theater is really cool when it's, when the weather's bad. But most people, a lot of people nowadays, they're getting Airbnbs and they're rooming together. So three or four people can get a really cool house.

    Michael Jamin (00:49:57):

    But I'm picturing <laugh>

    Rick Negron (00:50:00):

    And, and they save money because they're rooming together. Right. So, you know, the rent, their ability to pay rent, I mean now they can use their per diem to live on, not just for their place to stay. They can

    Michael Jamin (00:50:12):

    Have you shared, have you shared apartments or No. Does the king, does the king have his own place now?

    Rick Negron (00:50:16):

    <Laugh>, I'm too old to have roommates. You're too

    Michael Jamin (00:50:18):

    That crap.

    Rick Negron (00:50:18):

    I had roommates in my twenties and thirties. I'm done. But the only roommate I have is my wife. And Cause

    Michael Jamin (00:50:24):

    You're right.

    Rick Negron (00:50:24):

    But she's not really my roommate. So

    Michael Jamin (00:50:26):

    My like, my naive opinion of what it must be like is like in high school when you're in the play it's like, you know, or even at a high school, you know, community, you are like, Hey, it's the, we're all the, it's the group, we're the gang, we're doing everything together. But once you become a pro, that's not the way it is. Huh? It's not like

    Rick Negron (00:50:45):

    It is at first it is, it's the honeymoon phase

    Michael Jamin (00:50:49):

    Real. Okay. Where you're like hanging out together

    Rick Negron (00:50:51):

    Where we all just meet and Oh, I know that person. We did a show together a long time ago. And so we become a little bit of a clique and then the, the cliques start happening early on. But we're one big happy family. Right. And we have opening night parties and you know, and all that occurs early on. But then the clicks really start creating Right. You know, the, the peop certain people start to hang out together. We had the, an our, our company's called an Peggy cuz each separate tour has a different name. There's the Angelica tour, the Philip Tour. These are characters in the show. Right. And Peggy is the third Skylar sister. So we became the third company. So we are called the An Peggy tour and we're, and there's a group of us we're called the, an Peggy Alpine Club. And literally, literally a bunch of us who like to hike and, and do outdoorsy stuff. We went snowboarding and skiing a lot in the winter. We, a lot of us got scuba cert certified for our Hawaii stay. Wow. And we've done incredible hikes all over the place. So that's our little clique. But also, you know, people that have, are married and right on tour together or have ki there's a few people that have kids on tour. They get together a lot.

    Michael Jamin (00:52:07):

    So and they bring their fam, they bring their kids on onto tour with them.

    Rick Negron (00:52:10):

    Yes. There's some people that do that. Yes. But some, some, some

    Michael Jamin (00:52:16):

    Like little kids are like high school age. Like you can't be like a high school-aged kid.

    Rick Negron (00:52:20):

    No. Most, most of 'em have young kids. You gotta understand. I, I'm working with a bunch of 20 and 30 year olds. Right. And I'm the oldest guy by far in, in, in, in, in the, in the company.

    Michael Jamin (00:52:30):

    What's that like being the oldest guy in the company?

    Rick Negron (00:52:33):

    Oh, I love it. Love. I used to be the youngest guy then I was, you know, in the same age as everybody. I love it because I as a king too. I, I have plenty of time to sort of mentor everybody. Yeah. And so I've become a little bit of, I, I'm the cheerleader. I check in on everyone and say, how you doing? I'm, I used to be a ma massage, massage therapist. So a anytime peop people are having issues. I, I'm close friends with our, our physical therapist that tours with us. So we work on people sometimes together in tandem.

    Michael Jamin (00:53:03):

    What is it they're worried? What is it they want mentoring at the, the career strategy? Like what, you

    Rick Negron (00:53:08):

    Know, that this career strategy, sometimes it's just dealing with personalities in theater sometimes there's some, some headbutting. Um-Huh. <affirmative> sometimes people are just having problems with a, a particular, an understudies having a problem with a new character that they're understudying or, you know, there's issues on stage with somebody who doesn't quite know where they're supposed to stand at a certain point. Right. And all that is internal stuff that should be worked out with the dance captains and the stage management and, and the resident director. But you know, unfortunately, actors, you know, we have huge egos and, and they're also very fragile egos. And so there's a, a, a bit of nuance involved and people get their, their panties in a twist. And I'm, I'm usually the guy that comes around and, and talks people off the ledge sometimes. And

    Michael Jamin (00:54:02):

    I would imagine we be very hard even, especially for the new guy or the new woman coming in, you

    Rick Negron (00:54:06):

    Know? Yeah. And I, I I, I, I tend to be the welcome wagon too. Right. You're the new ones. Come on, I'm the king. You know, I'll show you the ropes.

    Michael Jamin (00:54:13):


    Rick Negron (00:54:14):

    So, so that's, I, I like taking that mantle, not just because I'm the king, but also because I'm sort of the senior member of the Right. And I've been around the block and people have asked me, you know, I'm sick and tired of show business. I want to do something else. And I'm like, you know, that's, I hear that I've, I've had that conversation many, many times in my career.

    Michael Jamin (00:54:34):

    Interesting. So why, yeah. I would think, see, right, you've made the touring company of Hamilton, it's pretty much the peak, you know, like, you know, for

    Rick Negron (00:54:41):

    A lot of 'em want to do Broadway. So they're, you know, they're still focused on doing that Broadway show. And some of them have done Broadway, have done the tour, and, you know, they wanna settle down and meet somebody and have a Right.

    Michael Jamin (00:54:53):

    So they want to, is that, is that what the problem is? They, you know, they're done with the business. What, what's the problem?

    Rick Negron (00:55:00):

    Well, I mean, you know, you, we've got the new kids who are just starting out who wanna know about, you know, how do I get my, my foot in Broadway? You know, and there's those kids, and then they're the ones that have been around for a while who wanna maybe transition out of, out of the business and, and want some there was one girl who was interested in massage therapy. Oh, wow. And I said, you wanna become ao? Okay. Well, this is what you need to do. And matter of fact the union has something called what is it called? Career Transition for Dancers, which is a, a, a program where you can get grants to do some further education. So if you wanna learn how to be a massage coach, wow. Get a grant through the union. And, you know, I know some of this stuff so I can impart some of that knowledge. And for the young kids who, you know, I wanna get on Broadway, I'm like, okay, well, to get on Broadway, you have to be in New York. And while you're on tour, you know, can't do that. It's hard to get into that audition for that Broadway show. But

    Michael Jamin (00:55:57):

    Are you still in those circles? I mean, it seems like you, I don't know. It seems like you must know. I don't know. You're, I, I guess I'm completely wrong. If you were you know, a dancer on the touring company, Hamilton seems like it wouldn't be that hard to, to find out about an audition on Broadway. And certainly wouldn't be that hard to get a job, because you're obviously really good.

    Rick Negron (00:56:18):

    Yeah. and we've had a few people leave our tour to go do a Broadway, Broadway show. I mean, actually, we just lost like two or three people to, one Girl is doing Bad Cinderella. She left our show to Do Bad Cinderella, which is a new Broadway show, a new Andrew League Webber show. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Another guy just left our show to do the, the Candor Nbb, New York, New York that's opening on Broadway soon. So that does happen luckily with the advent of auditioning remotely via video that's helped things out a lot nowadays, so that if you're in Portland on tour, you can send in an audition via video for something back in New York.

    Michael Jamin (00:57:02):

    Even dancing. You can, like, you pull the camera back and you do some dance steps. I mean,

    Rick Negron (00:57:06):

    Is that what you do? Yeah. Or sing a song or, or, or, or read a scene. Okay. depending on what's needed. And sometimes you, you are able to take a personal day and fly back to New York and audition for something. Right? Yeah. 

    Michael Jamin (00:57:23):

    Cause I would think, and I, I don't know. Obviously, I don't know it, I would think that if you're in Ham, the touring company of Hamilton, you're practically on Broadway and it's like, it's almost the same circles, except this is where the job is, you know?

    Rick Negron (00:57:34):

    True. But if you've been on tour for a year, you'd like to settle down and stop living out of a suitcase. I It's

    Michael Jamin (00:57:39):

    Hard to be on the road.

    Rick Negron (00:57:40):

    Yeah. Or you've been doing Hamilton for a while and you just wanna do something different. Yeah. There's those, those kids, you know, they're hungry, they wanna do different stuff. Yeah. They don't wanna be on tour on Hamilton for four years like I have, but I've done a lot of stuff and

    Michael Jamin (00:57:53):

    Yeah. What, let's talk about what other, what, yeah, let's talk about some other, we, we, I think we got off track of your other Broadway shows and, and Off Broadway and not touring shows, rather.

    Rick Negron (00:58:01):

    Well, you know, I started, I started out young in the biz at 10 cuz my mom was a drama teacher. And then I sort of worked my way through community theater and children's theater and all that. And, and then I was a concert dancer in college and studied for who? Well, I, in college I studied modern dance in, in ballet. But when I got outta college, I, I was an intern at, with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, briefly Uhhuh <affirmative>, until I realized this is a lot of hard work and very little money.

    Michael Jamin (00:58:30):


    Rick Negron (00:58:31):

    And all my friends that were doing Broadway shows were making, back in 1985, Broadway minimum was $750 a week. Right. And the dancers in the Paul Taylor Dance Company were at that time in 1985 or maybe making 500, 600 a week. Right. They're making less. Right. And, you know, that's just the economics of the dance world. But, you know, the Broadway kids were making more money. Right. And, and I always wanted, I sang and I always, that's really where I wanted to be. So yeah. I ended up booking a a a a jukebox musical in 85 called Leader of the Pack. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And it's funny, you know, when, if you've worked in the business as long as I have, there's people that you meet along the way who go to you, who later on in life become super famous. So Right.


    The vocal arranger for the Leader of the Pack is a guy named Mark Shaman who went on to write Hairspray. Right. And Catch Me if you Can. And Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and his new show on Broadway is God, I almighty what's some Like It Hot is his new show on Broadway. Uhhuh. So Mark Shame is an old friend of mine who I've known forever. Wow. You know who, who started way back then, my dance captain in my second Broadway show which was the mystery of Evan Drew was Rob Marshall. So he went on to direct Chicago the movie, and Into the Woods the movie. And But you were in nine. Yeah, I was in Chicago. The movie. I, I was lucky. That was a very odd thing. I had worked with him on a version of Annie Uhhuh <affirmative> for Disney. It's, it's not the old Carol Burnett film Annie, it's Disney TV version of Annie that they did with Victor Garber. Yes.

    Michael Jamin (01:00:21):

    Because we, we owned the, we watched that a million times cuz we had the

    Rick Negron (01:00:25):

    Vhs Oh. One of the dancers in it. And that was Mar Rob Marshall's first directorial big, big directorial job. And from the success of that is they took a, they took a leap of faith with him and, and gave him Chicago the movie, which, you know, went on to win the Oscar. Yeah. It was amazing. Yeah. And so I got, I got to work on, on that film. And what else did a really, another big bomb called Legs Diamond that closed the Mark Keller forever. Right. became a, a, a church after that. I did Man Lamancha with Row Julia on Broadway as I did the Goodbye Girl, which was another big bomb musical. It was starring Bernadette Peters and Martin Short, who were both brilliant in it, but it was just a misguided musical. Right. We thought it was gonna be a huge success because it was Jean Sachs, the guy that directed all Aneal Simons Crazy.


    Broadway was a director, and Marvin Hamish did the music. And GRA Daniel you know, an incredible choreographer was doing the, we thought it was gonna be this huge hit and it was not <laugh>. It was, and that just happens sometimes these big musicals, you think they're going to do incredibly well and they don't. Right. But after Goodbye Girl, I think that's when I moved to LA and, and met my wife, I, I wanted to delve into the TV and film world. And then I went back and did a tour of Man Lamancha with Robert Gole and great stories about that. Right. And then and then I was always in the chorus and understudying the lead. And then finally I thought, you know, I'm, I, I need to be a lead. And I remember I was in LA and I got a phone call from a, a director choreographer named Sergio Tuhi, who choreographed Jersey Boys.


    And he won the Tony Award recently for Aint Too Proud and wonderful old friend of mine. He, he danced in Chicago, the movie with me. And he called me Outta the Blue and he said, Hey Rick, I'm working on this workshop for this, this is 2005. I'm working on this little workshop called In The Heights. And we're doing a workshop at the O'Neill Center in New London, Connecticut, which is where all of August Wilson's plays were workshop there. And at the time, in the Heights got the producers of Rent and Avenue Queue to back 'em. And they had workshop both those shows at the O'Neill Center. So he said, is that the O'Neil? I'm like, oh, no money Workshop gig in

    Michael Jamin (01:02:52):

    New, is it literally a no money workshop gig? Is that what that workshop, it's literally no money. No money. There's,

    Rick Negron (01:02:57):

    Nowadays the union has some workshops where you get a little bit of a stipend, you know, it's a little bit of money, but

    Michael Jamin (01:03:03):

    A work, explain what a

    Rick Negron (01:03:04):

    Workshop. But back in those days, workshops are no money.

    Michael Jamin (01:03:06):

    But explain what a workshop is. It's this, it's,

    Rick Negron (01:03:08):

    So Workshop is you have a new piece of, of theater and whether it's a straight play or a musical, and you're, it's not, it's not baked, it's not ready yet. And so the creative team will take it to a theater, Uhhuh <affirmative> or will just workshop it in a rehearsal room and literally bring in actors and listen to it, work on it over the period of, of a week maybe,

    Michael Jamin (01:03:32):

    But with, but there's an, they they have an audience though, right.

    Rick Negron (01:03:35):

    Sometimes at the end of the workshop, they'll do a presentation and it'll be what we call, you know, books in hand sometimes because you didn't have enough time to Uhhuh <affirmative> to get off book. You know, no sets, no costumes. Oh,

    Michael Jamin (01:03:47):


    Rick Negron (01:03:48):

    Sometimes you do it with like a music stand in front of you, or you do maybe a little bit of choreography to give it an idea of what the dancing will be like. Some short workshops take weeks, some usually only a week. But

    Michael Jamin (01:04:03):

    So they expect you to come fly there, put yourself up.

    Rick Negron (01:04:07):

    Well, they put, they put us up at the O'Neil. Okay. They put us up at, at, it was some college dorm <laugh>, right outside, you know, like Connecticut College. I forget where we were staying. Right. But it was probably then, the only reason I said yes was because Sergio Trujillo sent me a, a CD of the Music of In the Heights. And when I heard it, I said, this is fantastic. Right. I gotta be a part of this. Right. And luckily, I said, yes, I got you know, I got to know to Connecticut. I worked on it. I gotta meet all those people. And I knew some of the actors from other jobs that I had done, and it was a wonderful experience. And these are friends that I, you know, I've had now for many, many years. And, you know, young Lemon or Miranda back then, fresh outta college now, he's like this megastar soon to be egot. I think

    Michael Jamin (01:04:59):

    He was fresh outta college when he, when he did that.

    Rick Negron (01:05:01):

    Yeah. In the Heights. Was this college was this college like project, a senior project? Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (01:05:07):

    I see. I don't even understand how that, how, how someone of all the, of all the things to become a playwright for Broadway, like that almost seems like the craziest, forget about being a screenwriter. Like that sounds even more far-fetched. Like how many, there's three jobs, you know? Yeah,

    Rick Negron (01:05:24):

    Yeah. It it's kind of crazy. And I mean kudos to his, to his parents who sort of, you know, they had those Broadway albums in the house, you know? Right. He marinated. And, and, and I think when he saw Rent was the thing that like, oh, you know, Jonathan Larson was the, was the big catalyst in him that said, I can do that. Right. You know, and, and he went to college and, and realized that if I'm gonna make it, I have to write my way out. And it's similar, it's similar to, I think he has that in common with Hamilton, you know, that in order to find success, he had to write his own project that was in the Heights.

    Michael Jamin (01:06:03):

    Right. He had to

    Rick Negron (01:06:04):

    Write, and, you know, and, and how did Hamilton get out of his situation? He wrote this incredible thing on, on this hurricane that hit the islands. And that's, that's how he was sent to New York,

    Michael Jamin (01:06:13):

    Encouraging for, to

    Rick Negron (01:06:14):

    Writes. And that's the connection he made with Hip Hop. He said, when he read that, when he read Hamilton the book, he said Hamilton wrote his way out of his situation the same way a rapper writes his way out of poverty into success. Right. And then he made that connection, which was brilliant. And, you know, when we heard about the, the idea we were doing Heights, when he came back from rehearsal after reading the, the book, and he said, I'm gonna write a musical about Alexander, a rap musical about Alexander Hamilton. And we were

    Michael Jamin (01:06:41):

    Like, right.

    Rick Negron (01:06:42):

    Wait, what

    Michael Jamin (01:06:43):

    <Laugh> and how many, how how long were you on in, in, in, in the Heights? How, you know?

    Rick Negron (01:06:50):

    So I wasn't the original guy that they, that they chose for Broadway. At the time I did audition for the Broadway company. There were other guys that had done other workshops. Yeah. And John Herrera had done most of the workshops and he did off Broadway. But for whatever reason, they decided to re-audition for the Broadway company. And they chose a guy named Carlos Gomez, who's actually a friend of mine. Wonderful. stage in in screen actor. He's done a lot of TV in film lives here in la. And they told me, Rick, we love you, but we think you look too young to play the role. They were kind of straight up with me. Right. And I said, okay, I get that. Fine. And then literally after that I got my first lead role in a musical, which was one of the, the dads in Mamma Mia in Vegas, right?


    Yeah. Play Sam Carmichael, who, who sing It's the Pierce brazen role in the, in the film. And while I was doing a Mamma m in Vegas in the Heights was happening off Broadway. And then it went to Broadway. And Carlos unfortunately lost his voice about eight months into the, the Run. And he, you know, he, he, they had to replace him. And I fortunately auditioned yet again and got the, and got the job and ended up doing Broadway for two years. And my incredible wife moved out to New York with me for, for the second year that I was there.

    Michael Jamin (01:08:22):

    It's hard, it's hard that the life of a theatrical actor is,

    Rick Negron (01:08:25):

    Dude, when my niece told me she wanted to do this, I said, are you sure

    Michael Jamin (01:08:31):


    Rick Negron (01:08:31):

    But it's not easy. You gotta, it's gotta be the thing that gets you up in the morning. It's gotta be the thing that gets you through all that rejection and all the, the time you spend on the unemployment line.

    Michael Jamin (01:08:42):

    But do you think it's harder to be just the harder to be a theatrical actor as opposed to a film or television? I mean, do you think that world is just harder?

    Rick Negron (01:08:49):

    No, no. I think they're both hard in their own way. Uhhuh <affirmative>, they're both super difficult. And I mean, it's the life of an artist, you know, dancers, you know, it's, that's hard. Being a visual artist, being a writer. I mean, how do you get started as a writer? How do you get that job? How do you get into that to be on a TV show the way you have? I mean, but that's hard.

    Michael Jamin (01:09:13):

    I, yeah. But I, I still think there's, of all the three, I think it's crazier to be an actor. Like in terms of it's harder. Like you're, you, there's more,

    Rick Negron (01:09:20):

    It's more subjective.

    Michael Jamin (01:09:22):

    Well, but you're on a show, if you're a writer, you'll be on a show for the whole season. Right. Okay. Right. So if you're an actor, you might be on one episode now, now you gotta find another job again.

    Rick Negron (01:09:30):

    Yeah, yeah. You're constantly looking for work. You're, yeah. You know, and you talk to any actor, successful actor out there, and they'll tell you, they get more nos and yeses.

    Michael Jamin (01:09:39):

    Oh sure,

    Rick Negron (01:09:40):

    Sure. You know, it's a ton of rejection. You can't take it personally. You know, and there's, there's videos of, of great actors saying, you know, it changed for me when I, when success was not about getting the job, success was about preparing for the audition and doing a good job in the audition. And if I did a great job at the audition, I'm successful. If I got the job, that's icing on the cake. Yeah. Once you make that shift, then the rejection and the nose stop crushing your soul.

    Michael Jamin (01:10:11):

    Yeah. Right. Yeah. It's, it's hard. That's, it's great advice. I hear it a lot. It's, yeah. I think it's like, it's a mandatory, yeah. So then, so what will be next? Cause I what will be next for you? What, I mean, <laugh>, like do you think about that?

    Rick Negron (01:10:24):

    Are you kidding? Constantly. Especially now that I know the tour is ending. Because the, the tough part is for me specifically, is that I, I, I'm at a certain age now where there's less roles, there's

    Michael Jamin (01:10:38):

    Less roles. And it's also, there's also being, the dancing part is very physical. It's like being a professional athlete's. No. You know, it's,

    Rick Negron (01:10:45):

    Oh, I, I hung up my capos a long time ago. I Oh,

    Michael Jamin (01:10:49):

    So you won't even try that. You won't even

    Rick Negron (01:10:50):

    Not as a dancer. I mean, I mean, if, if there's a role where I need to dance, right, I will dance of course. But I mean, my dancing ability is, is not what it was number one. You know, I don't take dance classes anymore. I'm, I'm physically fit, but I can't do what I used to do in my twenties and thirties. Right. Or even forties for that matter. But the, the thing for me now is that, you know, I'm, I'm living a very sort of odd reality of being a theater actor living in La <laugh>. Yeah. So I'm, you know, I have six months to sort of put my, my feelers out there. Part of that is that when, when you have a year contract, agents aren't gonna send you on an audition. Right. You know, because you're kind of tied up. Unless it's a one-off or a very short thing where you can take, and, and Hamilton famously or infamously lets us take time off to do other things. They're very kind that way. So that's why we also have many understudies, cuz people do go take a week off to do a workshop or take a week off to, to shoot a, a TV show. Our, our Aaron Burr Donald Weber has a reoccurring on severance right now. Oh. So he took time off to, to, to shoot that once while we were on the road.

    Michael Jamin (01:12:12):

    Do you? Wow. That's so fa that's so interesting. But yeah,

    Rick Negron (01:12:15):

    I'm separate. But now that we have like that six months and it's gonna end, now we can start putting wood on the fire for the next thing and start auditioning for something down the line.

    Michael Jamin (01:12:28):

    Do you have a separate agent for, for theatrical versus film and television? Or is it all one agent?

    Rick Negron (01:12:33):

    Most people do. Most people have somebody across the, that represents them across the board. Uhhuh, <affirmative> some, you know, it depends on the size of the agency you're with. Right. I'm currently don't have an agent. I sort of took a hiatus from the biz after in the Heights Uhhuh <affirmative>. And then Hamilton brought me back in to the biz. Right. So to speak. And so I didn't have an agent and got called directly. Still had to audition, but called, got called directly cuz I know, I know everybody involved. And and so I haven't had to pay 10% Yahoo. But I'm I'm gonna be c knocking on some doors and making some phone calls cuz you know, I will be needing an agent to Right. Remove the needle once this job ends. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (01:13:25):

    The life of a, it, it's so fa to me it's like it really is. It's more, it's so, it's in a way it's more interesting than like a television or, you know, film actor. Cuz I, I kind of know that world, but this world I know nothing of. But it's made so, it's so exciting cuz there's nothing like, there's nothing like good theater. It's just not the same.

    Rick Negron (01:13:43):

    Yeah. It's a whole nother animal. And I, it it's, it really is. You know, cuz you can make magic with film and tv. There's magic there, but there's a certain kind of magic with a live audience. Yeah. And a live performance doing it from beginning to end. Yep. That you, you, you can't, there's, it's just, you can't find it anywhere else. There's, there's that symbiotic thing between audience and, and, and actor. Just Yeah. It's, it's a drug. And, and I've been hooked on it for a really long time. <Laugh>,

    Michael Jamin (01:14:19):

    You know, one thing I've said is that, you know, whatever, I like a TV show and be seen by a couple millions of people, or maybe less now cuz every no one watches because the audience is so fra with maybe a couple hundred thousand people. But to me, and that's great and I'll in it's fun, but to stage something in a theater full of 50 people, like, I don't know. There's something really intoxicating about that, that you do not get from making a television show.

    Rick Negron (01:14:46):

    And as a creative person, as a writer, Uhhuh <affirmative>, like the creative, the creators of Hamilton, they keep changing it. After the pandemic, they changed the choreography for the the number that starts Act two, which is what did I Miss? Uhhuh, which is when Jefferson comes back from pa from France and, and joins the new fledgling government of the United States. And the original choreography had the dancers were sort of like servants and very subservient to Jefferson. And, and Sally his famous partner who was a slave but was his partner, I'm forgetting her last name at the moment, but people out there in the podcast are screaming her last name now. Right. but he, there was a moment Choreographically where she was subservient to him. And after the pandemic and what happened with the social justice movement after George Floyd, they decided to change the dynamic between the quote unquote servant slaves in the scene with Jefferson and make it less subservient and more supportive and not so much bowing to

    Michael Jamin (01:16:01):

    Jefferson, but if they make any changes like that, do they have to run it by Lynn? I mean Oh,

    Rick Negron (01:16:06):

    Yeah. Yeah. That the whole team gets together and they talk about it and they had meetings. Right, right. And and Lynn has always tinkered within the heon. He's still tinkering with Hamilton. Not huge changes, but some small subtle changes. I remember when we went to to Canada they changed, we Hawkin because Canadians don't know where Wee Hawkin is.

    Michael Jamin (01:16:29):


    Rick Negron (01:16:29):

    Really? Yeah. So they said new, you know, he said New Jersey, or they just changed the lyric so that it would make better sense for the Canadians. 

    Michael Jamin (01:16:40):

    Oh, wow.

    Rick Negron (01:16:40):

    Yeah. They did that in a couple of moments. I think we, Hawkin was one of them. In

    Michael Jamin (01:16:45):

    It almost feels sacro now that you said that. I, I always Oh no. Like cuz it's like, but you can't change it. <Laugh>. Yeah. Like you can't change.

    Rick Negron (01:16:52):

    That's the beauty of it, you know, film, it's done. It's, you know, that's it. You can't change it. But they can keep tinkering with, with, with a piece as long as they want to.

    Michael Jamin (01:17:00):


    Rick Negron (01:17:00):

    They can keep making it better, which is what I get to do. <Laugh>.

    Michael Jamin (01:17:03):

    Right. It's so fascinating. It really is

    Rick Negron (01:17:06):

    Such a writer. That's kind of cool.

    Michael Jamin (01:17:09):


    Rick Negron (01:17:10):

    Can, you can rewrite until until the day you die.

    Michael Jamin (01:17:12):

    <Laugh>. But that's, and that's, but you see, that's the problem. At some point you have to let it go and move on to your next piece. And so what you're saying, it doesn't appeal to me actually

    Rick Negron (01:17:21):


    Michael Jamin (01:17:22):

    Like, you know, it's so tempting to, but no, you have to let it go now. It's, you know. Yeah. 

    Rick Negron (01:17:27):

    But because you could drive yourself crazy. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (01:17:30):

    Right. Yeah. Right.

    Rick Negron (01:17:32):

    So true. So true. I, I was gonna tell you another story, which is pretty great. When I met Lynn for the first time during that workshop of In The Heights, I, I, I don't, I don't usually come out and say, oh, I was in this, or I wasn't that. I'm not one of those actors. I, I sort of let stories come out on their own and I don't toot my horn horn too much, but I, I, I think I, I let it drop that I was in the bad video and Lynn's eyes like became why the sausage goes, you are in the bad video with Michael Jackson. I said, yes, I am. And he goes, wait one second. And literally, he, we were in lunch someplace at the cafeteria at the O'Neill Center, and he gets into the, the rental car he had, who, who runs to, I don't know, Walmart, target, whatever, the closest place he buys the D V d.


    He comes back, he puts it into his laptop because in those days, yeah. You play a DVD d on your laptop and he, and he po he goes, okay, where are you in the video pointing out to me? And then, so I'm pointing him out, oh, here I am next to Michael in this moment. And there I am. I jump over the turnstile there and All right. And oh man. And then we did like 20 takes of this one scene in one take. I did the funky chicken and, and the minute I did it, I regretted it. And I'm like, oh, hopefully that won't be the take they used. Yeah. Well, of course that is the take they used. I can be seen doing the Funky Chicken Right. Sort of next to Michael at a moment. And I pointed that out to Lynn. So cut two, that's 2005 cut to, I take over the role of The Dead and in the HAI on Broadway.


     This is about eight months after they win the Tony Award for Best Musical. And it's my, I I've rehearsed for a week. It's not a huge role. I kind of knew it. I just rehearsed to get the, the, the staging. And it's my debut. I don't know what day of the week it was, but my first time on stage on Broadway doing this role. And I do my first entrance and I walk in and I go, good morning, us and Manuel Miranda looks at me and goes [inaudible] Oh no, he does the funky chicken in his res first response to me at the top of the show. How funny. And I just looked at him like, oh, you,

    Michael Jamin (01:19:58):

    You Dick <laugh>, you <laugh>.

    Rick Negron (01:20:02):

    That's, he knew, he knew I was enough of a professional to take it in, like, you know, take, take it on the chin and, and, and keep going. And but you know, that's, that's a kind of fun Oh, wow. Loving, you know, always playful guy that, that I've gotten to love and adore. And he's, he really is a prince in, in the biz. He early on gave me, coined me the first Puerto Rican king. He was in an inter, he was doing an interview with cbs morning show. And, and we were going to Puerto Rico, and he goes, oh, yeah. And then Rick Negron, who's our first Puerto Rican king. And and since then, that's my Instagram account. I saw Puerto Rican King. Yeah. <laugh>.

    Michael Jamin (01:20:42):

    You know what, and I'll people should follow you there. What? Yeah. Gi give your, give your Instagram ham. Oh,

    Rick Negron (01:20:47):

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm at one, the number one St. Puerto Rican king all together now lower case. And that's sort of my, yeah. My king account. I've got some great adventures on the road there posted, I did some really cool scuba diving stuff in Hawaii that I posted, you know, night diving with Man Rays.

    Michael Jamin (01:21:08):

    Oh my God.

    Rick Negron (01:21:08):

    In Kona. Some great hikes in, in Banff are, are there and, and, and some interviews with some of the cast members. And I'm, I'm gonna actually start interviewing some of the crew members too, so people can get an idea of what it's like backstage and what the prop, the head of the props does in Hamilton and what the

    Michael Jamin (01:21:26):

    That's a great idea.

    Rick Negron (01:21:27):

    Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I, I act, I truly been tooling around with it for a while. And one of the, one of our Hamiltons that recently left the show, Julius, he, he did, he did it with one of our lighting people. He did a whole, like, backstage interviewing.

    Michael Jamin (01:21:41):

    Oh, great. He

    Rick Negron (01:21:42):

    Did a great job with with our friend Rachel. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (01:21:46):

    Wow. Well, that's a perfect place to, Rick, thank you so much. I've taken up a lot of your time. Unfortunately, not at all. Some of it was wasted

    Rick Negron (01:21:53):

    <Laugh>, dude, I can, I can, I can talk to the cows. Come home, as you know. So <laugh>

    Michael Jamin (01:21:58):

    Thank you for opportunity. Thank you so much. This is just so eye-opening to me. I just had, you know, again, I'm interested in awe, I'm in awe of your career of what you've done. Thank

    Rick Negron (01:22:08):


    Michael Jamin (01:22:08):

    And so I want to continue thank, obviously continue following as a fan. So, well,

    Rick Negron (01:22:12):

    You know, and I, you know, I wish you the best of luck with all your future projects. I know you're working on a book and mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and, and you have that show and mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. I can't wait to be in the, in the house one day when you're doing your show, and I can watch

    Michael Jamin (01:22:26):

    Yeah. When you're in town.

    Rick Negron (01:22:28):

    Yeah. But I'm in town. I'll be back in August.

    Michael Jamin (01:22:30):

    <Laugh>, you'll be back. Oh, thank you again, Rick. And I'm gonna, I'll stop, but, but hang on. I'll, I'll thank you again properly you know, pub privately. All right, everyone, thank you so much. Thanks for listening. This was an interesting talk for more, you know, hang on next week while we'll, we'll have somebody as well. Thanks for listening. Okay. Until the next one, keep writing.

    Phil Hudson (01:22:51):

    This has been an episode of Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving your review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

    1h 22m | Mar 22, 2023
  • 072 - Silicon Valley Creator John Altschuler

    Were you a fan of the TV show Silicon Valley? If so, make sure to check out this podcast episode featuring John Altschuler, one of the show's creators.

    Show Notes

    John Altschuler IMDB - https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1014365/

    John Altschuler Wikipedia -  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Altschuler

    John Schuler Emmys - https://www.emmys.com/bios/john-altschuler

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Automated Transcription:

    John Altschuler (00:00:00):

    And I got back from delivering pizzas. And this is like, we didn't even have an answering machine. Okay? This is like we had no money or whatever. I get back, my phone's ringing and I, I remember it was about four in the afternoon and I, I pick it up and I can I speak to John Altschuler and I go, this is, this is he? And he goes, this is Mad Simmons. No, his rats. I think this rats, you know, this is rats of Soman. And he goes, money talks. What have you got? <Laugh>. Okay. I'll be like, what is, I got your dollar beer bill right here. What have you got?

    Michael Jamin (00:00:33):

    You're listening to Screenwriters. Need to hear this with Michael. Janet.


    Hello everyone. Welcome back to Screenwriters. Need to hear this. I'm Michael Jamin, and I have another great guest today that I don't know how many people are listening. I have thousands and thousands of listeners. And I'm telling you, not one of them is deserving to hear this man speak because this guy, the credits, his credits. And I'm gonna start off by saying, say, welcome to my show. It's John Altschuler. I'm gonna give him the proper introduction. He's my friend, but also many times he's been my boss and this guy, he, he was the, he ran, he and his partner, Dave Krinsky, ran King of the Hill for many years. They created Silicon Court, co-created Silicon Valley, their movie credits, or they also created The Good Family. Do you remember that show? They, they ran Beavers and Butthead for a while. They, they're in credits in they created, wait, did I say Silicon Valley? Yes. Their movie credits are included. Well geez,

    John Altschuler (00:01:31):

    John Henry, I'll tell you, blades of Glory,

    Michael Jamin (00:01:34):

    My Tongue, blades of Glory. But also produced X Track. And and they ran Lopez on I think that was tbs. Where was that? Tb?

    John Altschuler (00:01:44):

    That was Viacom, yeah,

    Michael Jamin (00:01:46):

    <Laugh>. And, and I worked on it. I don't remember what, but never <laugh>. But John, thank you so much for the coming to the show. This is a go, this is gonna be a great one because John is one of, first of all, lemme start from the beginning cause I'm not even sure if I know all this. Like, when did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

    John Altschuler (00:02:03):

    You know it's interesting because I think, I would say when I was 10 or 12, Uhhuh <affirmative>, I was one of those kids from our age that comedy was everything. Okay. And back then you had three networks and you were just like, oh my God. You know, the, you know George Carlin is going to be on this show and you just get 10 minutes of it, you know? And so I always loved comedy and I always kind of loved the deep dive into comedy. And then, but so it, it always was kind of important to me. And then I went to the University of North Carolina and I majored my dad. You know, I come from an academic family, so I majored in anthropology and economics Uhhuh. But I was really interested in writing. Now my thing was, well, I didn't think that I should major in, you know, writing for screen, whatever, you know, whatever.


     Because I kind of thought you learned by doing Uhhuh <affirmative>, and I wanted an academic degree. But what happened in college is that at Carolina, at the time, we had an incredibly bad communications department. Okay. It was so bad that I'm not making this up. They had equipment in the basement that students weren't allowed to use because they might break it. Yeah. Okay. Literally not allowed to use it. Okay. <laugh>. So, but this these people who I knew started S T V Student television using cable access cuz they have to provide it and da da and Dave and I and our friend David Palmer, were just vultures and like, all these guys did really hard work. They got the campus to, you know, the university put up money and they got cable. And we just showed up and took all the cameras and, and filmed our stupid comedy show. Know, probably you're, you're familiar with Friday the 13th, the stage musical, and Bonnie and Clyde and Ted and Alice and, and Point and Wave you.

    Michael Jamin (00:04:12):

    And so you, I, this is obviously, cause I, I don't know this cause I haven't visited the Library of Congress re recently

    John Altschuler (00:04:18):

    <Laugh> Yes. With the Smithsonian.

    Michael Jamin (00:04:20):

    But, so with these, like, these were a single camera show that you acted, did you act in as well?

    John Altschuler (00:04:24):

    Oh yeah, yeah. It was me, Dave, Dave Krinsky, and this guy David Palmer. And we did a half hour comedy show just while we were, you know, in school. And then when we graduated, it was, I, I was like, well, I had an econ degree, which means, and not a graduate degree. I didn't. So it was kinda like, well, you go work as a teller in a bank, there's not much you could do. And I was like, you know what? I want to, I want to, I think I'm interested in writing. And my mom, who is, she passed away, like going to 99 years old. I I was like, I think I wanna do it. She goes, well, why wouldn't you? You know? And I was like, you know, go out to California. You're, you're young, you're stupid. If it doesn't work, you just come back.


    There's no, and Amazon was like, oh, she's right. And so from North Carolina though, so graduated. Yeah. And what Dave and I did is we basically both worked service jobs in Chapel Hill to save up money to come to California. And in the interim, I had this idea, and actually it was a, it turned out to be a, a pretty important one is I was like, let's get published. Okay? Now, back then they had these things called books. Okay. You know, you didn't have the internet and you went to the library and it was a book called The Writer's Market. And it was, yeah, it was every magazine and what they're, you know, so we're looking up, you know, well, where could we get comedy stuff published? And there were only, there weren't many outlets. There was just, national Lampoon was the only national Humor magazine.


    Playboy did humorous pieces. And then after that it was just porn because they were all trying to maintain First Amendment thread. So they would publish articles. So like, I remember there was like something called Nut Nugget and Smut in the Butt, <laugh>. And we were like, okay, let's start with National Lampoon, and then when we get rejected, we'll end up hopefully getting published by Smut in the butt. Okay. So what happened, <laugh> is that we start with National Lampoon. So I, I find them in the, the Writer's Query, and I mean, and the writer's market, and it says specifically National Lampoon does not accept any unsolicited material. Right? Okay. So now you probably know this about, I'm a little off the beaten path kinda guy. And so I'm like, well, you know, Dave and I had come up with a bunch of ideas. And so what I did was I put a letter together and explaining an incredibly snotty, sarcastic terms, how important you are at Nash Lampoon.


    And, you know, your time is so valuable. So here I'm, I, I'm, I'm enclosing something for your time. And I enclosed a dollar bill with the letter Uhhuh <affirmative>. And, and I sent it to the managing editor Chris Simmons, and then his son Mad Simmons. No, mad Simmons was the, the managing editor. He, he invented the Diner's card. Okay. He invented the credit card. Right. And then bought National Ha as a large Wow. Mad Simmons, Chris Simmons and Ratso Sloman. So I sent it out the, and I swear to God I was, I, I worked, I delivered pizzas and worked at a Chinese restaurant as a waiter, and I got back from delivering pizzas. And this is like, we didn't even have an answering machine. Okay? This is like, we had no money or whatever. I get back my phones ring, and I, I remember it was about four in the afternoon, and I, I pick it up and I can I speak to John Altschuler and I go, this is, this is he?


    And he goes, this is Matt Simmons? No, his rats, I think it was Rats told, you know, this is rats slow. And he goes, money talks <laugh>. What have you got? <Laugh>. Okay. I'm be like, what is, I got your dollar beer bill right here. What have you got? And so, right off the bat, I just started pitching. And he goes, okay, okay. We, we had one idea about, there was this woman named Kathy, Evelyn Smith, who went to jail. She was the one who was with John Belushi when he overdosed. Okay. Okay. Now, he was a freaking drug addict. He was gonna die. Okay? But they blamed her because she supplied some drugs and da da da. And so the thesis of the article is that all she was getting out of prison, and Hollywood was terrified because of her, her abilities to make them do things they don't wanna do.


    You know, like Richard Pryor says, she made me set fire to myself, freebasing. And they, and they're all like, so they liked that. So wrote that and it got published. Now, back then, national Lampoon was a big deal. Yeah. Animal House had ju had come out just a few years before National was vacation and Stripes. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> all in a freaking row. So us being published by National Lampoon coming out Hollywood, it opened up huge doors. I mean, go ahead. No, I'm, I, I'm, I didn't know. I'm surprised. So what kind of doors did it open? Well, like, for example okay. So you can't be shy. Okay? It, it, it's simply nobody's gonna do it for you. As I sometimes tell kids, nobody wants you here. Nobody wants you to do, there's plenty of people doing and nobody's looking for. Let's get one more. Okay.


    But I'd gotten the name of an agent at C a a, Lance Tendler, and Lance Tener was in the music and of ca but I didn't know anybody. Right? So I, I said, and you know, here's the thing. If you show some manners and take a little bit of time, it's a big, it's a big deal. So I sent him nice letter, explained, well, this is what we're trying to do. And he ended up giving it to a colleague, and the colleague said, well, I C A A was a, I mean, that's who where I am now after, you know, 30 years. But at the time, I mean, they were the biggest deal. Like, you know, nobody could get ripped by and blah, blah. But they offered to pass our material on, and one of the people they passed it on to was a producer named Neil Maritz.


    Now Neil, Neil Maritz ended up producing all the Fast and Furious movies. Right? Okay. And he had not gotten a movie made yet, and so he loved National Lamp and he jumped on it. So our first producer was this guy Neil Maritz. And our first agent, no, no, he was a producer. Okay. The agent sent our stuff to him. Oh, I see, okay. And so that was kind of an in, and he was a hustler and kind of new. And so, and he is actually a nice guy. He really is. Like, he's, he's very Hollywood, but kind of in a way that you miss. But he wasn't, he wasn't a, he wasn't toxic. He was like a, a good sort that really wanted it to work out. And so that was our, our end. And then it's kind of funny because we were trying, okay.


    We moved to Burbank, California, and Dave and I, my part, we, we got a a two bedroom, one bath apartment in the Valley, $625 a month, no air conditioning. Okay. Right. And I mean, it was freaking brutal <laugh>, because, you know, you'd have Yes, I can imagine. Oh, yeah. You know, it'd be like a hundred degrees and a Yeah. You know and I worked room service up at Universal, and Dave was a bellman, and I finally got a connection after six months of being a PA on a movie. And that was like, huge, right? Like, oh my God. You know? So I'm a, I'm a pa and and what movie was that? It was called Miracle Mile. And the, it was not a good movie, but it was directed by a really nice guy, talented writer, g you know, actually some people like Miracle Mile, I don't know.


    Not me. But but he was a good guy. His name is Steve Dejak. And he he ended up being like, I, I just sort of worked. And he, he was a good sort. But that led to being a pa on a movie called Tort Song Trilogy, which was produced by Howard Gottfried. Right. And Howard Gottfried produced network and altered states. And so there's something that Dave and I learned is that p I'm really cheap, okay? Because I came up with no money didn't have Wealthy f <laugh>. It was all, I, I was on my own now, my parents were great, just didn't have money. Okay? So what I found is that writing is expensive, because if you're writing, you're not making money. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Okay. And I figured out that every day to write cost me back then about 60 to 80 bucks because I could live on nothing.


    Right. But I needed about 60, 80 bucks a day to get, you know, to, to survive. That's what I needed to make. And what I found is I would work these PA jobs, and I found that I could work for a month to write for a month. It was almost one to one. And it was interesting because when I was a interest, I've said that three times, it was interesting to me, you know, that when I was working as a pa I also tell the youngins this is that if you are a pa, just don't be insane. If you're an intern, don't be out of your mind, okay? Because if you are not crazy, and you make your boss's life that much easier, right? They love you. Yeah. I mean, they love you. And so all I did on Torch, on Trilogy is I made sure that Howard Gottfried always had a coffee cup in his hand.


    I anything, if there was an errand there, be run, it was done like hours before it needed to be done. And I just did my job. And one time Howard was walking by and he goes, John, John, John, look, you don't wanna be a pa. What do you, what do you wanna be? I go, well, I wanna be a writer. He's like, well, I know something about writers, you know, because he was Patty CHAI's producer. He goes, let me read what you got. Okay? So I gave him something that we were working on, and it was interesting. It was interesting. He, he, he says, this isn't gonna sell Uhhuh. You write five, five scripts. He goes, if, if you write five scripts, you are going to sell it. And I swear to God, the fifth script sold, because you need to write, fail, write, fail, write, fail. And he read it and he goes, you know what? There's some stuff here you need to, he goes five times.

    Michael Jamin (00:14:56):


    John Altschuler (00:14:57):

    That's what, that's what it took. And so that was the break was a, an idea that I had, it's something I'd read, read something in the, the Wall Street Journal, one of those things about like, you only use one-tenth of your brain power, right? And this idea was like, well, what if these scientists unlocked the other nine-tenths? But it didn't make you smart, it just made you this throbbing biological mess. You can hear everything and it bef while you're raining. And in't that was called Brain Man, right? And we sold that, and that was our entree into Hollywood.

    Michael Jamin (00:15:35):

    You see, one thing I wanna interrupt is that for the most people who were listening, they don't know this, but John is easily the most entrepreneurial writer that I know. Many writers. Like, he makes his own path. And so this is just, this is, okay. I'm not surprised at all that, I mean, but then, okay, so then you sold that. Then what, what happened after that?

    John Altschuler (00:15:53):

    Well, back then, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, you literally could only work either TV or features Uhhuh. <Affirmative>. Okay. Mo they were completely separate as a, and I just liked comedy. I liked it. Like I didn't care if it was, but that made no sense to anybody. Okay. They were like, no, no. And to the point where agents would get into fights mm-hmm. <Affirmative> if a movie client did TV or Vice, because it was taking money out of their pocket. Right. You know, I gotta give, Ari was one of the early guys who was like, no, no, no, we gotta, we gotta, we need everybody. Everybody's gotta be working to bring money to me, <laugh>. So, so we gotta share, you know? But it was very divided. So we started out with a, in the movie business, and, you know, we would, we would sell a pitch or every year, year and a half.


    Yeah. You know, and just, we were just sort of hanging in there. And this was sort of odd. The phone again, is that I remember, okay. Got down to 92. Do, and this is about steering your own ship. Okay? Yeah. We got down to $92 and had a meeting with an a comedian called Pauly Shore. And Pauly Shore was a huge deal back then. He was a, you know, comedian and he had this character, the Weasel, and he was like and oddly enough, his manager was and his our manager now. Okay. So we go into this meeting and it was like, now if you knew Polly Shore, he is, this is Guy blah. And this is very eighties you know, it might have been 90, but whatever. So I had this idea, the Sound of Music, but instead of Julie Andrews, it's Poll Shore is the nanny to all these kids.


    Okay? Very simple. Okay. So I just said, well, here's this idea. And the executive that knew I loved it, oh, go in. You gotta pitch, you gotta pitch Polly. Okay? So Dave and I go in to pitch Polly's Shore, and you know, I've actually heard he is a good guy. This, this was not <laugh>. We, we go in and I, I, it was so vivid is that he kinda looks at it and he is like, well, I don't know Michael Rotenberg, that these guys kind of greasy. And like, you know, okay, I have this thing. We've had a very rough ride, is that I do my job, okay. I've had an executive while we're pitching, get up and leave the room. Mm-Hmm. I just keep pitching, okay. Because I'm gonna do my job. Okay. That's all I can control is what I do. So these guys are kind of greasy and just hear what they have to say.


    So I go, sound of Music. So I've done it, and he is like, what sound of, why would I want the sound of Music? I don't know what that is. No, this I'm not doing a music video, man. I'm doing a movie. And, and I remember Rotenberg going, Polly, you know, sound of Music, okay, it's on every year, you know? And he is like, oh no. He like, ah, man, this is all I want, man. Is it? So I'm gonna go like in England, I might say like, Cheerio chap. And then like, maybe you send me to Germany and I'll maybe wear those funny leather pants and go, you know, Hey, hi. You know? And so we leave that meeting and it was just like, what the fuck? Yeah. It was just crazy <laugh>. And we get, I, I check on the agent and she goes, they wanna hire you.


    And I'm like, what? Now here's the thing. People have different views of careers. I've always believed that if I made one misstep my career's over, because I'm kind of a snob. So I'm kind of like, you know, well, you know, and I was sitting there going like, well, I know who does Polish Shore movies, okay. I can't be the guy who does Polys shore movies because I didn't drive, you know, in my car, didn't have air conditioning either, you know, across and work for three a three years as a pa break in to be that guy. Now I got nothing against it. There's a place in it. But I knew that I would never ever get out of that. Yeah, okay. Some people can, some people can then, you know, have Academy Award-winning careers, you know, but not me. I knew it. So I said, well, call the agent.


    I don't wanna do it. And Agent turns, she says, don't worry. Okay, so what do you mean? Okay, what do I do? She says, I'm gonna ask for so much money that they'll pass. No problem. Cuz I, now, this was for New Line Cinema who, who I, and Dave and I literally moved the furniture into their offices. Okay. Wow. We were, when I was a PA for Georgetown Sure. It was for New Line. So we sort of know, knew these people, you know. And so we, I get, again, with the phone call, I get a phone call and I pick it up and it's a guy just starts yelling, who the fuck do you think you are? <Laugh>? Who the fuck do you think? I'm like, well, wait, is this John? I'm like, yeah, who the fuck do you think you are passing on Polly Shore?


    I'm like, we, we didn't pass on Polly Shore. He goes, oh yeah. Like, we're gonna pay you 400,000 fucking dollars. No fucking wait. You're gonna do it and you're gonna do it for what you should get paid. And I'm like we didn't do it. Okay. And I'm glad that we didn't do it because it would've been probably the end of who knows You, you, you make with whatever you, you do. But we ended up not doing it. And then <laugh> went back to being a pa and I never had any doubts about it. But then what happened is an executive at H B O named Carolyn Strauss, who actually was a producer of game of Thrones, and she was the, the head of H B O for a, for a little while. And the, she was the head of their scripted, and, and she really liked a, a, a screenplay that Dave and I wrote.


    Mm-Hmm. and she, she said, you know, Hey, would you consider working in television? And David, I like, yeah, nobody will let us, you know? And, and she's like, well, if you'll consider it, can I, there's a new show that H B O has with this writer, Adam Resnick. Now Adam Resnick, as I said, maybe the greatest guy I've ever met in Hollywood outside of Michael Jamin. He's, he's extremely funny, extremely talented, extremely nice. Okay. Everything you want. Okay. So we get on the phone with him and we basically talked about The Godfather for an hour, hour and 15. And we get off and, and you know, we only had one phone day. What do you think? He likes The Godfather. <Laugh> said, I like the Godfather. I think, you know, I don't know. And then they say, we get a call, he wants to hire us, and will you guys move to New York?


    Now, this is the good thing about living below your means or at your means, is that we're like, well, yeah, we'll move to New York. And then they go, will you move in three days? Okay. And it's like, yeah. So literally locked the apartment in Burbank on the corner of Pass Avenue in Verdugo. And three days later we're in the Ed Sullivan Theater. It was produced by David Letterman. Right. So we were in the Letterman offices with an o overlooking Broadway three days later. Wow. And, you know and that was interesting because writing for TV was such a huge win for us because we'd written screenplays and sold screenplays, but nothing had been made. Right. You don't learn anything when things aren't made. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So being, and also Adam was such a great, generous guy, and the staff was me, Dave, and this guy, Vince Calandra.


    There was no staff. So we were allowed to do every, you know, everything, but you would see things that you think are written, well, not playing. And now it wasn't, it wasn't a com it was a con, it was comedic, but it wasn't a joke driven show by any stretch. But you, that was the high life, right? That was the high life. Yeah. But you learned by doing, it's all about doing. And I've told, you know, executive for years, if you wanna rewrite them, you don't hire a movie. You guy, you gotta hire TV guys, because like Dave and I have rerun, rewritten, run, probably 300 rewrites. Okay. That means you, you, you put it up there, you keep what matters. You lose what's screwing things up, and you gotta make it better. Okay. And I think we're particularly good at it of some people, the only way they know how to rewrite is by throwing everything away, which is a waste.


    Right. It's, it's a waste of time and you lose good things. But if you want to have your movies rewritten, higher TV writers, because what Dave and I learned through working and TV is you just see it again and again and again. And I always tell people like, the most remarkable thing about comedy is that there is something that you like, you know, Dave and I ran King of the Hill for eight years, you know, and there were, there's both sides of it. Is that, you know, we're, we are the last decision makers, okay? So they're things that we are convinced are gonna kill. Okay. Thi this is so freaking funny, we can't wait. And so the table read happens. Mm-Hmm. And everybody, and you're, and you're not laughing <laugh>. Okay. And you're like, what? Because you can't make yourself laugh. Yeah. You know, there, there's one guy who worked on King of the Hill, and he had this trick, he, he sort of very nice guy, but very political in a way that he knew how to go <laugh> to make a laugh happen.


    Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I think you learned that on SNL or something. You <laugh>, you know, and that would, but you can't make yourself laugh. And then on the other hand, there'd be a joke that I would condescendingly agree to put on, you know, and Dave, shall We slum with this? And, and, and then the the roof comes off. Yeah. And you're like, you just don't know. It's, it's dark magic. I mean, that's part of magic. But did, no, you joined King, who, was it season two or one, were you Oh, season one. We, we, we, we came in during the first, you know, the, the first run, they were just, they, they, they had broadcast one or two episodes, but, you know, in animation. So we worked on episode three for all, you know, all through. And we're the <laugh>, this is awful. But Dave and I we're the only ones who worked on that show, except for, I mean, the actors, 13 Seasons David are the only ones like beginning to, yeah. It's it was a lot.

    Michael Jamin (00:27:08):

    And tell me about, cause I was, I was there for it. But when you got the, when you guys got the bump to run the show, I mean, what, that was a big, that's a big step in any writer's career.

    John Altschuler (00:27:16):

    Well, you know what, what it boils down to is you should always be ready. Uhhuh <affirmative>, you just gotta be ready. And what happened, the wheels had come off King of the Hill for various reasons. And the episodes simply weren't the being delivered. It was, it was, they were gonna cancel the show. And w it was a very weird combination of we were working these incredibly long hours one time, like almost, I think we worked three days without going home one time, two and a half. And

    Michael Jamin (00:27:47):

    I remember there were jack hammering in the lobby while we were trying to sleep in on the fourth floor. Oh yeah. You remember that?

    John Altschuler (00:27:54):

    Oh my God. Yeah. So it was just awful. And what Dave and I, we just wanted to go home. Yeah. So we just on our own with a few writers, let's go write an episode because there, it just wasn't happening. And so we wrote an episode and what's interesting is that the show was gonna be canceled and they had no choice because there was a script. We gotta do it. And it played great. Right? And so then, well, they needed another script and they needed another. And what happened, and this is because of Mike Judge, is that it, we were just doing it in the like, oh, let's go, let's go get it done. And it was so gratifying because we liked the show a lot. Yeah. We loved the show. And to see it go off the rails to get it moving again. And basically Mike Judge found out that we were writing all this scripts not by ourselves. Right. With all theri You were there, you know, with all the writers just putting, and they he just said, I'm not doing another year unless John and Dave are running the show. Now. We were very low on the totem pole. Okay. No,

    Michael Jamin (00:29:02):

    You were No, you were, you were, we

    John Altschuler (00:29:04):

    Were co-producers.

    Michael Jamin (00:29:04):

    You were co-producers at that point.

    John Altschuler (00:29:06):

    Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Believe me, I know. It turned in, it turned into a big problem with Fox because we saved the show. All we asked to take over and run it was to get paid what other people have been paid. And they're like, well, no, we'll give you a 15% bump from no producer. And you're just like, no.

    Michael Jamin (00:29:29):

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You could, whenever you want, I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.

    John Altschuler (00:29:53):

    There. Apparently there's still animosity to us, cuz we were seen as arrogant mm-hmm. <Affirmative> for that.

    Michael Jamin (00:29:58):

    Right. Well, you got paid, you gotta get paid, paid this suck guy.

    John Altschuler (00:30:02):


    Michael Jamin (00:30:02):

    Yeah. You guys did it for many years and then they canceled the show. Then they, they brought it back and then you were back in charge of it again for the final circum excuses.

    John Altschuler (00:30:10):

    Well, yeah, yeah. So they, they kept, Dave and I kept it, kept it alive, is that they, they tried to cancel it two more times. Right. But we kept the, like we just, we always delivered the show on time and the ratings kept going up so they literally couldn't cancel it. They tried a total of three times. Yeah. And then it, there's something kind of interesting to us that a lot of people don't understand is that the last episode, one thing I always said, like, well you didn't do this, you didn't tie it up, you didn't do that. You didn't have, you know, these people there is that. I decided I'm not making the last episode. Okay. If this is the last episode, great. But we had been canceled. Right. The last two. So I'm like, I'm gonna make an episode. That could be the last episode, but I'm not the one putting the, I'm not gonna be the one who puts the, you know,

    Michael Jamin (00:31:05):

    Nail the coffin. Right. Because you wanna keep it going

    John Altschuler (00:31:08):

    <Laugh>. Well, but I also didn't feel like that was the right thing to do is that, you know, we didn't create it Uhhuh, you know, and I was just like, you know and Mike was good with that. He would've been, he was okay with killing it, you know, he was like, you know, he was, you know, done. But I'm, I'm, yeah. So anyway, that, that was the run of King of the Hill. But what's great about doing that is by learning how to rewrite and also it was a three act show. It helped our movie writing dramatically. Yeah. And so while we were running King of the Hill, we wrote Blades of Glory and got that in production, which we, we simply wouldn't have had the skills Yep. To do it without all of that. The foundations from all those rewrites.

    Michael Jamin (00:31:57):

    I was just, I used telling people just the other day, if you wanna be a feature writer starting TV, so you learn Yes. Three act structure, you learn how to do it. And I said exactly what you said, you know, five minutes ago, which was we, we did, we sold the movie a couple movies and the exec said I wish all feature writers were as easy as TV writers. You know, because nothing's precious.

    John Altschuler (00:32:17):

    Nothing's precious.

    Michael Jamin (00:32:17):

    Rewrite it. Well, fine. Yeah. As long as I can check I'll rewrite it. You know. Well,

    John Altschuler (00:32:21):

    I always tell people like, it doesn't disappear, appear, put it to the side, it can always come back. Yeah. You know, be because, and if it co if it makes its way back fine but you don't care by then, you tend to like better. Cuz obstacles, you know how like people who don't have obstacles, you'll like, how'd that piece of shit get made? You know, or you know how it got made, but why is it so bad? It's cause you didn't have obstacles. Right. You always need people going, huh. What? Huh? Wait, because then you got to justify yourself and then you gotta bulletproof it and you gotta try harder. That's how something gets, gets good.

    Michael Jamin (00:32:59):

    Yeah. And then what, how did, how did Silicon Valley come about?

    John Altschuler (00:33:04):

    Silicon Valley happened because I was reading a book about Steve Jobs by Howard Isaacson. Okay. And I remember reading this book about Steve Jobs and there was this paragraph just a, and it was about Bill Gates making fun of Steve Jobs because the asshole can't even write code. And I'm sitting there, I was on a plane and I remember laughing, reading this going, that's freaking funny. The guy created the biggest brand name in the history of the world. Right. And there's some other guy going, what an asshole. You can't write code. And I was just like, well that's freaking funny. And so then I didn't even know really what writing code meant. Right. So I was like asked my brother who's an engineer and my brother-in-law is in an engineer. Everybody is engineers. And then, so I was like, well, there's something here.


    Okay. And then we went up to Silicon Valley to do a little r and d cuz it's like, okay, there's something important here. Couldn't quite put my finger on it. And it was hilarious cuz I was able to get, we got meetings with these tech executives mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. Okay. And three out of three said they want, look, we're not, we're not trying to make money. We're trying to make the world a better place. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> we're just trying to make, and, and, and I was like, that's freaking funny. I remember telling Mike, I was like, Mike, this is, this is a freaking gold mine <laugh> nobody. They just wanna make the world a better place. Yeah. One place that we, we we met with, they're not there anymore. That's when we, most of the things that you see through the first season, were just from that one trip because you're like, there was a guy number seven and you're like number seven.


     And it turns out in Silicon Valley your importance was the lowest, how low your number was because that's how the number you were hired. Right. He was number seven at Microsoft. You know, whatever the hell it was, I don't, you know, so number sevens there. And then this company was, you know how, I can't even remember. I got, I'm sure I got the Snapchat gives you 15 seconds. Okay. We're gonna give you nine. Okay. And I remember going well, wait, so is less a proprietary concept? Absolutely. <laugh>. They're like, okay, so your whole and these offices overlooked San Francisco Bay, they were fund on and they're pick being, we give you less. Right. and so you're like, well this is ripe for the taking. Yeah. Because self-important. You know, like the original pitch it was in there was like basically never a history of the world.


    Have these guys been in charge? Yeah. You know, it's like nerd, you know, nerds in, in charge and there's an angry vibe, kind of an underlying insecurity, which is funny. You know, the, if, if you <laugh>, when we went into production, the, the, the name of the you always have to have a holding company for a production. Right. And if you look at the end, it says, you know, s b H productions, that's the company that made Silicon Valley. It's because we were flying in and I, I looked down and I turned to my, I go, ah, the ship Brown Hills of Silicon Valley. And so when they, they said, what's the production name? I went, how about SB H productions and how funny. Yeah. So that was Silicon Valley. You know, one, one thing interesting about Silicon Valley I think was that we, we, Dave and I is, is, we met Thomas Middleditch, who was the star of it.


    He had an animated show that we helped him with where he drew it and did all the voices. Oh, I good. Yeah. And so when we had this idea, I was like, well, let's write it for him. Okay. Because he was the right age. He was really heavy into gaming and we didn't know that age group, like kind of who, so we wrote it for him. As a matter of fact, the original name was Thomas Pecking of Richard's character because pecking is Thomas Mill ditches. Ma mom's maiden name pecking. Well, that's kind of funny. And so we wanted him, but HBO o didn't want him. Nobody wanted him. And I remember, you know, some thought, they thought, oh, he is too old or whatever. And I'm like, you know, I I tell you, you can't, you don't cast a 22 year old as a 22 year old these days.


    He's gotta be older. So I remember he had like a full beard and we had like, we were doing casting. I said, Thomas shave the goddamn beard and get down there. And we, we kept running him up the flagpole and then every he was the best. Yeah. So, you know, so that, you know, that that was, and Silicon Valley was good because what not to, you know, that aren't we great? But we had done animated half hour, we had done live action features, you know, succeeded. This was live action tv. So we kind of like, okay guys, we've done it. You know, and which is, there aren't a lot of people who have succeeded in various moments, which it's inter to me, I often get asked like, well, what, what's, what's the, what's the length of, you know, this project and I don't care. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, if it's a half hour, you go, you, you make adjustments. If it's an hour, it, it's just, it's a, it's dr it's a dramatic concept. Right. If I got 15 minutes, I divide it up differently. Right. So we have the skills to do that if that from grinding it in these different arenas.

    Michael Jamin (00:39:00):

    Now how so, given that the industry's changed so much, so, you know, even since we, since both of us started, like what do you tell, what do you tell new writers? Or what, how do you see, like, how do you see making it now?

    John Altschuler (00:39:12):

    Yeah. That, that's tough because it's so different. It used to be, I would say easy to tell. Like I went, you know, to N C and I would say, well, go to la Just go to LA and start working. Because once you're working, you're around other creative people, you kind of, you know, you get in the mix a bit. You, you, you learn who's doing what. That's not LA's not LA anymore. You know, every people are in Atlanta, people are in New Mexico, PE every, everybody's spread out. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So, and then the biggest difference is difference is that you would write a spec script just to show that like in TV or even in in features, you would write a feature script to sell. Right. For a million dollars. Okay. And there was such a hunger for the next big script that they were, oh my God, we were, nobody's officer NK Krinsky have a new speck.


    And it's like, we haven't even got anything made. Okay. But they, they were like all on it. And then, or in TV you would write from a hit show, cheers, Seinfeld, you know, whatever in episode just to show what you could do. Cause everybody knew those shows. Right. So now you really can't write a spec because nobody sees any shows. I mean, I think Hill Silicon Valley's a hit. Right. And people have written specs of it, but most people haven't seen it. So you can't, you can't do that. You have to do original work. So the good and bad of the now is that you have to write an original pilot for tv. And actually, what I tell a lot of people starting to say, you gotta make something. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Okay. And I, I'm not a fan of what, there are some really good examples of this, like insecure where Isa Ra makes her own stuff and then it transitions.


    Okay. But what we've ended up with in general are, is a failure of craft, is that if everybody does, if you have to do everything mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, the writing's not as good. The directing's not as good, everything's not as good. So there's a little bit of a sloppiness to the media a bit, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's worse. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So I think now you gotta make something, you gotta either make a web series or do some pieces and put 'em out there. Yeah. So even if they're not seen at, unless you at least you have them and you can compile them and send them to somebody because nobody cat, sorry. Nobody knows what anything is. So you go, well here's my my pieces from my you know, reviewed on Collider or whatever. No. Nobody knows. Right. so, but you really gotta do it.

    Michael Jamin (00:42:12):

    Right. You gotta, you gotta put yourself on Hu Hustle. And, but I still think it's important to come to LA Cause I still think that this is where people are and you know, this is your, this, you, you get involved, you get, you have a graduating class of people. Yes. Whoever, whatever group you're in, that's your, that's the class you're in.

    John Altschuler (00:42:28):

    Well, I, I think you're right because now, but you're talking about writing specifically. Yes. Because Hollywood is still the brain center. Right. And this is where all the improv groups are and all that. So it's there for me, the MEU simply not there. Because what I always liked is that see, costume designers are talented and creative set designers are talented and creative. It, they used to all be around you. Now they can't afford to live in la Wow. So they live in Atlanta and the entry jobs are not as plentiful as they used to be. Like, I mean, they always wanted somebody to feed the beasts. Like, you could get a job as a pa, you could be an assistant that you could do, you know what you want. So that's a little different. But I do agree with you that if you're gonna live somewhere and you wanna write, LA is probably the best place to be.

    Michael Jamin (00:43:24):

    One thing I wanna mention is that even now, like I said, you're, you're so entrepreneurial, even now, it's like you don't wait for projects. So many people are like, oh, well, they're asking Hollywood for permission. Yeah. I make my script, read my script, you know, and even like now, you don't ask any anybody for permission. You're out there, you're getting, I know you're traveling to Europe to set some deals up. I'm like, you're constantly hustling for your next job. And look what you've done. You'd think that it would all f you know, nothing falls on your plate. You have to hustle for it,

    John Altschuler (00:43:53):

    You know? Yes. And the, you know, well, first of all, I'm, I'm more entertained by, by this I've moved a lot of the things that I'm doing and that David and I are doing to Europe mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, like for example, the Gangsters Guide to Sobriety, which you can see backwards. Okay. It was an idea that we could have sold as a, a pitch. And I was like, well, we already cracked it. Let's write it as a book. Because then everybody, ip ip, well then we own the ip. So now we, it's about this gangster and Irish gangster moved to America total re re drug addict dealer charming guy. It's very Scorsese like, but he basically got sober. And I liked all the stories of his horrid past, but I also liked his stories of getting clean. And so he kind of put those together.


    It's like you go through 12 steps in aa. This has 12 chapters, so now we're long, we, we were going to do it in America. And then realize, you know what, he's Irish. Let's check out Ireland. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And it's just a little bit fresher to have an Irish company backing us with Irish talent. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and doing it as a co-production. And so that's what we're doing in Italy. That's what we're doing in France. The I got the rights to this book, which you can see backwards burning down the house. Uhhuh <affirmative>, which is about the the pump movement in East Berlin before the fall of the wall. Right. And so I'm going to Germany in two weeks. Interesting. You know? Yeah. Because, you know, look, the fact is nobody's gonna do it for you. And the what I like about Europe is that you can talk about the projects more here. Issue one is always race. Issue two is gender identification is, then it's politic. And then, oh yeah. There's an idea in there somewhere. And that gets a little bit grinding when you just wanna talk about what, how cool this project is.

    Michael Jamin (00:46:06):

    I wanna mention by the way that your, that first book, the Gangsters Guide is based on a true story. So you had that guy. Yeah. And then, and it's like, that book is now available on Amazon. Everyone goes, check it out. Read it. It's, it's, it's fascinating.

    John Altschuler (00:46:18):

    So he, it, it, it's really great. And what's nice is that it's an elevating story, but it's, it, it's pretty damn harrowing. But it is, you know, you know, he survives. So there's a positivity to it. Like he says, like, I just want people to know because Ri Richie Stevens, who it's his life. Like I, I'm not telling anybody what to do. I don't have the answers. I just want them to know if somebody's fucked up as me, can survive and get clean and move on with his life. Anybody can,

    Michael Jamin (00:46:50):

    And these meetings in Europe, cuz you know, you're a writer, producer, but you're, you're, you're setting these up yourself. I mean, how are you reaching out to people?

    John Altschuler (00:46:57):

    You know what, here's the thing, luck, but also you just take what you have is that during the pandemic, for an odd reason, we ended up in Rome mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And because we, my wife's a psychologist. Our daughter was, hadn't gotten accepted to the school in high school, which Oh, that was great. And everything went freaking haywire, obviously. And so we're like, well, there's nothing going on here. Let's go to Rome. So we're in Rome and it's all locked down. Yeah. And somebody, oh, you should meet this woman Kissy Duggan. Now she was a standup comedian in la She's lived in Rome for over 20 years. She's married, has two kids. And and I connected with her and she started Women in film for Italy. Oh wow. And then I start kind of going, well wait, what's missing here? And I'm looking at Italy as a marketplace and I'm in it. Yeah. And people like me usually aren't there. Right. So people who go to Europe don't tend to have credits. They recognize. Yes. So it's, it it, well they

    Michael Jamin (00:48:02):

    Recognize you. I mean No, not you. They recognize your work.

    John Altschuler (00:48:05):

    They recognize my work. Right. Yes. That's not who usually shows up. Right. Usually it's, it's people who have failed and are trying to go, oh. Whereas I'm going, you know what, what if we do this as an Italian American co-production? But Italy first, like I, these twins who I worked with a lot, one of them lived in bologna for seven years working in Tati. And his job was to come in and help turn Ducati. Right. Now, if you spend any time in Italy, it's, it's, it's wonderful and ridiculous because they are the most inefficient society ever and the most blessed. So you sit there and you go like, well, they gotta change, but they don't wanna change and they don't know how to change. Right. And that conflict makes for a really good comedic stew.

    Michael Jamin (00:48:58):


    John Altschuler (00:48:59):

    So, you know, like we, we took a biotech project that was really ripe for America and we're like, you know what? We were, you know, while I was in Europe, went to London, met with this great company called Rough Cut. And he is like, it's biotech do it in Cambridge. So we're like, okay, let's set it in Cambridge cuz it's a little more, you know, sounds jaded, but we've kind of <laugh>. It's not that we don't love doing stuff here, but we've done it. Right. You know, so it's kinda like, all right, well let's do another TV show here. Eh, this is all like, kind of fresh and fun. And also there's a real shortage of writers in Europe. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So you're kinda like, okay. You know, it's just, it's just a fun vibe. Like why I like talking to students is why I like being in Europe is that there's kind of a, you're bringing people along for the ride. Is

    Michael Jamin (00:49:54):

    Krinsky going with you on this next trip?

    John Altschuler (00:49:56):

    He is not, you know, the, the, he, he is very tolerant of this is all just my crazy bo I get bored easily and Dave's just real like, ah, that sounds great. So yeah. Cause I kinda, it's sort of free moving, like, okay, I'm doing this, you know. But I would say that Dave is 105% supportive of my European adventures.

    Michael Jamin (00:50:26):

    So you have a lot of meetings set up then, basically.

    John Altschuler (00:50:28):

    Oh, yeah. Yeah. Like, I'm gonna be in Berlin for a week and then what's kind of nice about Europe is that the Italian company, they come to Berlin. There's the Bur Berlin Alley. It's a film, European film market in Berlin, then it's Venice, then it's Khan. Right. Rome and then the American Film Market. And so they just sort of, and that's how business is done. Right. So I'm meet, I work with this Luxembourg producer, Bernard Micheaux. He has a mo, he, he got two Academy Award nominations for documentary called Collective. That was great. And he's probably, there's a good chance he'll get an Academy Award nomination for his new movie Corsage Uhhuh <affirmative>. But it's all fun. Yeah. I mean, I know it sounds stupid, but you know, I didn't drive a car without air conditioning across the country and then work as a pa three years to be miserable. Right, right. And you know, we, we've, I don't know if this is untoward, Michael, but I've had this conversation where you, you do everything possible to figure out how to break into the business and then everything possible, figure out how to get out

    Michael Jamin (00:51:37):

    <Laugh>. Yes. That's, I mean, I've heard Yes, that's, yes. There's some truth to that <laugh>. That's so funny. Wow. Wow. This is so interesting. So is there any other, any other advice you, you, you can share with people who are listening to this? I mean, I think you're so, he's such an interesting person to talk to. And like I said, you've been a great boss but a great friend over over the years. But it's because you also, like I said, have this entrepreneurial spirit where you're not doing it the way everyone else is doing necessarily. So,

    John Altschuler (00:52:08):

    Well, you know what, here's the thing. On one hand, being off the grid in my outlook has sometimes hurt Dave and I. Cause I kind of, I kind of lead, you know, and Dave is okay with that, you know. But as Dave points out, we wouldn't have anything if you didn't kind of like, well here's the even comedically you worked on King Hill with me. Everything has to be turned on its head. Okay. So if you, you, you got it. Everybody thinks this. Well no, let's do that. Right. And to me, that's the essence of comedy. That's the epi essence of drama. One of the problems I have with entertainment now is that there's this weird belief that everybody, that there's a right and a wrong and <laugh>, I'm always go, everything's wrong. You know, you think those, you think this is good. Guess what? Oh, you think it's bad? Guess what? Throwing curve balls. Right. which is what I like to see. I like being surprised.

    Michael Jamin (00:53:09):


    John Altschuler (00:53:09):

    So now, so the only advice I have is that it's what you always hear. You go, well write, write what you know, what the hell is right. What you know me Well now more than ever, it has to be specific. It has to be your story. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> your journey. It's the only thing that you own. Yeah. Is your mindset and your experience. So you mine that. Now Jeremy, you probably had to listen to, you know, I talk and like every, like one time my judge goes, we got 150 episodes outta what pisses John Al Schuler off. And it's kinda true. He

    Michael Jamin (00:53:49):

    Say that <laugh>.

    John Altschuler (00:53:50):

    Yeah. He's like, because I'd sit there and I'd go, you know what veterinarians, they piss me off. And so I funnel my experience of taking my cat and them going Well

    Michael Jamin (00:54:03):

    That's so funny that he said that. But, but, but that was your, that's always been your take. It's your even on, even on Lopez, when we work together, it's it's like your, your take on what's going on in society. It was like, and, and the absurdity and that,

    John Altschuler (00:54:16):

    Well, everything, everything absurd. Cuz people, like, sometimes the the tone of what we do doesn't make sense to people. Because if you read just the synopsis of King Hill episodes, they'd sound, someone would sound pretty horrible. Uhhuh <affirmative>, they'd sound like offensive. But we're not in the offensive business. Okay. We're in the entertainment business. And so if there is a message, it's gotta be at least two or three levels deep. Yeah. You know, that's another problem is that people are coming out swinging with like, well this is my episode, this is my series about racism being bad. Uhhuh <affirmative>. Well that means that you're under the impression that there is a large population that thinks racism is good. Right. Okay. Well that's cuz you don't know anything. Like I lived in a trailer park and actually I have a whole, we have a project to imagined based on when I was 15, I lived in a mobile home that I owned by myself.


    And I didn't see how the other half lived. I lived how the other half lived. And guess what, they're not a bunch of racist, horrible people that are gonna shoot. Now, they may shoot you <laugh>, but there's, but there's a good and bad to them, <laugh> to them running around with guns is then you start going, you know what, there's a human experience that is universal. And one of the problems is everybody these days has their team. And I don't like teams. You know, I, I I really hate teams. I don't think, you know, liberals like they drive me fucking nuts. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> right wing. Like I like And it's, this used to be the job of comedy is that you're supposed to make fun of power. Yeah. Okay. Right. Well, you know, it's like, you know, the Matt and Trey from South Park, the, they're really nice and they're really great guys. Cause they're like, yeah, you probably get asked a lot, what side are you on? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And it's like, I'm on the side of comedy. Right. It's not like comedy is a religion to me. I think it matters. I think it has to be cared for. And when I see people thinking that comedy means getting an applause line on a late night show, cuz you go Trump mad, that's not comedy. Right. You know, you gotta work.

    Michael Jamin (00:56:37):

    Interesting. That's wonderful. What? Yeah, I mean, I even Lopez, season two, it was, it was all about his quest for relevance. And we're like, what does that even mean,

    John Altschuler (00:56:47):

    <Laugh>? Well you, but you know what it, what it meant to me was everybody's trying, like, the world changed. Okay. Yeah. And he, he, there he is like 60 years old or whatever, and the world changed. And he was relevant because he existed. Right. Okay. And you were on tv, it was like, Seinfeld. Why did people watch? Cause it's on tv. Okay. Then relevance. Relevance became this phrase where Well, okay, but what's rel because there was no other metric. Right? There weren't, there weren't ratings, there weren't, people weren't, these companies weren't trying to make money. It was all about relevance. Yeah. So, if you remember, that was part of the, the comedy of nobody knows what relevance means yet. That's what was driving everybody.

    Michael Jamin (00:57:31):

    Yeah. We had fun that season. That was fun. Really was a great,

    John Altschuler (00:57:34):

    Okay. Well, well to your Michael Jamin is not only him and his partner Sievert, they're pros. Okay. Now, what is a pro and a pro is somebody who has the skills to do whatever you want them to do. Okay. So if you want something hacky and crappy and they're working for you, right. They'll do it. They'll do a really good version of it. But if you don't want something hacking and crappy, they can do that. They have the skills to do what you want. So you guys have always been a delight to work with, but also specifically on the set because you, you're, you know that you're quick. Yeah. You're quick. And it, the, the interesting thing, cuz I'm like, you guys, when I work for other people, they're the boss. Yes. I have no problem with that. I have no problem. As a matter of fact, my wife is like, like if I could work for myself, I would a hundred percent do it.


    Cause then I wouldn't have the headaches of running things. But in our business, you often work for assholes who are unhappy and don't wanna go home to their wives. So you're, you're, you're, you're stuck. But you guys are always great because, you know, you have the skills, you're funniest shit. But we never, we always knew eight, you don't, you're not gonna try to e stab us in the back, but if it had to be done, you were gonna get it done. Yeah. So professionalism is key. But you, you guys wrote one of my favorite scripts ever, which was the

    Michael Jamin (00:59:08):

    What was

    John Altschuler (00:59:08):

    That? The of the, the the garden. Now if you read that, you should, you should reread it because you did not understand how good it was. I remember, I remember you turning it in like, and, and you know, everybody's self-effacing when they turn something in. Right. But you were like, eh, you know, you and Steve were like, and if you reread that, you could be nothing but proud because it's like Anir story. Yeah. And it just builds and builds to the point where Bobby and Hank have murdered this thing. They gotta cover it up, but it's beautifully written.

    Michael Jamin (00:59:48):

    And Hank is selling out his son. <Laugh>.

    John Altschuler (00:59:51):

    <Laugh>. Exactly. You know, but you, you took him along for the ride. So yeah, no, you guys are, you, you're, you're truly, I don't know, pros, I

    Michael Jamin (01:00:02):

    Say this, I say this a lot. It's like the job of anybody who's not the job of showrunners is the hardest job there is. And it's stressful. And so everyone else is, my opinion of everyone else's job is to make the best version of the show that the showrunner wants to make. Right. And everything else is subjective. But who's to say it's better or worse? It doesn't matter. Your job is to serve the showman. They get to decide and, and great. It works out great if you can, as soon as you can accept that you'll be happy.

    John Altschuler (01:00:28):

    Well, and, and that was one of the big problems in our industry, is that nobody knows how shows get on the air. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So they don't realize that when you get right down to it, if you are gonna hire somebody, all that matters is the showrunner. Right. Cause there are great writers, but you don't know how the script got there. So many people have gotten good jobs off of scripts that Dave and I had to write from beginning to end, but our name's not on it.

    Michael Jamin (01:01:01):

    You know, I I've heard that complaint from other store runners on other shows as well. So you're not, so

    John Altschuler (01:01:05):

    What happens is, like, remember everybody off of Seinfeld got these huge deals, but all that matters is Larry David, you know, and it was like, you know, the, and the the other thing that's kind of funny is that we would be asked to do a lot of writers round tables. Okay. Where, you know, big, big comedians, a big movies. And they'd ask, and they'd get tables together where you go through the script and pitch jokes on 'em. Okay. And they, Hey, do you know some good people that you could bring in? I'd go, well, yeah. And I one, this was literally the, the, my response and the answers like, well, do you want the guys and the girls the every literally, cause we had a lot of women, they're like, do you want the people who actually can deliver? Or do you want names? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Oh, we want names

    Michael Jamin (01:01:51):

    <Laugh>. He said that to you.

    John Altschuler (01:01:54):

    Yes. It's like all they want is to go, whoa. Yeah, we got, we got Neil Simon. Yeah. We've got the ghost of William Faulkner. We've got, you know, they, they don't want people to actually nail it because, so the inside of a staff is, it's inside baseball that nobody really knows what's going on.

    Michael Jamin (01:02:15):

    It's funny you say that. Oh no. Oh, it's so heartbreaking. <Laugh>

    John Altschuler (01:02:20):

    <Laugh>. It's a tough, ugly business.

    Michael Jamin (01:02:22):

    It really is. Well, that's a good place to end. John <laugh> it. Thank you so much. Let's plug your book again so that people can go out and get it on Amazon. There it is Backwards.

    John Altschuler (01:02:32):

    The Gangsters Guide to Sobriety My Life in 12 Steps.

    Michael Jamin (01:02:36):

    Yep. Go out and run it. I gotta copy you in my house. Was great. So yeah, John, thank you again so much. It's and I'll see, you can tell k Crisco I'm gonna have from on next at some point just to, so we get the, the other version of the story.

    John Altschuler (01:02:48):

    Yeah, exactly. What, what he said. What?

    Michael Jamin (01:02:50):

    Yeah. <Laugh>. Why would he say that? <Laugh>. All right man. Thank you so much everyone. Thank you. It was a fun episode. Thank you for listening. And yeah, until the next week. Thanks so much. Bye-Bye.

    Phil Hudson (01:03:02):

    This has been an episode of Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving your review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok at @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

    1h 3m | Mar 15, 2023
  • 071 - Mom Writer Chandra Thomas

    Michael Jamin sits down with good friend Chandra Thomas who was also one of the writers for the TV show series Mom. Learn about her experience working in Hollywood and on the show.

    Show Notes:

    Chandra Thomas IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1817889/

    Chandra Thomas Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chandrathomas/?hl=en

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Automated Transcript

    Michael Jamin (00:00):

    Is the hustle never ends. It

    Chandra Thomas (00:02):

    Never, it never ends. Right. That's why I'm so not into the, the phrase break in, because I think sometimes people think like, once you break in, right? It's like glass. You break in the glass, no long, the glass no longer exists. You're in the space, it's over. But like, it's not <laugh>. You have to carve is how I say. You have to carve in. Like there's constantly more material in front of you that you have to sort of, you know, make your way through.

    Michael Jamin (00:30):

    You're listening to Screenwriters Need to Hear this with Michael Jamin.


    Hey everyone, it's Michael Jamin. Welcome back to Screenwriters. Need to hear the, I don't even know the name of the podcast. I screwed it up. Screenwriters need to hear this. It's, I'm gonna roll with it. And I got a great guest today. This is, this is Chandra Thomas and she's the, she was a writer for two Seasons on Mom before the show, before the show got canceled. It's not her fault though. Don't blame her. And then, and then I met her last year on, on Tacoma FD and she's amazingly talented. She's wonderful. And and she was also an actress. And you, if you, you should be wa everyone should watch this cuz you look at, oh yeah, she's beautiful. She's an actress. You could, you could see why she'd be an actress and, and, but she's gonna talk about her journey. Chandra, thank you so much for joining me on the show

    Chandra Thomas (01:21):

    Chairman, on the ones, thank you for having me,

    Michael Jamin (01:26):

    Chandra. You don't know this, but if we were, because last year we were on Zoom, so all the writers were on Zoom, but if we were in person, I would've probably made you sit next to me. Every, every <laugh>

    Chandra Thomas (01:37):


    Michael Jamin (01:38):

    I'd be like, Chandra, what's going on over that guy? Or that, you know, we would be whisper like passing notes to each other.

    Chandra Thomas (01:43):

    I love that. It would've been like high school all over again. <Laugh>. It would've been great <laugh>

    Michael Jamin (01:49):

    Ass. It couldn't do it. And I,

    Chandra Thomas (01:50):

    So one thing I just do wanna clarify, I was on the final season of Mom, so just one season, unfortunately on that show. But I absolutely love

    Michael Jamin (01:57):

    Two season, so you definitely, yeah. So you was def definitely your fault then in this show? Oh,

    Chandra Thomas (02:01):

    So not my fault. I would've had that show run for another 300 seasons.

    Michael Jamin (02:05):

    You wanna keep that gravy train rolling. But I wanna talk about, I got so many questions for you.

    Chandra Thomas (02:10):


    Michael Jamin (02:10):

    And I know some of the answers, but most of 'em, I don't know. Cause I know, okay, I remember, I know you went, you graduated Vanderberg College. Was there always your ambition to be a writer or actor even in college?

    Chandra Thomas (02:20):

    So when I started at Vanderbilt university in Nashville, Tennessee I was like, not sure what I wanted to do, but probably law because I am a first gen, my parents are immigrants and like, if there's anything in immigrant parents gonna tell you is you gotta do law medicine, own a business or being engineer. And I didn't, I did not like the idea of like, somebody could die on my watch. So I was like, not a doctor <laugh>, like, definitely not that. Engineer physics was a little rough for me, so I was like, no, thank you. And maybe would own a business at some point, but it sort of ended up being law was where I was sort of drawn to. And

    Michael Jamin (03:03):

    Then what did you, who did you major in?

    Chandra Thomas (03:05):

    So then in my first year, in my first semester at Vanderbilt, I I was into theater just like mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. I had done theater in high school and in middle school, and my parents had taken me see a ton of plays. I'm from New York, so we, you know, go to Broadway and see plays. And I just had this like, sort of like Thanksgiving revelatory moment where I was like, oh no, I, I wanna like be in theater. I wanna just be on stage and write stage and make plays happen. And so I came home and had to tell my immigrant parents that like, I was gonna do this theater thing, which they were like, what <laugh> what does that even mean? That's not why we came to this country. You know, at first, now they're like literally the co-chairs of my fan club. They are incredible.


    But so then I decided to double major in theater and sociology. So I got two bachelor degrees from Vanderbilt. And then when it was time to graduate, everybody was like, cool, let's go get jobs and do stuff like that. And I was like I know how to go to school, I'm gonna keep doing that. So I went to Columbia university in New York and got my M F A in acting. And so started working as an actor pretty immediately and very consistently. But at the same time was always writing, was always producing, especially in theater. Transitioned pretty quickly to sketch and improv was at the U C B A ton and then transitioned into indie film, indie short form content, digital shorts, and just really was like about storytelling. Most people sort of in immediately sort of knew me in front of the camera, but I was sort of always working on the other side as well. And so

    Michael Jamin (04:41):

    Were you writing for yourself in

    Chandra Thomas (04:43):

    The long,

    Michael Jamin (04:43):

    Were you writing, say again? Were you writing for yourself when you were acting or were you just doing other people's work?

    Chandra Thomas (04:48):

    At first I was writing for myself, and then I think as like most theater practitioners do, I was like, I need to start writing for other people too. <Laugh>. Yeah. So I wrote a whole bunch of solo shows. I have a, like, ton of solo shows that I was doing all over the

    Michael Jamin (05:02):

    Place. And who were you staging these

    Chandra Thomas (05:05):

    Different places? Sometimes in somebody's living room, sometimes in the theater, you know, a lot of New York off Broadway, off off Broadway spaces,

    Michael Jamin (05:13):

    But So were they, were they one man show or like one woman show? Or is it, or you

    Chandra Thomas (05:18):

    Know Yeah, solo a ton of, I did several solo shows. Yeah. I have one that's called A Rhyme for the Underground, which is, I play 17 and a quarter characters and it's set in the subway, the New York City subway system. So yeah, I was doing solo shows. Yeah, yeah,

    Michael Jamin (05:31):

    It's interesting. But then, okay, so then when you're even theater, were you booking because people miss this part? Like were you booking the, the theaters yourselves or were you pitching it to theaters? Like how, how did you put 'em up?

    Chandra Thomas (05:44):

    I, a mix of things like, so once I got sort of plugged into the sort of indie theater producer circle, we were putting up each other's work. I was putting up the work, I was submitting it to theater companies that were putting it up in some who's

    Michael Jamin (05:57):

    Putting up the money for

    Chandra Thomas (05:59):


    Michael Jamin (05:59):

    Who's putting up the money?

    Chandra Thomas (06:01):

    We, you figure <laugh> you figure it out. <Laugh>, you're not, you figure it out. I mean, and who's putting, you know, sometimes for some of the who's, who's

    Michael Jamin (06:11):

    Putting, who's putting all the butts and seats, who's selling, who's getting people to show up,

    Chandra Thomas (06:17):

    That becomes the artist's job. That's the big thing. Right? So in some theaters we'd be able to do like port, like proceeds from the ticket sales, right. You know, sort of split the box office is essentially sort of like the way people sort of shorthand it. And so that would be one way in terms of getting bus in the seats though, that would always fall on the artist. So you know, this is before sort of social media was as like readily hot as it is now to like, sort of share those kinds of things. So it became postcards and flyers and putting up posters in storefronts and Absolutely. Emailing friends and texting people to come. And so yeah, it was like a lot of literally gorilla marketing in the most purest form.

    Michael Jamin (06:58):

    How many seats are you talking about in these theaters? How big are they?

    Chandra Thomas (07:01):

    So most of these theaters are 99 and under, which is part of the

    Michael Jamin (07:06):

    Right equity waiver.

    Chandra Thomas (07:07):

    Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, well, different in LA they call 'em waivers in New York, they're just theaters. Okay. so you can work under an equity contract. I know in LA these sort of like wave, like working under the union. That's not how we do things in New York. So it would be a special showcase contract is what it's called. And so you'd be able to sort of like, you know, like folks most, again, it was, most of us were like in each other's shows, so we would just sort of do the showcase code and, and and do the show. Yeah. And we'd do it under union rules, you know, as a showcase code

    Michael Jamin (07:41):

    Production. What do mean, what, what does that mean under union rules?

    Chandra Thomas (07:44):

    Under equity actors equity

    Michael Jamin (07:46):

    Rules? Yeah. Well, what kinda rules are we talking about?

    Chandra Thomas (07:48):

    Oh, like, just making sure that like, there's a place for you to change your clothes <laugh>, like, you know, put on makeup, essentially a green room or, and like <laugh>, I'll come back in a second. And, you know like if you're being asked to do something that's way above sort of like the standard expectations of an actor that you would be under that's either under a different agreement or you'd be compensated appropriately for those things that we don't, you don't get paid necessarily at the minimum rate. Like, you may get paid in hugs or you may get paid in like, you know, a few dollars. So, you know, it's a, it's just sort of like very basic, just treat, you know, treat them like human beings, you know, treat us like human beings. Something. And the thing I was gonna say to come back to is like, for example, the like having a space to change our clothes. Like sometimes those were basements, like literally basements, just dank places. There are people now who are in, who are literally a lists on a lists for production, for studio features and like, people names that people would know that like me and them were doing basement theater. Like we're in between. During the intermission we had to go plunge the toilet cuz it was flooding in the middle of our shows.

    Michael Jamin (09:04):

    This is so important that people hear this because like, this is what, this is what breaking in looks like, you know, doing, starting from the bottom. People wanna start at the top. People was like, how do I

    Chandra Thomas (09:13):

    Literally, the bottom art at

    Michael Jamin (09:15):

    The bottom,

    Chandra Thomas (09:16):

    <Laugh> literal bottom.

    Michael Jamin (09:17):

    So like, so for one show, let's say you put up a show, how many nights would you, would you have put it up for? Or just once?

    Chandra Thomas (09:24):

    If I were putting it up, it depends on what the show was. And depends on under what umbrella, because I was producing independently, but I was also producing because I had co-founded a nonprofit with teen girls who wrote and created their own productions, ro own shows speak from their authentic voices. And so if I was producing their work, we would usually have maybe or two to four night performance. Right. If I was producing sort of other work, the showcase code allows for 16 up to 16 performances. Okay. and so sometimes they'd be one-offs and other times, you know, they would have like a little bit of longer run. And if they were outside of the showcase code, if they were like the next tier up then, you know, you, we'd run for maybe four weeks,

    Michael Jamin (10:13):

    Four weeks. And then how many, there must have been times where you put up a show where, okay, you got a full house and then you only have a couple people sitting in the theater. Is that that, did that happen?

    Chandra Thomas (10:23):

    Absolutely. Very often as an actor, you know, whether it was something I was producing or somebody else was producing and I was an actor in one of those little tiny, tiny theaters. And often Friday nights were often rough nights to get people in. Because I guess like, sort of the, the, the thought is people are like not ready. Like, you know, they're, they like wanna unwind. They're not ready to be like outta play necessarily, or small theater play. Saturday nights were often our strongest nights. And there were definitely times where there were more people on the stage than there were in the audience. There's no <laugh> that's like question.

    Michael Jamin (11:07):

    But that's great that you're saying all this. So how does this, this very humbling beginning, like how did, how did it help you? Because a lot of people would think, I'm not doing this. So how did it actually help you?

    Chandra Thomas (11:17):

    I am incredibly grateful for that time and mm-hmm. <Affirmative> used so many of those skills now that I didn't even realize I was developing at that point. First of all, being able to work outside of, of a, a corporate structure to let people know what the ideas, what the message is, what the story is, is something that I like, I use all the time. Having to engage people, just even as simple as like getting a shop owner to hang a poster in their, in their storefront Right. Requires a, a sales pitch, a way to engage them that is a skill that I use now multihyphenate, which, you know, I sort of, I really proudly embraced is something that I learned and built then. And like, you know, still capitalize on those things now as an actor, being able to pivot in the moment and then taking that kind of skill into a writer's room. Like hearing things, being able to see what's the direction that everybody's got, you know, mo helping to move that train forward. Those were all things that like the, the, at least the groundwork for that was so laid during that time period.

    Michael Jamin (12:23):

    Right. So none of this is wasted experience. All of it was good. No,

    Chandra Thomas (12:26):

    None of it. One of one of my favorite mentors, she says none of it is wasted. It's all story. And so yes, it is like, like if nothing else, it's story for sure. Right,

    Michael Jamin (12:36):

    Right. And then, and then you said you had people you work with o other people in your circle and you're at bottom of this, the people, the bottom of the basement in your circle who went on to much better things, right? Oh,

    Chandra Thomas (12:47):

    Absolutely. Yeah. People who are serious regulars now, folks who are in, you know, movies that we're going to see in the movie theaters, in the Marvels, in the dcs and the all. Yeah, absolutely. No question.

    Michael Jamin (12:59):

    See, it's so interesting cuz people say to me, you know, on social media, they reach out and they, they think the goal, they think maybe you know, it, who's asked, can I kiss who, how do I get my hands, my script and Steven Spielberg's, you know, you know, a mailbox or whatever. And I'm like, the, that's not, that's not how you, that's not how you do it. You, you make a circle of friends, you make a community at the, at your level A and then you gr and then you work your way up. Everyone climbs up together. It's like a, you know. Absolutely. So interesting. It's, especially for theater now. How did, okay, so at this point you're writing, you're acting and then, and this is all in the New York. And then what, what brought you to la What, like, what was that like that jump and why did I kept saying

    Chandra Thomas (13:41):


    Michael Jamin (13:42):

    How many, how many years were you doing this, by the way? In New York?

    Chandra Thomas (13:46):

    <Laugh>. I don't, I will not give years cuz that will reveal age <laugh>

    Michael Jamin (13:50):

    Or how many months?

    Chandra Thomas (13:52):

    Many more years than frankly anyone wants to admit.

    Michael Jamin (13:55):

    Okay. But it was,

    Chandra Thomas (13:56):

    It was a lot also, you know, was working in obviously bigger productions in New York. Right. you know, sort of major off Broadway houses was working regionally a ton working internationally as well. And then, you know, also was working in, in, in television, I, my first job on tv, I got a co-star on a law and order criminal intent. Right. I was a reporter, yes. Was so it was freezing cold, couldn't have been happier. And so, you know, I was working in studio features and daytime soap and primetime episodic, like the whole gambit. In terms of la I kept saying, something's gonna have to bring me to la Like, I, I just, I, it's no secret. I'm not the biggest fan of Los Angeles. And so I just kept sort of pushing it off saying that something was going to have to bring me to LA and then I sort of had one of these moments where like li it was Caic everything.


    Everybody was like, you need to go to la like just randomly on the street I would see like things that, and people just telling me it, you have to go to la And I like, I had been fighting it for so long, but finally was like, this is a little too much to not pay attention to. And so I started by doing the bicultural in New York, but like being in LA a good amount. And then sort of realized I needed to be in LA more because I realized I wanted to be creating for television. And especially in comedy, which there's not that many opportunities to do that in New York. So I moved my base to LA in June of 2018. So I've been here what's that going on five years? Yeah. Now,

    Michael Jamin (15:46):

    But you didn't, did okay, but you were starting over when you moved to LA you had no network, right?

    Chandra Thomas (15:51):

    Not the total opposite <laugh>. I came to like a huge net. Because I'd been working in theater and television and film for so long. I knew a ton of people here. I'd come to LA a good amount. So I'd built, you know, a, you know, a community here. And especially coming from the theater. So many playwrights that I know are in TV rooms, like so many. Yeah. So I came here like literally walked into a community in a way that I think most people sort of say, oh my gosh, that's not how you know LA works. But I was very fortunate to walk right into a very supportive society, if you will.

    Michael Jamin (16:32):

    But then what was that like then? Because I mean, you, you didn't walk into the LA theater scene. Like what, what, like what, what were you trying to do? What, what, you know, what was the fir what were those first months like then?

    Chandra Thomas (16:44):

    So, oh my goodness. What were those first months? First of all, I landed in my buddy's couch. Well, not couch. She had a whole second bedroom for me. So I had a very lush <laugh> room situation. I found a place of my own within two weeks. Right. I started to when I look back on it, I realize this is what I was doing. I was sort of rebranding myself as a writer first.

    Michael Jamin (17:10):


    Chandra Thomas (17:11):

    So I showed up in every single solitary writer's space that I could find everything if, like, I would be at every writer's groups. At one point I was in like seven writers groups, like e every day of the week I was essentially in someone in the writer's

    Michael Jamin (17:25):

    Group. Who are these? Like where are these writers groups? Like who, who are these people and how do you, like, where are they?

    Chandra Thomas (17:30):

    So I found most of them through like socials, like either through, like there's a group called L A T V Writers I'm sure folks are familiar with. So find some there. There would be others that someone who recommended to me mm-hmm. <Affirmative> you know, sort of like if you fall in, you sort of keep falling into the more was sort of my experience.

    Michael Jamin (17:54):

    People are probably some are. Yeah. Cuz you're, you're meeting other people now. You're building. Exactly. And, and how often do they meet? And like what, what were they like these groups?

    Chandra Thomas (18:01):

    It depends. It was a range. I'm still in a couple now. It, it ranged some were weekly Uhhuh, <affirmative> for sure. Those were usually the most frequent ones were the weekly. Some were biweekly, others were monthly. There was one group that I was in for a little bit that was quarterly and I was like, this makes no sense. <Laugh>. Yeah. At all. Like, you know, for three months those, oh that's just, that's crazy. Some were bimonthly for sure. It just really ranged, it depended on the writers, the people who were running it. These were mostly like Zoom even then, you know, like they were not No, that's not true. They're, most of them were on were in person. And then all of them sort of quickly transitioned to Zoom once the

    Michael Jamin (18:44):

    World went. You pay for to be in these groups. I who, someone's gotta,

    Chandra Thomas (18:47):

    It depends on the group. So in the groups where they rent theaters, we, you know, you chip in right. To help cover the, the cost of the theater or the space, you know, whatever the, the, the space was. If it was like a rental situation, some space, some of them would meet in people's homes. You know, like everybody gather around the di the dining room table or the living room or what have you. Others, there was one guy who had like a creative space that was part of his business. So you know, he would just sort open the doors that way. And then obviously like online it would be just a, whether somebody has like a Zoom account or what have you is there would either be free or you know, just

    Michael Jamin (19:23):

    A couple. Is there a leader or a teacher or someone? Or is everybody equal

    Chandra Thomas (19:28):

    Usually a leader? Just who coordinates it? Not necessarily somebody who's the ones that work best in my opinion, are where somebody's just sort of helping to handle the admin. Yeah. But everyone has sort of an equal voice in terms of notes and bringing in content.

    Michael Jamin (19:43):

    See, this is, so see this is, you're saying everything perfectly because you really are, cuz this is kind, I yell at people often. If people are like, do I have to move to Alec? You don't have to do a damn thing. You don't have to do a damn thing. But this is where the people are who want what you want and you should round yourself with other people who want. And then you all help each other and you know, this is where the people come. And so you got, I

    Chandra Thomas (20:05):

    Got that question all the time, Michael, like, of people saying like, do I have to move to LA as somebody who literally fought moving to la, if I say it's helpful and very, very helpful, then I really mean that. Like it's just as you pointed out, like this is where the, the, the mecca is in a certain way. And so it you, even if somebody gets into a room and they're outside of, of LA maybe New York okay, that's one thing. But how do you stay in the room? How do you stay in conversation? How do you have those chance meetings with people? How do you get information on a ground level that's not gonna be in a, you know, televised panel conversation? How do you have that one-on-one connection with the person next to you to be able to get that referral, to be able to make that referral. And I think, I think that's impossible to do on any kind of substantive level outside of New York if somebody's interested in working in television.

    Michael Jamin (21:03):

    Right, right. Well, not even in New View. Cuz you couldn't even do it in New York. Right. I mean,

    Chandra Thomas (21:08):

    Especially as a comedy writer, I think some drama writers are able to sort of make it kind of happen in New York, but you know, the opportunities are are are more limited. There's no question about it. Right. Even shows that, shoot New York, a lot of them still write in la

    Michael Jamin (21:23):

    They write here. Right. And then, because you, it's so funny you say cuz you were so reluctant, but it sounds like the minute you got here, like you were shot out of a cannon, like you just did what ev you pulled yourself out there. E every no opportunity was too small. I mean, really

    Chandra Thomas (21:37):

    Correct or too big. I would show up at things and like, I might not get in, but I'm going to go <laugh> showing up anyway. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (21:44):

    Like what do you mean by like, what kind of opportunities were those

    Chandra Thomas (21:47):

    Just like events or, or conversations or panels are, you know, whatever the thing is. Like, just as long as I figured out that there were gonna be people there who were writers who were gonna talk about writing in some way, I was gonna show up. So

    Michael Jamin (22:00):

    You went to a be I'm guessing a bunch of writers Guilded events too, right? Panels?

    Chandra Thomas (22:03):

    Yes, I did. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> Writers Found Writers Guild Foundation especially. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (22:07):

    And they're, those are open to the public and mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, I, what are, I don't what they cost 10, 15 bucks. They're not terribly expensive. Right.

    Chandra Thomas (22:14):

    Sometimes free.

    Michael Jamin (22:15):

    Sometimes free. Yeah. Yeah. And, and why are we not, why are we not you taking advantage of this? Right. <laugh>. And so then how did you, what was the, okay, so you're doing all this. You're now, you're writing, you got a writing group, you're you're not putting on any shows for yourself here, right?

    Chandra Thomas (22:30):

    No. Mm-hmm.

    Michael Jamin (22:32):

    <Affirmative>. Alright. You're kind of done with the theater, but then how did

    Chandra Thomas (22:34):

    You am I retired as a theater actor? Let's say it that way. Well, I still write for theater.

    Michael Jamin (22:40):

    And do you put up, but do you put up your shows?

    Chandra Thomas (22:43):

    No, I, no, I send them, I put them to other people for them to produce. I have retired from the self-producing theater.

    Michael Jamin (22:51):

    But are they going, are they, are they being produced in LA or, or back in New York?

    Chandra Thomas (22:55):

    We haven't gotten anybody on board yet, but when we do <laugh> it'll be on the east coast. <Laugh>.

    Michael Jamin (23:01):

    Interesting. But then, okay, so then how did you, at this point, I should point out, you don't have an agent. You don't have a manager, right?

    Chandra Thomas (23:07):

    Not in writing mm-hmm. Not literary

    Michael Jamin (23:09):

    For acting. You had, you had,

    Chandra Thomas (23:10):


    Michael Jamin (23:11):

    Right. Mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you're not helping with writing. So then how did you, how did you, what was your first break then for writing?

    Chandra Thomas (23:17):

    So I deci I had kind of quasi applied to the fellowships. I, I thought I was going to get into my first room because one of my playwright buddies was gonna like, give my script to their showrunner. And their showrunner was gonna fall in love with me through the page <laugh> and hire me. That's how I thought that I was gonna end up in a room. And the, a couple of opportunities like that presented themselves. I didn't didn't, you know, meet on any of those shows. But like that, that's how I thought. Like that's where the momentum was. So I thought that's where it was gonna happen. Right. In 2019. So remember I got here June, 2018 and 2019. I was like, I am going to apply to all of the fellowships. Prior to that I had applied to some in stops and starts. I hadn't really been strategic about it. I hadn't really prepared. Like, I just sort of was like, oh, this seems interesting. But 2019 I should've was like, I'm gonna, it's by a little Spike Lee by any means necessary. So I was doing everything like, you know, obviously.

    Michael Jamin (24:20):

    What, what are the fellowships? I don't mean interrupt, but what, what fellowships are you talking? Like, which ones? I don't even know the names of.

    Chandra Thomas (24:24):

    Yeah, let me, I'm gonna, I'm gonna circle into that. So I was trying, I was going to, I was blanketing everything. Like, I was just like, I'm gonna try everything I can to try to just get something moving now that I'm here and I've got myself acclimated and I've been in these spaces and what have you. So one of those strategies was to apply to all of the fellowships. And so the fellowships are essentially run by studios, networks and sometimes organizations that are creating opportunities for writers to help them sort of just, you know, get sort of carved in <laugh> into the, into the, the world into this industry. And so I applied to everyone that I could find even some that, again, some that were like, you're not exactly the right person for this <laugh>. But I still applied just like I showed up to every writer's event. If nothing else, they provi they forced me to write on deadline. So even if I wasn't gonna get in and knew that I wasn't gonna get in, like at least I had a hard deadline to get my writing done. And so what were you hitting the

    Michael Jamin (25:32):

    Spec scripts or original movie? Like what were your, what were your submissions?

    Chandra Thomas (25:37):

    Depends on the fellowship. Most of them now require at least one original pilot. Some also look for specs. So I had a spec. I had two specs. One that I had written previous, like in an earlier year. And so I like retooled it and to use it. So I had two specs that I was using. And then I had two original pilots. So something I should mention that I didn't mention. So when I realized I was gonna move to from New York to la I had, when I like was like, I'm gonna go write for tv, I'm gonna leave, I'm going to la, all these things. I had never written a pilot before. Right? When I said <laugh>, I was going to now pick up my like, very comfortable existence in New York and moved to like, had to write for television, had never written a pilot, had written everything else, never a pilot.


    And so I was like, I do not wanna be one of those jerks who's in LA talking about like, I wanna be a writer, I'm gonna be a TV writer. I had never written a pilot. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So I wrote two pilots in two weeks. And like obviously first drafts that got revised, but like that was cuz I was like, I do not wanna be that person. And I those two pilots, well one of those pilots has served me extraordinarily well and one of my still go-to pilots to this day. Wow. so it's a comedy. I had, say again,

    Michael Jamin (27:10):

    It was a comedy.

    Chandra Thomas (27:12):

    Oh yeah, yeah. Oh yeah. Only, only comedies. Yeah, only comedies. So one of those pilots is what I was using as my original. And then I had the two specs.

    Michael Jamin (27:25):

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin, if you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.

    Michael Jamin (27:49):

    You are such a go-getter cuz there's so many. First of all, there's so many people. I wanna be a writer. I want to, okay, well have you written anything? Have you finished anything? Like you gotta finish something, you gotta you gotta finish it and you gotta put it out there. Yeah. And then, okay, so then that's

    Chandra Thomas (28:04):

    So true.

    Michael Jamin (28:05):

    Do so what you accepted to one or many of these fellowships or what?

    Chandra Thomas (28:11):

    I don't ever win things Jamin. I like, I'm the person who like works hard and gets the thing. And so I didn't really think the fellowship, like I said, I didn't really think the fellowships were gonna work out. And I, you know, in my sparse applying before, I had never gotten into any of them. And so I didn't think that that was gonna be different. I thought I was gonna have to apply. I don't know. You know, you hear stories, peoples applying for six, seven years and like not getting it, what have you. I got into, I got into one single solitary <laugh> Okay. Fellowship one.

    Michael Jamin (28:41):


    Chandra Thomas (28:42):

    And I, that was c b s.

    Michael Jamin (28:43):

    Right. And

    Chandra Thomas (28:44):

    Now called Paramount Global.

    Michael Jamin (28:47):

    Oh, they changed the name of the fellowship. Is that right or no?

    Chandra Thomas (28:50):

    Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>

    Michael Jamin (28:50):

    Really? How many people were in it in your, was there, is there like

    Chandra Thomas (28:54):

    A class? There were, so there's a cohort. Yeah, a class essentially. There were, by their reporting 1600 applications, they accepted six of us. Wow. And I was the only comedy writer in my cohort.

    Michael Jamin (29:08):

    And this, do you, how often did you meet?

    Chandra Thomas (29:12):

    So the way the c b s program works is it starts sort of roughly September, October. And you're assigned a mentor who's somebody sort of in the studio or network and the, the mentor or two mentors sort of help you guide you, give you notes to writing a, a new pilot. You know, so you have a fresh script coming outta the program and then starting in that goes till Mm, probably like mid ish to late April. Uhhuh <affirmative>. You have weekly, at least weekly meetings that have different focus that have a different focus each time. So one night might be like alumni night where other alums come and in writers' rooms and answer questions from a very, like, hands-on practical perspective. Another session will be to meet with managers another with agents. There are times with execs at the studio there's you know, like different, you know, sort of like each day, each day is like at their front adventure kind of thing. Thing. And so so I,

    Michael Jamin (30:22):

    This is with your cohort. So you, you got at this point you got to know your cohort, the, you know, the other five or six people in the

    Chandra Thomas (30:28):

    Absolutely. So my, me and the other five people Yes. The other five drama writers. We, yeah, absolutely. And I sort of was like, we're gonna meet outside of here too cuz you know, you wanna get to, I really wanted us to like, you know, have our own thing even going into the sessions for sure.

    Michael Jamin (30:46):

    See, this is interesting cuz that's another misconception that people think, I think they think, well it's very competitive. How do I compete against these people? But that wasn't your attitude. You're, their attitude is, no, this is my community. I'm not competing against you. The these are my, we're all in this together. Even if someone succeeds faster than you do, it's still your people.

    Chandra Thomas (31:05):

    Absolutely. And you know, I look at the time especially as you know, an actor in the sort of, especially in the theater space mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and there's like a sort of an expectation of somebody calls me and is like, Hey, I have this job for you, for you. Can you do it? And it's like, I can't do it for whatever reason. It's not schedule or pay or whatever. Like, you know, you're not able to do it. My first response is, can I make recommendations to you? Like, that was, that was sort of what we did. And so there was not ever an idea of like the other actors who are like me ish, cuz nobody's exactly like me, obviously, but like who we may be in the same sort of category on a call sheet,

    Michael Jamin (31:46):

    Honestly. You're like, you're like a, you're like an inspirational speaker because <laugh> you really are because there's like, there's not an excuse. You don't have any excuses. You're, you're just a go-getter. You're just like, you make opportunities for yourself.

    Chandra Thomas (31:58):

    That's really kind of you to say. I feel like I am like a, like overwork your B <laugh> is what I feel like most of the time. But I, I like get super excited when I like look back and say like, you know what? Look at what has what I've been able to do just even in the last few years. You know? So I do get excited about that, but it's, I'm always thinking about like, what's the next thing I need to accomplish? What do I need to do next? That's that immigrant parent thing.

    Michael Jamin (32:24):

    I was gonna say. I was gonna say, because you know, immigrants, like, they're not comfortable. That's why they leave because they want more. And it's like, they're not like lazy. They're leaving their home. Like, what are you talking about? They're leaving their home before. Like that's the opposite. Lazy.

    Chandra Thomas (32:39):


    Michael Jamin (32:40):

    Exactly. Okay. So then how do you get, how did Mom come about?

    Chandra Thomas (32:44):

    So coming out of the program it, it can be sometimes a little complicated to, to staff comedy out of the program sometimes. Not all the time. And so I had said coming into the program that I mom was like one of my favorite shows. And so, you know, that's where I was hoping I would, you know, if there was an opportunity staff there and it wasn't entirely clear if that was gonna be a possibility. One of the execs who I had met during the time, I had told her about how much I love Mom <laugh>, like literally had watched every episode up to that point, had gone to a taping even before I was in the program. Cause I just love the show. Like genuinely loved the show had, at that point, I think there were 132 episodes, had seen all of them at least once.


    Like, just was super a fan of the show. And so that exec remembered that. And so when they were looking for a staff writer she mentioned like, Hey, would you be interested in taking a look at, you know, Chandra's scripts? And they did and really responded to it and brought me in and it was the shortest meeting in history. And I was like, okay, well I blew that, but I'm so proud <laugh> that I like showed up and did my thing. And then, you know, found out a few days later that they were offering me a a spot in, in the room.

    Michael Jamin (34:05):

    And was that with Chuck Laurie that meeting?

    Chandra Thomas (34:08):

    No, that room, that meeting was with the eps who are like the hands on EPS on the show. So the two showrunners and then a third ep. Wait,

    Michael Jamin (34:16):

    Was Chuck not, did he not run mom or was it just under his umbrella?

    Chandra Thomas (34:20):

    It's under his umbrella at this point. He was more hands on earlier.

    Michael Jamin (34:23):

    So who was the showrunner then of, of mom?

    Chandra Thomas (34:27):

    So the, there were two showrunners at that point. So Gemma Baker, who is one of the creators of the show and then Nick mackay was the other

    Michael Jamin (34:36):

    You know, what was that like for you? Because you're jumping in not, not only like the new, not only the new girl, but like brand new to the, like, anytime you have a new writer, it's difficult because you, you know, everyone else is establishing you're the new face, but also this is your first staff job. So what was that like for you?

    Chandra Thomas (34:55):

    It was incredible and intense at the same, same, same time. You know, it's like I said was one thing. One of the things that was most helpful is that I genuinely love the show. And so I came in with like that passion, knew the characters, knew what characters had, you know, character types. We that had been on the show before. Like, I came in with like an institutional knowledge, obviously didn't know the behind the scenes right. But, but interest, institutional knowledge about the show itself and the stories that it told. So that was really, really helpful throughout. And I sort of became you know, at that point I joined in season eight. And so by that point folks, you know, had forgotten what they did in season two because it was six years ago. Right. And I was able to, I actually had created a spreadsheet of all the episodes with all of the guest actors who are the series regulars who were in it.


    What's the story synopsis for the episode? Title up the episode. You know, so like I sort of not only was keeping a lot of that knowledge in my head, but also had like a searchable document that I could go back to and say like, you know, if somebody pitched a story like, oh, that kind of sounds like something that happened maybe in season three or, you know, that kind of thing. I was able to sort of like help, you know, support that that piece. So so, you know, found my, found ways to be helpful in that respect. But to your point, like it's, it's a very intense experience when, like you pointed out not only the new girl in this room, a new girl to TV writing and everyone in that room, just a, with the exception of the other staff writer and a mid-level writer who also joined around the time that I was joining the room, everyone else were upper level writers. Yeah. most of them had been with the show since, if not season three. Season one. Right. and even the staff writer who was joining who was staffed when I was staffed had been with the show in a support staff capacity for two or three cuns. So I was like the new new new new girl <laugh> in like a lot, a lot of ways.

    Michael Jamin (37:03):

    Did you have an, at this point, did you have an agent

    Chandra Thomas (37:05):

    At this point? I did. So I did have an agent by this point. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> I did. And not an agent. I had a manager. I had a manager at this point in Lit.

    Michael Jamin (37:15):

    And then how did you get, and then after that I was, was it, did you have any time off between that and to Tacoma FD was there, like, how much time lapsed between that?

    Chandra Thomas (37:25):

    So we're missing a little, we had a little gap in there. So when I wrapped on Mom, I actually jumped on the show that Christie and you talked about the Amazon animated show. <Laugh>,

    Michael Jamin (37:34):

    What, what show was that? Right? What was

    Chandra Thomas (37:36):

    That? So it was called The Flats. It was adult animated comedy at Amazon. So that's what I jumped onto shortly after I wrapped on Mom.

    Michael Jamin (37:46):

    And how many episodes was that? I forgot. I totally forgot. Put that, that correct.

    Chandra Thomas (37:49):

    We did, we wrote eight episodes,

    Michael Jamin (37:52):

    Right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and, and did it and did, did it even air? Sometimes they do, right? Some didn't even air. Sometimes that happens, man, you write, you

    Chandra Thomas (37:59):

    Didn't even air. But we wrote a great show.

    Michael Jamin (38:02):

    Yeah. And then okay, so then came to com fd.

    Chandra Thomas (38:05):

    Yes. Then shortly after I wrap on that, then I was on Tacoma.

    Michael Jamin (38:09):

    Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Interesting. Cause you went from multi-camera to animation to single camera.

    Chandra Thomas (38:12):

    That's correct.

    Michael Jamin (38:13):

    Right. And what was that transition like for you? You can't even get your feet you wet yet. I mean, you know, you're ready getting your feet wet and already you're learning a different format.

    Chandra Thomas (38:21):

    I loved it. I mean, I love, I love Multicam. I love animation and I love single cam, like love. I've loved what you can do in each of those formats. Is, you know, a little bit different in each Right. Obviously at the, at the end of the day there needs to be story, character and jokes. But you can sort of, you know, there's just different things you can do in the animated show. You know, in three lines I wrote about a bear doing like a dance through the back of a car window like <laugh> that would, that would require, you know, $2 million on <laugh> on a live action show. But like, you can do that in animation. So it has its own, you know, sort of perks there and multi obviously like, you know, having the close, having the, the, the limited number of sets and setups. Like just, there's just a specialness that can happen there. And obviously the the the kinetic energy of a live audience. Yeah. And then a single cam, like, you know, there's just certain storytelling you can do there. Yeah. And certain things you can do there. So I love all of it, to be quite honest. I thought came in thinking I was gonna be just like super, almost exclusively into single cam. But I've loved all of the, I really have loved all of

    Michael Jamin (39:28):

    'Em. And then I know af I know after that, I know you started getting getting more into development. So what has that ride been like?

    Chandra Thomas (39:37):

    So actually I got my first development deal when I was on the, the Amazon show. So that's when I got my first deal. I was actually on deal when I was on Tacoma. So that is super, it's such an interesting development. Is is is extremely interesting and extremely frustrating. <Laugh> at the same time.

    Michael Jamin (40:00):

    We, we used to call it development hell, I don't, people don't, I'm not sure if people call it anymore cause they're just grateful for the, for the money. <Laugh>

    Chandra Thomas (40:06):

    <Laugh>, it's, there's, there's so many moving parts and I think the part that's most frustrating about development is you can create an amazing show. Incredible show. Everybody loves it and it can still not get sold or, you know, get sold to network or get, you know, or air or get a pilot put, you know, like, it, there's, there's so many steps before a show will even vaguely make it to a television screen and it, the show could be incredible and still incredible <laugh>, everybody loves it and still not make it. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin (40:40):

    That's exactly right. What we, my, my partner Steve and I siever, we like, well the victory for us is the minute the check hits our hands. Oh good. Okay. We got, we got the check. But after that, yeah. There's so many other things. And even before then, there's so many things about why sh pitch won't even sell. It could be a great pitch. People could love it. Absolutely. And the exec, we're outta money where we don't want it. There's some, somebody else is doing something vaguely similar or, you know, or something failed that was vaguely similar, we won't do it. It's like,

    Chandra Thomas (41:09):

    Or your studio execs get laid off <laugh>

    Michael Jamin (41:12):

    That that happens easily. Yeah, yeah. Right. So the minute, if you have an exec that shepherding the project and then they get fired or for whatever reason leave

    Chandra Thomas (41:19):

    Or they leave or Yep.

    Michael Jamin (41:20):

    Yeah. They can leave for promotion mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, they're go your project's dead, because no one else is gonna wanna take it up and no one else that's like picking up someone's scraps off the floor. Even if it's a great idea, it's someone else's scraps. Mm-Hmm. And it doesn't count. A victory doesn't count towards you. You don't get the, don't get the victory.

    Chandra Thomas (41:36):

    There's, there's so there are so many places it doesn't, it, even if it's incredible, there's so many places where it falls apart. So that's definitely the frustrating part. But there's something invigorating about like, imagining what a show could be like. I think there's something really exciting about that. Especially, you know, I'm really interested in stories that we haven't seen or heard a ton, you know, so like getting to, even if it's, we're just gonna get to pitch it, but at least like being able to craft and and shape stories that I think are interesting and, and funny obviously have heart. You know, it's like at least I got the opportunity <laugh> like put some, put some shape around something that could be incredible. Are you, and

    Michael Jamin (42:17):

    Oh, go ahead. Go ahead. I didn't mean to cut you off.

    Chandra Thomas (42:19):

    No, you're good. And what I was further gonna say is what I've seen now from other creatives is a show like I look at, for example, Lena, wait, she has a show called Twenties that has been, I think it's run for maybe three seasons, two or three seasons at this point. She originally wrote that, that was like one of the first pilots she wrote. She wrote it a, a long time ago. Let's, you know, the earlier days of her career and the show, she couldn't get anybody to buy it. And then she was able to sell it once sort of, people were excited to just, you know, work with her. And so I think there's something also to be said about, okay, cool, something doesn't sell now I'll put it in the file drawer as I'll, as my mom likes, say, put it in your purse and then, you know, it might be something you can pull out at some other point. So I always keep that in mind too of that, you know, a project may not be, some projects are dead for sure, but a project may just be in taking a nap. We'll

    Michael Jamin (43:17):

    Say, see, but see, the thing is the hustle never ends. It

    Chandra Thomas (43:20):

    Never ends. It never ends. Right. That's why I'm so not into the, the phrase break in because I think sometimes people think like once you break in, right, it's like glass, you break in. The glass is no long, the glass no longer exists, you're in the space, it's over. But like, it's <laugh> you have to carve is how I say you have to carve in. Like, there's constantly more material in front of you that you have to sort of, you know, make your way through.

    Michael Jamin (43:48):

    Right. Right. That's, it's, it's, you're exactly right. Now are, is your entire focus now on like commercial projects? Are you doing anything on the side that's just interesting for you? You know,

    Chandra Thomas (44:00):

    I mean, I'm still writing for theater as I mentioned, and so that does not feel commercial at all. <Laugh> that feels in several of my plays have won awards recently. And so there definitely is you know, there's that sort of creative space. Most of what I write now, particularly for TV and for film, is not necessarily that I'm gonna sell it tomorrow, but I'm like banking it so that I have something, you know, I have it for when I may be looking to sell something like this or so now, unless it's theater I'm thinking in some way commercially, but let me explain what I mean by commercially. It's not to say that I'm going to write something that I think people want me to write or I think is gonna sell. I'm writing what I think is interesting and funny and compelling and then see if there's a market for that thing that I think is interesting, funny and compelling. Right.

    Michael Jamin (44:57):

    See, that's another thing people often say to me, like on social media, they'll say, you know, does art is dark comedy selling now? What's selling now? It's like, don't ask me what do you wanna write? What do you wanna write? <Laugh>?

    Chandra Thomas (45:08):

    It's always gonna be hard to sell stuff.

    Michael Jamin (45:10):

    Yeah, right.

    Chandra Thomas (45:11):

    Period. <laugh>. So, you know, even if the folks aren't ready for it now, they may be ready for it in six months, eight months, a year, two years. But, you know, I like to have the thing in my purse, but

    Michael Jamin (45:21):

    I'm surprised you're not doing more for yourself to star an acton, you know?

    Chandra Thomas (45:26):

    Oh yeah, no, I'm definitely, I've definitely keep that in mind, Jamin don't worry. Don't

    Michael Jamin (45:31):

    I am worried about that. I wanna make sure you're on camera because Yeah. Because who else can play you better than you and who else can write you better than you? You know,

    Chandra Thomas (45:39):

    There's no question about that. That is always on my mind. Let me s lemme put it that way. I don't ever want to put myself in a situation where people think I'm gonna hold up a project Right. Because of my actor side. So that's that. I don't, you know, I'm, no, I don't lead from that place. But I, it's always, it's always somewhere in my, in the folds of my mind.

    Michael Jamin (46:06):

    And do you feel then I'll, I'll wrap it up with this, but do you feel you're writing your, you know, your writing has now informed your acting. Do you feel like, or, or vice versa, you've become a better actor because of your writing and, and better writer because you've been a, you know, you're acting

    Chandra Thomas (46:22):

    I think interestingly enough. So I've been doing more, a little bit more performance well acting in here recently because I have a little bit more flexibility in my schedule including guest art on the season premiere of Tacoma. Which I had a blast doing. Yeah. and it's interesting because there, like I know that me as an actor, like I'm, it comes from a very physical space and being a writer, at least for me is not a physical experience. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And so I find I have to sort of get myself back on the actor horse in a way that is, that I did not necessarily anticipate or expect. So it feels like I have to warm up a little bit more to feel like I'm performing at the level that I am cus I'm accustomed to be performing at. But the other way around, the actor informing the writer always, and I'm so grateful.


    A buddy of mine who was just a showrun on a show, she started as an actor as well and now is primarily a writer. And she often says one of the best things she ever did for her writing career was start as an actor, was start as a performer. And that always informs my writing. Like, you know, hearing voice is, is something that is so clear to me coming from an acting background understanding sort of like character moves, character motivations being able to encapsulate new action in, in addition to dial Like there, all of that is an actor informing writer for sure.

    Michael Jamin (47:56):

    Wow. This is the, I honestly, you, I think you're like, I don't know, am I gonna be any, you've been a fascinating interview. You've been a fascinating, because I feel like you're incredibly inspiring. You're so driven, like no one's gonna stop you. No. Who's gonna stop you from doing whatever <laugh>, whatever the hell you want. N I don't think anybody's gonna be able to stop you. Yeah, I

    Chandra Thomas (48:18):

    Appreciate that. I appreciate that. You know, the ultimate goal is to you know, do be a writer, actor, creator in a series like Quinta Brunson, like Mindy Kaling, like a Tina Fey. And so that's our North Star. And so we're just gonna keep marching in that direction. <Laugh>.

    Michael Jamin (48:33):

    Yeah, I would, yeah. I wouldn't bet against you. That's what I'll say.

    Chandra Thomas (48:36):


    Michael Jamin (48:37):

    I think you're wonderful, Chandra. Thank you. So thanks, Cameron. Should Sure. How can people fo follow you? Do you wanna promote anything, any social media or anything you wanna, you tell people about?

    Chandra Thomas (48:46):

    Sure. So I am on Twitter and TikTok at @chandra7thomas, and I'm on Instagram at @chandrathomas. Chandra, c h a n d r a, Thomas with an H.

    Michael Jamin (49:01):

    Thank you so much. Thank you again. Thank you.

    Chandra Thomas (49:04):

    Thanks for having me. What a fun time.

    Michael Jamin (49:06):

    No, you're, you're a wonderful guest. You're wonderful. All right. I'm gonna, I'm gonna sign off. I'll say goodbye to my, to my podcast. Thank you all so much for listening. Until next time, we got more great guests coming your way. And keep following the @MichaelJaminWriter.

    Phil Hudson (49:20):

    This has been an episode of Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving your review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok at @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok at @ PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

    49m | Mar 8, 2023
  • 070- Kung Fu Panda Writer Jonathan Aibel

    Michael Jamin sits down with one of his good friends (and former bosses) Jonathan Aibel who was a movie writer for Kung Fu Panda 1-3 and has worked on other greats like Trolls, Monster Trucks, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, and Monsters vs Aliens. If you dream of being a movie or TV writer, you won't want to miss this podcast episode!

    Show Notes:

    Jonathan Aibel IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0008743/

    Jonathan Aibel EMMYS: https://www.emmys.com/bios/jonathan-aibel

    Jonathan Aibel Rotten Tomatoes: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/celebrity/jonathan_aibel

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Autogenerated Transcript:

    Jonathan Aibel (00:00:00):

    We knew storyboards, we knew how to read storyboards. We knew what happens in an editing room and how actors perform, right? So we came to it with production skills or an, an understanding of the process that that helped us come in and say, oh, I think you can, you can cut a few frames there and actually know what we were talking about.

    Michael Jamin (00:00:23):

    You're listening to Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. Hey everyone. Welcome to Screenwriters. Need to hear this. I'm Michael Jamin, and I got a great guest for you today. This is my, this is one of my, this is one of my first bosses, actually. And yeah, yeah, John, it's true. I am here with John Abel one of the partner, he, his partners Glen Berger. I'll have him on in a future episode. So tell him to just relax. I know he wants to

    Jonathan Aibel (00:00:51):

    Be, let's see how this goes

    Michael Jamin (00:00:52):

    First. Yeah, he'll, exactly. So yeah, and this guy's got a ton of credit. We, he's a real life movie writer. So let me give, I'm gonna sell you a, I'm gonna sell you, John, and then I'll let you talk for a second. But first let me talk, let me sell you up.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:01:04):

    That's fine.

    Michael Jamin (00:01:04):

    Proof everyone knows, like, I'm a, people say I'm a good creative writer. Wrong. I'm gonna prove it by selling you here, by building you up. So he's written on a u s a, he wrote run on King of the Hill for many years, including he was the showrunner, season five, cos Showrunner Mar. He also worked on Married to the Kelly's. That was his tv. That was his run in TV, I think. And then he went on to write Kung fu Panda, Kung fu Panda two, Kung fu Panda three proving like, you know, milking that thing, just milking that Kung fu panda thing. And then trolls, monster Trucks. And you've had a couple, couple upcoming stuff I want to talk about. Jonathan Abel, welcome to the show.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:01:46):

    Thank you. That was okay.

    Michael Jamin (00:01:48):

    What wasn't good? What should I have said?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:01:49):

    Well, you, king of the Hill is six years and like, that was six six. That was great TV. And then, and then you kinda mentioned some things. I was on six weeks with the same,

    Michael Jamin (00:01:59):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:02:00):

    The same emphasis.

    Michael Jamin (00:02:01):

    I'm pretty sure, but I'm pretty sure. So they're not equal, you're saying, you're saying, well,

    Jonathan Aibel (00:02:07):

    You know, some, some are hits and some are are learning experiences. I'm

    Michael Jamin (00:02:12):

    Wearing my shirt for you by the, my King of the Hilter. But let, lemme tell you something. Let me tell you let me tell you something else. So will you, you guys, you and your partner Glenn hired basically, hi. You and Richard Pell hired us to be on King of the Hill. I think there was an opening because of Paul Lieberstein who left. And we literally took his office. So I credit I thank you for that. Oh, you're

    Jonathan Aibel (00:02:30):


    Michael Jamin (00:02:31):

    When we got, when we joined the show, it was like, you know, it's your responsibility to get up to speed. So I asked for every script that was written or every, you know, anything on DVD that was already shot. And I distinctly remember reading all your guys' scripts, you and you and Glen Scripps, and just thinking, man, every script you wrote was just tight. It was so tight. And you'd come outta the box with a big joke. And it was just so well written. And like, you know, I didn't, there was 20 writers in the show, but I remember that your, your scripts always stood out like, man, these are always,

    Jonathan Aibel (00:03:02):

    You know, I

    Michael Jamin (00:03:03):

    Appreciate that. Always good. Yeah.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:03:04):

    I also appreciate your your diligence.

    Michael Jamin (00:03:07):

    My diligence

    Jonathan Aibel (00:03:08):

    Well, to come into a job and say, let me read everything. Lemme see

    Michael Jamin (00:03:12):

    Everything. Oh, is, I didn't

    Jonathan Aibel (00:03:13):

    Think that was, it was a bit of a challenge with a hundred episodes.

    Michael Jamin (00:03:16):

    Always dreadful. The whole thing was a horrible experience. It's a lot to, but I remember. But you have to do it. You have to. That's how you get the voice of the characters and but the, to like, what kind of show episodes are being told. I remember, I dunno if I ever told you this, but I remember we had just, we were on just Shoot Me, you know, for the first four years. And I remember after the first season, king of the Hill was up against to shoot me. And I remember I was actually house-sitting for Steve Levitan for some reason. And and we were watching, I, we threw a big party. He, he wasn't in the house. And, and we were watching King of the Hill. It just came on. It was the, it was, you know, the Bobby's falls in love with the, with the dummy. And I, and I remember watching thinking, oh no, this is the competition. <Laugh>, this is really good <laugh>

    Jonathan Aibel (00:04:01):

    That we used to watch. Just shoot me all the time in the writer's room feel that same way.

    Michael Jamin (00:04:06):

    Is that right? I didn't know that. I don't, I don't think so,

    Jonathan Aibel (00:04:08):

    But I, I just feels like it would, it should be.

    Michael Jamin (00:04:11):

    Yeah. You, you actually used to reciprocate.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:04:13):

    That'd be a nice thing to say.

    Michael Jamin (00:04:14):

    It would've been. But yeah, so Damn, Michelle was, and I still get, I, even today I get a ton of compliments on, on King of Hill. But tell me more. Tell me how you broken. How did you guys even get on King of Hill Hill?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:04:28):

    We were very lucky in that before we even moved to California, we, Glen and I met, we were management consultants and we met someone at this consulting firm who was college roommate with Greg Daniel's wife. And when we first started thinking maybe we don't wanna be consultants and would prefer to be comedy writers, she said, you should talk to Suzanne. Give her a call. So we called Suzanne to say, could we, we know you're Frank, could we talk to you about writing? And she said, you really wanna talk to my husband? So she put Greg on the phone. He didn't know who we were. We, he then I, what

    Michael Jamin (00:05:11):

    Was Greg doing at that time?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:05:13):

    He had moved to la I think he was doing Seinfeld at the time or had done the freelance, the parking spot on Seinfeld. Oh, I didn't, yeah, he'd come off of snl.

    Michael Jamin (00:05:24):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:05:25):

    And he gave the most basic advice that now you would probably give people, or you'd Google this. And it was, and Glen wrote it down, it was moved to Los Angeles. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Okay, okay. What else do we need to do? Like the how do you become a writer? And just super helpful in that regard. And then we moved to LA and never ran into him until King of the Hill. We had our first meeting and Glenn, I think he may have brought the pad and said, it's your fault. We're here.

    Michael Jamin (00:06:00):

    But how did you get the meeting

    Jonathan Aibel (00:06:02):

    That, that it was just through our agent. There's this new show starting up, it's animated. I don't wanna do animation. I know, I know. And it's non gild. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin (00:06:12):

    I know about

    Jonathan Aibel (00:06:13):

    That. And you're gonna work in a full year for 12 episodes. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Well, this sounds terrible, but it's Greg, it's Mike Judge who's coming off of Beavis and Butthead. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And you will learn a lot whether it's a hit or not. And we thought, well, that's probably the best reason to, to take a job. There's nothing to see. There was no pilot even, there's just a script. Right. There are no voices to listen to. It had been cast. So it was really just going under the assumption that, well, anytime you think something's gonna be a hit, it never is. So let's take a job just based on the people. And I don't think at that moment we had there, it wasn't like, do we take this or do we take this? It was, well, do we take this or do we just hang on? And, but you had no, I think maybe we hadn't,

    Michael Jamin (00:07:04):

    You didn't have any other credits before that, did you?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:07:06):

    No, we had done, we started off, oh, we did an episode of the George Carlin show. We had done, you

    Michael Jamin (00:07:13):

    Were right down the hall from me. I didn't know that. Cause I was a pa.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:07:15):

    Right. Well, we had done a freelance. A freelance,

    Michael Jamin (00:07:17):

    Doesn't matter. You were in the Warner Brothers building, building 1 22 or something. Cuz that's where it was.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:07:21):

    Well, here. No, cuz here's our great George Carlin story is that we wrote this script for Sam Simon. Right. We turned it in. We get a call a few weeks later from someone at the studio who said, great episode. And we said, oh, you read the script. Well read the script. Did tape last night.

    Michael Jamin (00:07:42):

    <Laugh> <laugh> just slapping the face. Yeah.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:07:47):

    We were not invited to our own tape. So we watched, we had a party, we watched it at home. Look, our first, our first big credit

    Michael Jamin (00:07:54):

    That, but that's amazing too. How did you get, how did you pitch that? You're skipping all this good stuff.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:07:59):

    Ah, our agent just back then we were, we were new. I think we had a couple, we've done a, a sketch show on Nickelodeon that got us in the guild that got us an agent. And interesting. He just put us up for stuff. So one of them was this freelance of of Carlin. And one of the other things is we went to pitch Sam mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, who it was, it was a hazard. Like he had a deadly sharp throwing stars on his table. So you'd go to like, oh, what's the paperwork? Don't touch those. They were razor sharp. And he also had a couple vicious dobermans

    Michael Jamin (00:08:42):

    In the office. Yeah, I remember that. I remember that.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:08:44):

    Then he also had, what we assumed was his story editor sitting at the table as we pitched him some story ideas. And then we left and realized, no, that was his next meeting. The next writer who's gonna pitch story idea sat at the table while we pitched ours. And then we left. And he stayed and pitched his,

    Michael Jamin (00:09:02):

    That's a little

    Jonathan Aibel (00:09:03):

    Unusual. It was a very, it was, it was a very odd thing. But that worked out in the sense that we got the freelance

    Michael Jamin (00:09:10):

    Your scripts must have been very good then. I mean, cuz

    Jonathan Aibel (00:09:13):

    I don't think they, I don't think so.

    Michael Jamin (00:09:15):

    It must have been if you would've got an agent that easily and got to be able to pitch these shows.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:09:19):

    Well, the, the agent, I don't know if it was easy. We, well, what happened was what Mo what happens to most people is you come out and you think, we need to find an agent. We need to get an agent. We're not gonna get a job without an agent. Right. And then you meet all these agents, they love you, they love your stuff, and they say, get a job. I'm happy to sign you.

    Michael Jamin (00:09:37):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:09:38):

    And we realized we're not going to get work, but just an agent. We need to get work somehow. And just by knowing people, talking to people, we wound up at M T V. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> doing a game show.

    Michael Jamin (00:09:54):

    Which show was that?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:09:55):

    It was called Trashed. Think It finally Made it there. We just worked on the pilot and then got to know people on the, on the hallway. We share, we were in damn TV buildings. And next door were some writers on this Nickelodeon show. And a couple of the writers had just left. And someone said, oh, I hear they're, they're looking to hire. Wow. So we said, Hey, we, we've got sketches. Can we, can we meet? We the executive producer read our stuff, met with us, and said, yeah, I'll hire these guys. We went to our agent, the, the potential agent, and said, we just got offered a guild job. Do you wanna represent us? You, there's no negotiation other than you say, yeah, I think I can get my boss to sign you. Sure. And that was it. And then we were in the Guild. We were having fun writing, and I had had credits, but I, I wouldn't say we necessarily knew how to write. We knew how to be funny and come up with gags mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. But the idea of how do you write a scene, how to you write a script was right. Was a little bit mysterious.

    Michael Jamin (00:11:01):

    But, and so you, I so you met Glen, you were just, you were, he was a coworker at when you were in your consulting firm. And then how did you both, like, did you, so you never even dreamed as a kid of being a writer. It was ne like, how did this come out of, where did this come from? This writing thing?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:11:14):

    I don't think I had any idea that people wrote for a living.

    Michael Jamin (00:11:20):

    Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:11:22):

    Like, you didn't, you'd watch shows and you wouldn't think, I don't, I don't really know what I was thinking. Like, if I went to see a play on Broadway, I knew a human had written it, but there's something about TV where you would think like, I don't know, those are characters who would say these words and you don't think of 10 people in a room writing those words. So it wasn't until Stimson's and Seinfeld started breaking through that, I started feeling like, whoa, there's TV here that I'd wanna write. And later I found out it was because people just a few years ahead of me at Harvard,

    Michael Jamin (00:12:01):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:12:01):

    Were writing those shows. So I was sort of thinking like, why does this feel like it's my sensibility without realizing I was kind of swimming in the same water

    Michael Jamin (00:12:09):

    They had? You weren't on the Lampoon then. No.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:12:11):

    You didn't have a no idea that this is something,

    Michael Jamin (00:12:14):

    How did you know you were funny then? Like, you know, I

    Jonathan Aibel (00:12:18):

    Mean, I, I think I always had a sense of humor and was known for being funny slash maybe sometimes disruptive, but cleverly disruptive in school. Right. Like, I was, I'd done musical theater, so I was okay fam like, I, I wasn't like unfamiliar with entertainment.

    Michael Jamin (00:12:40):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:12:42):

    But that was different from thinking, you know, that's something you can make a living at. And then it was right around that time where these articles started coming out about the number of people who had gone from the East coast to LA and how many Letterman writers.

    Michael Jamin (00:12:56):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:12:56):

    And SNL writers and Simpson's writer and Seinfeld and Frazier and Cheers and all these. That opened up my eyes to wait a minute, this is, you could make a living,

    Michael Jamin (00:13:07):

    But when you,

    Jonathan Aibel (00:13:07):

    I went to, I had no idea.

    Michael Jamin (00:13:09):

    When you quit your job, then you came to LA you'd had no job. Right. You were what? You were just like, I'm gonna live off my savings. Or what would you do?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:13:16):

    Right. We, we, we saved up from, I I, I think Glen says he sent away for grad school applications. His second day of work is how, how quickly he knew that place wasn't for him.

    Michael Jamin (00:13:30):

    He did it just <laugh>.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:13:32):

    It was a little, a little later in the process, but we started writing at night. Like we found out you gotta write a spec

    Michael Jamin (00:13:40):

    Script. Right. And you guys are roommates too?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:13:43):

    No. No. We, we weren't, but we wouldn't sometimes call in sick and then work on our

    Michael Jamin (00:13:48):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:13:49):

    Ourselves or Glen would stay home and, and turn the light onto my cubicle and put a Right. Put my suit jacket over my chair. <Laugh>, you know, it was

    Michael Jamin (00:13:58):

    All these, oh my God. <Laugh>

    Jonathan Aibel (00:14:00):

    Our heart wasn't really in it, but we stayed and did the job and, and saved up.

    Michael Jamin (00:14:05):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:14:06):

    So that we could move to LA And we didn't move out to LA like I think we were, we approached it, the way we approached consulting, which was this, this was my job as a consultant, was I was given a list of doctors and it, we had sent them a survey and it was go down this list, call each doctor's office and ask them if they filled out the survey. So it's like, hello, Dr. Levine, my name is John Avon. I'm calling on behalf of this. And we've sent a survey. I was just wondering if you had a chance to, to, and I would just have to do that for hours. And the skill it taught me was just pick up the phone and call people.

    Michael Jamin (00:14:47):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:14:47):

    So when we were thinking of moving to LA, it was, oh, you should like calling Suzanne.

    Michael Jamin (00:14:53):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:14:54):

    Instead of saying, ah, she doesn't know me. It was just, okay, she's just like a doctor. I'm calling you. She doesn't want to talk to me. She'll just, you weren't

    Michael Jamin (00:15:01):

    To call, were intimidated at all. You, you had, you weren't intimidated at all.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:15:04):

    I don't think I knew to be intimidated. We were in Boston at the time,

    Michael Jamin (00:15:08):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:15:09):

    <Affirmative>. We didn't, you weren't surrounded by people who had this dream of going to Hollywood and then came home with their tail between their legs and said, now it's awful out there. Right. It was, that place seems fun and sunshine and I knew people, people from school, people, friends of my brothers had lived were, were out there. So when we showed up, it felt like there was a, a group, there was a, you weren't alone. It was there other people here pursuing the dream, but not so many that you felt like there's no chance this is gonna happen. Like we were, I don't know if cocky is the word, but because we didn't know any better. We were just know it's gonna work out

    Michael Jamin (00:15:48):

    And it

    Jonathan Aibel (00:15:49):

    We're gonna, we didn't

    Michael Jamin (00:15:49):

    How long did it take for you to get work, but when you moved out here, it sounds like a fa it was fast.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:15:53):

    Well, we moved out in September and we got the game show started in December. And then I think amazing by the following summer we were on the Nickelodeon show.

    Michael Jamin (00:16:07):

    What show was that? What was that

    Jonathan Aibel (00:16:08):

    Called? It was called Roundhouse.

    Michael Jamin (00:16:10):

    I don't know that one.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:16:11):

    Right. Bruce Bruce Gowers who just passed away two days ago. Who did The Queen, the Bohemian Rapley video. He was the director of it.

    Michael Jamin (00:16:19):

    Oh wow.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:16:20):

    But there's a little little roundhouse trivia. It was really fun. It was a lot of in living color writers.

    Michael Jamin (00:16:25):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:16:26):

    Between gigs were there. So it had dancing and original music and it was a sketch show for tweens on on sncc.

    Michael Jamin (00:16:36):

    Sncc. Is that what it was? Really? Yeah. It's so funny cuz this show here was on Nick at night, which was supposed to be not Nickelodeon and Nick at night. No, it's

    Jonathan Aibel (00:16:43):


    Michael Jamin (00:16:44):

    But it's not because it, Nick, I don't remember if Nick at night started at 8:00 PM or 9:00 PM or whatever. But see, my, my partner I siever it used to say, but it's the, it's the babysitting channel up until, you know, 8 0 1 and then it becomes racy. But the parents don't know that

    Jonathan Aibel (00:17:00):

    <Laugh>. Right. <laugh> no one's turning you.

    Michael Jamin (00:17:02):

    Yeah. So the, we got a lot of people

    Jonathan Aibel (00:17:04):

    From was Saturday night. Saturday night. Nick is a whole other

    Michael Jamin (00:17:07):

    Ball game. Oh, is that what that is? Sncc? Yeah.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:17:10):

    I guess they could have also done it Sunday without changing the name. Yeah. But it was Saturday

    Michael Jamin (00:17:15):

    Or Wednesdays. Wednesdays or Thursdays. Anything, any day that ends with an s

    Jonathan Aibel (00:17:23):

    That's true. Wednesday, Wednesdays Nick.

    Michael Jamin (00:17:25):

    Yeah. Anyway, that's why we're not in the marketing department.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:17:29):

    My point though is by the time we got to King of the Hill

    Michael Jamin (00:17:32):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:17:34):

    We had had, we had worked on a, a show that was real old school in its joke telling, like real strong set up three a page, boom, boom, boom, boom. Then we worked on another show that was very emotional where it was single woman in the city kind of show. And that was, it wasn't, not funny, but it was as a writer there it was, wait a minute, I'm supposed to tell a story that isn't just the situation of situation comedy. It wasn't just the character loses her driver's license and has to go to the D M V and this crazy stuff happens. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, it was thinking about the, the internal life and they're Okay. That's an interesting then,

    Michael Jamin (00:18:23):

    But then when did you learn actually how to write like story, a story structure? When did, is that King of the Hill?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:18:29):

    I think so. The other, the, the show that was very joke heavy. The other thing you learn on a joke heavy show is, is the, the tricks. The okay, someone comes in and says something and then at the end of the scene someone repeats it in a callback and

    Michael Jamin (00:18:44):

    Right, right.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:18:45):

    Then people laugh and the music plays and you dissolve slowly to the next scene. And they're, they're like they're like weapons. They could be in that they could be used for good or evil.

    Michael Jamin (00:18:55):

    Right. Right. So

    Jonathan Aibel (00:18:57):

    By the time though, we got to King of the Hill, I remember pitching the very first week to Greg and you just have no idea what this show you're thinking the Simpson. So, okay. I remember we pitched something like Dale's an exterminator. So he tens a big house and then people think it's a circus and starts showing up at it.

    Michael Jamin (00:19:19):

    Oh, I like that

    Jonathan Aibel (00:19:20):

    <Laugh>. And Greg's like, oh, that's the little, probably by season eight that would've been a season eight idea. That's good. But in the beginning I think that's a little not observational enough. And, and, and it's sort of like, well what do you mean to define observational was the, the question like how do you find comedy out of human, actual human behavior?

    Michael Jamin (00:19:48):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:19:48):

    In the way, how do you observe what a person would do in a, in a real life situation? And no one had really done that in animation, which was Yeah. The, I think the brilliance of Mike and Greg was to say, well, what if you take this style that's associated with unreality Right. And give it more reality than anything else you've seen in animation.

    Michael Jamin (00:20:09):

    And that's what was unusual because we used to say in many ways just king of the Hill was less of a cartoon than, than just shooting me. I mean, <laugh> just shoot me was more of a cartoon. You know, it was, but, and it's unusual cause you'd say, I I even back then I was like, well why is this show animated? Like, cuz you no one's eyes popping out, no one's running on air. You know, no one's doing any Daffy Duck stuff. But I guess it was just because you could shoot it like a movie and it could be real. But you didn't have the, you didn't have the budget. Well

    Jonathan Aibel (00:20:39):

    You're probably overthinking it cuz it was just the real reason is they had to deal with Mike and Mike's an animator and this is what he wanted to do.

    Michael Jamin (00:20:46):

    <Laugh>. I guess so. But usually why is it animated? Like, you know, other

    Jonathan Aibel (00:20:50):

    Than because Yeah. That's, that's why are, why are, why is this? It's cuz cuz Mike wanted, he saw it. No, that was his thing. And, and he didn't. And, and that's great. That's as, that's as good a reason. And how,

    Michael Jamin (00:21:04):

    How much was, and I've heard stories, but I think people wanna hear this. How involved was Mike like literally on a day-to-day basis in those early years with the show?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:21:13):

    Huh. I can't say I know the full scope of it because I'm sure he was more involved in the production,

    Michael Jamin (00:21:22):

    But he wasn't in the writer's room. I mean, I know like,

    Jonathan Aibel (00:21:24):

    No, cuz he was living in Texas.

    Michael Jamin (00:21:26):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:21:27):

    So he would come in and then we would do the story retreats, maybe you remember. Yeah. Or we'd go to Texas and and meet with him, or he would come in or we'd go to his house. It re it was Greg on the day today. And then I don't really know what the, the communication between the two of them was. Right. I, I'm pretty sure Mike's deal was, I have a life in Texas and I don't wanna move to LA and do this grind cuz he had done that grind for Beefs and, but, and the Beavers and Butthead movie.

    Michael Jamin (00:22:01):

    Right, right.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:22:03):

    So I think that's what Greg took on.

    Michael Jamin (00:22:06):

    But yeah, he,

    Jonathan Aibel (00:22:06):

    It was a great combination.

    Michael Jamin (00:22:08):

    He have notes though. He I remember, you know, even on on the, on the audio track, you could sometimes hear him say, I'm, that that line's not right. He'd tweak a line or whatever, you know? Yeah, yeah.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:22:19):

    Yeah, you get his little I'm not gonna say that. How about

    Michael Jamin (00:22:23):

    <Laugh> not gonna do that. But, but then, okay, so then you guys rose up to the ranks cuz only in five or six years you were running the show, which is a pretty fast climb to be able to run a TV show after only that short amount of time is kind of crazy almost. You know, I

    Jonathan Aibel (00:22:38):

    Think we were a and meanwhile feels like, oh, we're not getting anywhere in this town. And some of that is because you do a show. We were, we'd probably done a year of it worked under the year before it even premiered. Right. So you're putting all this into it and you don't know if it's gonna be a hit. And then the surprise was, it, it was doing really well. And then you have no time to enjoy it because you're halfway through starting season two. It was, it was both really exciting and just crazy exhausting. And it

    Michael Jamin (00:23:12):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:23:13):

    Yeah. Like 3:00 AM And that's sort of fun sometimes

    Michael Jamin (00:23:19):

    When you're young, it's in

    Jonathan Aibel (00:23:21):

    The beginning where it's, hey, it's like college, right? We're all hanging out. We're just being funny. And then you start dating and your partners saying, what time are you gonna be home? I don't know. Yeah. Or what time do you think I really, I don't know. Someone could come into this room in two minutes and say, we're good. Go home. Or someone could come in in two minutes and say, I just got Mike's notes. We need to start over. Yeah. You don't know. And that's a, when you're a staff writer, not so hard because you just do what you're told when as you move up and take on more responsibility. It, it definitely became less fun. Aspects of it were fun. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> directing actors was really fun. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> working with editing and storyboard artists and the animation directors fun. But the more stuff like, can I go to a dentist appointment on Wednesday? Let me see what's the staff, what, what room am I in today? Like, I, I left consulting because I didn't wanna be a, a manager. And that's wh part of show running is that, and for us, that was the, that wasn't the fun part. The fun part, as we say, Glenn and I would note you rise up and become a showrunner based on the strength of your writing. And then you get to a position where you don't have time to write anymore.

    Michael Jamin (00:24:41):

    Oh. It's not only that people, cause I people, they reach out to me all the time, you know, that I wanna be a showrunner. It's like, I just wanted to be a writer. Like, cuz be a show. It's like you just said, you, none of us become comedy writers because we wanna be managers. Like that's not, and when you're a show owner, that's what you're doing. You are managing other people. Yeah. And and, and we're not equipped, we're not prepared for it. And we don't necessarily even want to do that. And, you know, it's a, it's a, it's a hard

    Jonathan Aibel (00:25:06):

    Leap. Right. And it was, it was definitely challenging also, cuz you're putting all this work in, then you realize, this isn't even my show. This is Greg and Mike's vision, and you're just trying to fulfill their vision. Right.


    Like, I can see running my, if Im running my own show saying I love this idea and this is my baby and I'm gonna protect. And I just, I want to be the ur here. I want to see my vision through. But so much of show running isn't that at all? It's, it's, Greg would describe it as it's sort of like pottery where you would make a pot, put it on the shelf and all right, what's the next one? Sometimes they break, sometimes they're not quite formed. But you don't have time. You gotta get to the next Right. Get to make another pot.

    Michael Jamin (00:25:53):

    But do you have, and I wanna get to your film career, which is very impressive, but do you have, did you have any like, eyes to go back and do any kind of television, even creating your own show?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:26:03):

    We, after King of the Hill, we, we wrote a few pilots. We were at Fox and writing pilots. And it was a weird time in TV where every year Fox would say, we don't want single camera shows. We need, we need Multicam, we need to pair them with whatever

    Michael Jamin (00:26:20):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:26:21):

    Hit they had there. We need another, we need to pair this. So we'd write a multi cam and then they would only pick up single camera shows. But I think that happened two or three years or what

    Michael Jamin (00:26:29):

    Yeah. What's,

    Jonathan Aibel (00:26:30):

    What's going on? So we started realizing, I, I think we were kind of spoiled by King of the Hill. It was, it was just creatively, it was just an amazing show. And so fun to write those characters and work with those actors and work with that staff that after that it was, I don't, it's hard to just go and do sitcoms. I mean, like, I enjoyed the form, but I couldn't see myself spending 10 more years doing that. And it felt like the the air was coming out of that format.

    Michael Jamin (00:27:07):

    Then how did you, how did you jump into features?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:27:10):

    Well, it started because King, as I mentioned, king of the Hill was not a guild go in the first years mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. So we're doing it, we're in our second or third year, and we realized we're gonna lose our health insurance. What, what? I mean like, it was a very adult sounding realization of, oh, health insurance. What I, I hadn't even been thinking. Because when you're in the Writer's Guild, it's amazing. On a time I was 23, I had health insurance.

    Michael Jamin (00:27:40):

    But you had health through the Animators Guild though, through tag.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:27:43):

    We weren't animated animation. We were No, it was not unfamiliar

    Michael Jamin (00:27:47):

    Anybody. Oh no. Wow. I didn't know that.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:27:51):

    So we said to our agent, we need, we need either freelance episodes

    Michael Jamin (00:28:00):

    Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>

    Jonathan Aibel (00:28:01):

    Or we need to write a feature. And she said, well, do you have a feature spec? And we said, no. And then, and to her credit, she said, there's this director, he's been hired to direct a reboot of Freddy, or of Friday, it was Freddy versus Jason.

    Michael Jamin (00:28:20):

    Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:28:21):

    And he loves King of the Hill. And basically it was, can you give him a fun, fun, he's got an idea for story fun characters that he can then kill. Like it was right around Scream had come out. So there was this, the, the Birth of Hard comedy.

    Michael Jamin (00:28:38):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:28:39):

    So he said, yeah, we can do that. And we, we met him, we got along, he loved the show. We, we love working with him. So we wrote this script, which then, which then didn't get produced. But it was, oh, this features is kind of like writing King of the Hill, but longer.

    Michael Jamin (00:28:59):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:28:59):

    You just kind of write King of the Hill and then you keep writing and keep writing and then you have a hundred pages of King of the Hill instead of 22. Right. But the three act structures similar. And the idea of thinking about a character and how do you write a character, we realized it's kind of more cinematic than episodic television. Like the things we were learning were more applicable to writing features than writing sitcoms at that point.

    Michael Jamin (00:29:28):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:29:29):

    So when our television deal was nearing its clothes, and we were thinking, do we renew it? Do we throw our hats out there as, as showrunners for hire? And we thought, you know, let's, let's write, maybe we can write some more features. And we just started getting some rewrites, doing some originals.

    Michael Jamin (00:29:50):

    Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:29:52):

    And you can start making a, a decent living writing movies and never get made.

    Michael Jamin (00:29:57):

    Oh, for sure. At least you could then. I don't know if it's now

    Jonathan Aibel (00:29:59):

    Yes. Yes. Then you then you could. But it was super frustrating. Yeah. Because everything would be about to go and then there would be a reason mm-hmm. <Affirmative> it wouldn't go. And there were none of those reasons were under your control. And you, you could, you would do a great job and everyone would love it. And then, oh, this movie just came out. Yeah. Basically the same premise. So, sorry.

    Michael Jamin (00:30:20):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:30:21):

    And that's when we had been meeting this, this fantastic exec name Christine Belsen, who was then at Henson.

    Michael Jamin (00:30:30):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:30:30):

    <Affirmative>. And we were huge Muppet fans. Right. And she brought us in and we totally hit it off. And she said, I wanna do a Muppet kung fu movie.

    Michael Jamin (00:30:39):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:30:40):

    <Affirmative>. And we thought, oh my God, yeah, that would be so great. Yes. Sign us up for that. And we said, but you know, we read that that Dreamers is doing this Jack Black, kung fu kung fu Panda movie. And she said, oh, those movies take forever. I don't think it's, I I wouldn't worry about that. So then we don't hear from her for a while. We're worried what's going on. Then we get a call from her. Okay. So I moved over to Dreamworks and we're looking for writers who come from Panda.

    Michael Jamin (00:31:08):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:31:08):

    And we said, oh, okay. So it was just a case where it started off simple enough, they asked us to come in for just two weeks of consulting to see what they had underway and talk about the story. Cuz it was in a rough

    Michael Jamin (00:31:25):

    But had be different. Dreamworks has a whole different system over there. So what do you mean consultant? Cause I know they worked very differently from other studios.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:31:33):

    Well, so there had been writers who, well kind of what happens is, you know, king, king of the hill, the Simpsons though, shows very writer driven. Right. It doesn't have time. You don't have time to be anything other than ri writer driven. So the animators are given the script and the audio. Right. And they're So draw this,

    Michael Jamin (00:31:54):

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:32:18):

    And in feature animation, Dreamworks especially, they may take that script and they'll take tens, the first 10 scenes of act, the first half the movie and give it to 10 different storyboard artists who will take that and read it and say, I see what this scene is doing, but maybe I can do it this way. And they will draw something and write it and animate and, and storyboard it and often record the dialogue themselves. And it's sort of like almost like what is it? 32 short films about Glen Gould where you end up with these almost mini movies in the beginning of a movie anyway. Like at the start of a development process where you would watch this movie and say, okay, that PO is different from this PO who's different from that po. And you watch it and you think, this doesn't make any sense, but I can start to see a story in there.


    And then they'll do it iteratively. So then you're on that scene there, that moment I really understood who the character was. So more of that moment. So by way of saying, you may have someone who came in and wrote a script, but they might be long gone at this point cuz now it's been torn up it's storyboard and now you're walk working off transcripts where they've written down what's on screen. And that's what you're rewriting off of. So by the team time we came in, there was like a movie ish. Like you could, there was something in black and white you could watch mm-hmm. <Affirmative> that everyone knew wasn't necessarily coherent. But the point isn't coherence. The point is what, what jumps out at you? Like we watched and said, oh, I think what you're doing is, it's kind of like a Cinderella story, right?


    He's the guy in the beginning who wants to go to the kung fu ball mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and can't go. And then the Prince points at him, and then he goes on this thing, and now the bad guy's coming for him and he doesn't know. And is he the chosen one? Or isn't he the chosen one? It's like those are like, now it's, it feels a little glib for me to say that as if it were obvious. It, it was, it's it was not it obvious. It's, it's, you're sitting there thinking, is it this story? No. Maybe it's the story. Some of it is, there are, there are two, Jack, Jack has, Jack Black has two kind of two great. Our type of our typical characters. One is the high fidelity like the jerk Yeah. Who deep down is suffering from low self-esteem. Right. And then he has the friendly guy who deep down is suffering from low self-esteem.


    Right. So some of the, the production of the, the development of Kung Fu Panda was, which, which Jack is in our movie. Is he the guy who's chosen to be this kung fu guy and then realizes, oh my God, this is great. Now I don't have to work anymore. Now I can just go to the palace and hang out and relax and, and live it up until he finds out there's a responsibility. So there was some of that version of the movie. Then there's the guy who's wishes more than anything. He can be the kung fu master, but knows because of he's a big panda. That's impossible. Cuz Panas don't do kung fu and then his dream comes true. And then he has to, you know, that's what the movie ended up being. But when you started seeing that character in the opening reel, you'd say, whoa, I, I wanna, I, I wanna know more Right about that. And that's the magic of these time. You had

    Michael Jamin (00:35:51):

    To sense of it. But see that's what I'm, I'm curious though, cuz for me it seems counterintuitive. It feel, it feels like you're putting the cart ahead of the horse. It's like, you know, I wonder if, was that, did you feel the same way? Because usually, you know, okay, we have an idea. We come, we have Ari, the writers come up with a th a thread, you know, through line and there's a story and Well,

    Jonathan Aibel (00:36:09):

    It's, it's inefficient for sure. But I think you can look at animated movies for the most part as a genre and say for the most part they're really well constructed.

    Michael Jamin (00:36:22):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:36:23):

    And I think this is, this is why, because if a writer's gonna, it's very hard to create a great movie off of six drafts, even eight drafts, 10 drafts. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and, and just see it on paper and say, yeah, that's gonna work. Because no one knows how to read a script.

    Michael Jamin (00:36:43):

    I see.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:36:44):

    Like, even as a professional writer, I don't think I could read a script and say, this is gonna be an amazing movie. You can say this is a great script. Right. But is it gonna be an amazing movie? I don't know, an animation, you're making the movie as you're writing the movie, so it's not you, it makes sense. Theoretical. Is this gonna be good? It's ah, I, I see that moment. I see Poe and his father. Right. Having that moment where Poe is afraid to tell his dad what he wants to do with his life. I see. That's one thing. Makes sense. How do we build on that?

    Michael Jamin (00:37:17):

    Right. That makes sense to So it's very collaborative with you and the animators then.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:37:21):

    Oh yeah. The storyboard team, the directors, the producer, the actors, Uhhuh <affirmative>. It was it very different from TV animation. Right.

    Michael Jamin (00:37:32):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:37:32):

    Very different. And I, our, our, one of our first the first moment we realized that was the producer said, I I want you to sit in a room with this guy, a storyboard artist and talk about the scene and what it could be. So we sat with him and we worked line by line. We hopped it and said, it could be this could be this. Yeah. I could draw this, do this. Said great, we're gonna write it up. We wrote it up, gave it into him. Three weeks later we go to watch the scene. It's nothing at all we discussed and went to the producer, but a, a thing. She said, yeah, I know, but I know he's kind of out there. And I wanted to see what he would take your stuff and give you, you know, if you, if all you want, if all you're expecting is the best version of what you've already done, you're closing off the chance that you'll be surprised by something.

    Michael Jamin (00:38:24):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:38:25):

    So that's cool. On the other hand, sometimes in their scenes where you just say, can you just please do the, the pages? Right. Like, we've thought a lot about this. We understand. And there's some scenes in that first movie, which went pretty much from our pages to the final version. Cuz they were just compact. They made sense. Right. There wasn't a lot of room, but there wasn't a need for a lot of exploration. It was okay, that works. So let's just get that right going and move on to the the

    Michael Jamin (00:38:52):

    Others. So they brought you in under contract for a couple of weeks just to see how you would respond to the animators?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:38:59):

    Yeah, we had a after, well, no, to see what we would, it wasn't a trial. It was, they thought in 10 days we would give them an outline that they could work off of.

    Michael Jamin (00:39:12):

    But even still, you, they, they knew that they would probably go off via the reservation and you'd be required to Yeah. But that's

    Jonathan Aibel (00:39:19):

    Collaborate more. That's, but I think that happened a lot. It wasn't, it was more of then when we pitched our take on it to Jeffrey Katzenberg and he said, great, when you, when can you guys start writing Uhhuh. <Affirmative>? Okay. And then the other people lo looked at each other like, oh, I guess we, I guess we should probably get that, put that deal in place. So then we wrote a draft

    Michael Jamin (00:39:38):

    Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:39:40):

    And then they took the draft and then started going through that process of tearing it apart. And at, at which point they realized it would probably be helpful to have us around. And I think it, what helped is that coming from tv, we, we knew storyboards, we knew how to read storyboards. We knew what happens in an editing room and how actors perform. Right. So we came to it with production skills or an, an understanding of the process that that helped us come in and say, oh, I think you could, you can cut a few frames there and actually know what we were talking about. At, at the same time, the, the big difference was television is it's a, it's a sprint as you know. Yeah. It's, you need to get this done because the actors are gonna be here at 10:00 AM to read this and record this.


    So you need something for them. So we were approached feature animation, we gotta get this done, we gotta get this done. And then what you realize is that you, that's the exact wrong way to do because you, you get it all done now then when stuff starts changing, you've already written stuff that's, it's obsolete before anyone has seen it. Right. It's like animation is best. I think it's like, it's a marathon of sprints where we need, this scene has to go into production and Jack is coming in Thursday to record this. We need these three pages done. All right, we'll get it done, we'll get it done. Great. Now in six weeks, we're gonna need sequence 1500 going into rough layout though. That's the next one. I know it's,

    Michael Jamin (00:41:21):

    But you're working off an an outline. You know what the story is, right?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:41:24):

    You do and you don't. Isn't that, I know that's a weird thing to say, but you, Lenny, I can't tell you the number of boards there that would say big battle, like act three, big battle you know, wrap up epilogue.

    Michael Jamin (00:41:39):

    Is this the way animation movies were done like at Disney back in the day? Is this where they're getting this from?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:41:45):

    It's possible. I I think what where it comes from is that what's your expense, your greatest expense of time. And therefore money is the animator, the person at Disney drawing the cell mm-hmm. <Affirmative> at Dreamworks. That final, the final editor moving frame by frame. That takes a lot of time. And it is such a skill and the people who do it are so brilliant that it's not like you can say we need six more animators who can capture Poe. It's, there's this guy Dan, Dan Wagner, just a brilliant animator and he was the one who could give Poe his soul.


    Right. So you only get so much Dan. So you don't want to give Dan 10 scenes to do and say, we're not sure if these are all gonna work. But, so you are not giving the animators the scenes until they're ready at the same time. The animators can only do so much at the same time. So so while they're working on one scene, there's no reason to have the other scenes done. So it's sort of like you back, you back up into the process and you'd say, well if they can only animate these this much now mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, well let's keep working on those other scenes and make them better and keep playing with them until it's too late. And then we'll, we'll turn 'em around. Right. So you really, you have the time to get it right. And if you said no, let's rush that. We, we gotta get All right. Now there's no reason to.

    Michael Jamin (00:43:16):

    It sounds like this cuz knowing how you guys ran King of the Hill, it sounds like this is like the perfect fit for you because you guys would often rewrite the hell out of a scene trying different ways and just experimenting.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:43:26):

    That was, I I think Thank you. I think it was, it, it it is a good fit for us to, to have said, okay, we've written that scene. There, there are a lot of exercises that are, are kind of cool that you can use, which is stuff like, well let's write the opposite. Right? You have someone come into a scene who's really excited, like, well, what if they came into the scene feeling the other way and that you flipped. You kind of have that, the opportunity to explore

    Michael Jamin (00:43:58):

    More. Right.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:43:59):

    And then, and know that there's no punishment for it because the whole point is to experiment.

    Michael Jamin (00:44:05):

    Right. That's the point. So did they keep you under, how does it work? Do they keep you under contract at that point, Dreamworks, to do other movies? Or are you constantly pitching them to get assigned other projects or

    Jonathan Aibel (00:44:17):

    That No, we had, we had a, it was great in that it started off, I think it was, we were there four days a week

    Michael Jamin (00:44:25):

    Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>

    Jonathan Aibel (00:44:26):

    And I think at the time we were in person then it would be three, then after six months, three days a week, as there's less to change, they need less abuse. So then it was two days a week, then one day a week. And then at the same time we were doing other rewrites in other studios. And I think it was when we got down to one day a week, they said, you know, we have this smoothie monsters versus aliens when you wanna work on that. Right.

    Michael Jamin (00:44:49):

    So you were never squeeze.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:44:51):

    We were one day monsters. Four days.

    Michael Jamin (00:44:53):

    All right. So you were always

    Jonathan Aibel (00:44:54):

    Kind. Yeah, always. Show by show.

    Michael Jamin (00:44:56):

    I see. You're always jumping. Right. So it was

    Jonathan Aibel (00:44:58):

    Never, and then, and it, it was nice cuz you know, you don't wanna, we liked it because it led us take the projects that spoke to us that Right. Looked like they were gonna be fun. While also, like, the great thing about Panda was it was a hit came out. It was a hit. And when you've written a movie, it's a hit. People want you to write their movies. Right. So it, and and also people want you to write movies similar to the movie that was just a hit.

    Michael Jamin (00:45:28):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:45:29):

    So it didn't matter that we had done King The Hill or other stuff. It was, oh, they, they wrote Fu Pan, they should write the Chipmunks movies. We'll offer that to them.

    Michael Jamin (00:45:38):

    Right. Right.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:45:39):

    So talking Animal, oh, here's another talking animal.

    Michael Jamin (00:45:42):

    So did you have to

    Jonathan Aibel (00:45:43):

    Ever Thenn Bozer,

    Michael Jamin (00:45:46):

    Did you have to pitch, when you go on further assignments, are they pretty much yours because of, or do you have to pitch? Do you have to win that assignment?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:45:54):

    It's always a little of both. I mean, look, we were very, we were very lucky in that they weren't bake offs where Yeah. Six people are coming in to pitch this. It was, I think that the Chipmunks people really like Kung Fu Panda. It was just a rewrite. Can you come? It was over Christmas.

    Michael Jamin (00:46:16):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:46:17):

    <Affirmative>. So I think that that definitely helped that they found us saying, yeah, we'll give up your, our holiday to, to write these pages for you.

    Michael Jamin (00:46:24):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:46:25):

    But then the, the luck was these were, these became franchises. So then they come you for Comfort Panda Two and Comfort Panda Three and Chipmunks three. Right. And, and then we through people knew what Dreamwork got to SpongeBob. So then you'd do SpongeBob to second SpongeBob movie that led to the third SpongeBob movie.

    Michael Jamin (00:46:44):

    I didn't even mention those. Cause that's not even on your I M D B. We'll have to update that when we get off the, the Zoom. Yeah. What update your page? I didn't know any of this. I didn't know you did the I didn't know you did that. And so, okay. Because that's a big deal. Cause I, I remember, you know, when Si and I, we did, we did a couple of movies. We sold a couples, they didn't get made. We sold a couple movies and then we were all we're brought into you know, we didn't realize they were bake offs. We didn't, so we, we pitched for, you know, a couple big companies, I don't have to mention what they are. And, and we're told Yeah, you got the, you got it. You got it. And then only to discover that someone else got it. We didn't even know o other people were trying to get, like, we had no idea. And that's a lot. You're talking about months and months of heartbreaking wasted work and then the project never even made. So, but you don't really have it's true to deal with that True. Because of your level, you know. Yes,

    Jonathan Aibel (00:47:34):

    Yes and no. The the no is if they're, if you've worked with them on Kung fu Panda one, two, and three, there's a good chance they'll come to you for Kung fu Panda four.

    Michael Jamin (00:47:46):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:47:47):

    So, and if you hit it off, feel like they may say, come in with some ideas and they like an idea. So they're not just saying, here's the deal before you've pitched anything. So there were meetings, but you know, they know you can deliver. That's kind of the main thing. Right. If it's people who you don't really know, then yeah. It's, they're rebooting this franchise and their hearing takes. And what we've learned, actually the hard way is if you're going to put yourself in that situation